Midnight calm envelops the public market in Balintawak district in the outskirts of the Philippine capital Manila. The heaps of fruits and vegetables on display conceal a crisis brought about by climate change – less than half of the usual produce are arriving and those that do are rotting sooner.
Like any other market, it is supposed to be busy. But even as the country’s economy tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the nights in Balintawak have gone quieter compared to before.
Cathy Leonardo has been selling vegetables in the market since she was eight years old. Almost three decades have passed, and she’s still here, buried 14 hours daily behind stacks of her summer bestsellers — moringa flowers and leaves, bilimbi fruits, and birch flowers.
This week’s supply of vegetables is sourced from the province of Batangas, south of Manila. Cathy expects that other varieties will arrive soon.
“I can’t wait to sell all this,” she says, pointing to the stack of moringa flowers. “It’s been raining the past weeks, so the supply is short, and they’re already turning black.”