Thursday, June 01, 2006


People go here and get out barely alive from the experience - welcome to Divisoria, a shopping heaven in what seems to be a little corner of hell in this City of our Affections. And yet, from what seems to be an eternity in walking the length and breadth of C.M. Recto, braving the roads which Philippine laws have given up ever controlling, side by side with sweaty people and cargadors on your left and moving(!) delivery trucks and passenger jeepneys on your right, we still come out happy from finding something we thought we'd never find, with bags of goodies on both hands, and a little braver from the trip. Welcome to Divisoria!

For firsttimers (Filipinos, and most especially foreigners), listen up:
1.) Divisoria isn't a mall. There are, however, many malls in this area, with 3 or 4 very popular ones you can visit.
2.) Always come with someone who knows the place very, very well. I cannot emphasize this well enough. For foreigners, go with someone who speaks Tagalog very well. This will help you haggle for discounts with the store attendant. If your companions speak Mandarin, so much the better! You can haggle directly with the Chinese owner.
3.) Make a list and check it twice. You wouldn't want to walk aimlessly alongside thousands of people in the midday sun. I tell you, you wouldn't last a minute.
4.) Know where to go, and know what you need. Divisioria is transected by several streets, each with its own specialty products. Ask friends who know.
5.) Bring a knapsack or a huge shopping bag. You wouldn't want to burden yourself with plastic bags. Help keep them off our rivers, seas and streets.
6.) Never buy something that you aren't too sure will fit you. Filipinos think that measuring a pair of pants by bringing the waistline around their necks will mean it will fit their waists. More likely, it won't.
7.) Just because it's cheap, it doesn't mean you must get it. Ask, ask, ask questions like "Do I need it?" or "Will it last long enough?". Since Divisoria is swimming in products made in - and smuggled from - China and Korea, you may want to review your buying options.
8.) Wear lite clothing. Lite shirts and shorts and comfy walking sandals or shoes. Bring a face towel if you're the kind who turn into a mini-waterfall of sweat. Need I say that you need to bring water, as well?

Get a bag first thing.You never know when you'd need it.

Know where to go. Every street has its specialty. Ilaya, for example, specializes in heavy draperies and bargain fabrics from China.

Bring an umbrella or wear a cap. It's very hot any time of the day. Stick to the sidewalk (or whatever is left of it) if you don't want to walk side by side with vehicles.


Sidney said...

My favorite place in Manila !
Not only a bargain hunters paradise but also a paradise for a photographer!
I start to know that place inside out!;-)and I love it !
I agree with your lessons! Great tips!

Anonymous said...

I still remember in 1959-60 I use to come with my mom when she is selling baby dresses that she made, I was a teen ager then wow! ang init. I am familiar with the place but I don't know now looks like I am ready to collapes seeing the crowd. If I go home I will try to visit the place just to see it again.

Cyber Agnes said...

I have lived in the Philippines for 23 years and I have never been to Divisoria. The only places I have been to are Baclaran,Quiapo, Escolta and Cubao. Divisoria was too far for our family to explore coming from Sucat, Paranaque. I guess that's my next shopping destination when I get a chance to go home. I've never been home since 1994.

Citizen of the World said...

To ANONYMOUS and Ate Agnes, do let us know when you come home. I'd bring you guys there. :-)

Ivan ManDy said...

Ahh yes, Divisoria mall, the only place in Manila where I got a (much coveted!) fake-Transformer toy... ;o)

bernadette said...

I lived in the Philippines for 22 years and loved going to Divisoria, but when I went home last May (after 10 years), I thought the whole Metro Mla is too crowded and the smog is even worst. Hindi na tuloy ako nagpunta sa Divisoria and Tutuban (are they the same?) I love your blog. It's very informative and educational. Please give more infor re: Mango Farm & Bamboo Organ- is they too far from San. Fernando, Pamp? Thanks.

Citizen of the World said...

Ms Bernadette, welcome pu queng kanakong blog. Salamat pu queng compliments. Nocarin na ko pu makatuknang ngeni?

Tutuban, the former railway station and depot, is now a mall and yes, it is right smack in Divisoria.

The Mango Farm is easily accessible via Marcos Highway is you are coming from EDSA. Since it is on the boundary of Pasig and Antipolo, i would say it would take you around two hours to get there from SFO (do visit The Mango Farm website for for details). I hope this link works.

The Bamboo Organ is just about the same, depending on traffic conditions. Since this is in Las Piñas, it might take you around 2 hours din po to get there.

bernadette said...

Keni ko Las Vegas. Meg-move ko almost a year now from Wisconsin.

It's so good to hear from someone kapampangan. It's like being home.

Thank you for the information. Maybe you can contact me if you happen to be in Vegas.

I will be in Mexico, Pamp. next year - January or Feb. perhaps

Citizen of the World said...

Good thing that PAL has a connecting flight to Vegas' Mccarran from Vancouver!

Ah, a post Christmas visit! The cold weather starts to wane by February.

bernadette said...

Yes. It's easier for me now than when I was in Wisconsin as it takes at least 23 hours to fly, let alone the lay overs.

I will definitely take my daughters to Bamboo Organ and The Mango Farm, and all the restaurants you mentioned in your blog.

When you visit Pampanga again, would you mind taking pictures of St. Scholastica's Academy? I miss it so much, but I did not have the chance to visit while I was there last May.

Citizen of the World said...

I am sorry to say, Ate, that the ONLY way to take a photo of old St Scho campus is to dig under the dried pyroclastic material that buried it :-(

At least i assmumed it was buried kasi I attended the nearby Don Bosco Academy and the only palatandaan of the former school are the pine trees, hehe! I'd crosscheck back home with relatives.

Wait, didn't St Scho have an older campus near the San Fernando Cathedral? Ito ba yun?

The Mango Farm isn't a resto, btw. Just a farm for rent for events. I can lead you around the Bamboo Organ. Maybe you can come home in Feb to attent the International Bamboo Organ Festival. I have some photos of the recent one in my blog.

bernadette said...

I think St. Scho near the Cathedral was the one that was buried but that one in San Agustin was not ruined at all.

My vacation request just came back this morning, and it is Feb. ideed. I'm looking forward to the Bamboo Organ Festival. Hopefully, it will be an enriching experience for my daughters. They're trying to learn Tagalog now. Thanks to TFC and GMA. And again, thanks for all the info you are providing.

Citizen of the World said...

How old are the kids? They might get bored. it's normally classical music and zarzuelas but I am pretty sure they'd enjoy the kakanin and puto bumbong carts outside the church.

bernadette said...

They will be 13 and 10 by then. They do get bored with that kind of music, but enjoy seeing new things and trying new foods..although a little squimish if doesn't look right to them. But I'm sure they will enjoy the creativity of the place especially the bamboo organs built. I showed them the Mango Farm pictures of yours, they're delighted. I am planning on hosting a party for my youngest daughter's 10th birthday there. It will be February 20th. thought it's a good way to see all relatives and friends. I'll probably make the reservations late December once my husband's request for vacation is officially approved.

Hope to meet you then...?


undiscussablerealms said...

i've never been to divisoria. i want to go there someday soon.

thanks for the tips, dylan. :)

Citizen of the World said...

Ate Bernadette, yes. Hope to see you by then. Please do book early so you can get to choose your preferred dates. Thanks in advance. Dont worry, it's not my business (it's a friend's) so I wont earn from it, he he!

Selina, welcome to my blog and leaving a comment. I hope you find time to discover Divisoria soon!