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The Manila Mall Culture

The malls in Manila have become centers of community life, and have become cultural landmarks in their own right. Ask the majority of the Philippine population if they have any memories regarding malls, and you will surely hear about birthday celebrations, first dates, and many fun gatherings with friends and families. It may seem foreign to people outside the country, The concept of associating such milestones to malls, both in Manila and in other cities in the Philippines, may seem confusing to foreigners. Shopping malls, however, serve more than just shopping centers to Filipinos.

A Social Phenomenon

The Philippines is home to three of the world’s largest malls, with at least one mall finding its way into every city and province. Metro Manila alone has over two hundred malls, a staggering number to consider in a world that is now leaning towards online shopping. Malls in some parts of the world, particularly in the US, have been closing one after the other. In contrast, more malls are being built and opened in Manila ever year. What, then, do malls have that make people gravitate towards them?

A lot of people often go to malls for errands: groceries, payment centers, and even bank branches can be found in various shopping malls. This makes it easier for individuals and families to get everything done during one mall trip. It is a practical way to make sure that your commute or travel time in the infamous Manila traffic was well worth the time and effort. Filipinos who do shop have also expressed that they over online purchases. It brings them a sense of security that they can personally check the items they want to buy before making the final payment. This also establishes the trust between the store and the customer.

A Communal Space

The habit of going to the mall has become so ingrained into the Filipino culture that Filipino English has coined a word for it: “malling.” This word has become part of our very vocabulary, understood by any Filipino.

  Malls have become more than a shared space where friends and family gather to meet up and bond. It has come to a point where malls have started holding masses in corridors and event halls during Sundays.

A Sense of Community

With the convenience that malls bring then comes the search for creature comforts. People would want to look for places where they can rest their tired feet after a long day. Where Manila is lacking in public parks, it did make up for the number of shopping malls.

The first enclosed shopping mall was Crystal Arcade, located along Escolta Street, in the downtown district of Binondo. It was the country’s first air-conditioned building, and its allure is still present today. Many people go to the mall to escape the perpetual heat of the Philippines’ tropical climate. These same people are more than content to roam around the mall and window shop, letting the traffic rush or sudden heavy rain pass before deciding to go home.

It is interesting how the malls are now reminiscent of the plaza from the colonial era.

Nowadays, we see that malls are being built to cater to specific needs of different kinds of people, from all walks of life. Ortigas Malls has been perfecting the art of life, work, and leisure by conceptualizing and building master-planned developments that have become thriving communities over time — paradigms of excellence in the Philippine real estate landscape.

Ortigas & Company is one of the pioneers in the Philippine real estate landscape. To learn more about the unique Manila mall culture, feel free to read more at the Ortigas Malls website.


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