Before the blast: Memories of the Roxas Night Market

Lira Valderama
A young Davao City resident shares her memories of the Roxas Night Market before it was destroyed by a deadly explosion on Friday night, September 2

ROXAS NIGHT MARKET. The night market was every Davaoeño’s happy place. Photo courtesy of Karlu Tayabas

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – My heart aches as I write this post about my memories of the Roxas Night Market here in Davao City. I was personally disheartened after hearing the news about the explosion that killed at least 12 people and injured no less than 60.

For almost two years, the Roxas Night Market has been my one-stop shop – from the tasty food it offers to different types of merchandise, and even self-pampering massage. 

Roxas Night Market isn’t just a typical night market. It holds memories of joy and laughter.

The night market was every Davaoeño’s happy place, my personal favorite spot. It showcased our culture, and evoked festivity – the colorful tokneneng (boiled chicken eggs that are dipped in batter), flavored buchi, ukay-ukay (flea market), and Mang Danny’s Tasty Ice Cream. You can find everything that you crave for at the Roxas Night Market.

When I was still a student, after a stressful day in school, my friends and I would walk on the sidewalks of Roxas, tasting every street food that could fill our bellies. 

Our dinner would always start at Don’s Barbecue place. Then we would go to Austria MJ for isaw  (grilled pig or chicken intestines) and proven (chicken skin). For our drinks, we would usually have buko juice; and for dessert, we would patiently stand in a queue while waiting for Mang Danny’s Ice Cream. And if I’m not satisfied, I would usually pass by the smiling old man who sold popcorn.

We didn’t mind if our feet hurt after scouring the ukay-ukays along the long Roxas stretch. 

Great finds await you – from the cheapest sweatshirt to the most expensive bags that we bargain for at a lower price. 

We would usually bump into an old woman who sells hair ties. The last time I saw her was two weeks ago. I had no money left in my pocket so I told her that I would buy the cheapest hair tie, promising her that I would buy the most expensive one next time. 

But Roxas Night Market was more than just a night market where vendors sold goods. 

I cannot imagine the situation that nanay (mother) is in right now. I’m hoping that she is fine.

Roxas Night Market will not be remembered as the place where people died. It is more than that.

Roxas Night Market was a place where different people met, where they could have fun and feel safe at the same time. We considered it our own, a place we called home. –

Lira Valderama is one of the lead Movers in Davao City.