Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Imelda in Divisoria

"Have you been to 168? If not, "di ka in!"

I first heard about 168 a month ago from a rich couple who described it simply as the "best place to shop". I thought, "Oh my, another 6750, home to high end specialty shops like Bulgari and Escada, forget it." And then I heard the clincher, "It's in Divisoria, you know, malapit sa Tutuban." I wanted to ask in disbelief, "What, you go to Divisoria?"

They described 168 as the "mother of all tiangges." I wanted to die, it sounds like heaven! So for almost four weeks I was hearing creepy little voices saying 168, 168, 168, over and over again. I waited for the day, and it came like it was my destiny. My bosses in the newsroom assigned me to cover the story. Actually It was given to me last week, but because I was too busy covering other stories I only went last Thursday.

Soler street was jampacked with traffic. The signs were everywhere, "This way to 168." Finally, there it was, 168 shopping mall. Why, it's a mall! There's actually two malls, mall 1 and mall 2. Inside, I saw three floors of tiangges everywhere. So, this is what's "eating into mall sales," as Inquirer put it on their frontpage. For those who are curious about what 168 means, the chinese interpret it as "one road to success."

True enough I bumped into China Cojuangco who was dressed down in her cap, jeans and sneakers. You'd think she was just an ordinary shopper but I noticed the bodyguards who tried to be inconspicuos. She was with a friend minding her own business when I suddenly came into her face with an ABS-CBN microphone and my camera in tow, introduced myself quickly and asked her the only question that came into my mind, "What are you doing here?" I had meant to ask "What's a person like you doing in Divisoria?" but it sounded too blunt.

Fortunately China understood my question and said, "I'm always in Divisoria! I like coming here because it's cheap and you can make tawad pa." Then she mentions other market places in Divisoria which I cannot recall. She even said some items are more expensive in 168 compared to other Divi stores, "maybe because of the rent, but it's okay, what's a few pesos, it's aircon pa." I told her she seemed to know Divisoria really well and she proudly said, "Oh yes!" China seems so down to earth. I couldn't help but notice the towel on her shoulders, as in parang driver! This girl is amazing. My friend, Lui Villaruz (China's BF) is lucky. Remember "Senorito Lakswatsero" when it was still Magandang Umaga Bayan? He also did the Gilbeys barkada commercial and some supporting roles in some Star Cinema movies.

Tama na nga ang tsismis. :) Back to 168, I heard Imelda Marcos is a "suki." Her daughter, Congresswoman Imee Marcos (another "suki") was quoted as saying, "My mom will get sick if she doesn't go to 168 once a week." Believe it or not, I heard she even bought unbranded (probably made in China or Korea) shoes! Manay Gina de Venecia is another fan. Baby Arenas has also been spotted and many more socialites, politicians, showbiz personalities, fashionistas, etc.!

Wow, is Divisoria changing? "Dati kase pag sinabi mo Divisoria, mainit, maputik, pero dito sa 168, malinis, aircon, at mura talaga," so one woman told me. Most items in 168 are being sold by Chinese traders and come from China, Hong Kong and Korea.

168 has gone a long way since it's soft opening in December 2003. Now it's more popular than ever. Mall 3 is already under construction. I've been told 30 to 50 thousand people go there on weekdays and up to 80 thousand people walk through the tiangges on weekends. Just be prepared for the "siksikan" especially on weekends. But nowadays when times are hard, whether you have a fat wallet or an empty one, people want value for their money.

If you're not done with your Christmas shopping.. 168 beckons.. you have 3 days left!

Happy shopping! :)


houseband00 said...

Hi Nina,

Now that 168 is the "in" place to shop because of the bargains and the media exposure (not your fault), the traders there are the new targets of the BIR. I guess gaining "celebrity" status does that or did the mall gods have a hand in this. =)

I heard there's a "new" place but I'm not telling. Not just yet. =D

Jenny L. said...

The place sounds really good, sayang wala kami sa Pinas kung hinde di namin palalagpasin yan. Especially ganitong season, masarap mag shopping sa Divi... Haaay miss ko ang siksikan, di tulad dito sa England, di masyado feel ang Xmas, wala bang holiday rush...
Very nice blog Nina, congrats. Keep up the good work.