Friday, February 15, 2008

Bargain hunting in the Philippines - Divisoria

When bargain hunting in the Philippines, you have a choice of going to specific towns to get a really good price if you intend to sell them (like to find a barong in Bulacan, Paete for carved items, Cebu for guitars) or go to centers in the city which we call are "bagsakan".

The best among these centers is Divisoria. There, you can find practically everything - shoes, bags, tees, native items, etc., furniture, appliances, fruits - name it! Many come from different countries but most items are locally made. I personally don't like buying clothes there. That's because these clothes are hurriedly done perhaps to keep the labor cost down ultimately keep the prices low too. I normally buy the imported ones or those that are made to order. But the other things are ok.

The items come in really cheap and attractive prices. What's more is that you can actually bargain with the vendors for a price that you can both agree on. The technique is pretty much like you would bargain in any asian city: First, ask for the price. Then, estimate about 50% and ask the vendor to give it to you at that price. next, when the vendor does not agree, you may do two things - walk away or haggle some more. I would haggle further. Chances are that you'd get it close to the rate you like.

The best way to get to divisoria is to ride the LRT or MRT. Go down at Recto station. Once in recto, take a jeep marked divisoria. You have a choice of going to 168 mall, Tutuban Mall or the infamous Ylaya which is the old divisoria. I enjoy going to 168 because it's cleaner and the airconditioning is really good.

A word to the wise: keep your wallets and your bags close to you and where you an see it. There are many pickpockets there and they've trained well for it. Also, Divisoria is a very polluted place. The streets are dirty, the air is a mixture of the the smell of fish, musk, and sewer. Now, if you don't mind the tight and polluted part of city and would like to go find really good buys, Divisoria should be at the top of your list. Otherwise, drop the idea and go somewhere else like Tiendesitas and Market Market which sell practically the same items but are priced higher.

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