Shopping in Divisoria (Manila)

There are many malls in Metro Manila where you could shop until you drop (figuratively and literally speaking). We have featured one Ayala Mall and two SM Malls. Malls come in different sizes and designs. They differ in crowd and prizes. There are malls which appear to cater more to the rich, than to the lower economic segments. Then there are “malls” that are frequented both by the rich and the poor alike because of one unifying factor — constant low prices.

We’ve mentioned a little cluster of shops comprising the Dapitan Arcade, somewhere in Quezon City. We’ve been trying to snap some photos of Greenhills (San Juan), but somebody is yet to “force” me to go there. I prefer waiting, while my companions enjoy themselves in shopping heaven, in a coffee shop somewhere. Last weekend, I had no choice but to serve as the personal driver of a visiting dignitary: my mother.

So I taped my mouth shot and tried to enjoy the drive along Quezon Avenue, right turn at the block before Lacson Avenue, going straight and passing SM San Lazaro, hitting Yucheco Street in Manila, crossing Abad Santos Avenue and the old railroad track a block away, then turning left at the next block, which is Dagupan Street. If there’s a mistake somewhere in that sentence, my apologies in advance.

Many people go to Divisoria, in Manila, to shop (so better come prepared with your walking shoes and be ready to blend with the crowd). There are a number of shopping centers here, like the Tutuban Center (inset photo) and the 168 Mall. More shops sprout along the roads surrounding these shopping centers.

But there’s a couple of (possible) reasons why we did not encounter a breathing sea of buyers, which is the usual sight in Divisoria, when we went there recently. Maybe we could blame the recent economic crisis. Maybe people are just trying to save more. Maybe we were there too early. Maybe there’s no point of comparison because the second leg of our twice-a-year trip to Divisoria is usually during the pre-Christmas months — when people are expected to swamp the place to hunt for gift bargains.

How to go there? Let me collect my thoughts . . . ok, I really must admit I’m not that familiar with Divisoria. Let’s wait for others to step up to the task of giving directions on how to go to Divisoria (please use the comment section below). Thank you.

4 thoughts on “Shopping in Divisoria (Manila)”

  1. Hi, Fred,
    I had visions of Tutuban Station looking worse for wear. I stand corrected. The photograph looks delicious and tempting for shopping! I have never been to that area ever until I left almost three decades ago…As for Divisoria, now, that’s the place I miss! When I was working in Makati during the Rennaisance Age, (hahha), I would take the wives of foreign executives to shop or dine, or both. In those days, the place was actually rather tidy, considering the area itself. Also, the wives I took there were fascinated at the variety of goods as well as the reasonable prices.
    In Spain, we have flea markets, or “Barato” or “Mercadillo”. The stall owners are only allowed to sell once a week, to the different towns they are allowed to sell. So they go up and down areas where they set up stalls, but they have to remove them after 2:30 p.m. In the Philippines, sometimes these flea markets have become permanent and an eyesore. But, if the LGUs there give them a certain time and day to sell their wares, and make them clean up the premises afterwards, then, everybody is happy. The vendors make money and they are off, until next time.
    Still, there are other things to consider in Divisoria: cleanliness, orderliness and peace and order. All these things need to be addressed. If there’s a proper square around it, then at least, a good 150 sq m should be pedestrianised—or some kind of a fixed ring surrounding the important area. And what about a fountain? That would be nice to, hehehe. Beautify, beautify, beautify.

  2. Hi Fred,

    This brings to my mind a beautiful article which Nelson Navarro wrote. Terror of Divisoria details how Nelson Navarro was required by her aunt to go w/ her to terrorize Divisoria vendors w/ her “pang babarat” skills just to take home mangoes to her ungrateful nephews.

    I love Divisoria. My friends and I used to go there on foot since we’re coming from Adamson area. I used to do my “pamamalenggke” there during midnight until I realized the folly of my ways. Paco market would do just fine. But for my supply of tuyong pusit, tuyong tunsoy, tawas–they all come from Rue de la Div.

    During December, if you do your shopping there, you cannot decide where to go. the crowd will decide where you will go.

    Hi Hill,


  3. Hill, sometimes when we are immersed in a particular place, we somehow grow accustomed to it, failing to see the things that should be improved. Your discussions provide a different perspective on things (lucky you for traveling in those countries). I’m sure Mayor Lim and the officers of Manila (or whoever will be the next team in 2010) will continue with their efforts to beautify Manila. Sometimes it takes time to improve things.

    Roy, welcome. “The crowd will decide where you will go” — sounds pretty much like a stampede. Indeed, going to Divisoria in December is a full-contact sport. =) My wife enjoys going to Divisoria. She feels like winning the lotto every time she successfully negotiates a lower price….the art of “tawad” (otherwise mentioned in your post as “pangbabarat”).

  4. Hola Fred, bienvenidos desde Espana!
    I have actually been in touch on a regular basis with the Mayor himself! I think he and his staff are getting “fed up” with me telling them what to do to make our capital one of the best, if not, the best in the ASEAN block…They do reply, happly enough and that alone, is a thing to rejoice.
    I don’t know if you’ve seen that interview PDI had with the US Ambassador, but when she was asked what she thought of Manila, she replied, “Manila is very green—-more than I imagined. ” That, Fred, is a wonderful sign that there is indeed something positive about Manila—-which for years, has been mired in …….a well, no need to add to the grim negative observations.
    But there are many many things that can be done yet, and I believe that Pasig River Project is a sign that in seven years, that River Area would be smarter, cleaner, and world class!
    Pasig River is long and can be competitive. I’ve done the Thames river, River Seine in Paris, Rio Guadalquivir in Sevilla, the River Danube in Prague and Budapest although it runs through Slovakia and Austria too, as well as the famous Potomac River in Washington, D.C. Our very own Pasig River can certainly be at par, and now that they have an offiicial deadline to make it happen, then, Fred, hop in and take that ferry down that river and do tell us all about your experience!

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