Surrounded by bodies of water, Bohol is by no surprise a province where wet markets teeming with fresh seafood abound. Think of the classic bangus (milkfish), which are mostly cultured in fish farms, and the brightly-colored red snappers (mayamaya). And the fact that in Tagbilaran alone are two go-to wet markets gives us a hint that seafood is a serious business there.
The wet markets provide fish and other produce that are cheaper and, more often than not, fresher than those sold in grocery stores.
Scroll down and let us take you to two of Tagbilaran’s markets—Tagbilaran Public Market and Manga Market!
Tagbilaran Public Market
Tagbilaran Public Market (also known as Dao Public Market or Tagbilaran Fish Market) is one of the largest markets in Bohol. Some foreigners who visit this market find it spacious and, though not air-conditioned, fairly ventilated.
Sreen grab from Youtube (TaGBiLaRanBauN)
Although largely considered as a wet market, Tagbilaran Public Market is also home to dried food items like dried fish and dried squid. Grace Dried Fish, one of the stores in the market, for example, has piles of dried products.
A wide variety of dried fishes
Dried seafood starts at PhP100 and prices may vary depending on the size and type of the item. A kilo of the local fish bolinao (anchovy) starts at PhP250, while a kilo of dried pusit (squid) is around PhP800.
Some vegetables in Tagbilaran Public Market
Other finds here include pre-cut and pre-packed vegetables. Typically sold are vegetables for pansit bihon guisado (local stir-fried noodles)—carrots, cabbage, onions, and others. These other items are also common: talbos ng kamote (sweet potato tops), gata (coconut milk), kamunggay (malunggay/moringa), and guso (seaweed).
Photo courtesy of Ethel Sia
Tagbilaran Public Market is located in Dao, Tagbilaran City. It is just across Island City Mall, so far the largest mall in Bohol, so it is easy to find.
Island City Mall, Tagbilaran
Market hours at Tagbilaran Public Market start as early as 4:00 AM, when most of the fresh catch of the day are up for grabs.
Manga Public Market
If you fancy Bacolod’s pala-pala style, where you can personally pick your raw ingredients, even live fish and other seafood, then have them cooked the way you want, this is the market you want to visit.
Manga Market (Photo credits to Raymund Candelaria Marcaida)
Feel free to have your seafood grilled (sinugba), cooked as a stew (tinola), or even as ceviche (kinilaw). While it is largely known as a wet market, Manga Public Market is not just home for fresh fish. Meat products, fruits, and vegetables are also sold in this market.
Photo courtesy of Dhong Meggs
You can have the fresh finds you bought cooked at LicLic Restaurant at a price depending on the volume of your order and the variety of your dishes. Its contact numbers are (+63) 908-1725-101/ (+63) 929-394-6803/ (+63) 910-301-2139
Manga Market is 20 to 30 minutes away from Tagbilaran Sea Port and Tagbilaran Airport. Your best time to drop by is at 4:00 PM when fishermen have returned with some fresh afternoon catch.
Note to shoppers, diners, and travelers
During summertime, around April and May, you may want to take advantage of the fruits in season. Have a taste of local fruits such as chico (sapodilla), mangga (mango), langka (jackfruit), guyabano (soursop), santol, melon, and avocado.
Buying grated coconut meat from the market is not recommended if you have a sensitive stomach. But if you must, check the meat for any sour smell or taste. If you’re unsure, it’s better for you to just avoid it altogether.
Guinamos (fermented fish) is very common in this market. But be informed—there is not just one variety of this fish, but eight! The different varieties are due to the various levels of fermentation the fish is subjected to, resulting in each variety having its distinct taste.
Now here’s a real warning: be on the lookout for illegally sold sea creatures like thresher sharks and sting rays. While not all species of sharks and rays are protected in the Philippines, it is still best to avoid propagating their trade to help conserve and protect them. Illegal fishing and trade should be reported to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines.
On a lighter note, feel free to greet the vendors with “Maayong buntag!” (Good morning!) when shopping or window shopping in the morning. Who knows? It might make it easier for you to haggle when you’re actually buying.
Enjoy these markets in Tagbilaran as well as the rest of Bohol!