Monday, October 13, 2008


I was cleaning my closet the other day and came across a favorite pair of corduroy trousers (above photo), which I tend to wear only when in Baguio since I find this fabric unsuitable for Manila's muggy weather.

These trousers, by the way, I bought years ago one autumn day at Banana Republic, one of my favorite stores in New York. In fact, I started shopping at its original store located on Broadway in the Upper West Side. At that time, it was a specialty travel wear and accessories boutique. Bought by The Gap, it's now a very popular store with branches all over America.

These days, whenever corduroys and the city of Manila arise in one single thought, the store Macomber comes to mind as well.
It was one of the pioneering ready-to-wear stores in the city, at a time when RTW was basically unheard of. Macomber specialized in denim (maong) and coduroy jeans.

My memory placed the Macomber store as being on Avenida Rizal in Santa Cruz, but a cousin argued that it was somewhere on Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo. Be that as it may, even though I had only purchased one pair of corduroy jeans at this store (when I was in high school, wanting to be hip), I've come to regard Macomber as Manila's answer to Levi's.

Recently, I learned that the man behind the Macomber Store was Florentino Mariano Maliwat, who happened to be the best friend of Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

The friendship between the two men stemmed from the late 1940s when the mayor was still a working FEU high school student at a haberdashery shop in Tabora. Mr. Maliwat, on the other hand, was a budding entrepreneur
who bought fabrics per kilo for mass production -- during the early years of his RTW enterprise, at a time when everyone favored customized tailoring.

According to a tribute article by People Tonight, Mr. Maliwat would hand over his list of buttons, threads and other needs for his growing factory to Mr. Lim who would put his orders together and help carry the boxes all the way to Azcarraga (now Recto) where Maliwat’s old jeep was parked.

A lifetime friendship flourished soon thereafter between these two young men. Last April, Mr. Maliwat passed away much to the mayor's deep sorrow.

To read more about the admirable friendship between Mr. Maliwat and Mayor Lim, please click here.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 8:12 AM


Blogger NOYPETES said...

Your cousin was right Eric. MacComber was in Quezon Blvd. Between Raon and the underpass on the side of Cine Dalisay. Triple pasada with the red stitches and true indigo blue jeans pinoy style, I wore them when I was young and was proud of it as much as I got all the ribbing from the guys who wore stateside jeans. The khaki SABUR jeans was also popular back then but you can also have thie tailor made. In Central market, popular among school kids kahaki long pants was SABALVARO being sold at the dry goods section. Imagine a horizontally striped t-shirt in bold yellow and avocado green separated by 1/4 inch black stripe with sleeves folded for a more "siga-siga" look for your top, Indigo blue MacComber Jeans with 2 inch fold on the hems, black Elpo Shoes, "peluka" hair soaked with 3 Flowers Pomade and for your cologne, the Barber Shop special green 3 Flowers after shave lotion, wow! "Isputing na isputing" ka na and puwede mo ng samahan ang pinaka magandang dilag sa Peria para amnuod ng mga female impersonator at sakay sa tsubibo!

October 13, 2008 11:10 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I've only owned one pair of corduroy pants in my entire life.

Hey, this is belated. But congrats on the three blog awards. Ang galing-galing naman. But of course, very much well-deserved. ;)

October 13, 2008 11:15 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

masyadong nalungkot si mayor lim nung namatay si mang turing, nung flag ceremony namin nun e kinuwento nya pa yung start ng pagkakaibigan nila. isa sa mga adviser nya si mang turing eh.

October 13, 2008 11:56 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hey Eric,

I'm glad your favorite brand is Banana Republic!!! The store on Broadway, NY, still is Banana Republic, except its Banana Republic "Monogram" the top of the line collection. This branch doesn't carry their "Heritage line" nor the regular BR.

The original Banana Republic & Safari Clothing was conceived by Mel & Patricia Ziegler, opened their first store in Mill Valley, California in 1978, near San Francisco. Before Banana Republic, Mel was a journalist for The San Francisco Chronicle, while Patricia was a court room artist. In 1985, the Zieglers closed their Travel Books Stores & sold the brand to The GAP.

The Gap founders are Don & Doris Fisher. Summer of Love in San Francisco, 1968, Don Fisher was shopping for jeans. Bought size 32 at Levis store, took it home, but found that it was tight for him. Took it back the following day & the associate gave him size 34. He tried it & found it was too big for him. To cut story short, Don was exchanging his pair of jeans for different sizes, for the whole week. Jeans during those days were available only in "even waist sizes." Frustrated Don Fisher, started his own jeans' company carrying "in-between" sizes; like sizes; 29 - 31 - 33 & 35 to bridge the "gap - size" Then called his company "The GAP"

1969 The GAP opened its first store on Ocean Boulevard, in San Francisco. The Gap started selling Levis Jeans, their own GAP Brand & records. 5 years latter, they drop the Levis brand & records, to concentrated on their successful & expanding brand.

The GAP is the biggest retailer in the US & in the world today! Under The GAP; are Banana Republic, GAP, Old Navy, Piperlime & Atletha. The Fishers are one of the biggest art collectors in the world. 80% of SFMoma's collection, are Fishers. They are building a museum at the Presidio, San Francisco, its opening will be next year.

For Mel & Patricia Ziegler, after selling Banana Republic to The GAP, they started another company. They were in to "tea" business, named the brand "The Republic of Tea," but only lasted few years. Now they started again another clothing brand called ZaZa.

Thanks Eric,
ka tony

...oh! by the way, why do I know a lot about the Zieglers, the Fishers, Banana Republic & The GAP?
...I work for the company for 21 years!

October 13, 2008 1:01 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow, Pete! Thank you for describing how my older brothers looked back in those days. The only slight difference maybe with the choice of pomade -- tancho stick for them ... hehehe.

You call them "peluka" hairdos while others refer to them as pompadour.

I can also think for their idols: Elvis, Sal Mineo, James Dean, Troy Donohue and etc.

October 13, 2008 9:47 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Irene!

Maraming salamat. Trust all the boys and you are fine :)

Best regards!

October 13, 2008 9:48 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Papanong hindi malulungkot si mayor, Anonymous, eh, lagi pala silang magkasama. Halos magkapatid na ang turing nila sa isa't isa.

Sigurado, si Mr. Maliwat ang pinagkakatiwalaan ni mayor sa maraming bagay lalo na sa kanyang career as a politician. Hirap ata makakita ng isang mapagkakatiwalaan.

October 13, 2008 9:53 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

THank you very much for the history of The Gap and banana Republic, Ka Tony! These are two of my favorite stores in New York! Excellent quality of merchandise, plus ... great sale prices ... hehehe. I have many treasured clothing from both until now.

Blue navy I'm not too crazy about :(

I bet you have quiate a collection of fine clothing and accessories, Ka Tony.

By the way, would you know whatever happened to the lawsuit filed against Banana Republic when the candles they sold turned the wicks had lead? I never heard anything further about it.

Here in Manila, there are manufacturers and retailers of fine candles, including scented ones, which I believe -- and I have told them this -- that their products will do well if exported to the U.S. However, I suggested that they remove the lead from the wicks of all their candles to avoid any potential lawsuits.

Thanks again, Ka Tony!

October 13, 2008 10:03 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very timely post as I am leaving for the Philippines in 5 week's time.

Since it is fall now and to prepare for my trip, I went shopping for new fashion wear. I got myself a pair of Corduroy pants, (one tan and one olive color) which I will be wearing on my flight to Manila.

Speaking of Macombre, I distinctly remember the store is besides Cinerama on Azcarraga, off Quezon Blvd between Rizal Avenue. I bought a corduroy jacket one rainy day there and I used it for awhile as the weather in Manila seemed cold when it rained. My memories of Manila are fading but during those years 1965-1970, Manila was on Economic Peak where the dollar equals 8 Pesos. I flew out of Manila to Honolulu to SF on a PAL DC 8 jet (at the time, 747s were just introduced for commercial travel.

This corduroy thing brought out so many memories of Manila. Yes, I'll be home soon... to get a taste of Sio Pao and Choc- Nut,(earlier Post) remember?

October 14, 2008 4:20 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Anonymous!

Firstly, on behalf of our fellow bloggers, we wish you a joyous 'balikbayan' vacation!

I know that my memory of Manila of my youth sometimes fail me, but somehow, my memory of a McComber Store was in the Avenida area. Anyway, what I forgot to mention is that corduroy slacks are ideal travel wear.

The siopaos and the siomais will be abundant upon your return, Anonymous, but it's been difficult finding Choc-Nuts recently; could be the Melanin scare?

October 14, 2008 7:59 AM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

When I was wearingmy corduroys na tate (Made in the US of A!) eh I didn't know any better kung mainit man o hindi. Basta uso at very comfortable kagaya ng maong.

Noypetes comments also brough back all the fiesta memories: feria, tsubibo, singing female impersonators habang nag-aantay sa karera ng daga!

Ka Tony's comments on Gap, kaya pala matagal nagtrabaho duon. I remember distinctly a NY trip way back, kasi my wife and daughter has this weakness for Banana Republic perfume... walked from Empire State Building to the Twin Towers. In between we saw this Banana Republic store and bought a couple of their perfumes.

True friend like Mr Maliwat (he is probably a Capampangan) is hard to come by. McComber, kala nuon eh gawang tate at isang chain store/brand from the US. Never had the privelege to own one though, dami kasing PX stores sa Gapo.

October 14, 2008 9:04 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And I used to buy my Hush Puppies in Gapo, Mario!

So was I, when a high schooler, didn't care much if the pants and shirts my brother and sister sent me from the States were uncomfortable or not for Manila's weather, basta tate ... hehehe.

October 14, 2008 9:15 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...


You got me confused at first with your spelling of the store name. It should be Macomber as the link confirms.

That was a favorite store of many of us, too - Macomber pants proudly worn for school. For us coming from the provinces, wearing RTWs or ready-made pants was a novelty. We always had ours tailored because that was the only way to purchase pants, and the tailoring fee was quite affordable.

But do you remember the upscale tailor, tailor to the stars: Simon's Haberdashery?

October 16, 2008 6:12 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Firstly, thank you for pointing out my spelling error, Amadeo. I've made all necessary corrections to now show 'Macomber.'

There were a handful of popular tailors during my youth. But the more prominent in my mind are Manlapat and Mañalac. But truth be told, the local tailors in my old neighborhood were just as good :)

October 16, 2008 9:31 AM  

Blogger reyd said...

Thanks for that story of 2 best friends from Tondo. My father knew both men since some of my father's compadres own tailor supplies along Tabora and where Mayor Lim used to work at. My father always call Mang Turing as Macomber when they see each other on my brother's ninong store in Tabora.
Minsan kasi dun kami kumakain ng tanghalian sa loob ng tindahan dahil deliver ng restaurant yung mga pagkain nilang lahat pati para sa mga empleyado. (tapos tatawid ako sa Azcaraga to our store along Juan Luna para kumain uli) :D niyahahaha!
I never knew Mang turing, but I always hear my father talk about him on certain business deals.
Isa lang ata yung Macomber ko na bago when I was a kid, lahat pinagliitan na lang ng mga kuya ko.
Malas pag bunso... hehehe

October 21, 2008 11:34 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! It is really wonderful whenever writing a post and then learning later on that a fellow blogger has direct links to those mentioned in the article. Awesome, Reyd!

Ang sarap naman ng tanghalian ninyo ... hehehe.

Ako isa lang din ang Macomber, para may mapagyabang lang ... hehehe.

October 22, 2008 8:42 AM  

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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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