Sunday, August 20, 2006

Domesticity Retail Roundup: Manila Edition

This past week, we had two different appointments in Manila, which facilitated two different shopping trips. One was at Ayala Center in Makati, which has been radically revamped since I last came here in 2000 (hello, Greenbelt 3!) - I wore out my shoes just walking from wing to wing, looking for stores. The other was at Festival Supermall in Alabang, which is just as gigantic as Ayala Center but not as confusing to walk through. Despite the grand magnitude and impressive range of items at both malls, however, I still managed to buy only a handful of stuff - because, as you know, I'm way too frugal that way. (To be fair, however, I barely stopped myself from drooling all over the new Diptyque and L'Occitane stalls at Rustan's.) So, instead of talking about what I saw at each store, I'm going to talk about the things that I actually bought. Shocker!

- Maxi striped blouse, Landmark: Lately I've been a fan of the open Mandarin collar, which is basically a band around your neck with a deep V-like opening in front (the better to show off that sternum and not look like a block, heh). This blouse - with long, roomy, uncuffed sleeves - is made from cotton shirting, with pink and yellow stripes and buttons the size of US quarters. It doesn't button all the way down, though, but I think it's a good informal alternative for the moments when a traditional shirt would be too starchy and a T-shirt would be too casual.

- Maybelline lip gloss and lipstick, PCX: Let me state for the record that I am a sucker for sales, especially for lip product. That's why I couldn't help but snap up not one, but two, about-to-be-discontinued products that are obviously not available in the States. (The clerk told me that they were clearing out stock to make way for the Moisture Extreme line.) The Moisture Whip lipstick in Mystic Burgundy is a darker version of the US Moisture Extreme's Red Dawn shade, which has a satin finish; it's not a daring, bloody red (like the Maybelline ME's Cherry Brown or my beloved MAC Underworld) but more on the sensible, plummy side. I still needed a lip balm to wear this, but it stayed on sensibly nonetheless. My current favorite, however, is the Fruity Jelly lip gloss in 06 Strawberry, which I bought for way less than $1.99. At first I was scared because it was such a pale baby pink in the tube, but I was surprised that it went on super sheer without even looking the least bit sparkly. Not to mention that the stuff smells like candy and is the least bit sticky going on your lips. Really awesome!

Seriously, folks: The Asian versions of familiar global brands are definitely worth a look and try. Some brands are pretty good with putting out products and packaging that are definitely geared to the Asian market and not mere retreads of tired American or European stock. When I went to PCX, the sale table also had the most darling eyeshadow singles from Maybelline - tinier than the American compacts - as well as sensible eyeshadow duos from L'Oreal. Now if only they would manage to diversify the shade ranges for their foundation (and not stick us non-"porcelain/ivory" folk with just one shade that isn't always a guaranteed match - there's a reason why I do end up at the Lancome counter from time to time), I'd be a happy camper.

- Tea tree and lemon eucalyptus incense from some New Age stall, Ayala Center Glorietta: It's supposed to be for the outdoors, to ward off insects, but I use it in my bedroom because it smells great. Also because I sometimes get mosquito bites, so anything's better than nothing.


Lest I forget to mention this, I got a haircut at Jesi Mendez last Friday. My hair's still long, but layered in such a way that it's practically feathered all over, like a '70s shag. The layers around the crown, in particular, are really short verging on mullet-like, so if I tie my hair back it almost looks like I went all the way and got a pixie cut. (I like to joke sometimes that my current hairdo is the result of a one-night stand between Sienna Miller and Steve Perry.) That said, I'm far from looking like a retro holdover; on the contrary, it's now so feathery and shaggy and rocker-chick-y that it looks even better when it's slept in and messy, especially when I pin the sides back. It also looks better when I brush my hair while holding my head upside down, with minimal to no styling product whatsoever. Hey, it could work.


kuri said...

Ayala Center is humongous and confusing, isn't it? But so fun, and I ate too much there too. Too bad I didn't see the Maybelline PCX stuff. That isn't available in Japan. I did get a chance to look up a few discontinued perfumes on the first floor though. I was really psyched to see Fruits & Passions too - they don't have stores in Japan. Sigh, shopping was so fun in Manila! I only drove by by Festival Supermall in Alabang, which is probably a good thing, considering how much time I spent shopping anyway.

If you have time, you might enjoy Suriya Spa in Glorietta - it's a very nice place. The facials are very thorough and I enjoyed the steam room a lot. And the tea is yummy.

meimei said...

Aww, Kuri! You are so right - Manila is such an awesome place for shopping. As I mentioned on this blog, it's also the best place to get a spa appointment - which I still haven't done, but should get around to doing some time soon. If only I lived closer, and traffic wasn't so crazy!

I don't get to go to Glorietta often - my go-to mall right now is Ayala Alabang Town Center, a few blocks from Festival (and less than an hour from where I live) - but it's one of those places where I used to hang out when I was in high school (ten years ago, when it was smaller). Still a lot of fun, though - the restaurants there are always fabulous, and it's always great to find those rare items you can't find anywhere else in the world.

I've always thought that our Maybelline and L'Oreal stuff came from Japan, but now that you mention it I'm beginning to wonder if we're getting the stuff from China and Korea -- especially since a lot of Korean brands are now opening stores over here, what with the K-drama boom and all.

I've only seen Fruits & Passion at Ayala Alabang, but from what I've seen they do have some mighty impressive products - especially the Cucina line. We don't have F&P in Hawaii, either (which makes buying the stuff here in Manila more appealing than, say, going to Body Shop or LUSH) but now that I've seen their merch I think I now have a new must-buy.

Today I'm going with my friends to a concert at SM Megamall (owned by the same folks who run Mall of Asia), which was another place where I used to hang out back in high school. Ah, the memories!

So what else did you buy in Manila? Do tell!

kuri said...

You'll have to tell me your favorite spas. I hope to go back, hee :D It's too bad traffic is crazy. I was surprised to hear about the driving restrictions based on license, but given the traffic, guess it makes sense.

From what I've seen, the Max Factor products seem to diverge from the U.S. line more than Maybelline and L'Oreal, although Maybelline does have some significant differences here. Garnier Fructis isn't in Japan although they carry it in China. I think I saw evidence of the K-Boom when I was visiting Glorietta one day - a walled off event space with a baby-faced Korean actor's image plastered on it :D But Manila seems to have tons of American brands that just don't exist in Japan (Crest, Colgate!).

Poo, I didn't have time to check out the Cucina line at F&P. I thought Solstis smelled lovely but bought some Jasmine lotion for a friend, a Pear Linden deodorant stick, and a little pot of Monoi Hand Butter (I love gardenia!). It is a little pricy, but as you say more interesting than The Body Shop.

Have fun at the concert!

I also bought SunSilk soft touch shampoo, pretty glittery gunmetal sandals from PrettyFit (surprisingly comfortable), organza (I think) sheer wrap from Sari Sari, a black halter top dress, a red strapless dress (shouldn't have, but it fits so nicely), Caswell Massey Almond sampler kit (a bit too sweet like marzipan, but not bad), lots of dried mango.

Look forward to reading further updates!

meimei said...

All your finds sound great, Kuri! Even if I don't fit into the "Asian" sizes here, I can still appreciate the clothes here from a creative standpoint.

Sari-Sari... sigh. That used to be one of my favorite stores, but I haven't stepped into one since I came back. Don't know if they've stopped offering cosmetics at their stores now, but I remember buying my first Stila lipstick ten years ago from a Sari-Sari sales clerk.

I love shoe shopping over here, though. The styles are so diverse, and I could always count on getting something comfortable at any price range.

Favorite spas? I've got my eye on The Spa in Alabang (Town Center) right now, since it's not too far from where I live, and it's next door to Jesi's, where I got my haircut last week. I've also heard good things about the hotel spas at the Peninsula and Mandarin Oriental, as well. Otherwise, the next best thing for me is getting a massage from this lady who comes to our house every week - she doesn't charge much, but she's really, really good at getting the kinks out. My Mom's one of her regulars, but once in a while I get an appointment with her as well.

Gah, I am so going to stock up on Sunsilk shampoo. I'm now seeing ads for Sunsilk's launch in the States, which makes me worry that it won't be the same Sunsilk I love!

Sharon said...

I love reading your blogs!I read that you had a haircut in Jesi Mendez. I love Jesi Mendez and got a hair cut and color like 2 years ago. I plan to go to the PI next year for my cousin's wedding.How much is the haircut and color in Jesi Mendez?I forgot how much mine cost..:(

meimei said...

Sharon, if it was a cut-and color for Jesi's, I'd estimate it to be around P2000-4000 - that would be around US$40-80, same price as Fantastic Sam's but with better quality products. I've only been to the Alabang one this year - both my mom and my friend Stretch are regulars there - but I used to go to the Robinson's Galleria salon when I was in high school.

However, the salon where I got my short haircut was actually in my home town and came free as part of a promo with a hair treatment that cost me P800 (around US$16). You really, REALLY have to shop around for a hairstylist - some of the mall chains are no better than Supercuts (IMO), and it's highly possible to pay way too much money for a really bad haircut.