Little Luxuries - Life in the Philippines

Isabela A., Mid-Peninsula Boys and Girls Club

“Ma’m Sir, Ma’m Sir, accessories cheap po.”

“Ma’m Sir, handbags Sir.”

“Ma’m Sir, Rolex watches po.”

All of this can be heard at once, and from every direction too. Every kiosk is independent of one another, so each vendor is desperately trying to sell you their products in order to keep their business running. Along with yelling “Ma’m Sir”, a vendor might hold up a handbag at you, because here at the Green Hills Shopping Center in the Philippines, 90% of the sale involves getting your attention.

I weave around the maze of the hundreds of tightly packed kiosks. It’s pretty loud, and it’s hard to see sometimes because of how tall the walls of t-shirts and sweatpants are. But it’s all worth it. I can find just about anything here. One kiosk sold sneakers. Another sold jewelry. One even sold iPhone cases for my (apparently) outdated iPhone 4.

On the second floor stood all the electronics.

“iPhone, iPad, Ma’m Sir.”

Electronics were easy to sell here. With just enough money, one could hold an item to ostentatiously have in their hand at all times. The customers of these kiosks mostly consisted of local Filipinos for that exact reason. Previously, I mentioned how it’s unlikely for the poor to ever get out of being poor even if they keep every single peso they make. So in their situation, it’s much easier to earn just enough to buy an iPhone, than to save up for the rest of their lives for the slightly better possibility of moving out of their shanty town.

Having a new iPhone in their pocket is a way to feel a part of an ever developing society. Having a little luxury that they can afford felt good, and if I were in that situation, I would probably do the exact same thing.

The Club

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