Malls in Metro Manila
With summers hotter than ever thanks to global warming, the cool, air conditioned malls provide refreshing respite. Going to the mall is not all about shopping. It has replaced Luneta Park for strolling, exercising, and taking the family out for the weekend. It has replaced the old town squares where people went to hear music and buy food from nearby stalls, sit on benches and whisper among themselves. So if you are in Manila, leave your briefcases in the office for the day and check out some of the greatest shopping this city has to offer.
At the malls you can see famous foreign musicians for free, watch a fireworks display, and view art and photo exhibitions. Bands play and old people do aerobics. There are indoor playgrounds and water fountains. All the malls have the same stores, so first I will list the stores to look at in the malls, then list down the distinctive qualities of our top malls.
Surplus Shop: You can find a Surplus Shop in every SM Mall, but sizes tend to be small. For large sizes, go to Surplus Plus in Alabang Town Center. Surplus shops have export overruns of brands like Liz Claiborne, DKNY, Anne Klein, Gap, et al.
For good local designer clothes there is Maldita, Bayo, CMG, People Are People, Bench, HerBench, Nothing But Water, Kamiseta, Plains & Prints, Top Shop, Folded and Hung, Tubbies (for large sizes). For shoes try Celine’s, Capezio, Janylyn and Via Venetto. For knickknacks there are Dream Catcher and Papelmelroti.
Where to Eat
There are also a lot of good places to eat. For Filipino food the staples are Aristocrat and Max Fried Chicken both of which have been around since world war II. There is also Bangus, Dencio’s, and Gerry’s Grill. Jollibee is the Philippine’s answer to Mcdonald’s. For a good pub experience there is San Mig. For affordable pastas and sweets there is Delifrance. A good local coffee shop is Figaro.
THE BEST MALLS
The Mall of Asia is Asia’s biggest mall, owned by Shoe Mart and built with an Olympic sized skating rink because at one time the Philippines hoped to host the Olympic games. There is this amazing bridge which leads to Manila Bay and as you walk along the bridge there is this wonderful frame which captures the sunset perfectly as though you were looking through a picture window. The bridge leads to Manila Bay which at night comes alive with so many choices of eating stalls and bands here and there. But even in the Mall of Asia itself the nightlife is pretty amazing with courtyards of restaurants and music and people everywhere. All events that matter happen in this mall and in its adjoining convention center.
The Fort: Just off Makati’s edge is the Fort. I love the fort. At Serendra there are lovely restaurants of varied cuisines. It is also a very pleasant walking experience. An adjoining mall on one side has upscale shops. The garden walkways lead to posh boutiques. Further down is Market Market with affordable buys.
Greenbelt Mall is a must. Socialites, actors and actresses go to posh shops, restaurants and clubs in the new wing. Have a pizza at DiMark’s, listen to music or watch a stand up comedian at Merck’s, or club hop.
Glorietta Shopping Mall: Beside the uber posh Shangrilah hotel and near Manila Peninsula, Glorietta has everything including crowds of people. Well, if you like everything you won’t be disappointed.
Rockwell Power Plant Mall: This place reminds me of Washington DC’s Pentagon Mall. Very upscale, a place for only the wealthy. There are some good vintage stores, and stores and products that are exclusive to Rockwell like Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers line.
Alabang Town Center: Go to Rustan’s for quality local designs. Great Filipiniana is found here and lovely clothes by top local designers. There are also top foreign brands like DKNY, etc. ATC also has two flea markets with Korean and good local buys.
Festival Supermall: NOW they have pearls, so if Greenhills is too far for you, try going here. The basement jewelry stalls also can make jewelry to your design for as little as P100 (US $2) while you wait. There is also a good modern Filipiniana area.
Tiendesitas: This pet friendly mall has good local food, clothes, accessories, antiques, handicrafts and furniture. You can also experience riding a calesa through the complex.
Greenhills: This is where foreigners go to buy pearls. There are some 2000 stores here.
Shangri-la Mall: This is a lovely mall. The Repertory Theatre is here. It is also adjacent to the Shangrila EDSA hotel. The art plaza and old antique shops are great.
This is a guest post by Mona Gonzalez who writes for Briefcases Direct, a website that offers luxury briefcases direct from the manufacturer. She is a veteran writer of some 30 years in her country, the Philippines and has covered a range of topics from business to lifestyle and travel. Mona grew up travelling and studying at schools in Europe, the United States and Asia as the daughter of a diplomat. She later settled again in the Philippines with her husband, daughter, and three dogs.