Divisoria, according to Wikipilipinas, is a market district in the heart of the City of Manila known for its wide assortment of low-priced goods and wholesale and bargain shopping. Clothes, accessories, toys, novelties, decorations, pirated films and music, electronics, fruits, dry goods, school, office and household supplies, fabrics, textiles, crafts, novelties, decorations and “everything under the sun” can be found in Divisoria, making it “the mecca of value shopping” and “the mother of all markets in Manila.” It is considered one of the National Capital Region’s premiere economic centers, as street shops, tiangge-style bazaars and shopping malls are all found here.
In my mind, Divi was a shopping heaven where a lot of cheap thrills and some good finds can be found. The first time I went to Divi was when I accompanied my mom and my tita Minette with some wedding errands back in early 2000’s. Memory of my first visit was vague, all I can remember was I didn’t have any take home from that supposed shopping experience. I didn’t come back to Divi since then, though this is not primarily the reason why I didn’t come back, maybe there’s just no opportunity to go there. Through the years, my mom would come home from Divi on a weekend, with a few finds she has bought which she was very excited to show me – mostly, hair accessories and few clothes. I wasn’t that excited about it coz I can see those in Greenhills or at any mall.
A decade has passed and I call myself a self-proclaimed Divi-Diva.
It started when I started my business, Etched Moments. I had to buy materials for my order. So, where do I hop on? Divisoria of course! My first few Divi trips will always be accompanied by my mom until one day, I had to go there alone. At first, I was kind of confused but I easily got the hand of it and memorize all the places that I need to remember. Where do I buy fabrics, synthetic fiber, teddy bears, etc etc., go to this, go to that. I’m already one of their “suki”. One even gave me a present (tumbler) when I got the first week of January this year.
I swore last year, the first week of December when I went to Divi to buy something for my order that, that will be the last time I will visit the place in December, Christmas Season. I got traumatized and got sick after that trip. I went there early, as I always do, and on my way out at lunch time. And yes, it took me almost an hour, walking from San Juan Street (where the Mcdo in the corner stands) until the Regina Regiente/Recto to be able to ride a jeepney going to the LRT station. I wasn’t even walking, mind you, tintangay na lang ako ng mga tao, I didn’t need to walk anymore. I was so tired that day, I didn’t even want to come back.
So, to commemorate my last Divi trip for the year, I’m giving you some tips when going to Manila’s bargain hotspot.
- The best time to go shopping in Divi is in the morning during weekdays. Most store will be open as early as 9-10 AM. You might have an edge over the other customers if you get to be the first shopper because they might be given a good bargain. Not only that, you will finish early as well, if you come there early. You will also be saved from rush hour human traffic and transportation traffic. Keep in mind that some stores are close on a Sunday.
- Make a list of all you plan to buy. It would be disappointing if you come home and realize that you forget to purchase something. If you are already familiar with Divi, make the list according to areas. So you don’t have to go back and forth to a particular area when you realize that you left out something in the list. Making a list would also have you less time to finish everything.
- Have a simple and comfortable outfit. Use a walking shoes/sneakers. Avoid flashy clothes and anything open toed especially when it’s raining. Don’t wear jewelries.
- Bring a big and sturdy bag where you can put all your purchases. You don’t want to lose any of your purchases right?
- Arm yourself with cash. No Credit Card in here. However, there are a lot of ATM machines in the area, in case you run out of cash. Bring a body bag or a waist bag, it’s safer if your cash is close to your body.
- Beware of pick pockets and snatchers.
- Walk fast. You don’t want people to bumping at you or pushing you.
- Most stores sell in wholesale, buy in bulk if you can. You’ll get better deals that getting them by piece or in retail price.
- Learn how to haggle. If you’re a first timer, better have a veteran with you to help you with the haggling. Then you’ll eventually become a pro. Be ready to walk away if they refuse to your bargain, most of them give in or work around your bargain.
- Before making a final decision in purchasing, it’s better if you canvass for stores with cheaper prices, better quality and wider selection.
- don’t bring kids, or anyone who you think would most likely destroy your shopping day.
- And lastly, avoid the Holiday rush or “Sweldo Days” so you wouldn’t have a hard time shopping.
Every Divisoria trip I’ve had is really an adventure. There is always a different story to tell by the end of the day. A “Suki” store owner even pushed me one time when she and my mom had a row. Sorry to her, she lost me, I didn’t come back to her after.
One should at least visit Divi at least once in their lifetime, you wouldn’t want to be missing half of your life eh? So start making your list and visit Divisoria the soonest!!!
PS. If you want to ask something about directions, stores or what nots, let me know and I will try my best to answer your query. 🙂