If you are struggling with shopping in Manila, here is a tip that may help. Ditch your local grocery stores and malls and head to the palengkes and outdoor markets. After sinking my teeth into Manila by visiting artisans, bazaars, museums, workshops and markets, I was launched into a whole new culture I had previously been blind to.
I unlocked a whole new world!
Markets are a great place to start immersing yourself in the culture. Begin with wet markets, bazaars, Greenhills, or Dapitan. I am willing to bet you’ll score some sweet finds and begin to develop a soft spot for those sweaty and often mabaho markets. It is all a part of the experience.
Here are my top five tips for Marketing 101. (I also love that “marketing” is a verb here in Manila and not a business strategy but it literally means “to go shopping at the market”!)
- Reusable Bags – If you are any type of shopper, you know how many plastic bags you consume. Bring your eco bag to help cut down on vendors costs and for the environment. Plus, eco bags are much more comfortable for your hands when you are marketing.
- Wet Wipe/ Alcohol – You will definitely be digging and hunting for treasures so be prepared to get a bit of dust and pollution on those hands.
- Sweat Towel – Markets are usually outdoors or not air conditioned. Take a note from Filipinos and use that sweat towel whenever, wherever.
- Tawad and Pocket Phrases – Walk this line carefully. I don’t want to suggest that you should always ask for a discount. If you feel good about a price, then just pay that price. If you would like the price lowered a bit, use these phrases: “Pwede pong tumawad” (“Can you give me a discount?”), “tapat na po ba?”.
- Suki – Once you get a suki or a preferred or favorite vendor, you are set! Your suki will most likely give you tawad and most likely for friends as the well. The more your frequent, the better. Make sure you get their number so you can text ahead for orders or make sure there is stock available.
Here are some places I shop at:
- My favorite suman suki is the Bud Bud vendor at Salcedo Saturday Market. He has all kinds of suman including luya, langka, champorado and mangga. My personal favorite is the tsokolate and champorado suman. There is also a great basket and wood vendor just across the way from Bud Bud.
- If you love baskets, look no further than the tindera in the lifestyle section of Greenhills Mall. She is my suki of all things abaca! They also have abaca nativities and if you text her ahead of time, she will have them delivered to you or put on hold for you.
- The first suki relationship I ever had was with Tita Annie at Dapitan. Tita Annie, (IG account is @notjustjars), would save enamelware for me and even gave my friends the ‘Amber Discount’.