Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kopi Talk Adventure right in Manila: Shopping in Divisoria! By Gael Hilotin, Contributor

Inexpensive goods and great buys abound in Divisoria, which started out as a market in Manila that dates back to Spanish colonial era. Nowadays, all the streets around it are collectively called Divisoria. This is the shopping mecca of the cheapskates, where you can bargain to as much as half the products' original cost. Even most small and medium-scale businesses order their supplies in Divisoria. If you're into the unique Divisoria shopping experience, be prepared for an adventure! Great goods don't come easily so you better learn to deal with a huge crowd, heat, and traffic jam. Make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes, jewelry is a big no-no, and flaunting your gadget is highly discouraged. Bring shopping bags, cash, and learn how to haggle. Here are some of the streets and malls to check out when in Divisoria: 1. Juan Luna Street - If you're riding a jeep from Manila to Divisoria, Juan Luna Street will be the first to welcome you. This is a long street that you’ll encounter near Binondo Church all the way to Recto Avenue. Juan Luna Street is known as the area to shop for shirts, printing and office supplies and bags. Its sidewalk is also crowded with vendors selling ready-to-wear clothes, accessories, towels, curtains, toys, textiles, fruits, school supplies, and home décors. Walk further down the road and you’ll come across the Wet Market. 2. 168 Mall – The queen of all shopping malls in Divisoria is 168. This beehive is oozing with shops selling shoes, RTW clothes, mobile phones, computers, electric appliances, bags, jeans, accessories, arts and crafts among others. The top floor is dedicated to shops selling RTW apparel and the food court, which features authentic Chinese dishes. 3. Claro M. Recto Street – The easiest to reach from LRT station, this bustling avenue comes alive with colorful large umbrellas that serve as roofs of hawker tables crowding almost every available space. Clothes, shoes, slippers, baby apparels, belts, or just about any accessories you can imagine is sold here starting at Php 10. 4. Tutuban Center Prime Block and Cluster Building– Before the introduction of 168 Mall, there was the peach-colored legendary shopping mall called Tutuban Mall and the Cluster Building strategically facing Recto Avenue. Like any other malls in Divisoria, your bargaining skills will be put to test here. The building is packed with bazaars of competing manufacturers and shops selling affordable bags, shoes, textiles, jeans, cosmetics, school supplies, electric appliances, mobile phones and home decors. 5. Ylaya Street – This area is known as the old Divisoria. Ylaya is a legendary street that comes alive with racks and tables of bed sheets, kitchen wares, food packaging, textiles, handicrafts. If you're a party planner on a budget, this street is your haven: gowns, pets, party and wedding supplies and souvenirs for sale as well as old-forgotten commercial buildings abound here. 6. New Divisoria Mall – Before there was Tutuban Mall, and then there’s the New Divisoria Mall. Here you’ll find electronic gadgets, bags, school supplies, kitchen wares, appliances, toys, wholesale diapers, and even fresh vegetables, meat, chicken, and fish. 7. Tabora Street – Bride on a budget? This place is for you! If you’re looking for custom-made gowns and dresses, custom jewelry, upholstery, party supplies, textiles and sewing materials, then you won’t be disappointed to shop in this area. Regular wedding gowns range from 2,500 to 15,000. 8. Sto. Cristo Street – If you’re hunting for candies and junk food, this is the right area for you to visit. Here you’ll find gummy worms, popcorns, bubble gums, lollipops, chips and chocolates. There are also stalls dedicated to school uniforms, detergents, dish washing soaps, fabric conditioners, and bakery supplies like food coloring and shake flavors. 9. Carmen Planas Street – This area is overflowing with seedless grapes, apples, lanzones, watermelon, pineapple, citrus fruits, and other fruits being sold all year round. 10. El Cano, M. De Santos and Asuncion Street – These less-frequented streets of Divisoria is where you’ll find feeds for animals, live fishes and crustaceans, baking supplies, agricultural products, plastic products and food packaging. -----------------------------