A particular dining place in Puerto Princesa has been attracting a growing crowd of locals and tourists for its unique local recipes and classic Filipino favorites.
While relatively quiet during the morning, at night this street, Junction 1, comes alive with not only food but live entertainment performances and upbeat music.
The place where Rizal and Fernandez streets meet, has now become a food district with five establishments where people can have meals at affordable prices: from adobo, tinola, and sinigang to midnight munchies of grills and sizzlers.
These establishments are Aloeha Mercato de Runway/Banchetto de Acacia, Citric, OBOS Place, Baga-Baga, and Junction Street Market, which opened in 2016 and 2017.
Siblings Loyd and Armi Policarpio, who run Aloeha, said that like the other establishments, they also sell the same food. However, their hub is extra special because it’s built in the open air and an Acacia tree serves as their roof.
“The distinct feature of Aloeha is that it’s built as an open space, yung puno ng Acacia ay ang pinaka-bubong, and nasa harap yung runway, thus, Mercato de runway–Banchetto de Acacia,” Armi said.
While they all function almost similarly, the establishments were put up for different reasons.
“It was supposed to be a branch of Ka-Inato, but turned into a Mercatto-Banchetto combo like that of the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig,” said Loyd of Aloeha.
OBOS Place operations manager Paulo Subarba said their place is very inviting to tourists “structure-wise.”
“Structure-wise, this place is very inviting and appealing to the tourists. Yung hinahanap lang naman nila is something new,” said Suburba of their two-floored bamboo food park in Junction 1.
The owners, he said, wanted to offer a place whose concept is about mingling with the people and unwinding at the same time.
“They wanted a place where they could mingle and unwind, but then, they thought why not share it with everyone, turn it into a business?” he said.
The Policarpio siblings said they initially intended to open Aloeha along Rizal Avenue, where there is high food traffic. However, there was no available space and rent is very high.
“Kaya doon din yung highest rate of rent per square meter. We couldn’t put it up there, dahil walang available space, and luckily meron sa Junction. It’s a strategic location.” Policarpio detailed.
“There’s nowhere else to put up a place like this,” Aloeha renter for two years, Dan Kelly, said.
Kelly, who owns a bar with the size of four stalls combined, joked he had to get the big space to eliminate competition.
“That’s why I have the biggest bar in here,” Kelly said.
Despite Junction 1 getting busy now, Armi said there were already stalls that had closed operations in the past months because owners may have “lost patience”, especially during the first phase.
“Kapag hindi nila natantya kung paano gawin yung business, nahihirapan. Lalo na sa first phase, pahabaan ng patience ‘yan. Hindi naman magbo-boom agad, so nagiging mahaba yung proseso. Fortunately, after a year, nakikilala naman na, hindi lang yung Aloeha, kundi yung buong Junction per se. Lahat kami, napuntahan na, nakikilala na,” she said.