The mall is the Filipinos’ home away from home. So popular is going to the mall that “malling” is almost considered a national sport. Not only can you shop in these retail therapy temples you can eat, be entertained or just hang out and all in air conditioned comfort.
Ranging in size from the older small malls like that atop the Guadalupe market and the Star Mall in Shaw Boulevard to small cities like the SM Mega Mall which is so big it had to be split in two, malls in the Philippines are a growth industry. As new malls are built, of which I know two that are nearing completion, they will be bigger and better than those that have come before.
Malls are as safe as they are comfortable. Upon entry to a mall your bags will be inspected and the small of your back will be patted down by the armed security guards that control each entrance. Exits also have guards but their presence is more to stop unauthorized entry than to detect un-purchased goods leaving.
Once inside, you can stroll the broad avenues past the glass and plastic store fronts of the up market boutiques. Stop for a snack or a meal at a coffee shop, a franchised fast food outlet or a specialty restaurant. Sit a while and watch the passing parade, enjoy the free entertainment of a photographic exhibition or the choral renditions on the atrium’s main stage. Catch the latest movie in one of the several cinemas or check out the eye catching trinkets at the small stalls scattered down the centre of the broad walks.
So popular have malls become that larger department stores are redesigning themselves along their lines. Like the SM department store in Makati’s Ayala district with a broad walk running its length and the various departments located on either side. Small eateries fill the corners and stalls with this week’s specials are set up to gain maximum exposure in the broad walk.
Sparkling clean, the malls are a direct contrast to the traditional markets. With a changing theme each couple of weeks, the malls entice and entertain, linger awhile especially if you have some pesos in your pocket or at least look like you do.