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I Keep Coming Back To ManiLA

Updated on March 1, 2014

Previously in the first of this Series, I had mentioned that I grew up in Manila (East of the Pacific Ocean) and I went to LA (West of the Pacific Ocean) and this has been my home to close to ten years now.

Now if there is one complaint that fellow “Kababayans” (a Tagalog word used by people of the Philippines to call their own people) have against their Filipino brothers and sisters, it is that Filipinos are too much into imitating or into copying others. (Yes as in they have a monopoly on it).

And this is not meant to be a compliment but is really quite the opposite.

The Makapilis
The Makapilis

And yes even if it hadn’t dawned on them that they are also in fact mimicking (copying) what other “kababayans” before them have done for decades now--bash or at least tell on their own. (At least in the Second World War, those who did, prudently wore “bayongs” (woven rattan bags) over their heads with two small holes to look through them before they point out their “kababayans” who were doing underground resistance work against the Japanese Army who was holding the Philippines and many other areas in the region captive).

“Gaya-gaya” is the term. And yes many “kababayans” do that.

Filipinos copy the current fashion styles of other cultures, we copy their fads, we copy their way of living, we copy their business ventures, we copy their accents, we copy their way of singing, dancing, acting, whichever, whatever, for most if its foreign it must be good.

Now, it really hasn’t occurred to me until foreigners also started commenting on this phenomenon, well which they probably only found out themselves because it was the Filipinos themselves who were talking against their own. And there are currently at least 11 or 12 even more million Filipinos out in the world (talking) at any given day plus at least double that number who are online 24/7.

Well, as if other people would really be interested in anything or even anything negative against the Filipinos. In fact, there are still a whole bunch of people out there who probably couldn’t find Manila or the Philippines in a world map, yes like they could find their own city in one. And like it is as if the Philippines is in the same level globally as other Asian nations, such as China, Japan, Korea, India and many others. No, they aren’t, not even close.

But now that more and more “kababayans” have been slowly but surely making some noise in a global sense, now people from other cultures are also starting to listen to the Filipino negatives as being shouted by Filipinos with either their traditional crab “talangka” mentalities, their homegrown insecurities, their deep-rooted envious bones, or their other ulterior motives or let us just say because they have the freedom to do so. Yes, we got that from the democratic ways the Americans have shown and engrained in us.

And so really, many Filipinos are nothing but second-rate, trying-hard copycats.

Manila to LA

Now as I have pointed previously, I am still at a lost if I made a move up or a move down when I moved to LA from Manila.

But yesterday I went to a shopping plaza close to home and it wasn’t until I really looked around the area that day when I saw the ingenuity of the Filipino when they came up with the mega malls within Metro Manila and other Metropolitan cities in the Philippines. And no, they didn’t copy (imitate) that from the Americans or I am guessing from anyone else.

Okay let me say this first, shopping malls in the entire US of A as petite, at least when compared to those in the Philippines.

Let’s take a look at the largest malls in the United States:

The Mall of America
2,779,000 sq ft
520 stores
The King of Prussia
2,793,000 sq ft
400 stores
The South Coast Plaza
2,700,000 sq ft
280 stores

Now, the largest one in our area is the Del Amo Fashion Mall which is easily among the top 20 largest malls in the USA.

The Del Amo Mall
2,100,000 sq ft
300 stores

And these are spread out in three different States of the United States.

Now let us take a look at three of the largest malls in Metro Manila, yes only within Metropolitan Manila an area smaller than LA County.

The SM Mall of Asia
4,200,000 sq ft
750 stores 220 restaurants
3rd Largest in the World
The SM Megamall
3,600,000 sq ft
750 stores 250 restaurants
5th Largest in the World
The SM City North Edsa Mall
3,000,000 sq ft
800+ shops
10th Largest in the World

Yes, that’s Three of the Ten Largest Malls in the Whole Word, all within Metro Manila.

Only China has move malls in the Top Ten with four malls but those like the ones in the United States are all spread out all over China and we know how big China is and how many people there are in there.

UPDATE: Now, the SM City North Edsa which used to be the tenth largest mall in the world, has now finished building its newest extensions. And it is now even bigger than the SM Mall of Asia. Now it has over 1,100 shops, and thus possibly making those three malls the 3rd, the 4th and the 6th largest in the world, and if it is, then now three of top six largest malls in the world are now in Metro Manila.

SM CIty North Edsa
SM CIty North Edsa

Okay, why did they do that?

Now you can see that Filipinos are not only great imitators, they are also have a few great innovators among them.

Remember when I was at a shopping plaza here in the southern part of Los Angeles, I noticed that although there is not really just one huge building but several small building within a piece of land.

And in this one big lot, there was a place for the mom’s to go, there was a place for the dad’s to go to, there was at least two places for kids to go to, a place for the gizmo and the techo geeks, there was a place for the pets, there was a bank, a grocery store, the post office, Starbucks, Sam’s and a Costco at the adjacent lot, a bar, all kinds of food from all over the world and the dessert stores.

Now what did the Filipinos do starting from the 1970s with the Harrison Plaza in Manila, the Ali Mall in Quezon City and the SM Malls, the Robinsons Malls, the Greenbelt Malls, the Ever-Gotesco Malls, the Santa Lucia Malls, and the list goes on and on opening up all over the Philippines?

They placed all these stores, establishments not just inside a big lot but they place it all and more inside a huge building, making it a one stop shop--no rain, no sun, no wind, no flood, no heat, no smog, no pollution, no nothing, but all in.

Why? Because Filipinos normally do not go to the parks anymore, so they made the inside of the malls to become the new indoor parks and recreation centers.

Filipinos loved to watch a movie, so they crammed 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and more theaters under one roof. The Filipinos love to bowl, skate, billiards, and play other games they put all of those in there too.

Most of all Filipinos love to eat, and so they placed all kinds of cuisines in there as well.

And did I forget to mention that Filipinos love to shop and find great bargains and deals?

Well, that was the original purpose actually but it just morphed into what is now enormous city-like shopping malls (probably why the name SM City).

Now because Filipinos want to do it all under one roof now, so in came in the medical clinics, the dental clinics, the church fellowships, the indoor racing tracks, the bars, the coffee shops, bookstores,  barber shops, beauty saloons, fitness gyms, utilities payment centers, repair centers, conference halls, exhibits and galleries, name it and I’m sure it’s all in there somewhere.

And all the malls in the Philippines are always jampacked!

And there are new ones being built constantly or the old ones being renovated to add more floor footage as I write this!

Over in Southern California and I’m sure in many other malls in the US, the malls are virtually like ghost towns in most dead hours of the day and I feel sadness whenever I go inside them.

Not in Metro Manila though, just trying to get in or out is an adventure by itself.

Go figure.


English Part of the Lyrics 
Manila, Manila, I keep coming back to Manila 
   Simply no place like Manila 
Manila I'm coming home
   I walked the streets of San Francisco 
   I've tried the rides in Disney Land 
   Dated a million girls in Sydney 
   Somehow I feel like I don't belong 
Manila, Manila, miss you like hell Manila 
   No place in the world like Manila 
   I'm coming home to stay 

I miss Manila.

I miss the shopping, and the dining and the hustle and bustle of Manila.


SM Mega Mall
SM Mega Mall
Sm Mall of Asia
Sm Mall of Asia


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