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Cebuanos love a bargain but won't sacrifice quality. It is this value-for-money characteristic that makes it possible for ukay-ukay (second-hand dresses) displays, tabo (cheap clothes stalls), and shops selling imported goods to co-exist and thrive.
It is not uncommon for young professionals in Cebu to own branded shirts, dresses, and bags bought from imported shops like Mango, Promod, and Kipling as well as similar items bought for a dime at flea markets. Cebu's bargain stores selling at retail or bulk prices that are often subjected to haggling give as much color to its shopping scene as the big shopping malls that have sprouted up all over the metro.
Shopping in the mall is easy, convenient, and comfortable and there are a lot of big stores to choose from in Cebu City.
SM City Cebu
North Reclamation Area (check location)
Opened in November 1993, SM City Cebu is the fourth largest SM mall in the Philippines. It serves customers in Cebu and neighboring islands. It has close to 500 fashion, electronics, home and furnishing shops, dining facilities and cafes, wellness and medical centers, and other retail stores. It has a department store selling SM and other brands as well as a grocery section.
SM City Cebu's Northwing, opened in November 2007, is home to brand shops selling imported clothes, shoes, bags, accessories like Mango, NafNaf, Onesimus, Montre, Aldo, F&X, Accessorize, Espada, Skinfood, Kipling, Osh Kosh BíGosh, Traffic, Bayo, Promod, Regatta, and Levis.
The whole SM mall is Wi-Fi-enabled and offers free Internet access.
SM City Consolacion
Consolacion (check location)
Opened on June 1, 2012, SM City Consolacion is the second SM Supermall in the province of Cebu.
Ayala Center Cebu
Cebu Business Park (check location)
Ayala Center Cebu is a regional mall showcasing known retail brands as well as promising concepts. It has a selection of foreign and local products. The mall also hosts various coffee shops, play area and game centers, several moviehouses, a gym, spa and wellness facilities, as well as medical and dental clinics.
Elizabeth Mall (E-Mall)
Leon Kilat St. corner N. Bacalso Avenue (check location)
Built in late 2003, E-Mall offers customers a variety of choices from its tenant mix. It has clothing stalls, games and amusement center, supermarket, as well as computer and cellphone shops. There are three cinemas at the mall called Cinemathique, reportedly equipped with Dolby Digital Surround Stereo. Cinemathique is also said to charge the lowest rate in Cebu.
Fuente Osmeña (check location)
A mix of dining, retail, and service establishments that include a department store as well as a grocery section. Robinsons Place has over 50 stores in its 4-level building.
Don Gil Garcia St. (check location)
Robinsons Cybergate hosts tenants that include food chains, specialty shops and services, and offices and medical clinics. Special shows and events are also held at the 4-level establishment every now and then. The mall does not support a department or grocery store.
Colon Street corner Osmeña Boulevard (check location)
Opened in 1982, Metro Colon is the first of a chain of Metro Stores in the country. It became popular with Cebuanos and after only two years of operation, Metro Colon was upgraded from three levels to a seven-level department store and supermarket.
Metro Ayala Center
Cebu Business Park (check location)
A component store of Ayala Center Cebu, the Metro provides retail offerings in its department and grocery sections. Built in 1994, Metro Ayala Center catered to the growing upscale market in Cebu that demanded first-rate services and comfort and at the same time expected the same trademark quality and competitive prices of any Metro store.
Other stores include Gaisano Main along Colon St. corner Leon Kilat St. and Gaisano Country Mall in Banilad. Built as a sprawling complex, Gaisano Country Mall is designed like a villa with open-air spaces on its first and second floors. The mall has a department store, grocery section, cinema center, and bowling alley.
Islands Pasalubong sells Cebuano delicacies like dried mangoes, otap, and rosquillos. It also carries items from small delicacy makers that can be found under the store's "home-made" section. There are currently three Islands Pasalubong branches on Archbishop Reyes in front of Ayala Center Cebu, Raintree Mall on Gen. Maxilom Ave., and at their flagship store on Magallanes St. (check location) in front of the Sto. Niño Church and Magellan’s Cross.
Islands Souvenirs is behind the "I Heart" line and allows customers to personalize their shirts. Aside from Cebu, Islands Souvenirs has expanded the line to other key destinations such as Davao, Bohol, Manila, Boracay, Vigan, Camsur, Baguio, and Palawan. The “I Heart” campaign has also transcended international boundaries as it has quickly become the favorite pasalubong to Filipinos living abroad. Islands Souvenirs has stores in SM City Cebu, Ayala Center Cebu and on the Airport Road.
Shamrock Pasalubong Center (check location)
Shamrock Bakery and Restaurant Corporation takes pride in its more than 50 years of excellent baking. It is famous for its "otap" - a crisk, flaky, and saccharine-coated biscuit that is a specialty of Cebu - and has expanded its take-home delicacies to include hojaldres, galletas de huevo, baked polvoron, lady’s finger, patatas, rosquillos, and other baked products.
Its pasalubong centers are in downtown Cebu City at the corner of V. Gullas and Mabini streets, Don Gil Garcia Street in Capitol, Fuente Osmeña Circle, and along the national highway in the southern town of Barili.
Titay's is synonymous with rosquillos, a favorite pasalubong and anytime treat that a young woman by the name of Margarita Frasco or Titay started baking in 1907. More than a century later, Titay's oven continues to produce quality home-baked goodies using artisan methods and with Lola Titay's well-guarded recipe. Titay's products now include torta, penato, ensaimada, pastries, and assorted breads.
The store is Liloan but Titay's products are sold in Cebu's big supermarkets, convenience stores, and many other shops.
If you're pressed for time and you want quality guitar, drop by the showroom (located shortly after you turn left from the First Mandaue-Mactan Bridge) along M.L. Quezon Highway in Lapu-Lapu City on your way to the airport. Several stalls sell quality-crafted guitars from various factories in Lapu-Lapu City. You can buy the guitar at prices much lower than in the big malls.
Another option, if you have the time for it, is to buy from the guitar factories in Barangay Abuno, Lapu-Lapu City. You can find both backyard and established guitar makers in the barangay. The bigger ones are Inday Celia's, Alegre, Lilang's, Susing's, and Jerry's.
Tricycle drivers in Lapu-Lapu and taxi drivers know where the guitar factories are. If you're bringing your own vehicle, then go straight from the old Mandaue-Mactan bridge until you reach Mactan Doctors' Hospital where you take a left turn and continue on until H. Mall where you take a right turn straight for Abuno. You know you're on the right track if you see a big guitar monument on the middle of a crossing as you turn right from H. Mall.
Tabo sa Banay
A bargain in Cebu is synonymous with "Tabo sa Banay," a gathering of clothing stalls selling inexpensive skirts, shorts, dresses, shawls, and other apparel. Tabo sa Banay is located at a side street that comes between Metro Colon and Best Buy Mart. Street entrance is found along OsmeÒa Boulevard. At Tabo, blouses sold for P500 at the mall may be had for P200 or less at Tabo.
Since the stalls are cramped together in a section of an old building, be prepared to sweat a lot while selecting from a variety of clothing goods from the many stalls. Be sure to check for tears in the items you wish to buy and remember that haggling is allowed, nay required in places like Tabo. Any public transport bound for Metro Gaisano will bring you near Tabo. It is a few meters walk from there. Wear comfortable clothing and leave your valuables at home when you visit Tabo.
Other malls outside of Cebu City but located within Metro Cebu include:
168 Ouano Avenue, Mandaue Reclamation Area, Mandaue City (check location)
The only pet-friendly mall in Cebu, Parkmall is home to al fresco dining and concept stores. Shoppers get a variety of options from its specialty shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, office supplies, health and beauty products, electronics, and home furnishings. Parkmall has a department store, grocery section, and a large part of its second floor is home to clothing stalls. What sets it apart from other malls is that it allows shoppers to bring their pets inside.
Super Metro Mandaue
Highway Mandaue (check location)
Built to be a combination super center and department store, Super Metro Mandaue started its operations in 1994 in Mandaue City, considered as the industrial city of the province of Cebu. Super Metro is the biggest department store and supermarket in the city today. It has easily become the destination of choice by shoppers from Mandaue and from other cities and municipalities in Northern Cebu.
A.S. Fortuna St., Mandaue City (check location)
Opened late last year, J Centre on A.S. Fortuna St. carries clothing and shoe brands like Converse and South Shores, gift and jewelry stores, accessory shops, food chains, and specialty restaurants. It has banks, spa and wellness centers, pharmacy, and hardware stores. SM Hypermart also operates inside the mall.