Chaos and corruption then, modernization now

By Alex P. Vidal

“I think there is always room for improvement, and every day is a chance to get better.”—Jennifer Brady

IN one fell swoop, Iloilo City has romped away with two major infrastructure shockers: the multi-billion redevelopment of Iloilo Central Market and Iloilo Terminal Market both in the City Proper.

We grew up in the communities near these two popular “wet” markets and witnessed how they were once gobbled up by fires.

If our memory serves us right, the Iloilo Central Market went up in flames before the EDSA Revolution in the early 80’s during the time of the late Mayor Luis “Tuing” Herrera, while the Iloilo Terminal Market, otherwise known as “Super”, was gutted by fire in the late 80’s during the term of the late Mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon.

We saw how the city government bellyache for funds to restore the two markets to their old glories. Fires almost always leveled the market resources to ground zero.

When the systems were primitive, tong collection involving abusive city hall factotums in cahoots with dishonest market cooperative bigwigs was rampant.

Vendors who refused to “cooperate” were displaced if not unceremoniously yanked out from their old stalls. Many corrupt city hall insiders made a killing out of the miseries of ambulant vendors and stall owners.

Relatives and friends of those in the corridors of power instantly became stall owners, awarded with the rights to occupy the stalls once belonged to “uncooperative” vendors.

Inept and unscrupulous contractors managed to worm their way into fat projects related to rebuilding of the burned edifices. Padrino system in the selection or “election” of market cooperative leaders.

Chaos, favoritism, bribery, and mismanagement by some crooked market superintendents were the order of the day.


Under the new epoch, there’s a gleamer of hope for all the past inanities and abhorrent practices to be altogether reformed when the management system has been streamlined and the modern facilities take the center stage.

The modernization of the city “wet” markets (starting from Central and Terminal Markets) that will include in the future the La Paz Public Market, Jaro Public Market, Arevalo Public Market, and Mandurriao Public Market will be a milestone for more developments in the metropolis’ breadbaskets.

Both behemoth projects, facilitated through a tie-up with SM Prime Holdings, Inc. through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement, were officially unveiled in two groundbreakings September 18 participated by city officials led by Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas and SM Prime Holdings, Inc. bigwigs led by SM Supermalls Senior Vice President for Operations Engr. Bien Mateo.

“We have entered into a PPP agreement with the trusted SM Prime for the restoration/renovation of the two markets,“ beamed Treñas in a Facebook message September 17.

“It will be a win-win situation for the City, SM prime, the market vendors and the general public once it is completed. This is bringing Iloilo to the next level!”

The city mayor said “the market will soon be the hub of commerce and culinary delights. Get ready to witness history in the making!”


BELOW is the email I received from a former resident of Dingle, Iloilo who now lives in Palm Springs, California, a reaction to the article I wrote about the Ilonggo generals during the war.

Hello Alex, Im a descendant of the Dayot clan of Dingle. I have read your article about the Dayot clan generals. It’s a very informative source that I have shared with my relatives. You quoted Lolo Ernesto who was my

grandfather’s first cousin and we last met in 2019. Thank you so much for the information about our clan because we are organizing a grand reunion of the Dayot-Dator clan in November of this year.

My partner and I live in Beaumont near Palm Springs, CA. By chance, are you also a Dayot descendant? It would be wonderful if you can come to our reunion. On your article you mentioned Dean Devlin and I sent him a message which he acknowledged that his family is from Iloilo. Sincerely, Reuben Dator

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)