As expected, Divisoria was crowded that day. Going from Tutuban to 168 Mall or even 999 Mall is a struggle. There are vendors stationed in the island along Recto, and you cannot just cross the street as vendors blocked the road - meaning, if you want to go from Tutuban Primeblock Building to 168 Mall, or 999 Mall, you have to go to J. Abad Santos or Dagupan Street. the whole stretch of Recto (starting from Abad Santos) is full of shoppers and vendors. You cannot just easily move or walk, (or run, incase of emergency!). I told my mom if any of the stalls there is caught on fire, people would be stuck and fried (morbid! I know!).
Something actually happened when we were walking infront of Tutuban Primeblock Building (that building which was caught on fire and was closed down). We got stuck in the middle of the street, together with many other shoppers. It was the first time I experienced it. People were not moving. Traffic was crazy, as supposedly it was an open street, everyone could go walking whichever way.I thought what if people would start pushing people and there might be a stampede. I wanted to scream, "get me out of here!". For the first time, I wish I have superpowers. I would fly. I so wanted to fly that moment.
Thankfully, the other shoppers remained patient, and disciplined. We kept on reminding each other not to push, to stay calm and keep cool.
In front of us was a woman carrying her daughter and she was also with her son who obviously was feeling sick. The woman beside me was kind enough to offer to carry the kid (the son got a little worried, and just held his mom's hand) while we walked little by little until we got to the "wider" area - infront of Bonifacio monument.
That was crazy! We got stuck there for like 30 minutes. The culprit - more street vendors who had their goods laid on the street. It was good when they carried and moved their baskets to the side streets which gave space for people to move.
Ok, here are some shopping tips to help you survive Divisoria:
Image from Entrepreneur Magazine 2011
1. Wear comfortable clothes, and I mean war clothes. I was wearing shorts that day (because I thought it was comfortable), but be prepared to walk with tricycles, shoppers who bought knives (?), and even wagons. If you love your legs, wear something like a leggings.
2. Do not bring phones, or expensive smart phones. Divisoria is not a place for selfies. When we got stuck in the middle of mad shoppers, the woman beside me lost some of her shopping bags. They are that quick! Be vigilant.
3. Bring smaller bills. Break your Php500s and Php1,000s. So if you find something nice on the street, you can easily buy and go.
4. Bring eco-bags. Let's go green.
5. Haggle! Try to break the price to half. Say, price is Php300, ask for Php150. Sometimes it works, or you guys can meet halfway. Might be lucky to get the item for Php200.
6. Bring your own water. :)
7. If you find something you like, go and buy it. Moving around Divisoria can be very hard because there are so many shoppers.
8. Always keep your cool. You might get a good discount if you are a nice buyer. Well, we cannot do anything about not-so-nice sellers. But smile is contagious :)
9. I personally do not recommend buying small toys, cosmetics, gadgets and appliances in Divisoria. Better go to the mall where you can guarantee that the items are authentic and comes with warranty.
10. It is difficult to get a cab from Divisoria. So be prepared to go there and commute. You can take the LRT2 Train to get to EDSA (Cubao Station).
When we got home, I told my mom, "this would be the last time I will go to Divisoria", and of course I meant last time for this year.
If you are reading this post somewhere, it is originally written by Ruth and published in www.ruthdelacruz.com.