Thursday, April 5, 2012

For The Love Of Shopping

Rest day.

Instead of spending the afternoon locked inside my room, I decided to go and leave the house to do some shopping. The air-conditioned mall seems to be the smart choice, given that the stubborn orb-in-the-sky refuses to cower behind the clouds. But because I already went to a department store a few days before and found, that the item I wish to buy is inferior in quality and design, perhaps a trip to Divisoria may yield some surprising discoveries. 

The district, known for its below-the-ground discounts and made-in-china imitation goods has a side known only to expert merchants and bargain hunters. Beyond the faux malls lining Reina Regente are side streets that are almost synonymous with the goods they sell.

Take for example Ylaya. The street is home to the local textile market. The patterns and fabrics sold right down the street (and closing it to motor vehicles) are hardly seen anywhere else. It's discovery is purely accidental. After making a detour in one of the alleys along Recto, I found myself at the heart of the largest market for bridal gowns and cotillion attire in this side of the city. So ubiquitous the stalls are, the uninstructed observer won't hardly notice the difference.

A few turns inside the maze-like market and there I was, bathed in sunshine again in a street where rolls of cloth pile up on the sidewalk and woven fabrics are hung like curtains in front of family-owned stores. I was so drawn to the colors and design patterns that for a moment, I pictured myself creating a ball gown a-la Project Runway. I never thought reading Las Tres Estrellas' blog, especially their thoughts on fabrics and designers would actually rub-off on me.

And it's quite awkward knowing I'm getting out of character.

So I moved on to another block still in search of the item on my list. Next street is Tabora, where Papier-mâché souvenirs, tin-made kitchenware and wooden handicrafts are sold, still in drop-dead prices. It was not the first time I got acquainted with the famed street. A few years ago, the Fujian-controlled malls were packed with Christmas shoppers, people literally spilled on the streets. Rather risk suffocation and a missing wallet, I ventured out beyond the malls to avoid the rampaging horde.

Out of my desire to find a passage to Tutuban Center without having to squeeze myself for space, I made a run to the corner street with fewest people. The first trinkets I laid my eyes on had cast a permanent spell.

Paper Flowers, 2006

I never left.

Tabora has become a sort of destination when I do my yearly Christmas Shopping. It's the only strip where neon green boa feathers and hot pink wigs are sold along angel wings and comedy masks. And while there aren't anything worth buying for ordinary shoppers, stage performers and artisans would find a trove of treasures.

We instead feast on visual delights.

Sundown is almost upon us and since the next day is a holiday, the stalls packed up earlier than their normal business hours. And like what my leads revealed, I would find an ironing board cover in Tabora. It was 50 pesos less than in Megamall, and the shade of brown greatly pleases my artistic taste.

The ironing board cover, and my leisurely stroll as I searched for the item in Divisoria were merely the shells of my journey. For deep within, it disproves two things I tend to say all the time: that I'm no fan of capitalism, and I see window shopping as an utter waste of time.

But when it comes to long walks under the sun, and bargain hunting for things you don't find in the mall, it appears that my hidden pursuit emerges.

Maybe because I find joy not really in possessing new things, but in searching the character of the place where I found them. I've always seen malls as an excuse for convenience, much like fast food places that hardly provide any nourishment. It makes people lazy, and forces family-owned stores to close down. It's no wonder, I feel more at home in the market streets of Divisoria, the flower market in Dangwa and at the small, pastel-colored shops of Cubao Expo.

One you look and you know, there is romance in buying.

Epilogue: The search yielded not only the ironing board cover. Somewhere in Ylaya, I found a bunch of jersey shorts with playful lines and colors never available anywhere else.

And it cost only less than a hundred pesos a piece.

Finding a great bargain and an art piece deserving a wall space, I bought two. They will be worn only at home.



shenanigans said...

hindi ako ma swerte sa paghahanap ng mga ganyang kagagandang mu-murahing items. tama ba pagkakasabi ko?

tsaka wala akong tiyaga sa paglalakad diyan though masarap talaga mamili sa divi at sa tutuban ;)

Xian Garvida said...

Naman! I have always been wanting to go to Divi but never had the chance.

I heard, madami daw talagang items like decors na super ganda at mura pa,hehe

jetlander said...

Hi Mugen! Sa Barclay - Baclaran for the uninitiated :)ok din. I am more at ease in divi, quiapo, recto kaysa sa mga mall.

I enjoy the bargains and boy watching - those Chinese Twink boys are luscious.

Hearing "anong hanap niyo? pili na suki?" make me smile and I don't know why because people seems to be annoyed with this, maybe it's the "eagerness" of the bored tinderas.

cHard said...

Writing this way about Divi, Joms, you made it a destination more than just a place.. =)

Ung street sa likod ng 168 Mall, madaming vendors nagtitinda ng mura at fresh na veggies.. un lagi ang huli ko pinupuntahan bago umuwi pag nagpunta ako ng divi..

baste said...

waaah! I want one of that shorts too. Peg ko ang mga ganyang designs.

the green breaker said...

You made shopping in Divi sosyal kuya Joms! NKKLK.

What we used to buy in Divi are vegetables that would really be expensive in a local market. One tip if you are a vegetarian :)

There is the shopaholic hidden in our deepest of desires, whether we admit it or not. :)

Nate said...

ikaw na ang shopingero! :)

kalansaycollector said...

kundi lang malayo ang divi samin... huhu i miss college na sa divi kami namimili for our org. :)

sin at work said...

OMG! next time i'm going there, i'm gonna use this entry as a reference :)
and i love cubao expo! (well, more on the inuman portion. hahaha)