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Robinsons Galerea - Ortigas Pasig

Robinson's Galera is a major shopping complex here (Ortigas in the Philippines) and is generally always filled with people moving back and forth over four floors plus annexes that encompass probably a mile or two of the actual shopping complex. It is huge and it needs to be as the Philippines has a population of over 80 million people. Of course there are much larger shopping complexes that make this one look quite small, but this story happened here at Robinsons.

The other thing you need to know is that because of the area (Ortigas) it would be considered "up market". This means that most of the people dress well, look good and half the women here are obviously rich with their helpers in tow assisting them with the children and the shopping bags. In truth these people live better than we ever will on about one fifth of the cost, which is another story. The point is that they look as though they belong there and the one's that don't have this look are the helpers, shop assistants, maintenance people and security guards who are everywhere.

So you walk through to a multitude of probably over a thousand places to eat, where the prices range from around 100 pesos (Divide by 40 for AUD $2.50), to up to say 1,600 pesos (Thank God Its Friday would be a restaurant that charges these sort of prices). So you get the picture, and the fact that you can have an excellent meal for $7.50 AUD makes this place a magnet for people like me - Why would anyone cook anything here - but of course they do.

So after an excellent meal I am walking it off admiring mostly beautiful women everywhere, and thinking how lucky I am to even be here experiencing this lifestyle (Short term though it may be at the moment) and not unusually two young girls wave to me. This is not uncommon here as I think the younger one's are curious about foreigners for a number of reasons, which I will not go into here. They wave I wave back and that is about all there is to it.

In this case they talked to me and I acknowledged the conversation but kept walking. In fact I continued to walk to the next escalator, went up, walked back the other way and ended up walking past them again after I had gone down the other escalator. Once again they waved and talked to me asking me if I would like to join them. This is extremely unusual in a place like Robinsons Galera as you will not find this sort of thing happening there. Go to any of the outlining suburbs and it would, but not here.

They looked about 18-20 years of age; they were dressed adequately enough although the absence of some expensive jewelry was a sign that things may not be quite right. There were other signs too because one of the girls teeth were very crooked and in this area the parents pay to have there daughters teeth straightened and pay for anything else that will make their daughters look like the photographic models I have come to expect here. Particularly the young one's look picture perfect most of the time - nothing casual or sloppy unless you belong to the one of the other classes of people that manage or service the center.

They were cute and wanted me to come to a party with them, once again suspicious and a bit to good to be true for someone my age, of course. Okay so we started walking and although I suggested we should go to another floor where I could perhaps buy them an ice cream or even something to eat, they wanted no part of that at all. They continued to steer me to a particular and quite specific exit, one which I had never seen before. I have bee going to Robinsons since 2005 so I know the place quite well.

I asked where this party was and I was told it was quite close, nothing more, and as we got closer to the exit I paused and asked them a question that I knew they would not like or even be able to answer. I simply suggested that instead of going to a party (To a destination I knew nothing about, with strangers) how about if they simply came back to my place for the party. This stumped them completely, they looked at each other and said nothing, we were quite close to the exit now so they were getting a bit edgy I think. I then stopped put my hand on both their shoulders and suggested they have a nice time at the party, turned around and left them there.

If I had been stupid enough to go through the exit doorway I suggest I would have been robbed, probably had my skull cracked open or worse. There would have been a car waiting for me and I would probably have ended up in hospital requiring the medical (Travel) insurance that Robert suggested I should have, which I don't.

As I said above, I could get myself into real trouble here!



Shopping Filipino Style

There are major, western-style shopping malls in Manila, Cebu, and several other cities. Some of the Manila malls are among the worlds largest. They have almost everything you can get in the U.S. and other western countries. Some of the imported goods are higher-priced but some are lower. Books, reprints for sale only in the Philippines, can be very cheap.

The local markets are more "old Filipino" in nature, and feature fresh meat, fish and produce as well as dry goods. While mall prices are fixed, bargaining is expected and energetically practiced at the markets. Southeast Asians are known for their bargaining skills. I have one of my helpers do the bargaining. I don't want to pay the "foreigner" price. This is just one more reason to have good helpers.



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