Located in a grand old building in Escolta, Saturday Market x Future Market is buzzing with merchandise, from vintage clothes, books and collectibles to paintings, handmade accessories, postcards and knickknacks by local artists.
Organized by 98B COLLABoratory, an artist-run initiative, the market is a place where artists can meet and sell their products.
98B was founded by visual artist Mark Salvatus and curator Mayumi Hirano in January 2012. They wanted to open up a space for artists to showcase their work, and Salvatus’ apartment provided just that—a home for Future Market which is coincidentally located in 98b, Cubao. Future Market then moved to First United Building in Escolta in July of the same year to work with ECAI (Escolta Commercial Association Inc.) in helping revive the former glory of Escolta. With a bigger venue, 98B decided to invite vintage sellers to encourage more people to come and bring diversity to the market.
Built in the 1920s, First United Building was designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro, son of the revolutionary painter Juan Luna. It has proven to be the perfect location for the Saturday market: spacious with bare walls, high ceilings, an old world feel. It certainly gives one the vibe of stepping into another dimension, where art, vintage and the future meet.
As part of the initiative to bring back the luster of Escolta, the monthly Saturday market is regularly drawing artists, art aficionados, collectors and people from all walks of life.
Celebrating Filipino culture
“We decided to have a theme every month to highlight a part of the Filipino culture, and also to shake things up a bit,” said Gabriel Villegas, one of the directors of 98B, referring to the new imposed rule for participants that started this year.
Each seller must include a product representing the theme. This month’s is Pinoy comics, and it has inspired Darna turbans, Superhero back scratchers and Captain Barbell shirts, among others.
Its first theme this year was the tranvia, a homage to the first Manila cable car that used to roam the streets of Escolta, followed by Mamang Sorbetero which was perfect for the April heat.
It became an avenue for artists to meet up and inspire each other, even prompting some to collaborate.
At the start of each month, 98B would post an open call for registration on Facebook. Artists and vendors pitch in and upload a sample of their products. They would be vetted and then notified if they got in with the announcement of when the next Saturday market would be.
Not your usual flea market, Saturday Market x Future Market is bursting with diversity. Every month brings a new experience, as the sellers vary from time to time. The place also welcomes installation and performance artists. While browsing, one could easily stumble upon a collector’s item or the perfect random gift. Ever had a tarot card reading session? You could do just that in Escolta for P150 .
Why just once a month?
“Logistics—we’re a small group and we can’t afford to do it every Saturday. And I think it’s part of the charm of the market, it’s either you go or you miss it. It’s something to look forward to every month,” Villegas said.
Labor of love
For 24-year-old graphic artist and Saturday market seller Leng Desuasido, it is her motivation to work. “At least there’s some place I could sell my works regularly,” Desuasido said, referring to her crocheted accessories. Stitched as a labor of love, a P200 turban takes her two hours to finish, while dainty little earrings that took her 30 minutes are for sale at P50.
“We really like this market, there’s no pretension. Just set your product on the floor or on a table. We like our products to be affordable and something you could use, and people here appreciate your work—that makes us happy,” said Dennis Puno of Punch Crafts. They started making products last year, making use of scrap leather to make key cases, cord ties, wallets, phone sleeves, and other tiny items.
With the market’s friendly vibe, customers can approach any stall and strike up a conversation with the sellers.
“It’s a passion project,” University of Santo Tomas alum Cla Gregorio said. Since the market is once a month, this prompts her to come up with new ideas and projects to bring to Escolta. Other than her Roy Lichtenstein-inspired “Game of Thrones” stickers and notepads, she also designed her own brand of witty items that leave her customers chuckling.
Web support specialist/comic book artist Ardie Aquino loves the crowd. “Everyone here is so nice, always open to share their techniques with individuals. It’s not selfish. It’s a community where everyone is willing to lend a helping hand.”
Most of the participating artists have day jobs and spend their free time creating art in preparation for the Saturday market.
“Artists have been making their own merchandise and we just provided a venue for them to sell and be self-sustaining with their work,” Villegas concluded.