Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lost In Mandaue: And Happily Found OTOP Store

Yes folks, after more than 4 years of being in and out this Queen City metropolis, I still do get lost – usually with a happy twist! This afternoon was one of those days.

As I rode the yellow multicab at the airport (front seat, of course), I asked driver how to best commute to SM Consolacion. Not that I really don’t know, as I already tried a way, though not sure if that was the best. His reply: get down at Pusok, ride a multicab going to Hi-way / Parkmall, get off before turning left at the corner of Total Gas, wait for the multicabs coming from under the bridge on their way to Consolacion, Liloan, etc. Easy (I thought)!

But my 8-peso jeep ride from Pusok was breezing unusually fast, and I read some txt msgs on the phone (unusual for My Royal Highness when riding a jeep). Next thing I discerned, I knew I was past the gas station since I remembered we took a left turn as I read those phone messages. I still had the ‘patay-malisya’ courage to ask the driver “boss, Total?” and he suddenly stopped saying “aw lapas na sir”! So I got off thinking “now what the hell what” hehehe!

A woman who got off with me asked “where are you going, sir” (yep, in English, that’s common in Cebu), I said “Lacion”. She said it was no problem since I could just cross the road and hail them multicabs going there or onwards to Liloan, Compostela and Danao. She even told me that those jeeps will turn right across the Total gas station, make a far u-turn under the bridge then back going onwards to Hi-way Mandaue and right unto the north road. I said okay and thanked her.


Before I made the first step to cross the road, I casually looked a bit to the side and up, where I read signage that said “Bridges Town Square” among others. Ah curious! I turned around to check what this “town square” might be. So I looked around… at one end (on the right) is a Rose Pharmacy and a lotto outlet. At the other end (left) is a Pan De Manila bakeshop. Hmm… I continued inwards and saw some new places am sure I will return to (one of these days). And I stumbled upon this “OTOP Store Tindahang Pinoy”! Whoa!

I said whoa because I know the OTOP concept. Not a Filipino original, but just the same a wonderful way to promote local products. Ah we have seen them at trade fairs and similar affairs, right? At Megamall, at MOA, etc? And if there’s an OTOP store, it surely will have some of the local best. I even immediately remembered I saw a similar store (was it Davao? or Clark? or both?), though I haven’t got to explore what it really was. So here I was… in an OTOP Store! Yeah!

And OMG yeah, the very first product that greeted me at entrance was this rack of a dozen wine bottles… the very Vino De Coco I encountered in Tacloban just a few clicks ago which I wrote a story about, right? Each bottle sells for P330, same price if you bought it at the winery itself! I asked the attentive young lady store assistant ‘which of the three tastes good’. She says her personal favorite is the white wine. I did not tell her, but in my mind, I was saying “me too”! And she added that, indeed the whites sell fast than the reds. Hmm, Mana Tila, make it sparkling please… I can assure you it will sell like crazy!

Done with the Vino De Coco topic, I moved around to see many things more. Trinkets, accessories, bags, mats, design pieces, too many things interesting. There are even stools made of abaca rope adorned with a cute coconut tree also made of the same abaca material. Sturdy ha?! There are paintings, there are shirts, fridge magnets, furniture, wall mountings, there is even a pair of Precious Moments Dolls clad in Pinoy Wedding Attire. Lovable!

And there’s more wine! Like? Ah too many from too many fruits, my eyes just grew wide in amazement that they actually exist! Guayabano Wine is I think the soursop fruit. There is Lomboy Wine, I know it’s also a fruit but I am not sure how it looks as a fruit hehe. There is Tambis, there is Langka (jackfruit), and there is only one bottle remaining of the Durian Wine! But there are many others more, though I liked how the Mango and Pineapple Wines were packaged/bottled! Two girls were now tailing and telling me about each of those I ogled at. Hey, the advantage of these assistants at OTOP stores is that they are always asked to taste each and every edible product that goes on their shelves. So they know. No wonder both jolly ladies are on the ‘plus’ side of things – coke body pa rin naman hehe!

Then there is the most expensive of them  all – the Alamid (civet cat) Coffee, sitting on a shelf together with Barako Coffee, Ginger Tea (salabat), Turmeric Tea, Coco Sugar and oh so many things more.

These things they sell come from places near and far with all of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao represented. Proof? I am now eating Pili Cake from Allen Northern Samar as I write this; the Hopia De Pili (from Catarman Northern Samar) sits in waiting; I have a 100g packet of “Instant Ginger Powder Beverage” from Loboc, Bohol; and, a bottle of “Tanglad Distilled Lemon Grass” (whatever this beverage is!) from L.A. – that’s Km 13 Los Angeles, Butuan City hehe!

Oh, I must tell you I have to end it here, but there are just too many things more in that big wide store. The other more common things like Otap, Rosquillos, Mamon Tostado, Tablea, Dried Mangoes, Tamarind, Peanut Butter, Cashew, Biscocho, Barquillos, Pickled Seaweeds, Bagoong, Suka, Moringa Tea, etc., etc.!

And did you notice I mentioned mainly just the edible things? But yes, there are wooden furniture and ornaments, shellcraft, hempcraft, there are even jars as tall as my waist and there 2 or 3-piece swimsuits I don’t know where from hehehe!

Go visit the place folks, you will like many things there!

ISSN: 2516364.875-2236


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