‘It’s finding places like this that help make the difficult times okay…don’t you think?’
SB nods his head and we fall silent again, taking in this intimate space we inhabit. The children sit opposite us eating pizza, tomato sauce spreading across their faces with each eager mouthful. They have fresh mango and pineapple juice to drink, the cups are almost the size of their heads.
Our family has been hit with a few curve balls recently and it is times like these I really feel that distance between here and our other home. Loneliness kicks in when I am surrounded by friends and melancholy creeps out of dusty corners and starts to wrap her arms around me. I see sadness in my husband’s eyes and we just go quiet for a while.
It is these times that it is the most important to focus on the things that we really do genuinely love about living in the Philippines. Because there really is so much.
This past weekend we needed to stay close to home, stay together, just our little family, but we needed to be distracted. We needed to find one of those anchors that makes us want to stay.
We found it.
The Pioneer Street Market, Manduluyong
Opened almost one year ago, this indoor market brings together local food providers and artisans. It offers an intimate, casual space for people to gather and access a range of healthy, nutritious, and where possible, organic products, and small-batch foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh baked breads and pastries, gourmet products, wine, deserts and fresh hot meals are all on offer here. You really ought to check this place out.
Walking into the building we were instantly taken with the wooden interior which is so warm and inviting. A large staircase just inside the entrance adds curiosity, hiding away the rest of the building. As you walk around it the space opens out to wooden dining tables and a low ceiling slung with fairy lights. Vendors in small allocated spaces line the perimeter. Each stall has a clear brand. Different colours and designs decorate each space. As I walked around exploring, I was reminded of a piece of patchwork with all the lovely colours of each vendor providing an eclectic feeling to the place. All working together in unison.
It felt like a community here. As we walked around exploring what was on offer, smiling faces greeted us. Vendors interacted with one another, talking, laughing and sharing stories. Their small children ran around playing, riding trikes and zooming around the legs of adults walking past. Their laughter filled the space and the beautiful sound made me smile.
I found a table to sit our children while they ate a big bowl of salted caramel icecream. SB went hunter/gathering and in a short time we had vendors delivering a range of food selections to our table. This attention in the service is a small touch that makes a big difference.
The range of cuisines on offer is vast but the criteria for them all is the same. Quality, healthy and nutritious food is served. I had a Hawaiian dish with chicken, rice and broccoli, the pizza the children ate was honestly one of the best we have had here. SB had shawarma, which is a slow cooked meat, served with salad. All of our meals were fresh and packed with flavour.
We finished lunch and then Reah came over to say hi. Reah is the Manager of the market and had been busy running around setting up for a private function. A gorgeous vase of flowers graced a long table. Wine glasses sat ready for use and the cutlery had been polished and twinkled under the fairy lights.
Did you know that you can tell a persons passion through their eyes. If the eyes light up, if they sparkle and they smile as they talk you know you have hit the mark. Reah’s eyes sparkled as she spoke to me of her vision for the market. I could not help but feel her excitement and I wanted to stay through the night to experience happy hour and enjoy live music and let my children dance. I could just imagine the vibe this place gets in the evenings, and we could really have used a night like that.
Reah said she hoped we would come back again and SB eagerly told her we would, for sure return. I told her that there was a picture on the Facebook page that really excited us. There is a shop called Tasty Tucker which sells frozen pies. The picture looked too good to be true with traditional meat pies, flakey pastry on top…It reminded us of home in Australia and we couldn’t wait to try them out.
After speaking with Reah it was time for us to go. Armed with pies and fresh cookies from the bakery we headed home for the afternoon. A happy distraction that was exactly what we needed to lighten our spirits on the weekend.
That night as SB and I devoured our pies, smitten at our new discovery, we talked about how soon we could head back there and stock up on pies, enjoy some evening music and get wrapped up in the happy, easy going vibe of The Pioneer St Market.
Where: Pioneer corner Reliance St, Mandaluyong City, Manila
Parking: there is a carpark, take your stub inside and have it validated by someone you purchase food from so you get your parking free.
Cost: The food prices are inexpensive, starting at 130php
Hours: Open from 10am until 9pm most nights, open until midnight weekends with a happy hour that starts at around 3pm. When the sun goes down live music starts up.