When looking for authentic museum grade artifacts and quality handicrafts in Manila - either the real thing or the made-to-order kind - the malls are definitely not the place to be. Not only are prices immovable in most establishments there, but the sterile, prefabricated ambience compromises the mood to browse for anything at all. Back in the 80's all one had to do was walk down MH del Pilar or A. Mabini (near the Plaza Ferguson area) and it was all antiques, handicrafts, and bric-a-brac from Luneta Park until Pedro Gil. But since the demise of Pistang Pilipino (now the Hyatt Regency Casino) and the decline of A. Mabini Street in the late 90's thanks to the morally fibrous Mayor Lim, the hunt moved to Makati Cinema Square basement and Lao Center (both on Pasay Road). But don't be dismayed because if you still feel the need to find that something-something when in downtown Manila, the energy hasn't disappeared, it only transferred. So march on over to these places for some of the best we have to offer:
PHILTRADE (Hall 6 and 7), Pasay City
Buendia corner Roxas Boulevard (southwest side beside the World Trade Center).
Store upon store upon store of Chinese porcelain, 19th century dinnerware, art deco furniture, 50's and 60's collectibles, and everything else inbetween. Haggling acceptable.
Calle Luna Street cor. Victoria, Intramuros
One stop shop for all things Filipiniana. Common handicrafts/goods on ground floor, the more expensive stuff on the 2nd floor, and a gallery/bookstore on the third floor. A must for any Intramuros visitor. Have a snack behind it at Ilustrado when you are done browsing. Haggling recommended.
MH DEL PILAR and A.MABINI, Ermita
Both streets between the Ermita Church area and Padre Faura.
Both streets are still chock full of antique stores selling the REAL things. Only for serious collectors and for those not faint of heart when it comes to price. Haggling definitely required.
Not in downtown Manila:
C-5 corner Ortigas Avenue, Pasig
Although new, the selections are impressive and tasteful. The attached food court, pet store central, and fresh produce market, also make a place a worthy visit for any local or foreign tourist. Haggling possible but not in all stalls.
24 Kamuning Rd., Quezon City
Hours open: Open from 11am to 8:30pm, Monday to Saturday
This place is more like Evangelista Street with it's second hand selections, but some gems definitely are hidden in the rough. Haggling acceptable.