Roadside vending… and buying


In the Philippines, roadside stores and stalls abound. They dot our landscapes. See a highway? There’s a strip somewhere, just count 5, 10 or 15 minutes since driving and you’d likely come across one such. No kiddin’. Alright, maybe sometimes, it takes 20, depending on which part of the country you happen by.


Image of a fruit stand in Southern Philippines

On the way home from the Tagaytay hills, the papayas, the melons and the bananas wave to motorists/


It’s still an agricultural country, right? Meaning, about 10 kilometers from the highway, there are farms. And, there are farmers, of course… With their fresh produce – from the barns, the fishponds, the backyards and the farm proper (fruits and vegetables, mostly).


Image of a two huge pile of young coconut harvests being sold at the roadside

A simple stop and a fast purchase, young coconut piles, by the highway/

Oh, there is a municipal market somewhere, sure. But markets, with their usual traffic of people buying and hosts of permanent stalls and stores regularly selling, are for those who can forecast the supply and the demand. Roadside stores are for the tentative, the unsure and the undecided. You know, the willy-nilly, the-wind-took-me-here, I-happen-to-pass-by customers? There.



And, no worries. I mean, it’s the same on the other end – the vendors. They are seldom sure when the next batch of the crops will be displayed and up for sale, when the next bushels of the harvests will come in and if the fruits will have ripened by next week. They will see, see? They will try… In the meantime, why don’t you have a look and feel of what’s on the rack, huh?


So, the roadside stores are for the passers-by, the chance buyers, the momentists… Driving in a highway, at regular or even odd hours, could be an exhilarating experience, at times. There’s the stretch of road to be negotiated, the trees that seem to move, the colorful or unpainted houses along the way and the solitary soul walking or crossing – without even a hat!


And suddenly, there is your strip – with the goods piled one on top of the other – uniform, assuring and interestingly familiar. It’s not like a 7/11, no… The crew members do not wear uniforms, there is no cash register and there are no lozenges on the counter, haha. But there are weighing scales – the traditional, analog kind and when one’s lucky, there’s another – digital. And, the melons are waving… πŸ˜‰


So, you and your companion make a stop. There is really no shoulder to park on… Vehicles zoom past you as the two of you get out of your car, you look at the compartment at the back, making sure there is enough space (as though you really intend to buy!) and you arrange your clothes to make sure you look alright, somehow…Β You look right and left, wondering if a former classmate, office mate or somebody you used to be interested with, happen by. As if…


Image of a roadside stall in the highway

It is always the countryside scenery that is the backdrop of those roadside fruit stalls/


It’s a very vulnerable feeling, standing at the highway to make a purchase in the middle of nowhere (it’s not really a nowhere, you know the name of the place) while every other motorist is happily on his way – to wherever. You take a few steps towards the goods that beckoned to you from the comfort of your seat, the air-conditioning and the certainty of getting there – to your wherever. The melon makes a greeting, nagmamaganda (feeling pretty).


Hey, people, it is officially rainy season, over here. The countryside in the tropics is enjoying a breather from the humidity, the heat and fury of the glaring sun and the soils are returning to their original dark brown. The farmers are planting, this time of the year…Β But they are also harvesting, yes.Β Β Thus, it is quite a busy time for their spouses, siblings or cousins, manning their stall in the highway. The roadside establishments are on business… πŸ™‚


Here is one of the fruits that capture the motorists’ attention these days:


Image of a heap of lansones fruit in a fruitstand

Lanzones is sweet. Make that two kilos, please/


Image of a lansones tree, laden with fruits

The lanzones tree, around this time of the year/

Lanzones (Lansium domesticum) or lansonesΒ  is a tropical fruit from a tree that could grow quite tall, sturdy and old, haha. Over at our place, there are lansones trees older than me and even older than my uncles and aunts. But hey, it’s not very friendly to climbers… The body and the branches of the tree are very rough, they hurt the arms and hands of the enthusiastic, the curious and the daring, hehe. There are official and designated lansones climbers in the locality where they are typically grown. πŸ™‚


Lanzones fruits, if I recall correctly, start ripening in June. But the peak of the harvest season is September. That is when the fruits are sweetest. But for some reason, lansones fruits flood the cities and towns Β starting in August – at the community Saturday markets, at the regular fruit stands, the supermarkets and, at the waysides… The lansones produce are put in a very light container called the kaing, made from an indigenous material. By the way, here’s another picture of the fruit-bearing tree…


Image of a fruit-laden lansones tree heavy with riped fruits

By August, the lansones fruits turn heavy, rounder and succulently sweet/


Image of baskets of lansones fruits, packed, tied and sealed

Packed lansones for selling, full to the brim/

These days, lansones still sell for ninety to one hundred pesos (P100) a kilo, (US $2.5, roughly) for the sweet ones. As days come nearer to August, the fruit’s price decreases, down to fifty, sometimes… But in the highways, lansones is always priced higher. Methinks, there, it does not go lower than seventy. Sometimes, lansones in the expressways go as high as P160/kilo. And, there is no guarantee they are sweet, ahaha. A buyer is usually allowed a taste test, though. But then, one bunch of lansones maybe your sweetest, the other not so. Oh, well…


Image of lansones fruits with skin removed

Past the golden covering, it’s succulent white sweetness/


By the way, the lansones tree is quite a useful plant, with a host of medicinal values. The dried peel of the fruit can be burned – to drive away mosquitoes. The bark can be used to treat diarrhea and in powder form, it can be employed to treat scorpion bites. It is a neat tree, actually. Perhaps, that is what you would also say, when you’ve seen one, up close… In the meantime, visit – the market, the basement fruit stand at your nearest mall or, head over the nearest highway and grab yourself a kilo or two – of this tropical treat. Not sure if they’re as sweet as they come, over at your location… But what the hey, go try some! If there aren’t, well… There are melons and mangoes… πŸ˜‰


Image of opened melons - green and red

Melons for the refreshing feeling/

Happy fruit hunting! πŸ™‚


Image of ripe mangoes for sale at a fruit stand

Mango is the sweetest fruit, grows aplenty at the tropics/










22 comments on “Roadside vending… and buying

  1. renxkyoko says:

    Do you know, mangos are a staple in our household. Mom buys, sister buys, I buy. We use it for salad. It makes eating raw veggies with mangoes quite delicious.

    When i was in the Philippines on vacation, I pigged out on fruits. All kinds… mangosteen, lanka, papaya, etc.

    I haven’t eaten lanzones. TT.TT

    • ay, yes, mango is nature’s lovely gift to our palates, hihi. it goes well with salad, somehow neutralizes the taste of the lettuce, no? sarap…

      ahaha, you’re lucky. mangosteen isn’t easy to come by. there are months when they’re available at tagaytay highlands and at sm. but the bulk come from mindanao, kapatid. but you’re in california, my dear. marami raw tropical fruits and veggies dyan, saka sa florida? πŸ™‚

      am afraid you’re missing a lot, sister. πŸ˜‰ hehehe. go find some!

  2. I love the word “momentists” to describe who buys from roadside stands. . . perfect!

    Sadly, I’ve never see lansones fruit in the United States. I wonder if maybe it doesn’t ship well. Or if its unpredictability (maybe it’s sweet, maybe it’s not) has discouraged importers. If I ever visit the Philippines in summer, especially September, I’ll have to try some!

    • ahaha, i just borrowed the term from garrison keillor, ma’am. he has an essay about momentism, happens to be one of my favorites… glad you like it. πŸ™‚

      oh, that is sad. lanzones is grown aplenty here but also in Thailand and three other Asian countries, i guess. could you perhaps try online and see if there aren’t some in Florida? Florida breeds a good number of tropical plants, as far as I know. and i have some news for you, doc – the longkong (lanzones) of Thailand is sweeter than ours.^^

      we ship lanzones out of the country – the sweetest ones… but its shelf life isn’t as long as mangoes. maybe, only four days? then it becomes over ripe and sour. i hope you’ll come across some lanzones in the US, soon… btw, our Guimaras mangoes are the best. they are exported to U.S. and Europe.

      do come to Philippines – Boracay beach or Palawan. nice places! πŸ™‚

      • Thank you for the “inside” tips! I’ll see what I can find out about the lanzones in Florida. Also, I’ll ask about Guimaras mangoes at our grocery store, and I’m putting Boracay beach and Palawan in my “travel” file.

      • ay, no problem, ma’am… πŸ™‚ you’ll find some Guimaras mangoes, i have this feeling, ahaha. even Latin Americans like them and they have some mangoes of their own… ^^ Boracay shoreline is one of a kind, doc and Palawan was one of the pit stops of the reality show, The Amazing Race. that’s how beautiful… πŸ˜‰ thanks & kind regards…

  3. Kendall says:

    Very cool, kind of reminds me of the Boiled Peanut stands here in the southern US.

  4. June says:

    It’s another feel-good post Ate San! Of course I’m no stranger to these so I must say your descriptions are gleefully spot on. Your captions make the pictures more alive and enticing than they already look. They’re more fun in a blog post from Ate san! πŸ™‚

  5. ladyfi says:

    Oh, what a wonderful variety of tropical fruit!

  6. How delish! Are lanzones a little bit like lychees? I may have tried them, not sure. But it sounds a bit like Indonesia with the stalls on the side of the road. I was longing to get a scooter, and drive about the rural villages, stopping along the way. If I ever go back, I’ll rent a place and spend some time doing just that! Sounds like you are enjoying your summer πŸ™‚

    • delicious, aye. πŸ™‚ o, yes, they are similar… lychees has only one seed, though and lanzones has four or five little seeds. yes, Indonesia has lanzones. also, Thailand… who knows, you might have tried them, ahaha. but lanzones has a kinder taste compared to lychees. and it does not have the smell of lychees. somehow, you sound like you really intend to make a trip back to Asia. your mind has got a vision and an itinerary *wink* πŸ˜‰

      oh, it’s rainy season already, Alarna. but am enjoying it, i guess. hope you are having a pleasant season over there. πŸ™‚

  7. J.A. Vas says:

    “the fruit-bearing tree…” looks really delicious and makes me wanna grab some of its fruits! πŸ˜€ in Lebanon they also have this roadside booths and the like. oh how I like this!! – – – on the mountain-top (where I point with my finger in the shankaboot-entry) I bought sweets from a merchant from Damascus. he had them in his trunk and on his back-seat. πŸ˜‰ my!, they were so delicious (e.g., with rose blossoms)! and with my friend we drank some freshly squeezed orange juice in Beirut – which, however and unfortunately, made my friend getting terribly sick. πŸ˜€

    • hello, J.A… lansones is really sweet and delicious. true, you’d want to grab some bunches from the tree, haha. i could picture you and your friend in Damascus, aimless wanderers getting awed, lol. and of course, trying new things, including fruits and unfamiliar foods. sorry about your friend getting sick in Beirut. though i think, that’s usually part of road adventures, ahaha. waving… πŸ˜‰

  8. paoix says:

    thanks for attributing lanzones picture back to my site.

    paoix of

  9. munchow says:

    When I am road-travelling I love roadside stores and stalls. To get some fresh fruit or local produced food. Great post!

  10. Ah yes, that made me feel as if I was somewhere foreign! We don’t see many roadsisde stalls here – justt the odd sign ‘free range eggs for sale’ or new potatoes now ready’ or what have you. But Africa – that’s a different matter – long stalls laden with little pyramids of tomatoes everywhere – and each vendor sells the same quantity for the same price. I too love mangoes but also avocadoes which here are expensive but in Zambia and Swaziland where I have been most they are lush and plentiful and not much valued by local people to the extent that they can be hard to find where westerners/northernerers are being fed. But above all I love papayas it’s not so easy to find ripe ones or big ones but our local supermarket sells the big ones now for Β£3.99 and we let them get fully ripe on our windowsill. I bought one once in Zambia and the seller – on a bike – had 2 – I chose the smaller one thinking it would be cheaper but the vendor would not let me take it as the other one was better and the same price! Such a difference from sellers here. Nice start to my day San, thanks you mx

    • hello, again, Mary… ahaha, is your place very citified? we also have some big houses that sell eggs or homemade treated pork. on their gates a small sign – eggs for sale, pork available… here, backyard production of food products is rather common (we’re not industrialized yet or supermarket dependent). usually, there is a small shop or corner at the ground level of the house – to supplement the household income.

      ahaha, Africa seems close to your heart, always… yes, similar to Africa, we have vendors selling on the pavements outside or close to the markets and supermarkets – tomatoes, chili, potatoes, etc. they are piled. one pile or “tumpok” sells for 10 pesos or 20 pesos. also, fruits laden inside the carts, usually sold by the kilo – mangoes, avocadoes, papayas, etc. we have plenty of avocadoes, btw. but they don’t last long, the price is usually high or competitive. we eat them ripe, btw, with just sugar or sugar and condensed milk. in the fancy bars and restos, though – they are prepared nicely – in ice cream, in salads or as shake.

      we have plenty of papayas. they bear fruits by the dozens. in the city, ripe papayas sell for a USD1 or one dollar and a half. in the countryside, you can just ask the tree owner and chances are, he’ll give you two or three for free, ahaha. hey, 4 British pounds for a papaya? for that amount, you can buy four or five of them here, the real big ones. πŸ™‚

      i guess, tropical fruits and food products cost about 10 times more there, when one considers the shipping, handling and storage costs, hoho. btw, roadside stalls here is for the mobile and busy segments, i guess…

      thank you, too for sharing your experiences in Africa. it’s always fascinating to buy in open spaces, haha. my pleasure to have reminded you of your shopping expeditions… happy weekend. πŸ™‚

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