Just about right


My nieces in the province shop in a budget mall in the city. The place used to be the swankiest place around town – the first mall in the city, the second mall in the province, to be exact. In its first two years of existence, that mall housed most of the signature brands in clothes, shoes and accessories. All the expensive brands had stalls inside, hoping to snatch the prospective clienteles, the big shoppers, the rich local folks who normally do their shopping expeditions in Alabang or at Greenbelt in the city of Makati. Β After three or four years, it became obvious that those with big purses still shop in Alabang and Makati. The big brands had to go away, eventually.


larawan ng ikalawang mall na naitayo sa aming probinsya

It’s a huge complex with low-rise buildings/ adpost.com


That pioneer mall still occupies the largest land and floor area compared to the two more mainstream malls that were built several years later and became more successful than the first – when it comes to enticing or luring people to shop. Methinks one of the old mall’s problems is the location. It’s out of the way, not along any of the city’s highways and therefore, accessing it became a little problem for the folks without private vehicles. And, as I said, the real rich apparently want to shop classy – abroad or in posh malls in the metropolis. I guess, they didn’t want it said that their Coach bags were bought in the nearest mall. So, that first mall was a flop, sort of.


But it broke a few grounds, I suppose. For one, it inculcated among the local people – the mall culture, the mall habit and among the young, the idea of mall rats being cool, haha. Malling became an accepted practice among my provincemates, most of whom have just been used to shopping in the traditional market. The idea of going inside a building or a complex to buy almost everything there, was gradually and gracefully introduced, even among rural and old folks. For another, the first mall made things easy for the next two malls. By the time they built their complexes, people were already conditioned and sold to the idea of malling. Parents were already trusting with the idea that their kids could spend half of a day inside a building – to look for shoes, to eat in the fastfoods and to loaf around, haha.


Lastly, that mall paved the ground for the commercialization of that strip where it is still located. After it was built, several businesses pegged their strongholds in the area. Two manufacturing ventures relocated there, two exclusive schools bought lots and reestablished their operations within the perimeter and an expensive funeral home made that street its headquarters. So much for a location that was once considered too distant, too far and too difficult to reach. Public utility vehicles with regular routes and regular trips became institutionalized and patronized among the locals and even among visitors from nearby towns. What was once a long, almost deserted street with tall cogon grasses on the sides is now a thriving commercial hub. Two real estate companies also bought in and built subdivisions nearby.


Looking at that row now, one could hardly recognize it from the place it was 15 years ago, when that mall first graced the landscape – the sole solid, cemented, polished and huge Β structure within one kilometer radius. It was strange, it was a crazy dream of sort, conjured up by men with way too much money and perhaps, too wild an imagination. That mall was built by the country’s manufacturing billionaire brothers who probably believed in the onus that once you build, they will come. And, people did. Not to shop, perhaps. The rich still shop in Alabang and Makati. The poor folks still buy most things from the wet market. But for the middle class, they shop in the two other malls – but they bought lots in that row, they established businesses there and they send their children to those schools in that area. People eventually came and followed on what those visionary builders built.


And so, nowadays, that mall has been converted into a depot of sort. It is a place where one could find things that could be purchased in Divisoria (the country’s market of cheapest goods) in the same price or almost as low. It has become a bagsakan (dumping ground) of things made in China and its clienteles consist mostly of people in my province with limited or little income. But there’s a lot of hustle and bustle there – you’ll see once you visit on any given day. There is visibly commerce, trade and exchange going on. And I say, Β it augurs well for the place and for my folks. Consider this, most rural people I know, especially in the remote barrios, were hostile to the idea of coming over to town or to the city to shop and to spend. With the conversion of that mall into a depot, many – a lot – have actually changed their minds. And their ways, I suppose.


Of course, there’s a number of issues attached to this phenomenon, but let us talk about them some other days. For now, am just happy that my relatives, who have limited incomes and little streams of money, have a place to go. And so, that depot is where my nieces get their shoes and their shirts and stuffs. My sisters and I are usually surprised at the ingenuity of these young girls’ purchases. I mean, they’ve become shrewd shoppers or sophisticated costumers, somehow… I’m awed at many of their buys, their conquests, so to speak. But one t-shirt of my niece stands out high in my esteem. I don’t know, it’s made from good cotton, cut excellently but it’s the message that probably got me: it’s related to blogging? πŸ™‚



[Oops, excuse, the text message is out of the shirt. Just thought I could make use of WordPress’s new apps that allows one to put in text inside a photo. Not yet. But I tried, people, swear I did…] ^_^


laarawan ng isang T-shirt na puting pambabae

It makes sense, huh?/ jeans-denim-b2b.com


The right to be heard

does not include

the right

to be taken seriously.






* I apologize to all of you for my rather long break and for the Kinder and Gentler, part 2 post not being published yet… I’ve been busy writing and editing other writings and have not found the time and concentration yet to string together my notes on our Thailand adventure. I hope to be able to do so before the month ends. So sorry and thanks for coming by.


Have a great weekend! πŸ˜‰


26 comments on “Just about right

  1. mmc.XD says:

    People tend to visit new malls and forget the old ones. I’m also into malling, shopping and all but I usually go to malls without too much crowd. I guess you’re from the South? πŸ™‚

    • Yes, people tend to flock to new malls and new commercial hubs and old ones are easily forgotten and become arcades and hang-outs of gangs and decadent types, haha. something like that… ^^

      am not much into malling in the last few years. regulated na, maybe. but 10 years or so ago, i was also a mall rat and a shopping junkie. it’s good, am more or less cured. πŸ˜‰ yes, dear, Southern Tagalog region… hello, Mary! πŸ™‚

  2. J.A. Vas says:

    yeah about the malls, they were also spreading like mushrooms in the city I originally came from. they built them all in the outer districts. and, as you describe, of course, all the people took their cars or the buses to go for a shopping there, or me and my friends: with the bike. furthermore, the people from the surrounding areas were passing by. anyway, they didn’t made the account/bill with the host (“sie haben die Rechnung nicht mit dem Wirt gemacht” as we would say in German): the inner city got deserted and abandoned. which made them put way more effort and energy in getting it revitalized… πŸ˜€

    • J.A. Vas says:

      aaaand of course: you have a great weekend, too!!!!! πŸ™‚

    • hello, J.A.! ah… your malls are spreading in the exterior to lure people away from the inner city. it’s a little different in our case – there are so many malls in the metropolis, very huge ones, they’ll put US malls to shame, haha, and the builders have started to invade the provinces as well since 10 years back, I think…

      nowadays, almost every province has three or four malls built and operated by the two leading malls in the country. i guess, the idea as usual, is to get people to shop, to buy, to bring them in and be part of the so-called great exchange. and, they’re succeeding… i don’t know if these ventures are sustainable, though. the income and livelihoods of the local people must increase and vary to support consumption and instant gratification, haha.

      i humbly suppose that in first world countries like yours, the trend is more of decongesting the inner and old cities. thus, planners are selling the idea of suburban living and developing the outer districts or the peripheries, i think… ^^

      however they do it, peoples’ lives are affected, in more ways than one… πŸ˜‰

      • J.A. Vas says:

        you have no imagination how big ours are! they put a whole lot villages and small towns to shame! πŸ˜€ yes, many sided affection, this is right. like modern art: whether one likes them or not. πŸ˜‰
        about the decongesting, well I’d say it’s contrary: in my home town it was a fight and meant huge financial effort to revive the inner city. and as I’m informed (casual some longer time ago) the inner cities are reviving again and small shops. let’s put it that way: in Germany and Austria we have beautiful and old inner cities, so there is some interest in keeping them alive. πŸ˜‰ recently I met some Americans who were amazed about all those old building – which they haven’t at home…

      • ahaha, i can imagine, somehow, dear. they’re simulation of villages, right? like, they’re asking people to move in? ahaha…they must look like Disneyland communities with different themes, haha… with us, developing countries, the focus is still in introducing buying, consumption and malling to the mass of people. i guess its’s different from the efforts and campaigns at developed or industrialized countries…^^

        oh, so, the’re city revivals and not decongestion efforts? but your cities are rather old and historical, they must really be interesting, my dear. and from what i’ve heard and read, restoration and revivals are more costly than building… i guess, the efforts and campaigns vary in different countries and also, the local people’s reception and reactions to them… ^^

        btw, i have this favorite late author, she’s a Canadian – name’s Jane Jacobs. she’s written a lot about urban planning, human ecology and such. her salespitch was livable cities. she’s interesting to read… ^^

        hey, cheers to us! have a great week, J.A…. πŸ˜‰

  3. munchow says:

    Generally I don’t have high thoughts about malls. I personally detest them, but also think they ruin locally run business and shops with more atmosphere and more human interaction. But I still understand the convenience of shopping malls – and I think it’s great when a mall turns into a depot as you describe in this post, and makes it possible for people with limited or little income to purchase goods.

    • hello, sir Munchow… ay, i’m with you, sir… personally, i prefer the saturday community market in the locality and the old shops or bazaars of the old days, where service is more personalized and consumer choices aren’t so many, they make one crazy, lol… ^^

      however, malls have become a huge industry in my country in the last 10 years or so, they have practically invaded people’s lives and yes, put down so many small businesses and controlled the supply chains of many, many goods. talk about undue advantage of big businesses over the tiny ones…

      but then, third world realities are different, i guess… introduction of malls and malling may abruptly interrupt, even ruin old livelihoods and ways of life of people. but it has also a way of bringing people into the fold of commerce and exchange, of buying and selling, of being in the marketplace, so to speak. and many people in my country need that, i suppose – to see what’s happening, to have desire for material goods and uplift, to be part of the buzz…

      and it has costs – in the way family lives and interactions are conducted, in the idea of quality life and mobility, in the peoples’ values in general… socially and economically, a great number of tiny and small businesses are affected – ruined- even.

      but in due time, i suppose, things and people will strive for balance – lessen excessive and conspicuous consumption and instant gratification. and, small businesses must find ways to get back on their feet – to innovate and invent new ways of doing business in the face of massive, mass-scale and impersonal selling and competition brought by real estate builders and giant malls… ahaha, just my thoughts, sir… thank you for indulging me… ^^

      have a great weekend with your loved ones… my deep regards. πŸ™‚

  4. nadia says:

    Great post, ‘San! You made me miss the Philippines.

    Living in a country where there are more malls than there are residential houses, I long for the simple community market, local shops (they are called souq in Arabic), or those once-a-week bazaars. But of course, given the hostile desert weather, malls are very practical and prevents one from dying out of dehydration whilst shopping.

    Back in the Philippines, my favorite was The Landmark in Makati. I love walking through their aisle of beauty products without the sales people bothering you. And there’s this coffee shop/bookstore in Ayala (Greenbelt?) where you can read to your heart’s content. I forgot the name, but I have spent HOURS reading there after work. But budget malls are a huge deal for a lot of people, myself including. Even though I have the money to spend now, I still find it intimidating to enter the upscale shops in the malls.

    • hello, Nadia dear! great to hear from you… miss mo na ang Pilipinas? sya… ^^

      i think malls are refuge in the deserts, haha. they’re haven, i suppose. besides, Arabic folks have more money, they can afford them, really… ^^

      hala, the Landmark is still the same. i accompanied my older sister there a few months back and curiously, almost everything there looks the same – the floors, the tenants, the old ways of conducting business. typically old school, old style, a bit more on the personal side, yes. they let you be and do not ask you to buy everything, haha. and you could spend three to five hours inside just looking and canvassing. the products aren’t as updated as the mainstream malls. but that’s a given, i guess…^^

      what’s the name of that bookstore in Ayala? am going to look for it, haha. am not much for upscale department stores and shops myself. it’s my siblings and nephews and nieces who are more into it… i don’t have the necessary funds and attitude, i guess. even at times when i have more money, i just pick certain stores that i feel comfortable buying in and become their loyal costumer, haha. ^^

      i hope you and masood and your loved ones are well. my regards… πŸ˜‰

      • nadia says:

        Your comment about Landmark is so funny! But yeah, when shopping, it’s important that the sales people leave us alone until we specifically ask for assistance. I have a hard time shopping when I know there’s someone watching what I’m doing, haha.

        Oh and now that I’m thinking really hard, I think the name of that bookstore is Powerbooks. I remember it is on the second level of Greenbelt. Spent so much alone time there to unwind and relax.

      • yeah, Landmark is still so the same, it feels almost like home, haha. i like what you said about the need for salespeople to give us some space and privacy and not be so-in-one’s face, ahaha. i don’t know, maybe am really not the modern shopper…^^

        ah, Powerbooks. there are so many Powerbooks branches nowadays but I have not made tambay at Greenbelt’s branch. i will, one of these days, i’ll try… btw, Greenbelt has undergone several renovations in the last few years. they’ve Greenbelt 1 to 5 now, each with a theme (sort of) and plenty of greeneries (plants). they’ve overhauled GB, not just spruced it and you’ll probably hardly recognize it from before – very upscale now… πŸ˜‰ cheers, dear!

  5. chilledhoney says:


    Shopping malls are sprouting like mushrooms, as in everywhere…. πŸ™‚

    How can I save now? How? If access is very near? (well, that’s the main point, Isnt it? to bring the business within the reach of the market?) … Ikanga nga, “isang tumbling na lang, nasa mall ka na”

    How???? Tie myself to WP could be a good idea hihihihi….

    Anyway, I sometimes do malling especially when its so hot outside (naghanap lang pala ng libreng aircon, pedi naman di ba, why not coconut?). Pag di mainit ang pakiramdam, di din mainit ang ulo… ay hahahaha, tama ba? (kamot ulo)

    The Philippines is aesthetically improving, in and out of the city. I hope progress would be more kind to us… as in…

    And in fairness, ngayon, gusto ko na ang loob ng mga sinehan, wala ka nang katabing ipis hihihi!

    Hello there! just rising from a deep slumber!

    • hello, chilled honey… puro mallls na nga, as in… dumaan din ako sa at least seven years sigurong halos lahat ng income ay idini-deposit sa malls, haha. may three years pa yatang i was spending beyond my income, kainaman. halos gabi-gabi ay dumadaan at nagpi-pay tribute sa mall, patatawarin… ^^

      in the last few years, hindi na. nag-mellow na, sana…the thing is, kahit sabihing dadaan lang at magpapalamig at wala talagang bibilhin, at least three hundred pesos pa rin ang nagagastos, ahaha. better, better na than before na three thousand ang isang dumaan sa mall, hihi.

      but you’re a mother… a mom could hardly help na pag may nakitang pwedeng ikasaya o magkasya sa anak ay bibilhin, haha. ^^

      ah, oo, mas gumanda na ang maraming malls. mas in favor na talaga sa buying costumers, kumbaga. and yes, movie houses are a lot better these days. more expensive nga lang, haha… what to do, eh?

      salamat sa pagdaan at sa comment, ha… spend the rest of the week happy πŸ˜‰

  6. J9 says:

    I love the shirt!

    There was a huge mall in our city that sounds a lot like this “pioneer mall.” It opened to much fanfare when I was 8. It had 2 toy stores, 3 large department stores, a 2-story water fountain, and all the typical name-brand mall stores. The glass exterior was used on TV a lot. I thought it was magical. My parents would take us for dinner on Friday nights. They had trick-or-treating at the stores on Halloween. It was one of our favorite hang-outs as teenagers. I had my first job there. Eventually, other malls in the area upgraded and ours began to tire. Cutomers left. Big brands moved out, discount stores moved in. Eventually, someone bought it and completely refurbished it. They demolished everything but kept the framework intact, creating a new outdoor mall with it (and won some sort of “green” award.) They filled it with upscale stores and restaurants, even incorporating upscale apartments. We don’t go often: we can’t afford to shop there.

    • Thanks, J9! i love it, too. πŸ˜‰

      oh, i could imagine that mall huge in your memories, haha. you were taken there as a kid, hang out there as a teenager and you WORKED there! that’s cool, as in… you could write about those days when you were new in the workforce and actually working inside the mall. what a good material! do write about it one day – i’ll be looking forward to that… πŸ™‚

      so, YOUR MALL is green and upscale now. and it used to be your and your friends’ mall – what twist of fate, dang! do write about it – in a series – i will surely read. can’t wait to read about your takes on the transformation, haha. ^^

      regards to you and your loved ones. and, thanks for dropping by. cheers! πŸ˜‰

  7. renxkyoko says:

    Hi, there, Ate !

    believe it or not, Americans are not mall rats. So okay we shop and shop constantly, but it’s to buy stuff, not to hang out. we get out of the mall as fast as we can.

    • hello, Ren! hugs, my dear. πŸ™‚ it’s been a while. no more jetlag, eh? ^^

      oh, i believe you, sister. Americans don’t seem to live in the malls as Filipinos do. Pinoys hang out in the malls far longer, yes… most malls have chapels inside now – masses are celebrated there so people won’t have to go in a separate place. can you dig that, huh? ^^

      there are also huge clinics and even hospitals inside the malls, as in… builders have probably decided that Pinoys would reside inside the malls and go out only to work and earn more money to spend inside the malls, haha.

      there are cultural centers and exhibition areas also for the mall regulars’ cultural aspect, so to speak… but generally speaking, malling is a way of life here and builders have designed those malls as huge public spaces for the visitors to experience everything inside. it’s been a silent invasion, hehe. ^^

      na-miss kita, kapatid. glad to see you back… cheers! πŸ˜‰

  8. ladyfi says:

    Malls are very convenient, but I do like the individual independent shops that are now, unfortunately, disappearing quickly.

    • can’t agree with you more, ms. ladyfi, on account of both… independent shops find it harder to thrive, sadly… but maybe, they’d find ways to keep in business if more costumers would want what they provide, I guess… you’re back, huh? πŸ˜‰

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