Shopping: Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati

Well I finally figured out how to get to Power Plant Mall in the Rockwell area of Makati. Take the MRT to the Guadalupe station. Then walk down to the riverbank and catch a jeepney on J.P. Rizal Ave. Make sure the jeepney is going westwards and get off near the front of Power Plant Mall.

So what’s so great about this mall? It’s probably the best mall we’ve got. The people in the movie theaters aren’t too unruly. It has a big Rustan’s supermarket, Fully Booked, and National Bookstore. You can get t-shirts at C2 and Team Manila. You can get a haircut at Basement Salon. They also have a store that sells North Face gear.

There is an awesome slew of restaurants at the bottom: Chili’s, Myron’s (my cousin’s), Elbert’s Cheesesteak, Isshin, etc. They have a Sango Japanese hamburger shop and delicious Japanese food at Kuretake. They just opened a Mamou Steakhouse. They have a Lulu Belle yogurt shop. You can even get taho (a ubiquitous Filipino street snack), in the food area at exorbitant but reliable prices 😉

If you are willing to walk a bit, it’s also near the famous Soms Thai restaurant on Algiers St.

The easiest way to get here would still be to take a taxi though.

It’s just my favorite mall, so I can’t stop gushing about it 🙂

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Makati Central Business District

I never thought I would be promoting the center of my home city, but arrangements in the Makati CBD area have made hanging around it for the backpacker quite attractive.

First of all, if you want to get a sweeping history of what happened to the Philippines, check out the Ayala Musuem, where you will not only see intricate handcarved dioramas of important moments in Philippine history, but you will also see galleons, our best classical painters, and indigenous gold collections.

After that you can stroll through the Ayala Triangle Park, which is what is holding the new Makati together, and eat at it’s strip of restaurants.  Try Wee Nam Kee, the Singaporean resto known for its Hainanese chicken and Omakase for delicious Japanese fusion food.

And of course there is the shopping.  From Greenbelt to Glorietta, you’ll be able to shop at the sprawling amount of stores from high end to medium prices. 

I’d also like to add, connecting Greenbelt to Glorietta is the awesome Landmark with its cheap priced goods and a fully stocked grocery in its basement.  Plus you can get probably the best sampler of Filipino food at Via Mare on Landmark’s second floor (try the scrumptious bibingka) and the classic sisig in Aling Lucing’s in the basement.

All of these are located in the central part of Makati and are accessible by getting off at the Ayala station of the MRT.

On the fringes of Makati is the Power Plant at Rockwell, which is still, in my opinion, the best mall in the country.  Still kind of hard to get to because it doesn’t have any nearby MRT station.  The best way to get here would be by cab or private car.

And if you want to do some budget shopping or buy some cheap pearls (we are in the Orient), you can head over to nearby Market, Market in Taguig, where you can get bargain prices and get ready to do some haggling :).  You can reach Market, Market by cab or from the Ayala MRT station walk to the corner of Ayala Ave. and Edsa and try to look for the Fort Bus station to take you in.

Beside Market, Market is also the ever expanding Serendra and High Street shopping strip which just opened the first Muji in the Philippines at cheaper Philippine prices (rumored to be 7 % lower than everywhere else).

Oh ya, going back to Makati, every Saturday morning, in Salcedo park in the center of the Salcedo Village area, they have a market.  Here you can try all kinds of cuisine and even that hard to find Filipino flavor.  Too bad it’s open only on Saturdays till 2 PM, but those of you looking for “hawker” stalls that sell some local cuisine, this might be for you.

And if you miss that, on Sunday, there is exactly the same thing in the Legaspi Park in the center of the Legaspi Village area of Makati.

Like I said, I never thought I’d be promoting Makati for anything but a shopping destination, but I’m glad that it’s developing a culture worth seeing.

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Philippines classified among the Next 11 emerging economies of the world by Goldman Sachs.  Awesome!

Shopping: R.O.X.

Can’t believe I haven’t posted this one yet.

For all your backpacker gear needs, go R.O.X. Recreational Outdoor Exchange at the end of High Street in Bonifacio Global City (formerly known as Fort Bonifacio).

Here you’ll be able to get everything from backpacks to tents to outdoor clothing (even for winter!).

And if you’ll go to the opposite end of High Street, you’ll find the flagship store of Fully Booked. You’ll find Lonely Planets, Filipino books, international books, etc. It’s a huge store and the best selection of books we’ve got.

Shopping in Metro Manila

I don’t care what any guidebook or man on the street would tell you, Mall of Asia (MOA) is probably the worst place you can shop in Metro Manila whether you live here or are an itinerant backpacker. Reputedly the biggest mall (or at least used to be) in the country, this place is a mess. It’s like all the worst things you want in a mall jampacked together.

So what suggestions would I have for shopping:

The best mall, bar none, for shopping in the big city would be the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, Makati. Kind of hard to get to right now it has no Metrorail stops. The easiest way to get there would be to flag down a cab. Here you have a grocery store, trendy Manila t-shirts, a movie theater, two bookstores, and a great vibe.

Other malls of almost as good calibre would be Greenbelt and Glorietta, Makati; High Street and Serendra in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig; Shangri-la Mall, Mandaluyong; Gateway Mall, Cubao, Quezon City; Trinoma, Quezon City and Alabang Town Center, Alabang.

Now for shopping of the budget kind, Greenhills in San Juan would be king. I’d also suggest Market, Market in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig as maybe an even better alternative.

For shopping of the “artsy” kind, there is Cubao X in Cubao, Quezon City and The Collective on Malugay St., Makati. Both give you the alternative shopping experience with the matching drinking/rocking scene.

For souvenirs, there is Balikbayan Handicrafts on A. Arnaiz St. (formerly Pasay Road) and beside it is Tesoro’s. In Tesoro’s you won’t only get kitschy stuff but you can purchase yourself a totally awesome Barong Tagalog, the official formal wear of our hot, sweltering country (suits just don’t cut it, unless there’s aircon). Both these stores are located just across the street from the Glorietta Mall in Makati.

As you may have noticed, I have never mentioned SM positively, the owner of Mall of Asia, SM City, Megamall, and other mall sprawls in our city. These places are affordable, the deparment stores have good selection, and I even like Kultura, a store found in every SM deparment store that sells Filipino souvenirs. But invariably these SM malls are overflowing with people, don’t have enough parking, and gives you that malled-out feeling. Great commercial successes for their owner, but not the best place to be a tourist (unless you like hordes of people).

And I forgot to mention Robinsons Place in Manila. Probably the most obvious mall to visit if you are staying in the Malate backpacking area. I haven’t been there in awhile, but it’s probably the most convenient place to stock up on groceries, but I would always recommend Power Plant, Rockwell in the end.

So that’s it, that’s the lowdown of shopping in our big city. But probably some of you would say that you didn’t come to Metro Manila to see the malls. But maybe some of you do. It’s where you’re going to see the Metro Manilenyo in his natural habitat. 🙂

Shopping: T-shirts in Metro Manila and other souvenirs

Inspired by the earlier post, I’ve decided to make this one about where to get those oh so ironic T-shirts in Manila.

The first I will mention is my friend’s Analog Soul. Analog Soul began on a whim, I actually once had their complete stock in a large plastic bag in my house, but has developed into a full-fledged business. There most famous t-shirt was the Ninoy Aquino shirt that many people copied afterwards. Their shops can be found in Power Plant, Glorietta, Trinoma, and Megamall.

The second is the famous Team Manila. Bringing their Fil-Am sensibilities to Manila, this group will totally indulge your Jose Rizal fetish. I just bought a t-shirt from them on sale, 50 percent off!

And, of course, the classic Philippines on your shirt by Collezione. I personally don’t own one of these but if I was a visiting tourist, this shirt would be awesome.

Now if you want the more traditional “tacky” souvenir, there is Tesoro’s where you get an awesome Barong Tagalog, our national outfit, for a great price. Or you can go to the equally cool Balikbayan Handicrafts next door on A. Arnaiz Ave. (formerly Pasay Road) in Makati.

One thing I’d like to tell you about the Philippines is that we tend to rename our streets based on politician’s whims. Have a daddy who you think hasn’t been honored enough? Run for politics and you just might be able to change the name of the street he lived on to your name. It’s annoying, but us Filipinos always remember and use the old names anyway. Even the buses and jeepneys use the old names.

Anyway, back to the shopping, for even more souvenir shopping there is the ubiquitous Kultura Filipino found in every SM in the city.

Other shops would be Island Souvenirs, Spoofs Unlimited, and, of course, Bench.

Other places I’ve mentioned before is Greenhills in Ortigas Ave., San Juan and Market, Market in The Fort, Taguig City. This is where you can implement your barganing skills for fake “branded” stuff and cheap, cheap pearls. In Filipino negotiation in these shopping stalls, you can normally get 20 to 30 % of the original asking price.

Fort Bonifacio

But eventually you would leave Makati, and check out Intramuros and Fort Santiago that is in Intramuros, Manila.

You’d probably also want to check the hippest (but getting kinda old) Encore (formerly known as Embassy) Superclub in the Fort in Taguig City.  Also in Taguig city is Bonifacio High Street.  Here you will find the best bookstore in Manila, Fully Booked.  Walk down Bonifacio High Street and you will come to Serendra.  Walk down Serendra (Lulu Belle’s yummy yoghurt is here), and you will come across Market, Market.  Second to Greenhills, this is probably the best place to get pearls, knock-offs and other cheap stuff.  Greenhills, by the way, is located on Ortigas road in another part of Metro Manila.  This is the traditional place to get cheap stuff.  Hard to park though.

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This entry is dated. For one thing, Embassy/Encore is gone. The party continues at Republiq in Resorts World across the NAIA 3 terminal.

Secondly, Fort Bonifacio is now named Bonifacio Global City. Find out more at my latest entry here.

This was updated on May 6, 2012.