The Ultimate Divisoria Home Shopping Guide
Brave the crowds, endure the discomforts, and get lost in Manila’s best bargain shopping destination, Divisoria—and yes, it’s worth all the chaos!
Depending on your purchasing power and tolerance for inconvenience, budget shopping in Manila brings tons of options to mind—seasonal bazaars, the Greenhills tiangge, and occasional pop-ups are all haunts for bargain hunting. But for the ultimate bargains, there is Divisoria, a destination reserved for the strong of heart and the most serious of budget shoppers—where haggling is allowed, if not encouraged, unless there’s a sign that says “Tapat na po!” Here is Real Living’s guide to Divi shopping for décor and the home (and everything in between), categorized by area, type, or street.
Unlike Ylaya and Tabora streets which offer specific products, Soler and Roman are an interesting cacophony of plastic houseware, RTW, foams, carpets, fruits, pillowcases, flip-flops, among many others. Consider these streets a sampler of what’s to come in the innards of Divi. So there’s no need to go all the way to Tabora to purchase hangers, or to Juan Luna for some trapal—with little difference in price. Apart from the sidewalk stalls, there are those with name and puwesto such as Hawaii Appliances and Ben’s Home Interior.
This is the perfect street to hit if you have a food cart or a home-based pastry business. Stores like Shure sell an amazing assortment of plastic and Styro cups, plates, bowls in different sizes and shapes (some are labeled specifically, e.g “kikiam tray”); baking paraphernalia such as cupcake liners (P70 for 2,000 pcs), muffin trays, and cake boxes; resto and catering staples such as table napkins, straws, aluminum foil, stirrers, etc. are sold by the bulk. Also aplenty are various foams (the rebonded kind starts at P95/yd), mattresses, linoleum in different colors and patterns (from P65/yd), carpets, PVC sheets, tarpaulin, and other vinyl products.
Got a masquerade ball coming up? Grab the finishing touches here. Masks sell for as low as P15 for a plain half-face to P800 for an ornate, Venetian-style custom-made mask. A number of stores also offer costume party-perfect angel wings, boa feathers, and colorful wigs (all start at P150). Tabora, the longest and widest street, is also popular with brides and grooms to-be for its selections of wedding souvenirs and other event giveaways (the cheapest go for P15/pc). Some stores require a minimum order of 20.
A lot of Tabora regulars are the crafters. There are stores here that offer patches, buttons, clips, beads (P175/big pack), rolls upon rolls of ribbons, faux pearls, bangles, and a whole of other embellishments, as well as plain headbands and belts, chains, among many others. Come Christmas season, outdoor stalls double in number to offer sinamay and mesh gift pouches and an assortment of boxes. There are delightful surprises along the streets such as old-school charcoal pressing irons for P250 and up, and minimalist Muji-style wooden chopping boards for P50 (above).
You’ve got plenty of fabric options in Ylaya. Printed cotton and canvas start at P45/yd (P20/yd and up for the plain white and tulle-like sorts, as well as the popular Gina silk). Some of the fabrics you might encounter here are identical to the pillowcases available in department stores. Aside from fabrics, there are a few stalls and shops that sell a variety of plastic kitchen wares, plus cheap towels, too.
Located along Sta. Elena and Soler streets, this three-storey mall has definitely won the hearts and pockets of bargain hunters. This bargain mall is a fashionista’s haven—the clothes here keep up with the latest trends at a fraction of mall prices. Aside from ready-to-wear items, you can also find affordable home furnishings, home accessories and other household goods here—all cheaper by the dozen!
The Soler Wing—the newer wing—is more spacious and brighter than the older building, and has multiple stalls that sell dry goods and home items, such as realistic-looking faux flowers for P40 and up, curtains that start at P130, and small garden fountains below P1,000.
You’d know you’re already in Tutuban when you see Andres Bonifacio’s bronze statue along Recto Avenue. Tutuban Center is a fine example of adaptive reuse—once a train station built in 1892 that allowed trade to flourish, and now a shopping haven where trade is a way of life. The mall has recently been renovated again, and is composed of the Prime Block which houses stores that sell accessories, home furnishings, and personal care products; the Centermall where branded boutiques and restaurants can be found; and the Cluster Mall where you’d find greater bargains, novelty products, as well as fabric and garments.
One of Tutuban’s best stores for fabric is Rubeni Textiles at the Prime Block (top photo); even designers attest to the quality and style of their fabric. You can buy upholstery and curtain fabrics starting at P85/yd. Samples are hung together and arranged according to color for easy picking. This store also accepts upholstery and curtain jobs as well as customized prints by bulk orders. Other stores in the Prime Block sell very affordable Christmas trees and décor this time of the year, pillowcases and ready-to-hang curtains, ribbons, lace, trimmings (above), and ceramic novelty goods.
At the corner of Reina Regente and De La Reina Streets stands Megaworld’s Lucky Chinatown mall, one of Divisoria’s relatively “posher” shopping destinations. The building is reminiscent of those Chinatown malls in Singapore, with its open internal courtyard surrounded by a shophouse-style façade and red lanterns. There are few home stores at Lucky, such as discount store Daiso and the dry goods at Metro Gaisano supermarket, but it has many good restaurants and Chinese herbal medicine stores. It’s a comfortable place to cool off in after a whole day of outdoor shopping!
PHOTOS Jun Pinzon (main Divisoria photos), Lucky Chinatown Facebook Page
Read the original article ("My Divine Divi") in the March 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to summitnewsstand.com.ph/real-living for more details.
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