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Sights & Attractions in Manila (Philippines)

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      21.04.2002 03:16
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      Shopping is either a pleasurable activity or a necessary evil. I have to confess that I look on shopping as a necessary evil. This opinion deals with shopping in general and my tips for dealing with it. A quick guide to the Ayala Centre’s various components follows this. If you would like to know more, please leave a request in comments. If you spend any length of time in Manila you will end up in a Shopping Mall or at very least a Grocery store. Those of you that have read my previous opinions on the Philippines will know that I have spent quite a lot of time in Makati City, the main business district, therefore my opinions tend to be based on this area. Although this opinion is based on Makati, my own experiences and those of friends and family, have confirmed that the situations described here are repeated throughout the Philippines. In a previous opinion I reported that shopping is a major leisure activity for the Philippine people, this is why I am putting this op in this section. Most of this activity is window-shopping or just strolling with friends, purchasing only happens when absolutely required. The two main reasons for this are expense and bureaucracy. ~~~ Prices and Bargains ~~~ I should explain about the cost of items on sale. To us, because of a favourable exchange rate of 70plus Philippine Pesos to the Pound a lot of items on sale are relatively cheap, e.g. 330Ml can of Coke costs just 15Php (21.4pence) in the market, Glasses from Vision Express with plastic lenses 3500Php (£50), 200g Back bacon 65Php (92.8pence). The average Filipino shop or office worker would earn 2500Php per week with a working week of 5 days for office workers and 6 days for shop staff. A working day is between 8 to 12hours with no overtime and holidays. All this said, there are bargains to be found; 18 and 24 carrot gold jewellery, day-to-day Groceries, alcohol, clothes. In smaller independent stores or market stalls, it is p ossible to negotiate a lower price, offer cash payment rather than credit card. When told the price, look doubtful, quietly suck your teeth. Both of these ploys have got me 10 to 25% discounts. ~~~ Bureaucracy ~~~ The purchase of any item in a store is very labour intensive, with a great deal of paper work and cross checking. Even when purchasing at market stalls, the stall operator would carefully record the sale and give a hand written receipt. To illustrate this point I will describe to you the process of purchasing a kettle. The apartment we were staying in came equipped with a kettle that is placed on the electric ring to boil the water. This took a long time to boil and was not very efficient. I decided to purchase a cheap kettle that we would give to my wife’s parents when we left. ~ The Kettle Story ~ Ok, it is off to SM Department store we go, while my wife and brother-in-law are buying the groceries, I wander up to the electrical department and the ‘fun’ begins Step 1 – Select your item. After wandering around I found a locally made 1.25Ltr electrical kettle for the 400Php (£5.71) this is a lot cheaper than purchasing a travel kettle in the UK Step 2 – Locate a Sales Assistant. Fortunately there is a large number of sales staff in the average Philippine store, finding a free one took a little longer Step 3 – Check the Kettle. The sales Assistant checked the kettle to see if it worked. He then filled in a 3 copy sales receipt carefully noting the Model and Serial numbers. After asking me how I wished to pay, cash or charge, he recorded this in the sales receipt. He stuck the top copy of the Sales receipt on the boxed kettle and handed me the other two copies and asked be to go to the checkout. The kettle is taken to the Collection point. Step 4 – Payment. Standing in the queue at the checkout I was beginning to regret the decision to make this purchase. When I got to the front of the queue I handed the sales receipt to the girl on the check out and handed over the cash when requested. The girl on the till placed one copy of the Sales receipt in the till with my payment, stapled the till receipt to the last part of the sales receipt and stamped it ‘RECEIVED’ and handed it to me. Step5 - Collect your Purchase. Joining another queue, I watched the customers collecting their purchases waiting for my turn. The Collection counter staff takes your receipts from you, locates the item by the Sales receipt number, compares the details on the receipt to those on the kettle. The Till receipt is removed from the Sales receipt, the sales receipt is filed before the Kettle is placed in a bag and the till receipt is stapled to it. The steps described above varies little depending on the store you visit, however all large stores follow this ‘procedure’. The simple purchase of an electric kettle took a little over 25 minutes from Step 1 to Step 5. ~~~ Shop Staff & Service ~~ No matter where you shop in the Philippines you will be greeted courteously with ‘marm’ or ‘sir’ by staff in the store you visit. Entering a department store you may also be surprised by the number of shop staff available. Where in the UK there would be one or two sales staff for every department, a typical Philippine store would have a sales girl for every section within a department. Attention to detail is also a universal trait, a typical sales person will bend over backwards to make the sale, up to and including going to the store room / warehouse to find you the item you require. A Sale is not complete until your purchase has been gift wrapped if required, packaged and you have left the store. As we were in the Philippines during the Christmas period, the gift-wrapping element of the service became a major component of the service. We are now ap proaching another story to illustrate a point, before this I have to tell you that in the Glorietta Centre there is a bastion of all things British, yes Marks and Spencer has a store here. A store which made a month in the Philippines a little more comfortable by supplying those things I missed most – Digestive & Rich Tea biscuits, pasta sauce and tea bags. The down side was that they worked out to be 50% more expensive than the same item in the UK. ~ Gift Wrap @ M&S ~ During the Christmas period M&S in the Glorietta was doing a fast trade in British goods to be given as presents, the gift-wrap service was very popular. Unfortunately this led to long queue at the checkout. On the lower floor of the Glorietta Centre, close to the Ayala Avenue entrance is the food section. As the queue was not too long I popped in and picked up a few things, Pasta sauce, Tikka Sauce, Rich tea & Digestive Biscuits, teacakes, pickled onions – What this list says about me, I dread to think! When I joined the queue, there were four people in front of me, however it did not seem to be going anywhere. I stood there for a good 15 minutes before getting to the front and discovering what was happening. The people in front of me had also picked out similar items to myself, each item was being carefully gift wrapped by the sales assistant on the till. The Price tag was removed with the aid of a piece of sticky tape, the item was then wrapped in tissue paper and placed in it’s own gift bag. Multiple gift bags are then placed in an M&S carry bag and handed to the customer. When it came to my turn, the sales assistant prepared to individually gift wrap my purchases and seemed genuinely shocked when instructed him to just ‘throw them into a carry bag. When I turn around, the western woman behind me had a very amused look on her face. ~ Security ~ The Philippines is very security conscious, when entering a Mall or large store vis itors can be separated into male and female lines, bags are searched and you may be physically of electronically frisked. Quite a few larger stores to not allow you to enter with other shopping, there are bag check areas where you deposit your bags in exchange for a claim token, while you shop in that store. ~~~ The Ayala Centre ~~~ Shopping in Makati city basically means that you are going to spend time around the Ayala Centre, this is a large shopping, dining and entertainment complex centred on the Glorietta Shopping mall. Several other ‘arcades’, mini-malls and department stores are also part of the Ayala Centre. These are Park Square 1 & 2, Rustan’s, SM Department store, The Greenbelt centre, Landmark department store and Anson’s Electrical Store. All of these, except the Green belt centre, are located between Ayala Avenue in the north and Pasay Road in the south, EDSA - east and Makati Avenue - West. The Greenbelt centre is located across Makati Avenue on the far side of Greenbelt Park, which is currently being re-developed as part of the Greenbelt II project. ~ Glorietta Centre ~ The main shopping Mall in Makati covers three levels and incorporates Rustan’s department store next to the Northern entrance on Ayala Avenue. The Centre is the approximate shape of a Celtic cross with a large domed entertainment & exhibition area in the centre. Each of the main thoroughfares are named after the main roads they exit too. The Four sections between these thoroughfares are named Glorietta 1 – Southeast, Glorietta 2 – Southwest, Glorietta 3 – Northwest and Glorietta 4 –Northeast. Levels 1 and two are given over to shopping with many familiar names such as GAP, Swatch, Body Shop, Marks and Spencer. Clothing stores are in the majority, however there are opticians, home furnishings, electronics stores. Two newsagents and a whole section devoted to the kind of small independent trader stores that stock ‘cloned’ items and those from small local and imported manufacturers On level two and clustered around the central area are the various fast-food establishments – MacDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC are here along with Local chains such as Jollibee, ChowKing, Godilocks cake store. Small food stores can be found on this level selling local foods and international cuisine. Also on this level is the food hall with considerably more choice than any I have encountered in the UK, all at very reasonable prices. A two-course meal with rice will cost less than 150Php. The third level is mainly dedicated to entertainment, 10 cinemas, fine dining, and a nightspot called Street Life, sports store, kids world, computer games area and the Ayala Museum. ~ Park Square 1 ~ Leaving the Glorietta Centre by the Southeast exit and cross South Drive to Park Square 1. It is here that you will find a lot of electronics stores catering for all of the usual boys’ toys – Computers, Videos, Satellite systems etc. I would compare this Arcade to wandering around Tottenham Court Road in London. Good Bargains are computer games and VCDs, Although DVDs are on sale here are good prices, they are all region 4 (Australia). Other electronics are at about the same price as in the UK. ~ Park Square 2 ~ The Glorietta 2 exit leads you to Part Square; here you will find a lot of health and beauty stores – Hairdressers, Dentists, Oxygen Bars etc. Around the outside of the arcade are lots of little market stalls selling very cheep items such as toys, mobile phone cases, PC software & VCDs. On the West side of the Arcade, on the corner of Pasay Road and Makati Avenue is the Ayala Centre Bus and Jeepney Terminal. From here you can travel to almost anywhere in Makati and various major destinations in Manila. Across the car park and backing onto Pasay road is Anson’s Electrical Emporium specialising in household electronics – Fridges, Washers, HiFi systems etc. ~ Rustan’s ~ The Makati equivalent of Harrods, this is a very well laid out department store catering the Manila’s business class and the well-to-do. Here you will find expensive designer names at designer prices. The Store has several levels roughly the same as the Glorietta Centre, although we did not shop in the main part of this store, we did regularly visit the grocery section in the lower ground floor. The Grocery section was fairly well laid out with many imported products, the in-store bar-b-que has excellent freshly cooked chickens and the French bakery had some extremely tasty tarts, pastries and breads. As Rustan’s is Marks and Spencer’s retail partner in the Philippines, there are a number of M&S food products on sale. ~ Landmark ~ Across Rizal Drive from the Western entrance of the Glorietta Centre is the Landmark department store. The Grocery Store occupies two third of the Lower ground floor, with a fast food hall serving many Philippine delicacies in the other third of the space. Prices in this grocery section are considerably cheaper than Rustan’s. The Ground floor has some electrical goods, luggage, cosmetics and sundry good such as soaps, tissues and razors. The First and second floors are dedicated to adult and children’s clothing and shoes. The Third floor was set aside for domestic goods and gifts such as furniture, cutlery and crockery. There are many bargains to be had here; prices are typically 25 to 50% cheaper than the UK , Especially in clothing and gifts. ~ SM ~ Before you ask SM stands for Shoe Mart although this store sells a lot more than shoes. Set opposite the eastern entrance of the Glorietta Centre across Hotel Drive. Laid out in a similar way to the Landmark department store. SM has greater diversity and range than Landmark particularly i n the electrical and furniture departments. The clothing department is large; a particular favourite of ours was the Children’s ware. From the forth floor of this store you can gain entrance to the Ayala MRT station. ~ The Greenbelt Centre ~ Exit the Landmark Department store from the Makati Avenue Site, cross and walk through the Greenbelt Park. This is a nice place to visit in the evening, as there is often live entertainment, or religious services in the White dome of the Chapel. Out side the Greenbelt Mall are a number of small eateries including Max’s restaurant ‘the house that chicken built’, this is the Philippine’s answer to KFC, a typical Chicken Dinner will cost less than 150Php, it is also where my wife and I were married and held our reception. Crossing Greenbelt Drive and enter the Mall it’s self you will find another M&S store, some good quality clothing and electrical stores, some good fast-food places – Jolibees, Café d’Paris. National Bookstores have a good store her next to the five-screen cinema and cyber cafe. I would recommend the Jamaican pasties from the stall by the Greenbelt square entrance. Talking of Greenbelt Square, this is also a nice place to wander in the evening, as there are free concerts here. ~ Other Local Shopping ~ Taking a walk along Pasay road you will find some a few small stores specialising in Jewellery, Gifts, and Alcohol. I recommend the Acme Jewellery store opposite Anson’s Emporium. Before you say anything, notvb5fgb5fgb5 the Road Runner will not serve you. Head north on Makati Avenue after the Peninsula Hotel you will come to the Olympia Condos with a couple of good designer clothing stores. A little further is the Atrium with a good antique / guitar store and a few niche goods outlets and travel agents. ~ Further out ~ Take a short ride north on the MRT to Ortigas and you will be in walking distance of Rob inson’s Galarier with its cinemas and 150 stores. The Stop before on the MRT, Shaw, is close to the SM Mega Malls – Ice skating, food, clothes and 12 cinema screens. A short walk will take you to the Shangri-la mall; this was probably the best and most expensive mall we visited, lots of designer goods at designer prices. The best jewellery prices we found we in the Omping shopping areas, lots of little stall with very cheap 18-carat gold. This is where we bought our wedding rings, 24 carat engraved gold for 3000Php (£50). ~~~ Conclusion ~~~ As I said at the start of this rather lengthy opinion, I am not a lover of shopping and my adventures in the Philippines did nothing to change this. I think my wife dragging me around four shopping Malls in one day did not help. Philippine retail seems to be based on mis-trust, retailers do not trust the customers, customers don't trust the retailers, hense the bureaucracy. All this said and done, Makati specifically `and Manila in general, is a shopper’s paradise with many bargains to be had in Jewellery and clothing. It is worth noting that gold jewellery is very cheap and of high quality 18 or 24 carats. Clothing is excellent and local good are colourful and lightweight, so don’t expect to get your winter wardrobe here unless you live in the Med. ~~~ Costs ~~~ I based my holiday on an exchange rate of 70Php to the Pound (GBP), I was getting between 71 and 72 Php to1GBP from money changers, however when I used my credit card exchange rate was better, 73.5 to 74.1 Php to 1GBP Glasses from Vision Express 3850Php Microwave Oven from Anson’s 3186Php 18Crt 3 colour gold choker 7300Php Swatch Watch 1200Php Lightweight Trousers from Landmark 957Php VCD – latest title movie 50 to 80Php Groceries: - Heinz Tomato Ketchup 300g 17.50Php 1Litre Ube Ice-cream 40Php Miller Draft beer 330ml 21.40Php Carlsberg 330ml 15.95Php 200g Back bacon 65Php 5L Mineral Water 57 to 66Php 10 Large eggs 41.50Php 2 Loaf bread from French bakery 100Php

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