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Molave Community Marketplace: A Creative Haven Revitalizing Cebu's Spirit

In the heart of Cebu, a once quiet and overlooked street is now teeming with life, thanks to the visionary behind Molave Community Marketplace (MCM). In this exclusive interview, we delve into the inspiration, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped MCM into a thriving hub of creativity and community engagement.

The founder of MCM shares the inspiration behind this transformative project, drawing from the dynamic pop-up cultures of Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan. The Molave Street, once perceived as a 'dead street,' became the canvas for a unique experiment where entrepreneurs could test and refine their projects before entering larger markets like food parks. The mission is clear - to prepare these individuals for the big leagues while celebrating the community that supports them.

Getting all the vibes from the pop-up culture in Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan has been nothing short of inspiring – it's practically etched in my mind. After I got my space for my barbershop which is! The vision hit me instantly.

Now, my landlord might see the street as a bit quiet, almost like a ghost town with little foot traffic. But, you know what I see? I see potential, I see opportunity. It's a canvas where I can create anything I want outside

Besides, the passersby on the street may not be my initial target audience, and that's perfectly okay!

Moreover, my confidence is bolstered by the loyal clientele I've already cultivated. With their unwavering support, I'm ready to embark on this exciting journey of creativity and innovation.

Rather than a forced collaboration, MCM's growth organically involved the local community. Starting with a barbershop, the founder selected individuals who shared the same passion for creativity and innovation. Today, MCM employs members of the local community as cleaners, security personnel, and parking attendants, supported by the success of vibrant pop-up events.

In Molave Street, where there are no residents, I noticed a growing crowd visiting MCM. I worried that my landlord might ask me to stop the fun. Then, there was a moment when I saw him coming down, and I thought, "This might be the day for MCM to stop." So, I approached him, apologized for any inconvenience, and do you know what he said? "I came down to buy coffee, and I like what you're doing because our street is now alive."

It's fantastic to witness new businesses driven by passion popping up around Molave Street. We have Mark from Happy Garaje opening his coffee shop "Misfits Coffee," Joel of Urban Shift Studio with his office nearby, Mona of Unosinotra, Rizzan of Revive Shoe Cleaning and Repair Services, a Y2K thrift store, and JD of Banana Pancake Trail. There are also tattoo shops like CoiMax and Dhan Lee Inko, and one of the pop-ups before, Jeremy of Napolitani Pizza. I'm excited and hopeful that more businesses with the same passion will open in our vicinity. Let's keep the vibrant energy flowing!

Despite initial concerns about foot traffic, the founder received overwhelming support from the landlord and witnessed the street coming alive. New businesses, driven by passion, have sprouted around Molave Street, contributing to the vibrant energy and fostering a sense of community.

MCM offers a diverse array of attractions, including owner-interacted food stalls, handmade accessories, thrift finds, tarot readers, and even analog vinyl DJs. The marketplace doesn't adhere to a strict plan; instead, it embraces the spontaneity of its vendors, creating a unique and ever-changing experience for visitors.

Currently, our main challenge revolves around the rapid growth in visitors, attracting both local and foreign tourists. The overwhelming response has been fantastic, and we're now faced with managing a community of over 600 vendors who are eager to be part of MCM.

Admittedly, my background lacks direct experience in managing a movement of this scale. However, recognizing the need for extra hands, I've started seeking support from individuals who can assist in handling the increasing foot traffic and managing the growing number of vendors. It's a learning process, and I'm actively exploring ways to streamline operations and ensure that the vibrant and dynamic atmosphere at MCM is maintained.

MCM is not just a marketplace; it's a platform preserving and showcasing Cebu's local culture. From vintage items like film cameras and classic vinyl records to collaborations with local music artists and graffiti collectives, the marketplace is a dynamic tapestry of creativity and heritage.

MCM has collaborated with local artists, musicians, and graffiti collectives. The founder is open to future collaborations, seeing them as a source of inspiration and a way to encourage similar initiatives in other communities.

I have successfully attained my goal for MCM, exceeding my initial expectations. It’s important to underscore that MCM draws inspiration from the punk and hardcore ethos, embodying principles like anti-capitalism, anti-establishment sentiments, a Do-it-Yourself culture, inclusivity, and voluntarism. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to employ individuals experiencing homelessness as street security and cleaners. This initiative is funded through contributions from our regular traders at MCM

Having achieved initial goals, the founder sees MCM as an inspiration for others. Future partnerships could bring fresh ideas, contributing to community engagement and vibrancy. The vision extends to collaborating with the government to replicate MCM's success in other areas.

Molave Community Marketplace is more than a marketplace; it's a testament to the transformative power of community-driven initiatives. By fostering unity, creativity, and inclusivity, MCM becomes a model for grassroots efforts that elevate the vibrancy and spirit of a neighborhood. The message is clear: when a community comes together, incredible things happen. Molave Community Marketplace stands as a beacon of positive change, showcasing the boundless possibilities that arise when a community embraces collaboration and shared purpose.

PHOTOS BY: John Rex 


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