When the Rev. Vic Bernales, the pastor of a Reformed church here in Davao, asked me what I found the most shocking about Davao City in my first week here, I replied immediately: the malls.
Nothing had prepared me for the malls. They are huge, larger than anything in Cincinnati. They are full of stores selling fashion, electronics, cell phones, shoes, coffee, everything. The one we went to today, Abreeza Mall, was three stories tall, with touch-screen mall directories to help you find what you are looking for. It is merged with the four-storey Robinson’s Mall, so that the overall size of the place is just bewildering.
On the ground floor, there are ride-on animals being driven around by little kids and their parents:
We were shopping for a printer, a toaster, and a blank diary-style book (to be used for my New Testament class at Faith Academy). Fount the toaster and a set of computer speakers at a knock-off electronics store called CD-R King.
When entering the store, one takes a cardboard square off a little metal hook. On it is printed a two digit number. When the clerks are ready to help you, they will call the number. You will then explain what you are looking for, and then will pull it off the racks for you.
If you decide to buy the item, they will then take it out of the box, test it for proper operation (they plugged our speakers into a computer and played music on them; they also verified the USB thumb drive I bought on an earlier trip). After that, you give them your money. They put the item in a bag and staple or tape it up. This process usually involves at least three clerks. In the USA, purchasing something at a store usually involves only one, the cashier, and perhaps not even that one (if you use self-checkout at the grocery).
Our townhouse is walking distance to two malls: Victoria Plaza and Abreeza. Sora took the kids to Victoria Plaza yesterday to have their photos taken for missionary visa applications. These were quite affordable, only 60 pesos for a set of 4 2×2″ and 8 1×1″ prints. The malls also cater to kids, with rides:
Don’t get the wrong impression: there are still roadside huts selling things. On the way to Victoria Plaza yesterday, I passed a booth where a man was putting a frame on a painting for someone to hang on a wall. We’ll probably go to him when our Balikbayan boxes arrive with our posters inside them.