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Divisoria street market. Photo by nozomiiqel on Flickr.com

Divisoria is a market district in the heart of the City of Manila known for its wide assortment of low-priced goods and wholesale and bargain shopping. Clothes, accessories, toys, novelties, decorations, pirated films and music, electronics, fruits, dry goods, school, office and household supplies, fabrics, textiles, crafts, novelties, decorations and “everything under the sun” can be found in Divisoria, making it “the mecca of value shopping” and “the mother of all markets in Manila.” It is considered one of the National Capital Region's premiere economic centers, as street shops, tiangge-style bazaars and shopping malls are all found here. The district touches different parts of the city including Binondo, Tondo and San Nicolas.


Geography and Transportation

Though it has no official marked boundaries, the greater Divisoria area is bisected by Claro M. Recto Avenue. Sidestreets containing the various shops, stalls and markets branch out from this main boulevard. The most popular of these sidestreets are Juan Luna, Ylaya, Tabora, Santo Cristo and Soler. The area boxed in by Recto, Juan Luna, Santo Cristo and Comercio streets is considered by some to be the center of Divisoria.

For public commuters, Divisoria is accessible by taking the MRT or LRT-2 traversing Recto Avenue and getting off at the last station, Recto. There are also jeepneys and FXs from Taft Avenue, España and Cubao which ply the Divisoria route.


Divisoria's roots as a commercial center can be traced back to the Spanish period, during which non-Christianized Chinese were forbidden to live or trade inside nearby Intramuros, the Spanish capital. Relegated to the parian, Chinese merchants eventually set up their own community in present-day Binondo and gradually set up shop there and in surrounding areas, which came to include Divisoria. <ref> “Divisoria: Bargain Haven” n.d. </ref> The area continued to blossom into a commercial center in the 1900s, bolstered by the fact that the Tutuban Central Station, formerly the main railway station of the Philippine National Railways, became a major drop-off center for trade goods coming in from various provinces.<ref> “History is preserved in makeover of Tutuban Mall” Manila Times, 06 May 2007.</ref>

The Divisoria area is also historic because figures such as the revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio and the first Filipino saint Lorenzo Ruiz were born in its environs.


Over the last two decades various shopping malls were put up in Divisoria to cater to bargain hunters who wanted to avoid the crowds, frenzied atmosphere and maze-like set-up of the outdoor markets. A P1.55-billion mall and residential building, to be called The Top at the Benisons, is also set to rise on Recto Avenue. It is especially meant for Chinese entrepreneurs from other cities in Metro Manila who want to live near their businesses in the area.<ref> “Home-grown mall developer takes long look at Divisoria” Malaya, 30 August 2008.</ref> The four major malls currently in Divisoria are:

Tutuban Center Mall
The Tutuban Center Mall was formerly the Tutuban Central Station, converted into a shopping center in 1993.
Divisoria Mall
Divisoria Mall, where mostly wholesale buying is done, is an air-conditioned, three-story building with a basement and a foodcourt. Products such as knickknacks, gift items and giveaways, school and office supplies, accessories, toys, party and household items can be found here. Divisoria Mall is located at the corner of Tabora and Sto. Cristo streets in Binondo.<ref> “Divisoria Mall” ShopCrazy.com, 10 October 2007. </ref>
168 Mall
168 Mall's two connected buildings can be found in between Santa Elena and Soler streets in Binondo. At least a thousand stalls selling fashion items, footwear, accessories, novelty items, furniture and other items can be found across the three floors of the complex, which also includes a foodcourt. The 25,000 sq m complex that caters to the upper A and B classes was named as such because the Chinese consider “168” a lucky number, and it roughly translates to “road to success” in Chinese. <ref> [1] “168 Mall: Bargain paradise, shopping shangri-la”] 168shoppingmall.com, 25 December 2006. </ref>
Meisic Mall
Just across 168, Meisic Mall is located on the corner of Reina Regente and Felipe II. Aside from offering a variety of inexpensive goods for sale, Meisic is also notable for its entertainment area and food court. <ref> “Divisoria is at its best with Meisic Mall” Newsflash.org, 25 October 2006. </ref>




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