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Divine Divisoria: Bargain Shopping Paradise

July 6, 2014       Amazing Philippines
Divine Divisoria
Bargain Shopping in Downtown Manila

Here, everytime you think of getting something by the dozen--wholesale. Or if you’re looking for a market or specific shops where you can get say, cheap art materials for your big school project, there is only one place to go. 

Divisoria is mostly a grid of narrow streets that are surrounded by wholesale merchandisers in buildings and the newly built shopping malls 168 and 999.   Different shops, stalls and markets extending from Recto to Binondo.

The best known streets for finding your bargain goodies are Juan Luna, Ylaya, Tabora, Santo Cristo and Soler. Recto, Juan Luna, Santo Cristo and Comercio streets are considered by some to be the center of Divisoria. 

People from all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old, ALL go to Divisoria to shop. 

Because it offers both very affordable prices and the best selection of cheap everything in one stop shopping.  That is not all.  You'll find almost everything in Divisoria, from ready-to-wear garments, school uniforsms, toys, electrical supplies, household equipment, food stuff specialties, Chinese medications, books and school supplies for cheap , fashion knock-offs, portable solar and gadgets.  You name it!

The Place is Looking Up

The area has already started gentrifying with Malls and condominiums or high rise apartments that are often rented out or bought by both local and proxy Chinese doing business in Manila.  Most entrepreneurs who manage shops here also live nearby, and of course you will run into more than one enterprising non-Filipino Chinese on the street hawking cheaper than cheap goods from China, only holding a calculator so that you can understand each other.

The 'Dividing Line'

Divisoria was established after the Chinese were not allowed to enter Intramuros by the Spanish authorities. That means they could not sell nor trade with the racist Spaniards.  "Divisoria" which means the limit where the Chinese or 'sangleys'  (the derogatory name given by the Spaniards ot the Chinese Filipino traders) could ply their trade.  Yet as Divisoria developed, the limits today are no longer clearly defined since it now includes the southern tip of Tondo and the northwest zone of Binondo.

Like Bargaining in a Souk Market:  Haggling for a Better Price Gets You a Steal

Just like in a Souk market, you need to have good negotiating skills when you shop in Divisoria, because the sellers are more than willing to sell at a discount if it means bringing in a big sale.  Haggling for a discount is not being rude as there are plenty of choices and shops to choose from, and if you leave, chances are you'll get your purchase from someone else willing to sell at your price; unless it is ridiculously uncouth and low. 

Keep in mind that the costs of all merchandise are multiplied by a certain margin to make a tidy profit, so when you bargain, ask immediately for half of the price the vendor gives.  Some may sell your for what you ask, others won't, but most will meet you halfway and that is worth all the trouble and you both get what you want.

You also have to be very careful about what you purchase. Remember that you don’t always get the best product when it comes to bargains. Cheapo electrical devices might be substandard and might easily malfunction, but there is also the risk of some gear being a fire hazard like cheap Christmas lights.  Always take precautionary measures when shopping in crowded places, because there are plenty of pickpockets and even sweet talking tricksters waiting for unsuspected shoppers for an easy con.  

Street Buyer's Guide where Everything's At

Known to be the “Bargain District of Manila” Divisoria is almost a centralized market for wholesale goods.  Each street caters to a specialized market. For example, if you’re looking for textile for your cosplaying business, you go to Ylaya St., you need to buy fruits, you go to Santo Cristo, and so on. Today, there re also large building and malls – for those who don’t like the crowds, like Tutuban Mall, 168 and 999.

Wedding Outfit for your Budget:

Ready-made Clothes: The stretch of Ylaya and Padre Rada offer ready-to-wear wedding apparel or custom-made clothes.  Fashionable Wedding Shoes: Aside from the malls, the south side of Claro M. Recto between Juan Luna and Asuncion streets.  

School and Office Needs

School supplies, uniforms, bags, and school-related items can be found just about anywhere in the Divisoria open market with prices lower than 50 percent compared to those found in book stores.

Home Supplies

On the south side of Juan Luna street. you can scour the row of stores there for canvas, upholstery, foams, corkboards, nets, fishing equipments, home decor items, and appliances.  For wholesale cigarettes, candies, biscuits, grocery items, kitchen supplies, go exploring the shops along Tabora and Folgueras streets.

Gizmos and Gadgets

Looking for mobile everything?  Mobile phones, tablets of all makes, laptops and notebooks, and other electronic gadgets are available in proprietary resellers in 168 and 999 malls.  Both of these 'bargain malls' have very clean facilities, ordered stalls and shops as well as the best food court or canteen-like area, with plenty of authentic Chinese fast food kichenettes side by side with big name fast food joints.  A good meal runs to P60 for 1 rice plus 2 viands of your choice.

There are also ‘Made in China’ gadgets which are imported from legitimate franchise companies and are genuine products with warranties.

Branded Items

At Lucky Chinatown Mall along Reina Regente, there are shops that carry high fashion brand names as well as other merchandies.  Also check the Divisoria Mall and Tutuban Malls for many things ‘Made in the Philippines.’

Food (Marketing for Produce and Fresh Catch)

At the ground floor of the Divisoria Mall. you can get your wet goods and fresh produce:  from fresh fish, butcher shop meat, seasonal fruits, and Baguio vegetables.  Along the various side streets intersecting Claro M. Recto such as Ylaya, Tabora, Folgueras, Carmen Planas, Sto. Cristo, Elcano, and Asuncion, there are also sidewalk vendors hawking vegetables like in Quiapo near the Church.  To buy your wet market goods and food really cheap but fresh, wait for evening for the truck delivery of fruits and vegetables, and early morning for fish and meat.  You can haggle for your purchases even if they are newly delivered.


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