Friday, January 06, 2006

Retail Therapy I


The Philippines is a shoppers' paradise. Here you can shop till you drop with ease. There are literally shopping opportunites at your front door.

There is a Sari Sari store (a small convenience store and I do mean small, like about 10 square meters) at the front of the compound where I live here in Makati. Across the street is another, 50 metres down the street on the left is another and around the corner on the right are three more.

One or another of them is sure to have whatever it is you've run out of. No need to bother the neighbours for that cup of sugar. The quantities and the range that they sell are predicated on covering whatever it is that has run short.

You can buy one egg for 4.5 pesos (AU$0.11), a cigarette for 1.5 pesos (AU$0.04), you can kill yourself slowly very cheaply here, and a sachet of soap powder for 7 pesos (AU$0.18) which is good for 4kgs of clothes washing. Except for a cigarette, which is a stick, if you dont specify how many you require, you will be asked how many pieces? When you buy multiples of something in the Philippines you're buying x number of pieces of the item.

The sari sari store out the front of our compound opens around 6am and closes at about 10pm. It also has a tendency to close for an hour around lunch time, although if you shout loud enough someone will come and serve you. You do need pretty good Tagalog to pull that one off though.

When you venture further afield, like onto a main thoroughfare you will be confronted by shopping strips with a never ending supply of shops selling all manner of goods and street vendors selling food, trinkets, lollies and cigarettes.

A short jeepney ride away are supermarkets, wet and dry Markets, which every Barangay (suburb) seems to have, and for your major therapy there are the department stores and the shopping malls. The shopping malls can be huge, like the SM Mega mall which is so big it had to be split in two and hosts hundreds of shops.

More on the joys, frustrations and intricacies of these forms of retail therapy in later posts.

However it is comforting to know that should you run out of your favourite alcoholic reviver after a long day of therapy your local sari sari store can help, as long as it's beer or brandy. Yes they will have mixers for the brandy but will be limited to cola, lemonade and that strange orange coloured concoction, Fanta, for which I have yet to find a use.

4 comments:

rosemaryandchives said...

It is quite refreshing to read your blog. You have a sensitive eye for details regarding your cultural immersion in the Philippines. Seldom do I hear, know or read of an expat who embraces all about a country, with all its sham and beauty pasted altogether as one saga of an individual's existence. You are candid and write straight from the very nucleus of your being. I enjoy reading your ramblings. Feels like I were there as well as you pan your camera to capture all with awesome madness. Wow! BTW, I found your site through the asawa network. Cheers and more power!

Nice to read something about Makati and the neighboring cities. I am here in northern California and missing what I left behind almost two years ago. Cheers!

Henry Bateman said...

Thanks for your kind words. Yes I love it here, it aint perfect but where is? Your encouragement and others will keep me writing about this wonderful place and hopefully show its intracies to those who havent experienced it and bring back memories for those who have.

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