Monday, March 12, 2007

Divisoria Infusion

Last week, I went on my first Divisoria visit for 2007. It was an official trip. Actually, I wouldn’t have anything to do with Divisoria if my work did not require me to visit the place from time to time.

Prior to working, the last time I went to Divisoria was in late 1980 for the opening of classes—definitely one of the peak seasons of Divisoria sales. It must explain why the picture of Divisoria that stuck in my grade school mind was in a complete chaos. The two things I clearly remember my mom bought at that time were pencil sharpeners shaped as a padlock (which came with a key) and a rechargeable lamp. I didn’t think of Divisoria again after that.

I almost returned to Divisoria during college to source materials for a play we did. I was supposed to be part of the props committee specializing on the actors’ accessories. It was a Filipino version of “The Braggart Soldier” and was therefore called “Ang Sundalong Hambog.” The play was set in Rome, thus the need for authentic-looking, Roman-time, intricately elaborate accessories. But I backed out of the play—well, I broke my “academic” commitment with the play and just volunteered to help for the love of it—to concentrate on being part of the editorial staff of my other class’ magazine.

I thank my job for re-introducing me to Divisoria. By going there on a regular basis, I more or less have mastered the ins and outs of 168 Mall, New Divisoria Mall (which isn’t so new) and the so-called, Tabora.

If you’re not into exploring hot, dirty places (by “hot” I mean the temperature, and by “dirty,” I am referring to hygiene), go directly to 168 Mall. It is Greenhills-ish, only more cramped. But the prices are fairly low especially if you buy in bulk in which case you can avail of the wholesale price which can go lower depending on your gift in haggling.

But beware of some stalls that forbid buyers from haggling for it will deprive you of getting the lowest price for the goods you choose to buy. And without bargaining for the price of the things you buy, your Divisoria story would not be complete. It is easy to know these stalls. Well because they post signs which say, “Wag makulit, bawal ang tawad.” It will be best to abide by such sign.

Not all stores are as blunt, though. Take the one I saw last time where cartons with "LAHAT P88” written on them. To satisfy my curiosity, I went inside to ask the saleslady, “Kung lahat 88, ibig sabihin ba noon bawal tumawad?” to which she replied, “fixed price na po kasi kami.” And there, I got my answer. Needless to say, I left.

What can you find in 168 Mall? Almost everything! It is a department store, convenience store, hardware, school supplies haven, drug store, great techie gadget stop, souvenir supplier, toy kingdom, party needs shop, accessories department, clothes port, and a lot more. However, there is no distinct assigned section for these shops. They are randomly placed in the mall’s floor area. One minute you’re in a clothes store then if you more forward you’re in a hardware—there really is no predicting what shop comes after the other, unless you have mastered the place probably as much as I have.

168 Mall houses a decent food court on it’s third floor—mostly they serve Chinese food save for Jollibee and Greenwich, a Korean and a Thai food station plus two Filipino food stops. Fortunately, I haven’t had any problems with their food. And by the way, my favorite station is the Cantonese Dimsum House. Yum!

If you wish to look for more items at a lower price, you can visit the New Divisoria Mall. However, as I have said in my parenthetical remark above, New Divisoria Mall isn’t so new. The place is a bit worn out but I don’t think its ceiling will fall anytime. What I am saying is, New Divisoria Mall is not a new as 168 Mall and it wasn’t maintained properly to look as new as 168.

Here is one tip: if you decide to hop from 168 Mall to New Divisoria Mall (or to Tabora, for that matter) make sure to relieve yourself before leaving. That way, you are sure that nature wouldn’t be calling you in a place where comfort rooms aren’t as comfortable as they should be. But if you have high tolerance with the stench released by ammonia (a component of pee) and a bunch of unknown bacteria, then you may disregard my tip.

Back to New Divisoria Mall. The floor layout here is as topsy-turvy as in 168, maybe worse. But you will live through it. I know I did. Although I am not entirely sure, I seem to get the notion that New Divisoria Mall is bigger, hence more finds await. Also, sales people here are more welcome to haggling, too, meaning more savings.

Tabora is the least comfortable place to tread. It is a street which I can’t really describe where but I can point to if I were in 168 Mall or New Divisoria Mall. It however boasts of its bountiful and diverse stocks of raw materials great for do-it-yourself projects. If you have a healthy imagination, crafty hands and impressive patience, you can source for simple things here, make it grand and sell it. You will be rich in no time!

Divisoria has become all that and more at least to my eyes. It is not just a chain of shops that sell items for a cheap price. It is a walk-in therapy for people with money and without anything to do. It is a place where future entrepreneurs begin. It houses a big community of Chinese people who have found refuge in our country’s lucrative fascination with bargain commodities. It has become a cradle for Chinese babies being raised by Pinoy salesladies. It is an employer for a number of young women and men who wish to earn cash to pursue their studies—sometimes even while working.

Divisoria is a culture in itself.

And if that’s not enough, Divisoria is the home for Garfield, too!

1 comment:

kokoy said...

salamat sa sticker!!!! hay, never pa akong naglaboy sa divi ng walang kinalaman sa trabaho, last time nandon ako ay nag set up kami ng national book store show window.