Tag Archives: metro manila

Malling in the Philippines

Welcome to Manila

With more than ten million people in the Metro Manila area malling has become a growing cultural habit of most of it’s population. Still considered a developing country the Philippines is packed with hypermarkets and major names such as the Mall of Asia, SM and Ayala. With the high humidity and heat most of the populations pass time by strolling through malls to stay cool.

Manila is full of surprises if nobody forewarned you about them. Intense heat, loads of traffic, jeepneys galore, lots of honking, lots of sweating, and your body begging you for more cold buko juice. In the metro Manila area part of the lifestyle of living here is to go “malling” to stay cool and get your errands done in one place. When I visited the Philippines for an extended period of time two years ago I was shocked by how often my boyfriend wanted to go to the mall to “cool off”.

“Malling” in my family happens usually during the holidays when we are shopping for gifts and usually this isn’t done as a family. We usually go on our own and at our own pace. So when my Filipino boyfriend asks me to go strolling to get out of the heat I have to understand how way of living too. Here in the Philippines you have to stop comparing to how things are done at home. Some people go to malls for window shopping or just to browse around while others go to malls to tackle many tasks at one location. Malling in the Philippines is how Filipinos come together to share a meal, go grocery shopping or have a break from the heat.

Malling Culture

Whether you’re visiting the metropolitan Manila area before heading to another destination keep in mind that you are going to do some serious people watching while strolling. If you head over to Starbucks or Bo’s Coffee you will find many students with their books open and a frappachino studying for endless hours. Security will greet you at the door and even open it for you with a lovely “Hello Ma’m or Sir”. Back home we usually go to Starbucks to meet up with friends to catch up. Starbucks is usualy a good meeting place for business or quick coffee dates. I think that any traveler will be surprised by the security greeting you from all entrances of the mall with wooden sticks briefly checking through your belongings making sure you aren’t carrying weapons. But how carefully are they really checking through your bags?

What is Malling?
It’s sometimes overwhelming to discover which mall you actually want to visit because there are too many to choose from; SM Manila, Mall of Asia, Robinson’s, and so forth. In the Philippines, shopping malls offer so much more than just shopping. For many people in western countries going to the mall isn’t an everyday habit to “kill time”. We actually go when we literally need to buy something or window shop. But in the Philippines you go to the mall to eat meals with family and friends, pay bills at SM, do some grocery shopping, browse for home goods at Lowes, get a massage or foot spa, mail or send parcels, drop off the kids at kiddy play zones for a designated amount of time, watch a movie in the theater and also for other entertainment purposes.

Why do Filipinos spend a lot of time in malls?
Some families walk the mall together to just simply get out of the house because in some cases they don’t have Air Con in their dwellings and want a change of scenery. I find this phenomenon and way of living mind blowing compared to the reasoning for malling in the west. Back home I never go to the mall unless Macy’s is having a sale and I have a surplus of coupons to shop around and buy what I need getting unbelievable deals to show my mom when I come back home. Strolling through the mall in the Philippines is for multipurpose task running where you can get a lot of errands done in one place instead or driving around the city trying to find parking spots for all of the individual places you need to visit to get your errands done for; massage, mailing a parcel, grocery shopping, eating a meal, buying a lightbulb, and finally breaking for a coffee with friends or family.

Snacking your way through the malls
I always work up an appetite for something delicious while trolling through the malls. Be sure to sample some of most typical Filipino snacks such as buko juice, brownies, bibimka bread, and lumpia. I have come up with the conclusion that the reason why you will be paying a quadruple cost for the lumpia (usually 10 php each) in the malls is because you are essentially paying for the aircon that comes along with it! Take note at the salespeople in the store as you browse around. They usually greet you with “ma’m and sir” followed by “what are you looking for today?” as they follow you around the store. One thing that I like about retail in the Philippines is that you are never ignored! I can’t even come up with how many times I actually had a question or couldn’t find an item in the mall and could not find one salesperson to assist me or one that looked like they were interested in assisting me. Get ready for plenty of pleasant greetings, some good people watching, and oh..some Air Con!

My best Mall picks

  • MOA (mall of Asia in Pasay) is the biggest mall in all of metro Manila. You can easily spend a day here if you need to do grocery shopping, eat, and stroll some more. Located on Seaside Blvd next to the sea this mall offers an indoor ice skating rink, a huge food court, plenty of restaurants on the first floor and fireworks each Saturday at 7 P.M.
  • Robinsons Place in Ermita is my favorite mall because you don’t feel the crowd as much and the lights aren’t as bright compared to SM Manila Mall. Mr. Choi is my favorite restaurant there with delicious dumplings, noodles, and smoothies. You can check out the menu here.
  • SM City in Baguio is a open air mall up in the norther region of Philippines (about a seven hour drive north of Manila). What I like most about this mall is the cool air and the less crowded feeling. There’s a really great Korean restaurant (Wood Nymph) nearby Starbucks.

Keep in mind that most malls open at 10 A.M. When I first arrived to the Philippines last September I was super jet lagged. Wide awake at 6 A.M. my boyfriend took me over to MOA to begin our day malling only to find ourselves starting our day with a warm bowl of lomi at Chowking outside the mall.

#Choose Philippines: Why I keep coming back

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Intramuros, Manila

Mabuhay!

I’ve traveled throughout the Philippines on four separate trips now and to this day I still recommend the Philippines as an excellent travel destination in southeast Asia. Why? Because Filipinos are warm and embracing people. Food is cheap and delicious. You can never run out of destinations to visit. The landscapes vary as you travel around. Nothing looks the same. You can ride a caribou in Puerto Galera. Come on people! There are 7,107 islands to be exact.

The Philippines offers cooler environs outside of sticky Manila such as delightful getaways such as Baguio, Sagada, and Banaue where you can enjoy caving, hiking, and explore the different cultures that the northern mountainous lands offer.

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Hiking in Banaue

Okay, so maybe I have a boyfriend who is from the Philippines but there must be a reason why I keep coming back and making travel arrangements near and far.

My first trip there was to the island of Bohol and it was this venture that I traveled there alone back in 2013 with one intention in mind: to see for myself Chocolate Hills. Bohol exceeded my expectations beyond measure. It is a place I hope to return to.

In July of 2013 I set off to Bohol because I was dying to see the beautiful mounds of Chocolate Hills and the tarzier creatures with the big bug eyes.  After a short flight from Manila, Bohol greeted me with the dreaminess of Alona beach and all of the beautiful people, surroundings, and foods on  “White Beach” similar to Borocay. I fell in love with it at first sight. Dining solo with tea lights on my table I never truly felt alone. In fact, all of the waiters kept asking me where my husband was. The Philippines is a bit obsessed with coupling. Don’t you think?

Chocolate Hills

Why I keep coming back! (Travel longer-travel cheaper)

Compared to many other southeast Asia destinations the Philippines offers cheap travel around the country through ferries and buses, exotic and tasty food, and beyond affordable accommodation throughout the country. Think cheap massages, simple food (very inexpensive), beaches never too far away, many English speakers, and sincerely kind people. I’m pretty sure that when I was in the Philippines last September I was getting some sort of spa service on a daily basis for under $5 per hour. Back home it’s at least $60 minimum for an hour massage. Imagine that.

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Lunch @ Leslie’s in Tagaytay

Just a short list of my reasoning alone makes me want to plan my next trip to the Philippines because there is always something new to learn about Filipino culture, new places to explore, and unlimited foods to try. There are still regions even more north of Sagada that I haven’t explored yet.

It is the Philippines as a travel destination that I highly recommend to anyone who is thinking about jet setting to southeast Asia. If you are searching for something off the beaten path from what many tourists have done include the Philippines in your future travel plans.

Batad Rice Terrace
Batad Rice Terrace

Fast Facts

Culturally speaking the list of what you can experience in the Philippines is endless. From the delicious cuisine with exotic fruits to yummy street foods such as lumpia, ice cold halo-halo, loads of smiles from the locals (especially upon walking into a store) fried bananas, and buko (coconut) juice.

The landscapes of the Philippines drastically change as you travel from the overpopulated capital of Manila to the outside provinces and to the islands. The Philippines consists of  7,107 islands! With these many islands you are never bound to get bored or run out of places to see. If you thought that seeing Borocay was all the Philippines has to offer guess again.

What truly has highlighted my experience of traveling the Philippines has been caving in Sagada and walking through Echo Valley to witness the Hanging Coffins up on the mountain  to quiet Alona Beach in Bohol . The Filipino people have truly made each trip to the Philippines of mine very special to me. Oh gosh, now I am salivating thinking about lumpia.

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Enjoying a birthday celebration in Bohol

The dark side of paradise

It’s very easy to let the negative side of stories of  getting scammed, robbed, or getting a bad first impression of Manila upon arrival (the traffic, air pollution, and the overwhelming poverty). I can admit that yes I have been scammed by taxis and tricycle drivers before but that has not deferred me from wanting to keep coming back to the Philippines to see what else is out there.With that said, I’m here to shed the light on what the Philippines really has to offer as a travel destination. There are all good people in the world near and far. I have met all different kinds of people throughout the world and all throughout southeast Asia, however I haven’t met such  accommodating people in all my life since discovering it in the Philippines. The people of the Philippines has stuck with me as my main reason for what sets this destination apart from other places.

Mt. Tapyas
hiking in Mt. Tapyas

With every destination you visit of course there is always the good and bad parts. For example someone can love the cuisine in India but the traffic and pollution in the cities could be the deal breaker from coming back. I loved cycling around Kyoto on my own but I felt very frustrated by my two trips there when I really couldn’t find my way around Kyoto because there really weren’t many English speakers to talk to. In Manila the traffic, overpopulation, poverty, and smog that fill the capital is such a pity and downer to me but I still love the people. The Philippines truly has to much to offer in terms of sightseeing, landscapes, diversity, languages, and cuisine. It’s been four trips now and I am starting to think when I will be back. As much as I have been offered the chance to live there it is much better for me to visit. The Philippines will always be a place that I can visit and I have many reasons why I can keep coming back.

For more information about travel and life in the Philippines check out my vlogs on Youtube here.

Borocay
In love with the Philippines