How many times have you been dragged out shopping by your female partner only to find yourself bored in the supermarket, uncomfortable in the dress shop, staggered at the prices in the shoe shop and a little frustrated as you gawk at the untouchable makeup and perfume sales ladies.
I don’t know about you but all of the above scenarios have happened to me and I always wanted to get my own back by taking my female partner to some man type shops. You guys know the sort of shop I am talking about, things like hardware stores, electronic compliances shops, and auto parts shops. So when Shagger actually suggested taking the girls shopping at Marina Markets in down town Mabalacat I eagerly accepted.Given the current weather conditions in the Philippines, the back to back traffic on McArthur Highway and the total absence of any air-conditioning in the markets I knew this was going to be a hot trip but it was worth it just to see the looks on our respective partners faces.We rode the bikes down wearing helmets because of the eagle eyed cops that tend to congregate outside Dau, Pure Gold. The trip took us about 20 minutes because we were not sure of the markets exact location and when I naively asked Shagger who was in the lead, “do you have any idea where we are going”, he replied a simple “no”.When we arrived at the markets Shagger decided a general inspection was in order so we rode the length and breadth of the markets whilst being harassed by Filipino hawkers to park our bikes in their chosen spot so they could ask for money when we were leaving. Eventually we found a spot where there were no Filipinos claiming territorial rights and from there the adventure began.First stop was a shop selling a variety of wares with the prominent item being wheel barrows and a variety of hosing. For us guys it was actually quite interesting to see the different types of hoses and wonder what they are used for and how much they were, however within two minutes the girls were shaking their heads in disbelief. They never said anything but I could tell by the withering looks cast in our direction the girls were not impressed at being dragged out to the markets just to look at wheel barrows and hoses.
I have lived in the Philippines a comparatively long time but the ingenuity of these people never ceases to amaze me and this ingenuity was clearly evident in these markets. There are very few stores which specialize in selling one item in fact 99% of them can best be described as general merchandise stores which will supply the whole gamete of goods. There is literally something for everyone here.One store that did seem to specialize was the bathroom fitting store. If its bathroom appliances or fittings you are looking for, look no further than here. They literally have everything from taps, shower nozzles and bathroom sinks, through to, bathroom cabinets, toilet bowls, bathtubs, and water heating systems.
We had great fun picking out certain items and asking the girls to tell us what they were. For example one shop was selling specialized dual shovels used for digging an oval shaped hole to place fence poles in. The girls took one exasperated look at these and declared “what do you think of us, girls don’t know like that”.Shagger was in proverbial ‘hog heaven’ when he discovered the tools shop. I pointed out to the girls that for us men this was what a jewelry shop was for women. They looked at me as if I was totally nuts and said “there is no jewelry here”.
Since I was on a roll I asked Mr’s mjibbo what do you call these and pointed to some hand trolleys.
Her reply was “what do you think of me stupid. I may not know what they are called but I know what they are used for”. Ok then what are they used for I glibly asked. “They are used for carrying beer or ice” was the instant reply. In other countries the answer would have been they are hand trolleys and used for carrying heavy or awkwardly shaped objects however, in the Filipinas frame of reference objects such as hand trolleys are not defined by their name but by their usage. For the Filipina the objects name is irrelevant, what is important is to know what the object is used for and in this case it was used for carrying beer or ice, two essential items in Philippine life.Later on that night her words were to become eerily prophetic.
The markets are a huge sprawling affair but most of the action is contained in two separate concrete buildings.
When you walk through here it is like being in an old fashioned bazaar with long dark hallways and little stalls tucked into every nook and cranny. This is not exactly the air conditioned mall so expect to work up a healthy sweat no matter how slowly you amble.
When I say there are literally thousands of different items I am not exaggerating and being a kiwi I was very happy to find a good old fashioned pair of Wellington boots. Note the anxious store owner behind me wondering if the crazy foreigner will lash out and purchase his exclusive “wellies”.
Mr’s mjibbo wandered around having a look at things but didn’t seem too impressed. She wouldn’t enter the exercise equipment store and even asked me “if you want exercise why don’t you walk the dogs it’s cheaper and more good for you”.
Here was a bike desperately in need of Ratchets attention
It is quite entertaining wandering through these dimly lit corridors and you will be amazed at the variety of items for sale here. This is very much a Filipino area and foreign shoppers are few and far between however at no time did we feel unsafe or threatened, in fact quite the opposite all the Filipinos were friendly eager to show us around and even more eager to make that all important sale.If you live here and need to purchase some tradesman like items this is the perfect place. If you are a visitor to Angeles and want to get a feel for Filipino society outside of the bars this is an interesting and insightful excursion.