|Peso Rate||Weather||Philippines Time|
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.
If you have a craving for American chains they are all here, from McDonald's to Marriott hotels. Even Radio Shack is in Manila, and plans to open in Cebu.
Big chain discount stores have just received government approval to come in. Makro is a large store much like Sam's Club or Price Club in the United States. It is like Wal-Mart, but with groceries, too.
Prices on imported goods are sometimes higher because of shipping and duty. But I notice that when I buy a book, generally from the National Book Stores chain, the U.S. cover price is higher than what I pay in pesos here. And there are casinos, all the latest movies (in English, about a dollar for the best) and thousands of computer diskettes for just a couple of dollars. PlayStation and Dream Cast games are less than $1 or $2. A lot of computer software, movies and video games are illegally pirated. Some sales have already been stopped, stores raided, and products seized. But the illegal stores always seem to pop up again somewhere. People can't afford U.S. prices here. But like everyone else they do not want to go without.