I conquered Divisoria, although I thought I wouldn't.
Going to Divisoria was already planned weeks before. My mom agreed that she would go with me and we would wake up at 6 am, be dropped at the nearby fx station in Edsa or Buendia, then take a ride from there to Divi. Sounds ambitious, but I was very enthusiastic and courageous in commuting because I have been there last August with my aunt when we were buying stuff for Harvey's birthday party. So first step is to plan my personal leave, allot my budget and take a rest the night before, but my mom started to back out. She said she wasn't in the mood anymore. My sister wanted to go, but when she found out that I intended to leave early, she backed out as well.
Going solo flight is already an option. Much to my uncle's discouragement while we chatted in Facebook, I still researched my route and just made sure that my trip was more organized. Roaming around with an agenda, even in a relatively foreign place, is not a problem for me. I could be left alone in another country and find different ways to enjoy the place. And ironically, I love Divisoria because of the stalls and crowded streets full of cheap wares and goodies. I love the "barter" feel of it all. Malls bore me. It's shopping and adventure rolled into one like traveling.
Shopping for clothes is not my goal. First, I wanted to shop for cool christmas decorations since my mom has lost her christmas spirit. I wanted to at least please my dad because he would always nag us girls to finally make the house more festive and colorful. Since my mom doesn't want to spend for expensive set of christmas decorations, I figured Divisoria is our best option to get the same good stuff of what we see in department stores, but half the price. I've already done my canvassing. In Robinson's and SM Department stores, an intricate flower with stem that you put in garlands and christmas trees easily costs 69 pesos each or along that range. If I buy a dozen, it would cost me roughly 800. Christmas ball sets of 4 can easily cost me 150 - 200 plus. In my present financial condition, it's definitely too steep knowing our christmas tree's huge and there are other areas to decorate. Divisoria, from my research and from what I heard, offer the same decors for half the price. Also, a second agenda is to buy christmas gifts for my two god children at Anding's Toy Store, a toy warehouse wonderland where I also bought Harvey's birthday stuff. Lastly, I might buy things for the house whatever I might see interesting like candle holders, duyan and other stuff you think I might not need.
Dressed in old jogging pants and loose white shirt, my father saw me and instantly knew about my plans. He was informed by my mother and held no objections. He even insisted that my mother should go with me; and in return, he would let us use the larger car and his driver's services instead of commuting as originally planned. Well that would be convenient for us in a way that we won't suffer the hot commute and just let the driver worry about the parking space. By 8 am, after having a heavy breakfast, we left for Divisoria.
Good thing our driver knew the detour routes and we traveled through Osmena Highway to Singalong area towards Roxas Blvd and the next thing we knew, we were already in Binondo, one of my dad's favorite shopping spots. The driver knew where we were heading and he dropped us off at the busy Juan Luna St where as early as 9:30 am was already crowded with vendors, buyers and delivery men.
While walking that long street I felt I was in a huge candy store. 10 pesos worth of different toys, succulent fruits, fake but gorgeous wallets and bags, christmas decors, all adorned the streets and we haven't even reached Tabora and the divisoria malls. I kept on pointing like crazy whereas my mom just concentrated on keeping up with me.
My mom and I transferred from one stall to another that's selling Christmas Decors in Tabora street. It was already hot at that time and my mother wasn't in high spirits. She kept on hurrying with a frown on her face. The more we searched, the more stressed she looked. She immediately wanted to go inside a mall where it's airconditioned. She said she couldn't take street shopping. I was pissed of course because we didn't maximize our time looking for decors, but at least we were able to grab salient stuff thanks to me.
By 10:45 am my mom's had it with Christmas decor shopping in the busy and hot Tabora street so we decided to go to the nearby building where Anding's Toy Store, which is more like a wonderland warehouse of toys, is located. I bought durable, wooden educational toys for my two godchildren. Each cost 240 pesos. Of that size, quality and purpose, those could easily cost near 1K in Hobbes and Landes. For myself, I bought a large jumping rope for 18 bucks, a complete scrabble set for 140. I also wanted to buy a set of cool masks and machine/shotguns 3 for 100, but my mom was insanely KJ.
By 11:45 we walked a couple of minutes to get to 168 mall, a more organized mall than the original DV mall near Tabora street. We went window shopping. There were lots and I mean lots of updated (fake but insanel good material) bags and shoes there. They have "imported brands" of travel bags, hand bags, totes selling for 200-400 pesos. Hip shoes there sell for 200. If my sister was with me, she could've hyperventilated with excitement on the spot. Clothes from basics to formal are scattered together with gardening tools, kitchen supplies, electric supplies and even pet supplies.
Before going through stalls, we ate first at the busy food stall. I ate at Kai Hong Eatery, much to Mitch's amusement. After grabbing a bite we went window shopping and my mom started to light up by seeing good material shirt dresses that cost 300 bucks. Party clothes for 300 and a luxurious, Charlotte-York inspired, black and white A-line dress for only 400. It was impossible to get that good cut and material for 400. Well, in the first place, it doesn't look like 400. It looks like a thousand bucks. Upon seeing that, my mom insisted I should buy it because she kept on raving about the material and the cut. And so I did. A few stores away, we saw artsy-fartsy shirts on sale and the material is divine. The cloth is thin, cool and soft. Think the likes of DAVID and GOLIATH shirts. For 400 pesos, we got 4 cute shirts for JD and Mitch. And knowing my mom, being so meticulous in buying shirts, was so pleased with our progress. But that's when I realized I'm spending too much already. I've spent cash that's alloted for my phone and credit card bills. It's sad that I went pass budget, but thinking about the dress, the christmas decors, the toys, they are all worth it.
After conquering 168 my mom bought cheap fruits (3 kilos of kiat kiat for 100, 4 guavas for 100) along the road. We also bought 25 pcs good quality, glossy gift wrappers for 75 pesos, 100 gift cards for 10 pesos, and my magnificent find...the ELECTRONIC BUBBLE GUN.
My mom was weirded out about my purchase. We were walking along the street when I just saw this guy demonstrating the electronic bubble gun. The gun's so colorful that I doubt anyone would miss it; and the bubbles it released was insane. I immediately fell in love with it. I was about to buy the bubble gun worth 100 pesos when my mom insisted that I should get the one with sound effects for 12o. And again, so I did. I was walking along the streets of Tabora and Juan Luna "gunning" bubbles on my path. Three people, 2 moms and a guy asked me where I found it. They were so amazed and curious. I even let one guy get the feel of it. Most of them said that they saw bubble guns in malls that are expensive. Proud as I am, I helped them with the directions on how to get to the only vendor who's selling it. I didn't share the fact that I had fun letting people in my path eat soap of course. Ha-ha.
By 2 pm we were on our way home and no matter how I wanted to buy those 10 pesos worth of toys, I have to control. I knew I shouldn't spend anymore. I'm already dried as it is, but then I saw these sophisticated, golden candle holders perfect for intimate parties at Juan Luna Street. You would not find this in malls and even if you do find it, it'll cost 300 pesos the cheapest. The geniune looking guy was selling different designs, freshly made, for 100 pesos each; No brainer. I grabbed three. There goes my last 500 bucks. At least I still have 200 pesos for emergency.
Divisoria is love. My mom would disagree of course. She's more of a Greenhills shopper where it's airconditioned, more organized and safer in terms of security and product control. That may be true, Divisoria may not have the best circumstances when it comes to shopping. It's dirty, smelly, hot, overly crowded and disorganized, but if you're a person who really likes die-hard cheap finds (cheaper than ghills), see this kind of shopping as a fulfilling adventure and not to complain of the heat and the crowd, then you will love divisoria.
For some who know my basic interests like my mom, you'd be surprised by my revelation. You might ask that for a person who hates shopping, why would I even consider Divisoria? I still don't shop for clothes, shoes and stuff. I primarly look for vintage things like toys, decorations or something for the house. I also probably like the adventure of it. I like shopping in streets. The feeling is so vintage and exciting. I like shopping like it was during in medieval times when everything was on the street, there were no added costs to the goods. I like shopping in the raw. Whereas for malls, I'm not really a fan because I get bored. It's too organized and pretentious. For me, nothing beats shopping at warehouses and streets especially if it's dirt cheap. Most of the times, the mood also helps.
For those who are looking for durable toys to buy for their godchildren or children, go to Anding's Toy Store. It's near Tabora street (orange building). You will find all the toys for all ages there. For those planning to have themed birthday parties, this is the place to go for giveways, party favors and toys. From board games to educational games for all ages, kiddie cars, remote cars, dolls, military toys, cards, wholesale mini-toys, sports, masks, balloons, costumes, everything that a kid and a kid-at-heart would want, it's in Anding's. The quality, packaging and selection are something that would awe you.
For those looking for Christmas Decors go to the Tabora Stretch. Intricately designed decors, christmas boxes and lights are there. Flowers with stems found in SM that easily costs 40 bucks each is 180 bucks a dozen, all in different colors, in Tabora. Wreath and garlands cost 120-250 each. 2 dozens of huge, glittered christmas balls sell for 150-250. Ribbons and beads for yards sell at 150. Christmas figs cost 25 pesos each as opposed to 70 pesos each found in leading malls. In some more established stalls you could ask them to decorate stuff for you.
The usual wares of Divisoria like gardening tools, house ornaments, kitchen wares are also found in Tabora. Fruits and vegetables are all over the place. For cheap shoes, bags and clothes there's Divisoria Mall in Tabora and there's a more organized 168 mall.
Go there this early while you still can. Friday, but considerably a week day, is already crowded in Divisoria. It's best if you bring someone along with you who doesn't mind the physical situation of the place. It helps to roam around. You just have to keep an eye on good quality finds and don't go to Divisoria without a goal or without a list of priority purchases. It's an experience you will never forget, and it depends, you'll love.