Bringing organic goods closer to Ilonggos

Rofel John Parreno, Ruben Gamala and Maricon Syching
Former rebels of Leon and Alimodian, Iloilo every Saturday are packing up their organic fruits and vegetables and go to Iloilo City for “Sabado Mercado” at the Ledesma Carpark of Robinsons Place Iloilo.
Aside from fruits and vegetables, they also sell handicrafts, muscovado sugar, coconut vinegar, peanuts, sticky rice, red and black rice, processed foods, native chicken, dried fish, ornamental plants and vermin compost.
“Sabado Mercado” falls under the social enterprise development activity of the government’s Conflict Prevention and Peace-Building Program.
The first “Sabado Mercado” was held at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas. It ran for two months.
This project is now under Robinsons Place Iloilo because the mall aims to provide Ilonggos with access to naturally-grown fruits and vegetables,” said Rofel John Parreno, Robinsons Land Corporation's group marketing manager.
Ruben Gamala, co-organizer of Sabado Mercado said that this project will benefit the farmers greatly as well. “These former rebels are struggling. They have odds against them like the stigma of being former NPA rebels, blame from the communities and military who suffered deaths and even potential harm from their former comrades. “But they are working hard to achieve piece and development and farming is one of their efforts to achieve these,” Gamala said.
“Sabado Mercado” at Robinsons Place Iloilo takes place every Saturday from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. The mall will also offer taebo, yoga and other exercises within the same time.
“Diet is not just one function of a healthy lifestyle. We need exercise as well,” said Parreno, explaining why they incorporated fitness in “Sabado Mercado.”/Marie Katherine Villalon

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