Learn 6 mall alternatives for the smart shopper in the Philippines!
If you’ve ever been to the Philippines, you know that Filipinos love their malls. In fact, 4 out of the 10 biggest malls in the world are in the Philippines. If that is not enough to convince you that this is a big (pun intended) deal, the smallest of these 4 malls, has the total area of 5.3 million square feet as of 2018. Not only that, they are still building new malls in and out of Metro Manila as a direct response to the growing consumers market in the Philippines. And without real open spaces, malls will continue to be the place of leisure in the Philippines.
That being said, malls are not the only places you can go to buy the things you need and want. And in some cases, it pays not to travel through the horrid traffic in the Metro, find a good parking spot, only to find out that you overspent while browsing through everything the mall can offer. So, if you want to spare yourself the stress, time, and uncontrolled shopping expenses, continue reading because here are 6 mall alternatives for the smart shopper in the Philippines!
1. Sari-sari stores
Also known as tindahan, these are the local sundry stores in the Philippines. Before 7-Eleven, MiniStop, and other big-named convenience stores, the local sari-sari store is convenience at its peak. For better or for the worse, you can get almost anything in sari-sari stores in tingi-tingi. Tingi-tingi means “buying units of an item rather than the entire pack”.
Out of shampoo? No need to buy a bottle of it, just buy some sachets at the sari-sari store. Can’t cook adobo because you used up all of your suka (“vinegar”) for the paksiw na bangus? Bring twenty pesos and you can come back with a packet of suka and some change. The crab-and-corn soup only asked for one egg? Skip the pack of dozen of eggs and just buy one for now. Can’t reply to your special someone because you ran out of prepaid load? Don’t worry! Most sari-sari stores are also loading stations for all mobile networks in the Philippines.
It’s that convenient! So, next time you find yourself craving for a quick Filipino snack or just want to buy something small before the grocery-shopping day, go to your local sari-sari store!
This is the local markets, both dry and wet, in the Philippines. This originated from the Spanish word “palenque” that means “wooden fence/stockade”. During the Spanish era in the Philippines, the mercado (“market” in Spanish) used to be near or enclosed by a “palenque”. Through the years, the mercado fell out of everyday use while palengke became synonymous to “market”.
If you have the time and discipline to get up early in the morning — we are talking about around 4 or 5 in the morning — you can find the freshest and cheapest ingredients in the wet market. As for the dry market part, the palengke can supply you from clothes and pieces of jewelry to gadgets and appliances. You will also find local services such as barbers, hair stylists, dressmakers, modistes, electricians, plumbers, repairmen, bakers, etc in the palengke.
It doesn’t end there. The palengke is the perfect place to practice the art of tawad or bargaining and forming favorable relationships with local vendors. If you become a suki or regular customer, don’t be surprised if you get an extra apple or a few more grams of pork. This is usually the vendors’ way of showing their appreciation for your patronage.
Talipapa is another word you can use to refer to markets. Unlike palengke, talipapa exclusively refers to the wet market. Because of that, talipapas are usually smaller and less permanent. In some areas, the talipapas is a family business run within their garages or in front of their houses.
Tiangge is the dry market equivalent of the talipapa. Similar to bazaars and flea markets, you use the term tiangge to refer to stores that sell different varieties of cheap goods and products. Some of the things you can buy in the tiangge include but are not limited to:
- Home tools and decorations
- School supplies
- Pasalubong (Souvenirs)
- Seasonal decorations
- Novelty Items
- Snacks and Street Food
In this day of air-conditioned malls, you can also find small stalls of tiangge in one area of your favorite mall. However, if you really want to find the cheapest and the most sulit (“worth it”) tiangges, you should try shopping at Divisoria, Tutuban, or Quiapo. Just be ready for a day of hauling your purchases because 100USD will go a long way in these tiangges.
5. Farmers’ Market
Got up early on a weekend and have money to spare for the freshest ingredients? Try going to a farmers’ market! Like in other countries, farmers’ market in the Philippines are markets that let producer of local products sell directly to their consumers. This removes the need for the middle-man which lessens the cost of the products while ensuring the buyers that they know where their food is coming from.
Another great thing about farmers’ markets is the community that comes with it (and of course, the free samples). Everyone know and understand what it takes to produce a great product. This is a community that respects and celebrates local farmers and producers. So, if you like getting the freshest ingredients and food while helping your local producers, go to the farmers’ market!
6. Convenience Stores
There is, without a doubt, an increase of numbers of convenience stores in the Philippines — and it still growing. It is easy to see why. From the name itself, convenience stores are convenient. It may not be at the same level of Japanese kombinis, but for some people who live in areas where sari-sari stores and groceries are far in between, the convenience store is one of the best mall alternatives. In addition to that, more young Filipinos are working in night/graveyard shifts. For them, 24-hour stores are not only convenient but also vital. Here are some convenience stores you can find in the Philippines:
- 7-Eleven – The oldest and biggest retail chain of convenience stores in the Philippines
- Ministop – The 2nd biggest. Favored by young working adults looking for a quick and cheap fried chicken fix.
- Family Mart – Arguably, their biggest pull is their Twirl-All-You-Can ice cream cone.
- Lawson – Relatively limited within the Metro Manila.
- All Day Convenience Store – A wholly Filipino-owned brand.
- Circle K – A relatively young contender in the Philippine convenience store scene.
What do you think of this list? Do you have any shopping experiences in the Philippines you like to share? Tell us in the comments below!