Have you been to Divisoria lately? Have you noticed how clean Divisoria is right now? This makes me love this place so much more.
Divisoria is a very interesting place. When I was younger, I knew it was the place to buy fabrics in bulk. My seamstress grandmother would go there to buy her materials whenever clients would commission her to create their wedding and entourage’s gowns. I always equated Divisoria with fine laces, beautiful appliques and crystal- and pearl-like beads.
When I got older, my friends and I went there at the start of the Christmas season. We discovered that you can buy all sorts of knick-knacks that you can give away as gifts. We bought coffee mugs, men’s and women’s handkerchiefs, cute school supplies and children toys. This is also the best place to buy clothes , shoes and whatever fashion accessory you needed for your office Christmas parties.
My sisters and I went to Divi (Divisoria’s pet name) for materials for jewelry trinkets, cellphone accessories, party supplies and home decors. They had all the jewelry materials imaginable.
Everything! Divisoria has everything!
But in a different lifetime, a trip to Divisoria was not for the weak of heart. I was always reminded not to wear fancy clothes, jewelry, no fancy purses, no wallets. You did not want to be an easy target of thieves and snatchers that abounded in the place. You kept your money inside your bra, if you had to.
Also, all the streets and sidewalks were littered. So you had to be careful where you stepped, where you ate, what you touched. That whole place was a nest for bacteria! And that isn’t an overstatement.
Vehicles could not even go inside the inner markets. Every street was crowded with street vendors. No car could go through. So whenever we went, the jeep could only take us upto certain streets and then we had to walk all the way to the markets.
But despite all the hassles, Divisoria has a charm that will beckon you to keep coming back. All the things you can buy at a fraction of the cost (as long as you know how to haggle) is worth it. All the beautiful and well-made clothes alone will entice you to visit often. And so every time I go home to the Philippines, Divisoria will always be on my list. No matter how unclean, how thief-laden, how crowded the place may be. I love Divisoria!
It isn’t a surprise then that the day after I got back to the Philippines, this was the first place I went to. This time, I was with my friends, Owen and Vimz. We met at my last work before I left for Canada. Christmas shopping at Divisoria is one of the yearly things we used to do. I have a long history of friendship with these ladies (including shopping in Divisoria). There’s more of us but with life getting in the way (plus some of them out of the country), it was just us three. But they company was enough to satisfy my heart’s longing for much-loved friends.
This time around, Owen insisted we drive to Divisoria. We used to take jeepneys and lately the MRT going there because of the unpassable streets. But since I haven’t been there for two years, I just thought my friends probably knew a new way to get there that I have not heard about.
Lo, and behold, the streets of Juan Luna, Recto, Soler and Reina Regente and all the smaller streets in between were clean and passable! Who knew that in this lifetime, you can actually drive thru these streets and even park inside Lucky Mall without any problem. I will even be brave enough to say that for once, ever since I had been going to Divisoria, the place felt safe!
I know that I have to give kudos to the young, efficient, incorruptible (and so good-looking) mayor of Manila, “Yor-Me” Isko Moreno. I’ve heard so much about what he has been doing to Manila. The streets of Quiapo, Divisoria, Binondo, Ermita and Malate are miraculously cleaned up! Despite the news I didn’t expect Divisoria to be as “laundered” as it was. He really did an excellent job!
So there we were. We parked at the Lucky Mall that still had their Chinese New Year decorations. We needed to have some photos taken. From the Lucky Mall, we walked a few meters to the 168 Mall – our main destination for the day. I was really looking forward to buying beautiful formal outfits and maybe some more.
We went around the different stores admiring the beautiful clothes. Finally, after having a feel of what the trend is among the shops, we first tried on some clothes at one of the stores where I was able to buy a navy blue thick-laced dress suitable for Sunday Mass. I love how the lace looks like Guipure lace (also called Venise lace). But it’s just ordinary lace but of a better design and weave.
Another round of stores and we found some more awesome party wear. I was able to buy a metallic silver tafetta long skirt (White House Black Market at Poshmark has a short version of this for $40). At another store I got a soft satin-like white cotton wraparound blouse with unique sleeves. (I have a style I’ve always wanted to copy but could not find the right pieces.) The was a set of long skirts that piqued our curiosity. The fabric felt sponge-y but it was thick. The print was also interesting because it was shimmery. I found my other perfect party skirt!
I was happy with the haul I got from 168 Mall. My friends also bought their own goodies for their planned company/personal parties. All in all, I didn’t get to spend more than $100ll. For the quality of the clothes I bought, it was worth it. It was already a good bargain considering how much my purchases would’ve cost if I bought them in the US.
We needed to cut our trip short tho because Owen had a dinner date with her husband, Toby. We went to her condo where we had a light snack with Toby. (Toby is also part of our circle.) After a lot of good Chinese food and so much laughter and catching up, Vimz and I took a grab back to my home. From there, we went for dinner with my brother at Pamana Restaurant (this in another entry).
I had a wonderful time bonding with my friends. I missed being with them and shopping in our favorite Christmas shopping place. This day brought back a lot of fun memories. With Divisoria being clean, orderly and safe it made the time more enjoyable. I just wished I had another day to spend with them. Unfortunately, my schedule was jammed when we came back from our medical missions. But I will make sure to be with them again when I come back. Maybe this time, with our other friends, too.
Stick around, my lovies, I have more adventures to tell of more flea markets, Philippine spots and grubs!
The once named “godmother of the Philippine Blogosphere”, Gigi Manaloto-Refugia, known by her pen name “Ate Sienna” has been blogging since 2002 in her old pansitan.net community where she housed famous bloggers. She now writes about being 50-something and shares her tips on fashion, makeup, skincare, travel, food and thrift-store diving.
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