Monday, September 08, 2008


Manila's Mayor Lim has been doing a lot to make the city more pedestrian-friendly these days; however, despite such efforts, some unpleasant elements still exist. But even Paris has its pickpockets, claimed Jake Ramirez who wrote "When Prices Go Up, Go Downtown Manila."

Nowadays, when times are hard, Manila is the place to go for bargain hunting if you want to be stylish at the least cost, he asserted. He cited some establishments in the Quiapo and Santa Cruz districts that offer affordable prices, and here's what he had to say about Avenida:

Rizal Avenue is enjoying a renaissance in terms of shopping. What used to be glitzy store chains of yesteryears are now big “ukay ukay” stores, with items ranging from Prada to Gucci.

Unlike the Baguio counterparts where the good stuff is separated from the bad ones, in Avenida it is free-for-all—one must patiently seek good buys. An ukay store is for toys and collectibles, from Japanese anime to old favorite Snoopy and Thomas The Train.

National Bookstore has renovated its Avenida store—all six floors in two separate buildings connected by a bridge way. It is a bookworm’s paradise waiting to be rediscovered.

Along Avenida, the newsstands offering local, imported titles give a welcome respite from the rising prices of magazines. Imagine getting the latest Vogue or GQ for P200 (P600 elsewhere)—that’s almost 200-percent savings.

Most of the watch stores from the heydays of Avenida are still there. Selling mostly Seiko and Orient, some carry original and brand-new Tag Heuers, Tissots, Oris, and other premium brands with less hefty price tags.

I was able to buy three vintage Sandoz Swiss automatic watches for less than the market prices. I am happy that friends mistook them for a Rolex. (My research showed that Sandoz was founded in 1870 and most of its designs are similar to Rolex’s.)

Continue reading here.

Now, for those locals who consider shopping at these places as baduy and would rather frequent 168 Mall in Divisoria, they should know that in New York City, savvy fashion stylists along with hordes of Japanese tourists comb the thrift shops and vintage clothing stores not only in Manhattan but in downtown Brooklyn's Williamsburg section as well. Fashion editorial spreads often include ensembles and accessories discovered from such stores, while second hand worn out jeans by Levis and Nike sneakers had been reported to fetch as much as a couple of hundred dollars a pair back in Japan.

Actually, in New York, authentic stuff from these dirt cheap establishments are considered more cool than those brand new fake designer clothes and shoes from China.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:13 AM


Blogger Amadeo said...

Madison Department Store along Avenida - now that is a blast from the past.

Cannot seem to forget their bargain sale days when prices were really slashed to the bone. A nice place then to get your new polo shirts and tees.

September 08, 2008 7:22 AM  

Blogger EM said...

Reminds me of my pasyalan during my University days. when I feel like walking or needed to think, I would walk from Quiapo, through Claro M Recto, get to Espana and then home. I would go in National Bookstore (in the picture) even though I don't need anything. I somehow know something in it would make me smile or take my thoughts away for a moment. The fences are new though. I don't remember it being there.

Another walk to memory lane Senior... salamat.

September 08, 2008 8:07 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

Thanks for the reminder,Eric! I had an aunt who is the proverbial bargain hunter and since I was her willing niece, I would always tag along! Which is why I got to know Quiapo and Divisoria.
Also, back to walking around Manhattan, I would always be surprised that the same jewellry would keep getting cheaper as you go down the road! So I never shopped at midtown Manhattan but would keep walking till I reach Chinatown or the Italian side, Indian side...

September 08, 2008 10:26 AM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

Good post and info for those who want a truly Manila bargain shopping.

I was reminded as well that nobody pays retail prices in NY. I guess unless you are a tourist or from out of town. We always go to Century 21 or China Town and not 5th Avenue.

I guess finding that gem at half the price is the thrill of the shopping!

September 08, 2008 10:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Net net, Manila is still cheap.
In hongkong you can shop for clothes for local and export and the venues are different and obviously the prices differ too.

Nowadays, no one even knows the difference between fake and real. Oddly, it is somehow dictated by the price! WHat an irony.

September 08, 2008 12:49 PM  

Blogger Unknown said...

bargain shopping is always exciting. i always have a blast in baguio's ukay-ukay and at new york's canal street. one of these days, makakapunta din ako sa quiapo at sta. cruz to look for bargains dahil pahirap na talaga ang buhay:D

September 08, 2008 2:45 PM  

Blogger pusa said...

right on the dot.
that's why i've put up my own ukay ukay blog :) for budget conscious fashionistas? hehehehhe

September 08, 2008 5:20 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I remember this store, too, when I was a kid, Amadeo. It was one of the few stores referred to as bazaars back in those days. A store like this was where my father would buy me my undershirts (sando), underwear, socks, handkerchiefs, knit polo shirts, and belts.

Remember the stores on Avenida that carried items such as bicycles and accessories, record vinyls, and musical instruments under one roof? I used to love walking in those shops :)

September 08, 2008 8:17 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The fences are indeed a new addition, EM. They were installed when Mayor Lim reopened this section of the avenue to vehicular traffic.

My most memorable times at National Bookstore when I was a kid up until I was a sophomore in high school was its toy department. I was into collecting Matchbox die cast cars and do-it-yourself car models. Yep, did it until I was a second year high school student :)

By the way, next door to National Bookstore back in those days was a hamburger joint. That was where I grew up eating hamburgers along with a bowl of ice cream. During my first year in New York, you can imagine how astounded the waitresses were in the coffee shops whenever I insisted to serve the ice cream and the hamburger I had ordered at the same time. Weirded them out all right ... hehehe.

September 08, 2008 8:25 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Nothing beats the prices in Divisoria, Bernadette, and that's for sure. But I just do not enjoy that area all that much ... hehehe. Perhaps, its was because I never truly explored it. I should, one of these days.

That's right, there's plenty of jewelry stores along Canal Street in Chinatown :)

September 08, 2008 8:28 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, Mario! Half of the fun in shopping in New York is telling your friends about the incredibly low prices that you paid for those things that you had shopped.

Century 21 is a cool place, and they have great prices on practically anything -- from designer clothes to housewares.

However, early on, I had always shopped at Bloomingdale's because when they go on sale, the prices on some of the items can go as low as 50 percent off. Later on, I started shopping at Bergdorf Goodman's Men's Store for the same reason. You just have to know when they go on sale!

September 08, 2008 8:33 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I agree with you, BW. I was over at Cartimar not too long ago and I could hardly tell that those Nike sneakers I was holding were knock-offs from China. However, in due time, they wear out faster than the genuine article. Same thing with those fake clothing and accessories; they don't usually last as long.

September 08, 2008 8:35 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many of the stores down in Canal Street, including those on Mott in Chinatown, usually sell mainly fake goods from China, Luna. But going lower down to Orchard Street is where many bargain stores are located; they're mostly operated by Hassidic Jews.

Better bring along a friend or two to make your shopping trip to Quiapo and Santa Cruz more fun :)

September 08, 2008 8:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Please share with us the URL of your ukay-ukay blog, Pusa. That must be interesting. Thanks!

September 08, 2008 8:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everytime I pass Downtown Manila, I can't help but look at the beautiful signages...particularly Roben, Dilson, the Laperal Apartments, Narcisa. The vantage point from the metro makes them look even better. They are all reminiscent of the movement during that period. Why Cuba, Miami, New York, Brazil and Manila are so similar in their architectural designs? It's Art Deco. With all the renovations on-going, I am sure the city government are also considering to renovate and help the owners in bringing them back in their old glory again.

I already saw the Manila Grand Opera Hotel. :)

September 08, 2008 9:50 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

national bookstore in avenida will always be one of my faves ;-) i got a lot of books there, as well as from a sidewalk vendor who used to sell importe architecture books at really low prices. i never really found out how he got them ;-)

September 09, 2008 10:50 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Ivan Man Dy of Old Man Walks gives free guided tours of the FEU campus, El Cineasta, and I think you are going to enjoy it. Talk about the finest Art Deco complex in Asia! Check out my previous blog on it:

As for the signages, you should have seen the wesome neon lights along Avenida back when it was the prenier shopping center of Metro Manila.

I passed by Grand Opera Hotel the other day, too, and I think it's open for business. Haven't gone inside, though.

September 09, 2008 6:24 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I was also able to get some fine photography books at discounted prices at the magazine stand near the National Bookstore, Caryn. This is the branch of National Bookstore where I buy the monthly i-Mag Photography. I know I can save some money by subscribing but I enjoy walking over to this book store to get my copy.

September 09, 2008 6:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a guilty 168 lover but this post has me very interested in checking out the other shopping options in manila. 2 of my favorite and bargains :D

September 10, 2008 3:40 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You may just discover some good buys here, Cookie, but then again, 168 Mall is air-conditioned :)

September 10, 2008 4:27 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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