The Pinoy Mall Culture, A Social Microcosm of Patronage Relations

What's with these malls that we all get hyped about? Why go gaga about it?

Care for an early Christmas shopping?

Christmas is just around the corner and many of us will soon do our annual year-end shopping spree at the spanking new SM Seaside City and Robinson's Galleria Cebu. Many are excited but some wonder why so much malls in a medium-sized urban center like Cebu? What's with these malls that we all get hyped about? Why go gaga about it?

New shopping malls, hypermarkets and department stores are sprouting like mushrooms throughout the Philippines in recent years. These ultra-modern structures have expanded their role as a shopping and dining destination so that it has taken important social role in communities by hosting concerts, tourist attractions, exhibitions and even Catholic masses! Gone are days when we enjoy what's going on the town plaza where everything revolved around the church, the municipio and the local market. Everything is concentrated in the mall these days so that it's much of hassle to go to parks or the public square.

Robinson's Galleria Cebu is one of the newest malls in the country

In a country with a fast growing population, the mall has become a go-to place to hang out and socialize because everything you need is inside a gargantuan air-conditioned venue. For others, it has become a place where you can show off your designer bags and imported shoes for the world to see. If you think about it, malls provides an aspirational venue for people who want to see things they don't get to buy. Everything has become so artificial that malls are trying hard to manufacture the vibrancy of a local town center in a very commercialized setting. In fact, more people go to malls than church in a month!

Sure, window shopping is free but not all can get to access what the mall has to offer. These malls may be for everyone to enjoy but it is also elitist to certain degree. If you visit any of the malls with your Sunday's best, you would be greeted with utmost respect like you see on TV commercials but if you try go in with your casual home clothes and worn-out flip-flops, security guards will have to frisk you and check your belongings just to get it! You never get to experience that abroad.

How do you expect concentrate on the mass if there are so many distractions around you?

So why more malls in a congested metropolis? Not all of us can afford all the products and services provided by these malls. Most Filipinos are still living below the poverty line contrary to what government has said. Our economy is still dependent on OFW remittances and investments from BPO companies so why not build more industries and support agriculture as the Philippines still lag behind in terms of economic development from neighbors like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Malls are not the indicator of economic progress.

It all sounds so familiar to us - patronage politics. Malls are providing services that government has failed to do. This is the reason why some people don't mind, they can just flock to the nearest mall to get away from the hassles of daily living and cool down from the hot tropical heat and congested city centers. It is true that every mall being constructed can bring in new jobs but at what cost? Increased  traffic congestion, garbage problems and growing power consumption.

There is a push for a more eco-friendly design and construction and now Cebu's newest shopping destinations will have real parks on the the rooftop and even inside of it. Solar power is being considered to lessen the strain on the power grid. Recycling programs have been instituted to reduce plastic waste. Where do we go from here?

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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: The Pinoy Mall Culture, A Social Microcosm of Patronage Relations
The Pinoy Mall Culture, A Social Microcosm of Patronage Relations
What's with these malls that we all get hyped about? Why go gaga about it?
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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger
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