1 Tabora and Ilaya Streets, Divisoria
Divisoria has always been known for selling dirt cheap goods in abundance, and these two streets are no exception. Ilaya Street houses rows and rows of all kinds of fabric – tulle, cotton, satin, polyester, and pretty much any kind of fabric you can think of for curtains, cushions, and clothing. The best part is, everything is a steal. A yard of organza for instance is about P20 (about US$5) at Ilaya, compared to P65 at a fabric store in a mall. Neighboring Tabora Street has raw materials for party souvenirs that can be bought in bulk. There is also a hidden row of stores selling sewing supplies such as threads, beads, studs, sequins, and other sparkly things. Expect the lively streets to be teeming with people – from fellow shoppers to shopkeepers almost running over your feet as they haul huge carts of supplies down the crowded road. Beware of pickpockets. To be on the safe side, dress down and don’t flash anything that might be of interest.
To get to Divisoria from Makati, you can take a cab which should cost you about P200 one way. Or take a car and follow the directions shown on www.waze.com for the best route. You can also take the light rail transit LRT1 from Taft corner Buendia and get down at Doroteo Jose Station. From there, board a Divisoria-bound jeep and get down at 168 Mall, which is walking distance from the two streets.
2 Kamuning Market, Quezon City
Kamuning Market is not exactly Savile Row, but it can compete with some of the best tailors in Shenzhen, China. At Kamuning, fabric shops sit a few steps away from stalls selling meat and vegetables. The area offers a wide selection of textiles in prints and textures that appeal as much to the ladies as the gents. More than that, the market has also earned quite the reputation for being a hotbed for tailors who can whip up those fabrics into top quality bespoke menswear, from three-piece suits to barongs, at prices that are way more affordable than you’d expect for made-to-measure clothing. A three-piece suit, for instance, can go for as low as P8,000 including the fabric. Try tailor Rico Ignacio, who started out as master cutter at the long-standing Daneche Tailor Shop and has made pieces for actor Ejay Falcon and senators Bongbong Marcos and Bong Revilla. Also check out Rod Francisco, whose clientele includes senator JV Ejercito and Manila mayor Joseph Estrada.
To get to Kamuning Market, take the MRT from Ayala Station in Makati and get off at GMA-Kamuning Station. From there, Kamuning Public Market is a 20-minute walk. A cab ride from Ayala in Makati to Kamuning will cost you about P150 to P250. Call Basic Taxi at +632 900 1447 or Tai Taxi at +632 801 1093 to book.
Philippine handicraft and souvenirs
Sells everything Filipino, from the traditional barong Tagalog (traditional national costume for men) made of piña (pineapple fiber) to South Sea Pearls from 10mm to 20mm, Onyx, wood craft and capiz shell lamps, candle holders, and boxes. The draw of Kultura is not just its vast selection of Philippine-inspired souvenirs, but the quality of items on sale. Score great finds like the classic bakya (wooden footwear) from P250, capiz picture frames from P400, wooden salad bowls from P250, Philippine jeepney models from P400, a good souvenir to take home, made from old soda and beer cans.
Kultura can be found in most SM stores, Pico de Loro Beach Club in Batangas, and Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay.
4 Bangkal, Makati
This area in the more downbeat side of Makati is home to a good number of antique and second hand shops. You need one leisurely afternoon for browsing. I spotted a pair of white ladder-back chairs, mint-colored vintage typewriter, vinyl records, instamatic cameras, chandeliers, a Barbie-pink office desk, and a classic rotary telephone. There are lots of second hand furniture, ceramic and glassware, and oddities. Don’t forget to haggle.
To get to Bangkal’s antique stores, turn right on Evangelista Street from EDSA. Check out Mercatino Trading (+632 884 8255) on M. Hizon Street for 60s-style pieces, or Dianne’s Thrift Shop (+632 480 3083) on Auro-Vir Plaza Building on Evangelista for vintage wood furniture.
5 Restock Curiosities in Makati
The shop may be tiny, but there’s plenty to see at this gallery cum café where you can enjoy a delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee while poring over the artwork on sale. The owner Jackie Bailon and her colleague Gia Palamos source the work from young and emerging Filipino artists . Some of the pieces on display include surrealist watercolor portraits by RAW Visual Artist of the Year 2012 awardee, Baltimore-based Gel Jamlang, ink and pen renderings of wildlife by 20-year-old illustrator Jamie Catt, and alien-esque sculptures by potter Mia Casal. Restock’s collection is diverse with pieces ranging from P1,750 to P55,000, but all the pieces have an undeniably energetic and urban vibe that goes well with the rest of the things that the gallery sells: hard-to-find travel and lifestyle magazines like Cereal and Team, handmade beauty products, backpacks made with banig (woven mats), custom-designed postcards by Where to Next, animal-shaped figurines and more.
Restock Curiosities is at 7635 Guijo st. Makati.
Furniture and Home Décor
6 Urban Abode, Ortigas Home Depot
Offering streamlined furniture and accessories with a strong metal element, Urban Abode is the place to go for industrial-style furniture and accessories. Small additions to the pieces – a pop of color, a unique texture, an unexpected detail – add an element of quirkiness. A coffee table with big round wheels, wooden table with metal legs, trendy metal stag heads, a wooden buffet console with geometric patterns, wooden crates, and sofas are typical finds. The place also offers custom furniture fabrication services.
Urban Abode is at C.W. Home Depot in Ortigas, Unit E-Prime 08 B, Julia Vargas Ave., Pasig City.
7 Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery at 10A Alabama, Quezon City
Junk is brought back to life in the most stylish way possible at Resurrection Furniture, a whimsical showroom that feels like a wonderland for those who are into crafted and handmade goods. With a lot of imagination and sometimes a fresh coat of brightly colored paint, Resurrection Furniture salvages pretty much anything – from old desks, to obsolete computer parts. Check out the shop and see how a couple of old keyboards become a retro-pop lamp, how a discarded CPU turns into a desk organizer with functioning drawers and a corkboard, or how the protective frame of an electric fan ends up as a side table.
Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery is at 10A Alabama Street in Quezon City.
8 Bungalow 300, Alabang
Bright and breezy might be the perfect words to describe Bungalow 300, whose inimitable style calls to mind tropical summer afternoons. On sale are big, heavy pieces like bright blue cabinets, sunny yellow utility trays, vintage plateras, printed linen, crystal tea sets, marble cheese board, and room scents. Bungalow 300 also specializes in vintage modern furniture and objects.
9 A-11, F.B Harrison Street, Pasay
Tucked away in the same leafy compound as the 40s-inspired The Henry Hotel, A-11 Furniture Gallery, spread over three 1940s Filipino houses, has furniture and accessories from the Art Deco period to mid-century to a more industrial style. Displays include an enormous spiky light fixture, French crockery, industrial ceiling lamp, Chesterfield sofas, a bookcase with slanted shelves, a quirky collection of painted plates and ceramics, including classic blue and whites, designer room scent diffusers, and a series of animal paintings with strange catchphrases.
A-11 Furniture Gallery is located on 2680 F.B Harrison Street, Pasay City, near the Philippine School for the Deaf and the Blind.
10 Aranaz TU, SM Mega Fashion Hall
You’d be hard-pressed to find anything plain at Aranaz TU, where summery prints and trippy patterns abound. The design-led gift shop is the Aranaz label’s effort to venture beyond fashion, selling all kinds of gift items, including stationery sets and notepads (from P280), pouches and bags (from P1,500), and other home accessories such as placemats, trays, even trash bins. Spot the label’s signature palm leaf print on a tablet case (from P1,000); find a golden pineapple woven into a pouch (P1,700); or buy clutch bags that come in a print inspired by the swirls of an amber stone (P3,500).
Aranaz TU is at the fourth level of SM Mega Fashion Hall at SM Megamall on EDSA corner J. Vargas ave. in Mandaluyong.
Also check out:
SOMA stores at Green Sun, Makati
Opened especially to give art students and young entrepreneurs a space to sell their wares, SOMA carries a rotation of homegrown brands that sell everything from fashion, to stationery. Expect a lot of typography posters, avant-garde clothing, graphic tees, and other hipster trappings – all with an edgy feel. Among the labels that have called SOMA home are Tipay Caintic who won the Emerging Fashion Talent award from Preview magazine, Neon Island, whose hand-drawn fabrics have won over social media, and the elusive Garapata Man, whose cartoon rendering of a tick has taken over the city, and now printed on tote bags and stickers too.
Visit SOMA stores at Green Sun, 2285 Pasong Tamo ext., Makati.
A fashion entrepreneurship graduate of the University of Arts in London, Rosanna Aranaz is managing partner at SoFA retail lab a store launched by the city’s foremost fashion college, School of Fashion and the Arts. She also helps manage the family-owned Aranaz, an accessory and handbag brand known for its use of local materials and craftsmanship.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller July to September 2015