“Malling is really popular in the Philippines” – Xtina
After landing at Clark Airport in the Philippines (formerly the largest U.S. Airforce Base outside of the United States, until 1991), I had extra time on the layover so I decided to see a bit of the area. After trekking in the wilderness for a few days, I needed a few things so I headed over to the Clark “Super Mall” (locals just call it “SM”).
They LOVE going to the mall in the Philippines, so much so that they made it a verb. “Malling” is a huge Filipino pastime, and thus three of the top ten world’s largest malls are SM’s in the Philippines. This is shocking to some, since more than 40 percent of the country’s 94 million people live on $2 or less per day. Despite this (or perhaps because of this), malls are packed at all times. It’s not always about shopping – air conditioning is quite the draw.
Just as I didn’t think something as basic as a haircut would be would give me something interesting to blog about, I certainly didn’t think a stop at the mall would be eventful.
The first thing that you notice hits you before you even get through the parking lot. I’ve never seen so much security in a mall. There were three security checkpoints in the car where they have you open the trunk for inspection before you can pull up. The procedures to get in were more thorough than some of the airports I’ve been to (Dominican Republic comes to mind). Each person gets a full pat down upon entering the mall and they spend time going through everyone’s bags and purses. I had my travelers backpack with me, which has the unfortunate feature of only loading from the top (why do they do that? so inconvenient!), so this took a bit of time to go through.
There were multiple uniformed guards in front of nearly every store. The department store I stopped by might have had 50 security guards sprinkled throughout. It surprisingly didn’t feel intrusive; very routine and friendly. Interesting place!