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"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Palengke, Business Permits, Illegal Vendors) – Part 2

I politely asked these two young ladies to give it their best pose so I can take a good photo of them which I would then add to my blog. They both agreed and here they are now. Both are vendors on this store located inside the public market near my place.

We call it here “suki” or someone who’s a regular or loyal buyer and I am their “suki”. I often have had a short conversation with the owner of this vegetable stand and she’s one of the kindest business owners in this market. You can see from her shop huge variety of products she’s selling. This shop can earn a revenue of around 10,000 pesos to 20,000 each day.

Palengke (Local Market)
If you want to know where to find the products produced by a town or a province, the best place to go is in its public market or “palengke”. It has all the commodities you want. Back in the old days, public markets in many places in the country is just a temporary commerce place where sellers set up their stalls for a day and then leave and come back a week after. Over the decades, these public markets become permanent trading venues of almost everything the Filipino customers need. This is where local buyers and sellers meet, even those who are coming from remote places like forest and mountain communities.

When I was a young boy, I used to help my father in selling fish and meat in the public market. In this same market is where we live for about a decade so I am pretty sure I know how life goes on here. The market day is every Wednesday and I really enjoyed seeing a lot of different products coming from various places in my town. What I can recall is that we are getting a tax ticket for our fish and meat stall and if I remember it right, that’s roughly about 10 pesos for a whole day of selling.

While shopping malls are so popular these days, most Filipinos still choose to shop on public markets. Yes, rich and poor, young and old, they insert themselves in this often crowded, less organize, and sometimes smelly and messy place called “palengke”. Before I get deeper into this “palengke” topic, why not have a look on these photos and try to observe what’s going on here.

Just like any other typical market, you can find a lot of stuffs here. From vegetables to fruits, fish to meat, cooked food to clothing, household accessories to gadgets, you can buy it from here. Now let me talk a bit more on how this kind of business establishment works. You may want to know: How can I own a shop inside the palengke? How much is the business application fee and any other fees to pay? Or basically the question; “What do I need to know?” Allow me to answer these questions for you.

Selling in the Palengke
There are basically two kinds of public market in existence in the Philippines: those that are managed by a private group, and that of which is managed by the local government. Regardless of the case, those who want to sell inside the market has to apply for the necessary business permits and licenses.

Startup Cost
In my location, this is what I happened to know. The market administration offers 6,000 pesos per month rental fee on a shop about 3 meters by 3 meters. The policy is that you will need to pay in advance the rent good for two months. Then another 6,000 pesos for the processing of business permits and licenses. Still excluded here are the expenses for improving your rented space. Depending on the products and services you will offer, that cost is all up to you. You can sell rice and you need rice boxes and space for the sacks of rice. You can sell cooked foods and you need utensils, trays, and bowls. Plus, you will need to pay your assistants or vendors if your wish to hire one. The startup cost entirely depends on the nature of your business.

Requirements in Applying for a Business Permit
Curious on how to apply for business permits and licenses, I visited our local government office to personally inquire about those permits and licenses requirements. Here is the list.
  • Barangay Clearance for Business
  • Homeowner’s Clearance for Business
  • DTI/SEC Registration
  • Building Permit / Certificate of Occupancy
  • Environmental Clearance Certificate
  • Fire Safety Clearance Certificate
  • Sanitary Permit
  • Location Clearance
  • SSS Clearance
  • Contract of Lease
  • Gross Sales / Financial Statement (for renewal)
  • Previous Receipts (for renewal)
  • Previous Mayor’s Permit (for renewal)
Note that some of these requirements may not be applicable to the kind of business you are after and also your location. For example, if you are selling fish or meat, you will definitely be required to secure a Sanitary Permit. The Environmental Clearance may not be necessary in the case where you are after renting a space in a fully established commercial building. It is advisable that you ask the right person from your local Business Permit and Licensing Office on these matters.

Taking into account the legality of doing business here in the Philippines, here’s the question many entrepreneurs (who are responsible business owners) are trying to figure out the exact answer to. And that question is:

Why does the government allow some vendors to sell without securing those permits and licenses?

How true? Well, I bet these photos are enough to convince you such reality exists.

Business as Usual for Filipinos
These photos just show that permits and licenses may not be applicable to some of our Filipino vendors or business owners. I have a clue of what could have probably been running at the back of your mind right now: that they are illegal vendors. Well, in an economic sense, yes they are. You can find them almost everywhere in the country these days. They don’t have permits and more likely they don’t pay taxes. You could have bought fishballs, kwek-kwek, and isaw from those mobile tricycles or sidecars. In Manila and other cities, you’ve probably hear the news about sidewalk vendors that sprouted like mushrooms. Certainly, you can also see a lot of them from my previous posts. They are the concrete examples of traders who may not be paying the right taxes, no permits, and therefore, illegal vendors.

But I have to make it clear that I am not in anyway against those small-time vendors trying harder to earn an income for their families. In fact, I have spoken to a few vendors in my place about their life and why they sell on the streets. Just because they don’t have a business permit, it is not for me to blame or be against them for doing that. Like many of us, they need to survive the tough times of their life. Selling is the easy way they can think of. And by listening alone to these people, you will then get the answers to that question of most entrepreneurs.

I listened, so let me to put those answers into this statement:

There (should be) is no government that would let its people suffer from hunger. Not the Philippine government, at least for what I know. While there have been great efforts on the part of the Philippine government to eliminate illegal vendors on streets and prohibited places, I don’t think they will permanently eradicate this exercise of free-trading among Filipinos. This how it (business) works on the bottom level of the society. The issue of legality comes next to feeding the family. That’s what “business as usual” means for the Filipinos.

On the next post, I will finally discuss the business economy of the Philippines. I will cite examples of companies owned by pure Filipinos and how they are compared to other foreign businesses. As best as I could, I would give recommendations on how you can setup a good business in the country.

Related Post

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It – Part 1

What’s Wrong with Us Filipinos? A Sensible Evaluation of Philippine Street Markets, Public Utility Vehicles, and Public Places

About the Author
Noriel Panganiban is a Filipino blogger who's like any other ordinary Filipino, has experienced the real way of life in the Philippines. Noriel has a mission and that is to bring positive changes in this beautiful country. With blog posts like this, he believes that he is able to carry out that mission even in little ways; that if someone has read his post, that triggers the start of an awakening. You can read more posts about the Filipinos and the Philippines from this blog site. For more information about Noriel and his vision in life, you may also visit

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