Manila Shopping: The Collective

  • Angela Gurango’s clothing boutique

    Angela Gurango’s clothing boutique

  • Outside Blackbook.

    Outside Blackbook.

  • Homeroom is in a class  of its own.

    Homeroom is in a class of its own.

  • Hocus doubles as a screen-printing studio and bicycle workshop.

    Hocus doubles as a screen-printing studio and bicycle workshop.

  • Pasta Box, one of several casual eateries at The Collective.

    Pasta Box, one of several casual eateries at The Collective.

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Above: Homeroom is in a class  of its own.

Creative minds think alike at The Collective, a new “anti-mall” in Manila’s Makati City.

By Katherine Jack
Photographed by Nick st. James and Revo Naval

When old college friends Dustin Reyes and Cheska Yupangco reunited in Manila one rainy day last year, Reyes had just returned from a stint living in New York, while Yupangco had been studying and working in Spain. “We planned to catch up over lunch, but were disappointed to find that there were no new non-mall hangouts here in Manila,” Yupangco recalls. They began discussing the kind of creative environments that they had appreciated abroad, and this sparked the idea of developing their own place.

Reyes, who has a background in transforming abandoned buildings into imaginative commercial spaces, wasted no time gathering a group of like-minded people to join The Collective (7274 Malugay St., San Antonio, Makati; 63-2/ 577-3836). Now, a year later, they have turned an abandoned Makati warehouse into a complex of retail outlets, including clothing and lifestyle stores, restaurants, a gallery, and a convivial bar.

The owners of the various enterprises are a diverse group, brought together by Reyes’ and Yupangco’s vision of a community where people can share their love of art, music, fashion, and food in a relaxing and unpretentious environment.  “We are welcoming to everyone,” says Yupangco. “It’s like a big family—a mix of different personalities and passions all under one roof.” Here are the highlights:

This natural grocer and café run by Roberto Crisostomo and Beatrice Misa aims to give meaning to “everyday life rituals.” It stocks organic and natural products such as Filipino coffee, rice, ice cream, bath products, and clothes made from sustainably grown cotton or pineapple fiber. “It’s all about quality of life,” Misa says, “from the first sip of fresh coffee in the morning to a soothing shower before going to bed.”

Vintage bicycles and silkscreening may sound like unlikely bedfellows, but such are the passions of Hocus owners Andrei Salud and Shaena Tobias. In one half of the store they lovingly restore old bikes or custom-build new ones, while in the screen-printing workshop that occupies the other half, they produce original T-shirts and limited-edition prints.

Here, owner Brent Javier has created a clothing store with the nostalgic feel of an old-fashioned classroom, complete with an oversize chalkboard and wooden school desks. It’s an appropriate setting for Javier’s illuminating selection of smart streetwear brands, including Naked & Famous, Ampal Creative, and Keep. There’s also a section devoted to vintage apparel.

With street artist and designer Archie “Chi-Chi” Geotina at its helm, Blackbook has already gained a following for its artistic, intelligent creations. Putting the spotlight squarely on independent Filipino designers, the store—itself a cube of black sheet metal—sells functional apparel for men and women ranging from graphic T-shirts and sunglasses to jackets and footwear, as well as fixed-gear bicycle frames and parts.

Pasta Box
A pasta bar named after its handy takeout boxes, Pasta Box is, according to owner and chef Hilda Raysag, all about freedom of choice: diners can pick and mix from a range of different types of pasta, sauces, and toppings. The menu includes classic Italian recipes such as Napoletana ragù and spaghetti carbonara as well as Asian-accented creations like Bollywood (chicken in yellow curry) and Thai Me Up (fried vegetables, tofu, and peanuts in pad thai sauce). Raysag also serves caffè freddo and mouth-watering panna cotta. Crazy Eddie’s Shirts, Slacks & Wonder Emporium Part high fashion, part streetwear, this men’s clothing store aims to take the best of classic couture and “infuse it with a bit of 21st-century swagger.”

Angela Gurango’s clothing boutique is “an eclectic mix of all things girly,” from floral print dresses, high-heeled clogs, and heart-shaped Lolita glasses to eco-friendly bags and rain boots. In a room painted in watermelon-green strips, vintage pieces are displayed alongside clothes and accessories from local designers, Filipino labels from New York and Australia, and one-of-a-kind necklaces by abstract painter and jeweler Risa Recio.

Vinyl On Vinyl
Apart from stocking vinyl toys, records, and artwork, this edgy gallery serves as a venue for regular film viewings and art talks. Aspiring DJs can also take turntable lessons with some of Manila’s finest beatsmiths. B-Side At night, a hip, friendly crowd flocks to this bar-cum–music venue run by Anna Ong, her husband Mulan, and three other partners. Inspired by their visits to various nightspots around Asia, the Ongs set out to create the perfect hangout in Manila, somewhere inspiring and cozy with good music. With its quirky “teapot cocktails,” B-Side has the relaxed atmosphere of somebody’s drawing room, while being a fashionable venue for DJs and up-and-coming bands.

OuterSpace Gallery
Co-owned by Reyes and Nick Santiago, a photographer, OuterSpace sums up what The Collective is all about—“it’s a place for creative minds,” says Reyes. Shows at the gallery run the gamut from painting to performance, with an emphasis on “young, emerging artists who are looking for a voice in a competitive world.” On show from August 10 to 24 is Indomitable Spirits, an exhibition of Socialist Realist–influenced paintings by Thomas Daquioag depicting Filipino laborers in superhero costumes.

Originally appeared in the August/September 2010 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Collective Energy”)

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