I think it’s crazy to go to Divisoria at this time of year! Everybody’s flocking to Manila’s best bargain haven to buy gifts, food and other stuff for the holidays. Just the same, I joined a Divisoria shopping trip sponsored by Mama Sita Mixes & Sauces last December 1 and survived with the skin of my teeth. Am exaggerating 🙂 The crowds weren’t so bad during that time (maybe because it was raining) and I was glad to see certain areas of Divi that I didn’t see before.
Here’s our group pic. We met at the famous Roxas Boulevard landmark, Aristocrat Restaurant, which is open 24/7. As you know, Mama Sita is a real person. She is the third child of Aristocrat founder Engracia Reyes. We went to Divi to retrace the steps of Mama Sita (or Teresita Reyes) who loved to shop and haggle there like the rest of us.
Did you know that it’s fun to go to Divisoria on a kalesa? PR lady Rosary Ysmael and Ige Ramos show us how. I once rode this horse-driven carriage in desperation because it wash rush hour and I couldn’t hail a taxi. It proved to be a good experience. It’s hard to find parking in Divi so I always commute going here (otherwise, your best bet for parking is the area around Binondo Church). If you’re a tourist, ride a taxi, take the LRT train and do a walking tour or enjoy a leisurely ride on the kalesa. They’re a vanishing mode of transport in the city.
Dirt-cheap prices make Divi a fun place to shop in.For example, these fruits would be triple the price in the supermarket. I would advise you to be a discerning shopper though. The big Sagada oranges at five for P100 looked attractive but I was surprised that it wasn’t really from Sagada because it had a Made in China Sticker 🙂
I’ve been seeing these knick knacks in the malls and bazaars where they would typically sell for P180. But in Divi, they only retail for P100.
This is the facade of 168 Mall, one place we always love shopping for accessories, bags, shoes, toys and other items. The other airconditioned shopping havens in Divisoria are Divisoria mall, 999, 11/88 and the new Cityplace Square (which hardly had tenants as of our last visit)
I love shopping in Divi! Will give you shopping tips in my next post.
About our sponsor, Mama Sita:
” After she gave birth to her youngest, Mama Sita became the purchaser for Aristocrat. She would leave the house at five in the morning everyday and headed to Divisoria or Quinta Market.
And just as her mother did before her, Mama Sita, would make her inside the narrow alleys, scour the market for the best buys, and engage the vendors in a round of friendly haggling.
One of her favorite sukis in Divisoria was Mariano Gobiau Egg Dealer. She bought paper bags—which were used to pack take-out orders of Aristocrat’s famous chicken barbecue—from Estanislao Trading and shopped for sugar at Windon General Merchandising Corporation. She often brought one of her children along and left him or her in the care of a trusted suki. “She would entrust me to her suki, like Johnny of Sin Kian Heng and many other Chinese and Filipino merchants, or to our drivers, and come back for me after the rounds of the market. I wonder how I never got lost,” recalls Aida with a smile.
So close was her association with Divisoria’s vendor and traders that she religiously went to market in good or in the most inclement weather. “No typhoon signal could keep her from going,” tells Ramon. “And even when a typhoon hit town, she was undeterred by knee-deep murky floodwaters in the fruit and vegetable markets.” This diligence, adds Ramon, stemmed from her sense of loyalty—Mama Sita found it objectionable to disappoint the vendors waiting for her in the market.
But she would emerge from the bowels of the raucous and swarming market richer in knowledge. She would also secure the loyalty and friendship of her sukis in Divisoria from whom she learned the greatest lessons—in marketing, cooking and sharing. In their hearts, she was a gravious suki : always sunny, consistently fair, naturally kind and friendly—a true “Diva ng Divi.”