Saturday, March 17, 2007


Metro Manila is awash with all kinds of malls and shopping districts. These establishments are sprouting by the day. And just about a few rainy seasons ago, there rose Tiendesitas – an affluent kind of tiangge or a permanent bazaar for the well-to-dos! It’s a wide expanse of a tent-like roofing with hundreds of little stores (stalls) in it – tastefully and orderly arranged – therefore expensive hehe! From the outside, the place looks like a Mindanao-inspired thing. Even the decors at the eating areas have those colorful vintas of Zamboanga.

So what really is there at Tiendesitas? Ah… well… food, fun and shopping for expensive things that you can otherwise have at very low prices elsewhere. But let’s give you a tour of this “hip” place as many a middle-class family would call it.

Where is it?
Tiendesitas sits in a sprawling field near to (not along) Ortigas Avenue in Pasig. It is also near to (not along) Julia Vargas Avenue still in Pasig. Its frontage faces east and right in front of it is C5. Coming from Eastwood or Libis along the C5, this place will be to your right just after you descend from the flyover at the C5-Ortigas intersection – commonly called by commuters as I.P.I. [pronounced “ai-pee-ai”]. Tiendesitas is actually about 200 or so meters from this intersection!

The establishment has a well-designed entrance/fa├žade where some kind of stairs has been put in place by the architects just right on C5. But, the stairs have grills(gate) that are permanently locked so you cannot use them! How do you enter the place then? Along C5 (from Cubao, Blue Ridge, St. Ignatius, Eastwood or Greenmeadows, you go past the IPI intersection, then past the closed gate until you reach a rodway on your right that divides Tiendesitas and that new SM Supercenter. Immediately to your right is an entranceway both for people and vehicles. You can also move a little further up from that corner then turn right to stumble upon the other “main-entrance” of the facility which is a wider entry for people and vehicles. From Ortigas area, keep to the right lane of Ortigas Ave., Don’t go up the flyover. Turn right at the fancy gate of Frontera Verde as Tiendesitas is inside this place. A few seconds away, Tiendesitas will be on your left. From Julia Vargas, turn left to Frontera Verde, before reaching the intersection of Julia Vargas and C5. Past the SM Supercenter is Tiendesitas.

So what’s there to see?
Hmm, for clarity of directions, let’s talk about this place approaching it from this rear entranceway – which actually becomes like the main entrance because as we said above, the main entrance at the C5 side is always closed. They probably realized much much later that having the entranceway at C5 would be impractical because it is a big road and very near the foot of a flyover – which will surely stall the flow of vehicles.

Assume you are standing on that rear entrance (west side of the facility – meaning not C5). Right in front of you are parking spaces that line all the way around this rectangle of a shopping center. Few steps forward and you should be facing the “Food Village” where of course, everything eatable is sold. Your nose will be first to tell where you are as the aroma from so many eatables and drinkables will surely catch you. Snacks, lunches dinners, coffee, shakes, fruits, cakes, pastries, even root-crops and everything food you can think of, they’re available in many of the stalls in this ‘village’. The sides have little tables and chairs for you and your family or friends to hang-around or binge around! If there are only about 6 of you, try catching a seat on two or three wooden Kalesa-like carriages. They don’t move of course since they’re also “dining-tables” but in the shape of a Kalesa. Children and children-at-heart will have fun climbing the two or three steps to this dining table. And, gluttons will actually feel inconvenience eating here. Why? It’s just because, the wooden table (which is unmovable) is a bit distant from the benches that are also permanently fixed to the structure. So, you feel awkward getting food from your plate on the table to your mouth hehe!

Most every stall here serve delectable Filipino foods plus cuisine from other countries. Oh yes, for a turo-turo-style eatery, this one is clean. Even if this place is open-air (except for the high roof), it could get hot at midday. But your lunch atmosphere will be made cooler by a lot of big big big industrial fans with mist sprayers hovering above you. Point this to the children and they’ll be amused (at least for a while) with those electric fans spraying water to the air!

This food village descends unto a lower area called the Central Plaza (just about 2 or 3 feet down) with more tables and chairs, food stalls and a stage where musical groups perform at night. Ooops, we’re already at the very center of Tiendesitas! So, still facing the food village, let’s step back to the entrance way and head to the right.

To the right of the Food Village, about 2 or three steps down cobble steps and after passing by a dainty little native-coffee-shop with acoustic musicians, is the “Delicacies Village”. This is delicacies galore! The many stores in this square serve from everything to nothing! Why did I say nothing? Because some stalls are ye to be occupied while some are closed. But my goodness, virtually every Filipino Delicacy you can imagine can be found in this place. There are stalls that sell “bagoong” – be it from Balayan or elsewhere. You can buy dried mangoes, pyaya, ube jams of all origins, laing, longganisa from everywhere, danggit, specialty cookies, cinnamon rolls, zagu, purees, puto-bumbong, chocolate-moron, tableya, strawberry jams, carabao-milk, lenguas-de-gato, peanut brittles, binagul, dried-pusit, raw peanuts, kaong, gulaman, nata de coco, sardines from many islands south north and west, pastilles, chicharon bulaklak, buko-pie, brownies, mammon, ensaymada and everything else you can think of. I challenged myself and started looking for that special and tasty Vigan Empanada! I did not find it in any of the stalls in this “Delicacy Village” but one sales girl pointed me back to the Food Village where indeed, there was! Why was it at the food village? Most reasonable answer I got was: because, the delicacy is prepared pronto when you want it – unlike many of the products in the delicacy village that either are in containers (jams, cakes, etc.) or previously prepared (longganisa, dried-fish, etc). Oh calories!

Move further right from the ‘Delicacies Village’ and after passing via some kind of low wooden fence as “dividers”, you stumble upon the “Furnishings Village”. What you see in this expanse is like a big big big showroom of native furnishings and furnitures! Feast the interior designer in you! From shells, to shiny little marbles to dried tall grass, twigs, vases of all sizes and shapes, planters, baskets, mats of all kinds and lounge-chairs heavier than your car are just a few of the things you’ll see here! Check out the labels or talk to the attendants and you’ll find these things come from all over the archipelago. Curtains, abaca fibers, barong materials, beads, balls, figurines, carvings, frames, wall mounts, coffee tables, stools, serving dishes and ah many things more! Prices? Well, from too much to ridiculous! Then again, do you have time and money to travel to places and buy those things from where they originated?

Oops, if you move further right from this village, there are the comfort rooms hehehe! But they’re clean and tastefully made – even decorated. Lighting fixtures in this place are artsy native inspired “lamps”. Plus they’re clean and well maintained.

From this Furnishings Village (and comfort rooms), since it is the rightmost (southwestern) end, let’s head to the left going towards the inner portion (actually the southwestern corner of Tiendesitas). You go down a little stairway of about 4 or 5 steps and stumble upon the “Fashion Village”. Oh, the rightmost edge of this part are two restaurants – not stalls but buildings housing restaurants. And this is that corner that faces the side entrance and SM Supercenter. Oops, no no no, we’re not going out yet!

The “Fashion Village” is a bit different from the previous 3 “villages” we discussed above. The stalls here are little roofed stalls (like little boxes) separated by either wood or metal or glass walls. And most of these little stalls have airconditioning each! Little as they are, some stalls do have space for a “fitting room”. Really! What do you find here? Well, generally mass-produced clothes and accessories. Some do carry designer labels while some sell fakes and funnies! Slippers, sandals, bags, shoes, hats, bangles, swimsuits, summer wear, shades, necklaces, watches – even sun screens are available here! Here is the challenge: there are panties and other undergarments but try looking for men’s briefs, and you’ll have a hard time hehehe! Am not the fashionista type so let’s leave this place with such few descriptives. But mind you, I have a friend who consumed her entire afternoon just criss-crossing in and out of the stalls in just this village. Until now, I still ponder and wonder how and why?! Grabe!

Let us head to the left (or northwards) since we are on the edge that fronts C5. So facing C5, to the left of the Fashion Village is the "People’s Village". This is actually the back of the Food Village (just behind the stage) and should have been the great entranceway had the C5 gate not been closed. What is in the “People’s Village” anyway? Nothing hehehe! This is just a veeery wide expanse of high ceiling area of cobbled flooring with some decorative plants, little trees and a few lounge seats on the side. This is where many children romp around and hordes of families wait for their drivers. Oh there are ATMs at one corner just before you go up the step to the Food Village.

This “People’s Village” is actually (I think) the multi-purpose area of Tiendesitas. At one time this entire place was the venue when I watched a dog and animal show. Last Christmas season, this very same area was converted to like a Baclaran or Divisoria. Hundreds of little stalls were erected and almost all of them sold the same things – from toys to trinkets and fake DVDs to Microphones and Christmas Lights to Coke Light! It was a dizzying experience as there were just too many things as if shouting “buy me”! I had to control myself hehehe. This time however, or when there are such “events”, this People’s Village is a charming place to just wander around with your dogs or kids. It’s almost like a park!

From the people’s “park”, let’s head further left (northwards) to stumble upon the “Novelty Village”. Careful! Your head might bump into a bundle of necklaces hanging from the stalls. Oops careful too, you might trip on those hundreds of trinkets laid out on a small table. Ah this place is a haven for girls of all ages. The wares here are just too dizzyingly multitudinal that the alleyways become too cramped for me! This also seems to be where most people walk around. Note that the accessories here are not just for the bodies of girls and women alike. There are also things for your house, for the car and for just about anything! Hint: I mused upon a white faux-seashell made of plaster that can be used as just a decorative on your coffee-table or as a candle holder. This is that delicate breakable where you can even paint on the surface to make it more attractive with your won sense of art. The price was P380 but can be given to me at P350 for a last price. I’d say that was a fine enough price for the thing. Problem is, I saw the very same thing sold at the Dapitan Arcade (in Kanlaon St., QC) at a mere P25 each! Imagine that! Well, if you don’t even know Dapitan Arcade, then you won’t know the difference. And what you don’t know won’t hurt you hehehe!

Let’s move further left and to the northeastern end of Tiendesitas. This is where you find the “Antique Village”. The rows of stalls literally spill with a lot of antique and antique-looking things. Vases are common, old wooden figurines of saints and buddhas are also common. But you’d be dumbfounded to see wooden musical drums taller than any human being! Gosh, there is even a whole banca on display perchance you’d like to purchase it! Antique chairs, tables, beds, mirrors, mirror-frames, wood carvings, bottles, eerie-looking grills, panels, typewriters and too many more. Surprisingly, I found a lot of things here that have comparable prices to those that you can find in Kamuning or elsewhere. I was of course amused to stumble upon a stall that sold different kinds of record music players and “records” – those that come in “45” single and “33” long playing. Titles I saw were albums from the likes of Jackson 5, Ray Conniff, Andy Williams, Nora Aunor and so on. Oh my childhood days! Am sure some of your reading this won’t even already know what am talking about! When I was young, I think I still remember, these things were called “plaka” and the players were called “radio-phono” and that was long before the cassette tapes and the walkmans came to our lives hehehe! Oh they’re not necessarily antique but just the same, some stalls here sell wares and instruments from Mindanao like the T’boli Bells, Gaddang, Kulintang, Kris, etc.! By the way, the only other comfort room in Tiendesitas is located at this village!

To the edge of the Antique Village is another restaurant. Just like at the other end, no this restaurant is not a stall but a building. As this is the northeastern end, lets veer left to the northwestern corner. Here we find the “Garden Village”. Here you find everything from Bonsai to barks, from grass to gardenias. This is a haven for the green thumbs. Orchids, shrubs, plants, plantfood, cacti, flowers, tools, hoses, sprinklers, hanging plants, crawling plants, lilies, pots and whatever else is the “event” in this corner of Tiendesitas. Am not well versed about this gardening thing but our househelp got excited in this place. She bought things I did not know or recognize but those are now healthily growing in our front and back yards – and they look good ha! We now even have a live orange tree in the middle of our dining table! I came from a stall at this village. How this tree has become so minute, I have yet to know! Oh plants! But let’s move left again going south!

Lastly, there is the “Pet Village”. Oh what a lovely place! The stalls here sell not only pet foods but even the live little darlings! So many different types and kinds of fishes are available from flowerhorns to arwanas. Aquariums small to as wide as a house-wall are also on offer. Birds and bird food are aplenty too! Parakeets, lovebirds, cockatoos, maya, parrots, etc are also available. There was even a hawk also on sale. And I had fun coaxing three mischievous Myna birds. One of them spoke Bisaya entawon! The crowd drawers are of course those cute little pugs and shi-tzus and poodles and chihuahuas huskies and so many of their cousins big and small. Oh there is even a groom-shop for dogs and I saw two chau-chaus enjoying their beauty treatment! There are lizards and snakes in some stalls but I am not too fond of them. There are even turtles! But I like one stall that has different kinds of cats on display. They’re just too grand to watch!

Okay, moving leftwards from the pet village brings us to some kind of extension of the novelties village and handicrafts then back to the Food Village! We just did a full-circle (or more appropriately rectangle) counterclockwise around Tiendesitas!

What else?
For the kids, there is a live and true Kalesa Ride that goes around the facility. It’s a far enough ride since (I think) the length of the whole area from north to south (Garden Village to Furnishings Village) is probably about a hundred meters or just a little bit less and the width from east to west (Antique Village to Garden Village or People’s Village to Food Village or Fashion Village to Furnishings Village) is probably half of the length of this sprawling centre.

Its nice to have a drink or two near the stage if you are fond of listening to “unrated” musicians. And the “pritchon” goes well with beer actually. What is “pritchon”? Go find it at Tiendesitas and discover!

In the past, it was not advisable to go to this place without a car as taxi cabs were few. But not that the SM Supercenter is just beside, its easy to get a ride home. Jeeps that pass through Tiendesitas are those that ply the routes between Cubao and Pasig City. They do have a free shuttle-service from/to Greenhills, so I heard.

If you don’t really mind the ultra high prices (is there such a person?), Tiendesitas is a good and convenient place to shop at. Clean, well-maintained and the crowd is not so peasant-looking hehehe. You can stroll along with your pets. And for the smokers, this is open air! Plus there are a lot of trashbins all over the place with ashtrays on top for your convenience!

Final Word!
This is a nice place even just for window-shoppers. And if you are the price-conscious type, don’t forget to bring your mom or grandma along. That way, you are sure you won’t be able to buy anything as they’d be protesting at every price tag they see. I can assure you that!

1 comment :

  1. I love walking around and looking for some things to buy and check the place for foods! Also their Ark Avilon Zoo is nice place, a mini zoo in Tiendesitas. Hope to visit this place again..