Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: Celebrating, Shopping in Massive Manila Malls OLA

Friday, March 4, 2011

Celebrating, Shopping in Massive Manila Malls OLA

parade along Ayala Avenue

yellow ribbons along Paseo de Roxas
We arrived on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution that toppled Marcos who ruled the country for 21 years, the last 14 under martial law, with his wife Imelda of 3,000 shoes. The trees were all tied with yellow ribbons in memory of Ninoy Aquino who, upon arrival from exile in the US, was felled by the bullet of an assassin at the Manila International Airport (now named after him). TV channels were playing videos of his speech about why he needed to come back to free his people, his hopes during his last minutes inside a China Airlines plane, and his dead body sprawled on the tarmac.
Ninoy at Ayala Ave cor. Paseo de Roxas, Makati 

Later in the day there were celebrations at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati which has become a podium for political expression by the lower and middle class. There, a statue of Ninoy lords it over the high-rises. His heroism led to the ascendancy of his wife Cory and the recent election of his son Noynoy as Presidents of a free Philippines. It was exhilarating to reminisce these moments in history when I was an idealistic yuppie participant. Our taxi driver was so proud. He felt that many countries (Egypt, Libya, and others) are now on the road to freedom because of our example!

Greenbelt Park Mall by night
our new home in Makati
But now we have settled in our new ‘home’ at the Prince Plaza 2 Condominium in Makati, the financial center of the Philippines. It is a comfortable 45 sq. m. (around 400 sq. feet) room, slightly larger than our RV! And it is right within the Greenbelt Park Mall, a complex of 5 malls around a green oasis with an open domed church in the center. During masses the malls and their shoppers are transformed into one giant community of worshippers! After all, the Philippines is 90% Catholic. But this post is really about a woman’s first impulse in a new country…shopping…which is one of its major attractions.

The Mall of Asia
The third largest mall in the world (after The South China Mall and The Great Mall of China in China) is The Mall of Asia with over 4.2 million square feet of floor area. It is in a reclaimed area known as Bay City in Manila Bay. An Esplanade faces the water and a boardwalk that features zip lines, performers, play areas, Segways, a Manny Pacquiao (the country’s hero-boxer) statue, and the famous Manila sunset. Inside are an ice skating rink, a Science Discovery Center, a Kid’s Universe, a convention center, an office complex, and over 1,000 stores in 2 levels of 4 buildings connected by walkways along the bay.

roaming around the boardwalk on a Segway
Beside the Greenbelt Park Mall is the larger Glorietta Mall, carved out of four buildings joined together into one complex creating a giant lobby at the center, both owned by the Ayalas along with 15 others. And nearby is Power Plant Mall at Rockwell Center, perhaps the most upscale of them all. In Ortigas is MegaMall, still the 8th largest mall in the world, owned by the Sys who also own Mall of Asia and 53 other shopping centers including SM City of North EDSA, the 7th largest and SM City of Cebu, the 12th largest.  Eastwood City is a unique little complex of office spaces and boutique but upscale outlets.
Manila Bay behind the mall

Then there’s Building 168, a mall within Divisoria - the Philippines’ Chinatown - where the goods, either Philippine handicrafts or shipments from China, are dirt cheap. One can easily get there via the above-ground MRT system now linking most of Manila and the 15 cities that comprise Metro Manila.  Two other tiangge-like (like flea markets) malls are the Greenhills Shopping Center which was converted into thousands of stalls and the new Tiendesitas (small tiendas or stores) which house Fashion, People, Food, Novelty, and Antique Villages. These are places to go to for bargains, other than the ukay-ukays!
Manny Pacquiao on the boardwalk

Metro Manila is truly a shopper’s paradise. Global brand names, Philippine handicrafts and designs, China and other Asian goods, and, yes, fakes that are so like the originals give everyone whatever is the best value for his money. Four of the Top 12 Largest Shopping Malls are here. And the Filipino people are so warm, friendly and hospitable that customer service in the country is legendary! Besides, every one of them, from the cab driver to the cleaning lady to the sidewalk vendor, speak English (actually, Taglish, a nice blend of Tagalog and English) which is in our constitution as our secondary language for business and for education.
a row of tiendesitas