Iloilo vendors used to be chased like rodents

By Alex P. Vidal

“Let your customers be your partners; let your vendors be your employees. What’s necessary in this transformation more than anything else is courage and a willingness to change.”—Safra A. Catz

POPULIST Iloilo city mayors like Reinerio “Nering” Ticao, Francisco “Paquit” Garganera, Zafiro “Zaf” Ledesma, Luis “Tuing” Herrera, Rosa “Tita” Caram, and Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor allowed sidewalk vendors to mushroom in the heart of metropolis’ downtown City Proper.

They believed the vendors catered for the hoi polloi, the chief source of strength in the economic and political spectrums; and as long as they didn’t disturb the pedestrians and block the sidewalks, it was alright to allow them to eke out a living by selling their commodities in public places.

The problem was some vendors selling their goods in cheaper prices, did not only compete with the regular retailers and wholesalers that paid taxes and owned permanent establishments in Calle Real, but also became recalcitrant and, to some extent, eyesores.

To compound the matter, some of the vendors disrupted the normal flow of pedestrian activities; they encroached the pathways and used a big chunk of the sidewalks to display their goods like mini bicycles, garments, and toys.

There was also uptick of petty crimes like snatching and budol-budol scams with some of the perpetrators in cahoots with the vendors.

But the vendors were quick to claim those “distractions” were isolated.  After a series of tongue-lashing and trading of barbs by the pros and cons in City Hall, tuloy ang ligaya.


For a while, the heydays of Iloilo City sidewalk vendors became a regular and normal thing.

But when “Bagyo Roding”—the effervescent and thunderous Mayor Rodolfo Ganzon, who was first mayor in 1955-1959 and briefly in 1972, returned in 1988-1991—, everything changed drastically.

In a grand house-cleaning spree, the mercurial “Bagyo Roding” had no mercy for undisciplined street vendors, especially those who blatantly abused their privileges.

He went on to literally “put the law into his own hands,” so to speak, by kicking some of the fruit stands that blocked the sidewalks, sending some oranges and apples rolling down the pavements.

Bagoy Roding’s sweeping reforms didn’t spare ambulant vendors who had scampered into different areas all over the city like rodents being chased by cats, even as they sought succor in public markets.

But those scary movies were now a thing of the past.

When Malabor took over from June 1992 and served three consecutive terms interrupted until June 2001 (he was acting mayor from July 1991-May 1992), sidewalk vendors, a rich source of voters during the election, enjoyed their salad days.


For a while they have been regulated or even prevented from freely selling their wares in the sidewalks anywhere in Calle Real owing to city hall’s policy of “restoration of law and order” in the city sidewalks during the Mabilog administration.

An ordinance was passed designating a common area for all vendors in the Muelle Loney or in the riverside, but only a few persevered and cooperated with City Hall.

Sensing a potential disaster in their income owing to the “isolated” location, most of them rebelled against the edict and, thus, the move to provide them with a common area to sell their goods, nosedived.

Under the Trenas administration, we are glad to learn that vendors have been given opportunity to use anew the sidewalks only during the holiday rush from December 10-30, 2023.

In Executive Order No. 151, Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Trenas, thus, ordered: “In anticipation of holiday celebrations, it is expected that, as part of Filipino tradition, vendors will set up stalls along the allowed and identified streets of the metro, and customers will swarm to purchase their needs, especially during the holiday rush.”

The Executive Order says, “Only one stall shall be permitted to operate for every vendor. No vendor shall be allowed to operate two or more different stalls in all allowed areas.”

Like in the past, many of these vendors are expected to request City Hall to extend the privileges provided for under the Executive Order until next year.

Also, some of them might demand for a permanent place to sell beyond the limit expounded under the Executive Order.

History is expected, as always, to repeat again.


AN email from New York Governor Kathy Hochul she also sent to other New Yorkers:

Alex, I want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving offers an opportunity to reflect on the blessings in our lives. I know I’m grateful to be celebrating with my family, especially our grand baby Sofia, who’s growing up so fast.

But for me and so many New Yorkers, this Thanksgiving is also bittersweet. This is the first year I’ll be celebrating without my dad, who passed away unexpectedly last month; and as great conflicts continue in our world, pain is being felt by communities across our state. 

I hope that the joy of spending time with loved ones brings you peace and comfort.

As a mom, I know Thanksgiving and the holiday season offer a meaningful, and sometimes rare, opportunity to gather everyone around the table. Alongside younger children and high schoolers, college kids may be home for the first time since they left in August. With the rise in hateful rhetoric and actions both online and off, I encourage you to talk to your kids about what they’re hearing and seeing at school and on their campuses, and ways that they can spread kindness, not hate. New York State has resources to help facilitate these sometimes difficult, yet important, conversations.

Because it’s on all of us to do our part to create the kind of society we want to live in.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I also encourage all New Yorkers to give back.

Volunteer in your community. 

Support a small business this Saturday.

And, as we see the ugliness of hate rear its head amongst our communities, look for opportunities to spread love and kindness instead. 

As always, remember the spirit of warmth and appreciation that makes the holiday season so special.

From my family to yours: Happy Thanksgiving.

Gov. Kathy Hochul

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