Malls, Shopping Centers, Things to buy
LOOKING FOR THINGS TO BUY
Shopping in Metro Manila can be fun and rewarding since almost all of the goods from all over the country are found here. Native arts and crafts are among the best things you can buy, as well as ready-to-wear clothes, embroidered and women's accessories, household furnishings, and uniquely Filipino souvenirs.
If you have to missed out on visiting the provinces where these native items are made, don't worry, you can actually find a wide selection to choose from in the malls and shopping complexes of Metro Manila.
A lot of the malls are one-stop shopping centers with everything found under one roof -- department stores, groceries, a wide range of shops and boutiques, fast food outlets and specialty restaurants, movie theaters, entertainment and recreational facilities for the whole family. Even art galleries, an ice skating rink, and a chapel can be found in some of them.
Every mall carries at least one leading department store such as Rustan's, Shoemart (SM), or Robinson's. Each department store has a handicrafts section (usually called the "Filipiniana" section) that's worth looking over. This is where you can find native woodcarvings, basketry, woven items like bags, place mats, and rugs of various tribal designs, metalwork in brass or silver, jewelry, cigars, swords, and daggers, items made from shells, stone, marble, and volcanic ash, and Philippine native dress for men and women.
Department stores will vary in the range of handicrafts they carry. Also, Manila prices are not as cheap compared to the provinces where these handcrafted items came from. You might want to go mall-hopping, if you can.
Shoemart (SM) department stores tend to have wider selection than either Rustan's or Robinson's, while Rustan's department stores tend to have a number of upscale native items that might not be found in the other two.
It's also a good idea to be on the lookout for shops devoted exclusively to handicrafts and other Philippine made items that make great gifts and souvenirs. Some of the best buys aren't even in the shops themselves but in the stalls either scattered all over the mall, or clustered together in a bazaar-type set-up.
Aside from handicrafts, Manila is also a good place to buy clothing for tropical weather. Try any Shoemart (SM) department store. There are lots of good quality shoes, too. Large sizes for clothing and shoes may be a little hard to find since sizes are geared more on Asian body type. You can also find the latest music cassette tapes, CDs, and books both foreign and local.
Among the different cities in Metro Manila, the businesses and commercial areas of Makati and Mandaluyong are where the better malls are located.
To start you off on your shopping expedition, here's a quick tour of some of the shopping malls and commercial complexes in Metro Manila.
A QUICK TOUR OF METRO MANILA MALLS
Shopping in Makati
The best place to start would be the Ayala Center. Other shopping places are 6750 Ayala Avenue, and Greenbelt.
The Ayala Commercial Center is a vast, sprawling complex located between EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), Ayala Avenue, Makati Avenue, and Pasay Road. As long as you keep in mind where these streets are, it's relatively easy to stroll your way in and out, and around Ayala Center's halls. But if you need any help, the Ayala Center has convenient map displays as well as user-friendly Automated Shopper's Guides (ASGs) located at the end of hallways. Just step up to the console, touch the screen, and look for the item or store category you want. The screen will show you how to get there.
You may want to visit a few stores such as Island Spice and Pidro for one-of-a-kind tropical clothing, light cotton shirts, T-shirts, shorts and sarongs. There's also a small nook called the Museum Shop selling art reproductions, statues, and a few native souvenirs. Another small store called Things sells native goods from the Philippines as well as from other countries. Their prices may range from being reasonable to rather high depending on the item.
The Goldcrest Square is where you should go to for Filipino antiques. Even if you don't intend to buy anything, it's still a great place to browse from shop to shop and see how Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and American influences have blended with tribal Filipino culture.
Tesoro's is a store where you can find wearable native dress suitable for semi-formal occasions. They also have embroidered and woven items such as place mats, table cloths, and other household items made from Philippine materials.
Right beside it is the Filipino Bookstore. It has books about Philippine tourism, its arts and crafts, culture, history, food, business, Filipino psychology, and the country's flora and fauna.
In the middle of Glorietta is an atrium where you can find stalls selling items that change every few weeks. Some of the themes they've had in the past include sales on audio and visual components, photographic equipment, and products made by local craftsmen and small businesses.
The Ayala Center's Glorietta closes at 8:00PM. However, there's still lots of activity on the third floor. Many of the restaurants here are open until late in the evening, even after midnight. There's a lot to choose from, including the internationally known TGI Friday's, Hard Rock Café, and Fashion Café Manila. There's also the innovative establishment of Streetlife that features fun dinning with twenty-two restaurants, food shops, and bars.
Park Square 1 is a building adjacent to the Glorietta. A lot of electronic stores are found here., as well as service centers, audio entertainment stores, and optical shops.
The Ayala Center also has a number of department stores like Rustan's, Shoemart (SM), and Landmark. Each one of them has a grocery and easily accessible from the Glorietta.
High-end boutiques with imported products are found in 6750 Ayala Avenue. But unless there's a sale, you should know that imported items are not cheap here in the Philippines. Aside from its imported shops, 6750 has a jewelry store, Fe Panlilio Jewelers, where you can find some uniquely designed pendants, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and other ornamental pieces. There is also a Starbucks coffee shop and the Giraffe Café around the corner of the 6750 building.
Another mall located in Makati is Greenbelt. Smaller than the sprawling Ayala Center, Greenbelt's main attractions are its restaurants, movie theaters, and specialty stalls selling Philippine-made gift items at inexpensive prices. You can find these stalls in the middle of the Greenbelt Square, below the cinemas. The Greenbelt Mall itself has a small range of stores. Fashion boutiques, shoe stores, music stores, a cloth shop, a gift store, a photographic store, and a new age shop are among kinds of establishments found here. There are a few more shoe and clothing stores that offer discounts at the Greenbelt Arcade, while the Greenbelt Plaza Complex has its own department store and drugstore.
Shopping in Mandaluyong
The Ortigas Commercial Center in Mandaluyong city has three popular malls: the SM Megamall, Shangri-La Plaza, and Robinson's Galleria.
SM Megamall is located along EDSA and is said to be the longest mall in the country. Within its two long buildings, you'll find six floors of shops, an ice skating rink, an amusement center, kiddie rides, and twelve cinemas. On the fifth floor is the Megatrade Hall with its changing exhibitions and fairs. It's been a venue for car shows, book fairs, computer fairs, toys and gift fairs, and even sporting goods sales.
There are several galleries on the fourth floor showcasing Filipino art. There are also stores selling Philippine-made furnishing like Memory Lane. You may want to take a look at Old Manila. This store has a lot of small antiques, old books, and old jewelry. The Museum Shop is on this floor which sells art from some regions of the Philippines, as well as native items from foreign tribes.
The Tahanan store and Regalong Pambahay both sell items and knick-knacks for the home. Tahanan is a good place to find modern basketware; while Regalong Pambahay has items which are a blend of both contemporary and traditional design.
There's an outlet of Island Spice here, if you want to find exotic tropical wear. Some of the stalls also carry interesting T-shirts that can serve as souvenirs of your visit to the country. The stalls are found on the bridgeways that connect each floor from building A to B.
SM Megamall's major department store is Shoemart. It spans five floors, has a grocery and a hardware section.
Right beside SM Megamall, and bordered by EDSA and Shaw Boulevard is the Shangri-La Plaza. This mall caters more toward the high-end market. Though this may be true, not everything is expensive. It has a good variety of shops and restaurants. The ambiance is very relaxed because it doesn't get overcrowded like the other malls. For entertainment, there's the William J. Shaw Theater (seats 500) where you can watch plays and musicals by the Repertory Philippines Company. There are two cinemas, a Ripley's Believe It or Not exhibit, as well as occasional art exhibits.
There's a big Old Manila outlet on the sixth floor. It has old books, a few from before the turn of the century, as well as antique jewelry, and other small antique items. Nearby, almost right beside it is another antique store which might be described as being less stodgy with its display of old jukeboxes, coke bottles, electric fans, and gramophones.
Shangri-La Plaza may not be big as Megamall, but it still has a lot of interesting shops and kiosks. The stores selling household goods and furnishings might have a few native handicrafts, but probably only of one type such as shell products, or woodworks. The best thing to do to find handicrafts is go to the Rustan's department store, and in case you need to buy a special gift for someone while you're in Manila, Rustan's has an outlet of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art shop.
Robinson's Galleria along Ortigas Avenue and EDSA has recently expanded, and now offers a much wider selection of shops. There are more specialty stores whose offerings range from computer software, to bargain books, leather products, and even whimsical household décor and furnishings.
The Robinson's department store has everything handicrafts, to clothes, cosmetics, houseware and grocery. Between the grocery and the food court are a few stalls selling items like bargain clothes, silver jewelry, and watches. Even even more stalls selling inexpensive dresses, blouses, and other apparel occupy a wing on the third floor.
A store that may be of interest to the souvenir hunter is Nature Camp on the third floor. The gift shop has items whose designs are inspired by tribal culture. The store carries spears, letter openers, note pads, notebooks, jackets, vest, and other one-of-a-kind souvenir items.
Shopping in San Juan
The Greenhills Commercial Center along Ortigas Avenue still draws a crowd even though it's a rather old place. It's definitely not as posh as the other malls, but its attraction lies in its covered and air-conditioned bazaar area which changes its line-up of goods every month or so. Also known as bangketa (literally meaning "sidewalk" or "curb-side" in local terms), it's here where you can find rows and rows of stalls selling jewelry, loose gems, pearls, antiques, and household items. At other times, the stalls are filled with clothing, shoes, or even orchids and other garden plants both real and artificial. You can bargain down the prices at these stalls, but they're already relatively inexpensive to begin with. Other places to visit at the Greenhills Commercial Center are the boutiques and specialty shops in Virramall and Shoppesville arcade.
Shopping in Ermita and Malate
Situated in the tourist districts of Ermita and Malate are Robinson's Place and Harrison Plaza. But, aside from these two shopping centers, there are plenty of small shops lined along A. Mabini street, selling handicrafts, antiques, art, and souvenirs.
The new Robinson's Place along M. Adriatico Street in Ermita is next to Manila Midtown Hotel. Robinson's Place has its own supermarket, department store, and an array of shops and boutiques.
You might want to visit a small antique shop called Yamasawa on the third floor if you're interested in jewelry, coins, and woodwork. Another interesting store on the third floor is Hanuman Music and Crafts. They offer a selection of hand drums of excellent quality with Philippine tribal designs and traditional rattan weaving. These beautiful drums will appeal to both musicians and non-musicians alike. The store also carries a smattering of native gift items, incense, and few shelves of New Age books.
Harrison Plaza in Malate is located between A. Mabini and M. Adriatico streets. It's also right beside the Century Park Sheraton Hotel, and the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden. There are some bargain stalls on the ground floor's center atrium where you may find some gift items. There are also eating establishments, cinemas, and specialty shops.
One nice thing about Harrison Plaza is that it has, not just one, but two major department stores under its roof: Shoemart (SM), and the upscale Rustan's. On the first floor of Harrison Plaza is an antique shop called Kabul. Here, you can find a lot of exotically designed jewelry pieces, as well as statues, and glassware. On the second floor, Fo Kuang Yuen sells Chinese decorative objects, statues, and small sample of jewelry made of jade and other semi-precious stones.
A FEW SHOPPING TIPS
Scan the local newspapers for any sale events you might be interested in.
Take note of mall-wide sales like Midnight Madness sales. You'll either want to join in, or avoid the crush of people and vehicles.
It's best to dress comfortably, but not too casually. For example, do wear shorts, but avoid wearing just slippers on your feet. You'll get better service if you dress well.
Most major credit cards are accepted; however, bring your passport or I.D. as stores often ask for it to help in verification.
When paying for sale items with your credit card, ask the store clerk if the discount still applies. Some discounts are only available if you pay in cash.
Comfort rooms are generally clean in the shopping malls. But bring your own tissue paper.
Always keep your valuables with you, or within your sight.
If you're carrying a large bag (such as backpack, or an overnight bag), you might be asked to deposit it at the store's bag counter.
It's normal for store clerks to follow you around. They do it so that they can assist you immediately when you ask them to.
The best hours to travel are late in the morning until mid-afternoon. This way, you avoid both the morning and late afternoon rush hours (approximately from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. )
If you're driving your own car, parking may become a problem after office hours, on Friday nights, paydays, and on weekends.