Divisoria. Shopper’s heaven, demophobe’s hell.
I recently dragged my boyfriend to Divi to shop for gifts and some additions to my wardrobe. It seemed like a good idea at the time but when I think about it now, I cringe. There were SO MANY people! It’s so crowded, it was hot and really tiresome. And it’s bound to get worse by December.
Through this experience, I’ve come up with sensible tips (some I followed, others I just realized after the trip) on how to survive a shopping trip in Divisoria.
1. Ask yourself: Do I really need to go?
Divi is not the place for window shopping. Unless you have a long to-buy list (or you’re buying something that you know is available only in Divi), don’t go. You’ll only add to the crowd. If you plan to buy a few things, weigh first if the price difference is worth the stress you’ll likely acquire. Have a purpose!
2. Know your way around.
While Divisoria is a labyrinth for the uninitiated, there’s actually an organized way around it. Every street carries a particular kind of goods and products so it's best to plan which streets you'll go to.
|Divisoria map from Entrepreneur, August 2011 issue. Click to enlarge.|
3. Bring a bottle (or more) of water. And some crackers, too.
Because everyone goes to Divi, it’s always crowded and therefore, hot. Bring water to avoid dehydration. Small packs of ready-to-eat food will do you good, too, because fast food joints in the area can be very jam-packed during lunch time. If you have to line up for food, at least you have some crackers with you. :)
4. Have the time.
If you go to Divi on its most crowded days, it’s best to devote a whole day for shopping and resting. The trip can be pretty tiresome. It’s not something you can do on a weekday after work.
5. Learn the crucial art of haggling.
“Tawad” has become an overused Pinoy word in markets, stores, and tiangges. Learn to say “Wala na po bang tawad?” or “Tapat na po?” or “Pwede po bang [insert lower price here] na lang?” even though you know the vendor’s already selling it for a low price. That’s haggling, Divi style. Remember though that this technique works best when you buy in bulk or if you’re a regular customer a.k.a. suki.
6. Pack in lots of patience, patience, and more patience.
I’m sure people who have been to Divi have other useful tips to share. But number 6, for me, is the most important. The crowd, the heat, the noise – it’s so easy to get hot-headed in the jungle that is Divisoria. By the latter part of my trip, I was already so stressed out that anything my boyfriend said seemed to irritate me and I just wanted him to shut up. Good thing he’s got more patience than I do. And folks, you need that because that’s the only way you can stand Divisoria. As they say, no pain, no gain.
Have you been to Divisoria yet? Share your experience in the comments below. :)