168’s Grand Opening

"Large crowds flocked to 168's grand opening in Dec 2011." retirednoway

Large crowds flocked to 168's grand opening in Dec 2011.

Having spent 25 of the past 26 years in the States, I missed out on many developments in the Philippines.

"Announcing the big day!" retirednoway

Announcing the big day!

Take 168, for example. It’s the name of a mall-type business that started in Divisoria–the original shopping hub (it dates back to the Spanish era, circa 1600) of Manila.

One of the things that distinguishes 168 from the larger, more conventional malls is the dominant presence in the mall of vendors that sell Chinese-branded and Chinese-originated products. There are two types of malls in the Philippines: the ones patterned after the western model (SM and Robinsons) and the ones that are homegrown (168 is one example). Western-style malls contain vendors known in the west (U.S.A. and Europe) like Gap (apparel) and Ethan Allen (furniture). 168-type malls contain vendors that sell China-manufactured products.

In 168-type malls, you notice that vendors don’t care much about their identity. Many vendors don’t emphasize their brand and, indeed, many vendors don’t even have a brand name. Instead of reminding its shoppers that they’re shopping at Gap, for instance, a 168-type vendor will
trumpet the merchandise it carries: shirts, pants, etcetera.

1-6-8

I thought 168 was the name because it was the mall’s original street address (like 168 Main Street) but it turned out that 168 was chosen because it’s auspicious.

In Chinese culture, certain numbers are believed by some to be auspicious (吉利) or inauspicious (不利) based on the Chinese word that the number name sounds similar to.

Lucky numbers are based on Chinese words that sound similar to other Chinese words. The numbers 68, and 9 are believed to have auspicious meanings because their names sound similar to words that have positive meanings.

Wikipedia

The original 168 started in 2002 in Divisoria–Manila’s original shopping hub.

"Descripion of 168 in Divisoria (source: http://www.philippines-travel-guide.com/divisoria-mall.html)" retirednoway

Descripion of 168 in Divisoria (source: http://www.philippines-travel-guide.com/divisoria-mall.html)

The one that opened in Puerto Princesa three months ago appears to be owned by the same group. It’s located along the National Highway in Barangay San Manuel. Up to the mall’s grand opening in early-December 2011, they were offering to lease 30, 42, 45, and 60 sqm stalls at the rate of 500 pesos per square meter. This was negotiable of course.

Opening day crowds

December 5, 2011 was a hot and muggy day.

"High ceilings expand our sense of scale and size." retirednoway

High ceilings expand our sense of scale and size.

"Large crowds everywhere" retirednoway

Large crowds everywhere

"Puerto Princesa's only supermarket-slash-department store opened a new location at 168." retirednoway

NCCC, Puerto Princesa's only supermarket-slash-department store opened a new location at 168. The employees at the supermarket dance along the aisles periodically.

NCCC has been covered by my fellow Palawan blogger, Donna, in this post and this one.

"About 40% of the mall was still vacant when the mall opened on December 5, 2011." retirednoway

About 40% of the mall was still vacant when the mall opened on December 5, 2011.

The emerging middle class

I recall certain images from the past 30 years. There was a collection of photographs that showed “typical” households in the U.S., Japan, some developing country, a country in western Europe, and so on. In each photo is a husband and wife (or a father and mother) with their children and behind them, sprawled around them, are all the items inside their homes. Everything in their house was taken outside and placed in front of the house. The family is in front of their belongings that, in turn, is in front of the house.

Similar thoughts filled me when I imaged this collection. These items, we can safely assume, require middle class income.

"The more current I could find: Household Income 2009 from the National Statistics Office (http://www.census.gov.ph/data/sectordata/2009/2009SEse_prov-income.pdf)" retirednoway

The most current I could find: Household Income 2009 from the National Statistics Office (http://www.census.gov.ph/data/sectordata/2009/2009SEse_prov-income.pdf)

Palawan’s average annual family income was estimated to be almost 133,000 in 2009. It’s greater now, possibly 140,000. I’m sure that Palawan’s economy grew faster than most provinces in the past ten years, and especially in the past two. The engine driving this growth is tourism.

Palawan is in Region 4B. This region is called “Mimaropa” which stands for Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan.

For comparison, here’s the page about the National Capital Region, that area of 17 cities that many refer to as “MetroManila.”

"Household Income of NCR 2009: From Malabon (235k) to Makati (665k)" retirednoway

Household Income of NCR 2009: From Malabon (235k) to Makati (665k)

How to spend 133,000 pesos

First, get customers in the mood to shop.

"NCCC's new branch in Puerto Princesa City. This is its second location." retirednoway

NCCC's new branch in Puerto Princesa City. This is its second location.

"Shampoo. Palmolive is a familiar brand." retirednoway

Shampoo. Palmolive is a familiar brand.

"Safeguard. Another well-known brand of bar soap in the Philippines. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safeguard_(soap))" retirednoway

Safeguard. Another well-known brand of bar soap in the Philippines. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safeguard_(soap))

Then, dazzle them with abundance and selection.

"The ubiquitous plastic chair: 140 to 175" retirednoway

The ubiquitous plastic chair: 140 to 175

"More durable chairs" retirednoway

More durable chairs

"Plastic pails and buckets: 45" retirednoway

Plastic pails and buckets: 45

"Umbrellas. It is common to see Filipina women using umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun." retirednoway

Umbrellas. It is common to see Filipina women using umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun.

"Laundry Appliances: Wash-&-Spin-dry and Spin-dry only models" retirednoway

Laundry Appliances: Wash-&-Spin-dry and Spin-dry only models

"Electric fans, a necessity in this tropical climate" retirednoway

Electric fans, a necessity in this tropical climate

"Electric iron and stovetop. Electricity is expensive in Palawan (residential: 9.50 pesos per kilowatt-hour)." retirednoway

Electric iron and stovetop. Electricity is expensive in Palawan (residential: 9.50 pesos per kilowatt-hour).

"There are all types of stoves. This one's portable." retirednoway

There are all types of stoves. This one's portable.

"Gas-powered (as in Liquified Petroleum Gas) stoves are popular." retirednoway

Gas-powered (as in Liquified Petroleum Gas) stoves are popular.

"Rice cookers for cooking the Filipino's favorite starch" retirednoway

Rice cookers for cooking the Filipino's favorite starch

"Sofas from 10,000" retirednoway

Sofas from 10,000

to 13,500

"Bowls and Plates" retirednoway

Bowls and Plates

"Knives from China" retirednoway

Knives from China

"Tools but the orange-colored lifevests surprised me. We live on an island and I suppose these are purchased by operators of boat ferrying services (entrepreneurs) and by livelihood-fishermen." retirednoway

Tools but the orange-colored lifevests surprised me. We live on an island and I suppose these are purchased by operators of boat ferrying services (entrepreneurs) and by livelihood-fishermen.

"More tools" retirednoway

More tools; every one of them comes from China!

""Ask" brand phones from International Trade City, Yiwu, Zhejiang province, China" retirednoway

"Ask" brand phones from International Trade City, Yiwu, Zhejiang province, China

"We must have a lot of rodents and varmints in Palawan. Shown above is trap retailing for US$1.50 (120 pesos)." retirednoway

We must have a lot of rodents and varmints in Palawan. Shown above is trap retailing for US$1.50 (120 pesos).

"Sandals or slippers. In Palawan, many people wear this type of footwear outside their homes." retirednoway

Sandals or slippers. In Palawan, many people wear this type of footwear outside their homes.

"Underwear. Most garments are not packaged individually." retirednoway

Underwear. Most garments are not packaged individually.

"Plush toys from China (Modern plush are commonly manufactured from synthetic fibers such as polyester. One of the largest uses of this fabric is in the production of toys, with small stuffed animals made from plush fabric, such as teddy bears. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plush)" retirednoway

Plush toys from China (Modern plush are commonly manufactured from synthetic fibers such as polyester. One of the largest uses of this fabric is in the production of toys, with small stuffed animals made from plush fabric, such as teddy bears. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plush)

"Speaking of toys, China manufactures a lot of them." retirednoway

Speaking of toys, China manufactures a lot of them.

"All the consumer electronics originated from China!" retirednoway

All the consumer electronics originated from China!

"3000 watt speakers by NetExtreme, another Chinese brand." retirednoway

3000 watt speakers by NetExtreme, another Chinese brand.

"Television sets by Atomic and Centrix (Chinese brands)" retirednoway

Television sets by Atomic and Centrix (Chinese brands)

One thing stood out; nearly every manufactured product being sold in the mall came from China!

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6 responses to “168’s Grand Opening

  1. Donna Amis Davis

    I have wondered why the name 168. Your research is fascinating. Thank you for the mention of my blog posts, too.

    Like

  2. I was wondering if you could also post in your blog the school supply list of a typical public high school senior? and also the costs?

    Like

  3. This surely piques your curiosity. 168 here in Manila is famous for its export overruns, cheap buys and bulk purchases. Just beware of snatchers. Just be very patient when approaching the heavy traffic along 168 Mall. – Bing Nasiad

    Like

  4. I haven’t visited the original 168 yet but I can imagine how risky it can be with those snatchers. How many stores are there in that 168?

    Like

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