No Power, Gaisano Grand Mall, and STP

Brownout!

When it comes to scheduling power outages, our electrical provider SAMELCO I is not very efficient. Nor are they very good at it! Just this past Friday afternoon at 16:20 I received a text message that our power would be out the following day (Saturday) from 09:00 to 17:00 (That’s 9am to 5pm for you non-24 hour clock types.) It was however an improvement over Thursday’s 16:34 text message that announced Friday’s outage. So that in itself can be considered an improvement…I suppose.

With a last-minute notice that you will have no power following day, what do you do? It doesn’t provide you with many choices. You wind up cancelling home luncheons, construction crews, or anything else that requires having electricity…like long afternoon naps in air-conditioned comfort. Even shopping for meats and stocking the freezer. Yep, all of the above. I could just stay around the house and cut the lawn, pull weeds and groom the garden, but we did that yesterday so, on this delegated whim, we decided to load up the car with whoever wanted to go and make the one and one-half hour trip to the city of Catarman in Northern Samar to check out the new Gaisano Grand Mall which just opened one week earlier. Because we have our own Gaisano Grand Mall currently under construction here in Calbayog City, we thought it might provide us with some clues as to what we could expect when our mall opens next year. If not, we could at least spend our day spending money in air conditioned comfort and eat some real mall food for a change!

Gaisano Grand Mall, Catarman

Gaisano Grand Mall Catarman

Gaisano Grand Mall Catarman (Notice the NO MOTORCYCLE PARKING sign and the parked motorcycles!)

So we took the sister-in-law and her kids with us as they have never seen a mall before. Yep…that’s right…never seen a mall!  We took along some apples, puto, and drinks and in less than the time it takes for two women to pee twice after drinking one cup of coffee, we were pulling into the mall parking lot.

Fresh Made Puto

Fresh Made Puto

And because this was a NEW thing for Catarmanians(?), there were no shortage of traffic directors and car parking assistants. Sometimes I get the feeling here in the Philippines that nobody thinks a white guy can back-up a car…or do anything for that matter. Have you ever tried to back into a parking space with three guys giving you directions? It would be best to ignore much of their signals and the tapping on the vehicle and go with your own developed talents and instinct. Anyway, we got parked and headed in through the main entrance. Whoa….this place was not even finished! After being inspected by security guards upon entry, I immediately noticed that the store fronts on either side, that were designed for restaurants, were not finished and without flooring and glass fronts. However, they were being utilized anyway by Two-for-One opportunists selling everything from mattresses and Futons to rice cookers. After assessing each side for a few minutes, it was clear that this set up was just temporary, at least until they could fill the spaces with restaurant tenants and finish building them out.

Under Construction!

Inside Gaisano Grand Catarman

Inside Gaisano Grand Catarman

Bench/ Store Catarman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping in Catarman

Shopping in Catarman

We then walked to the first intersection and noticed that there were NO stores opened yet. There was actually only one independent franchised store set up called “BENCH.” Never been in one, and have no desire. All other spaces were boarded up and covered with “Coming Soon” or “Soon to Open” tarpaulin displays. So the mall was open, but there were no independent businesses opened yet, only the anchor store Gaisano Department Store located on the second floor, above the Supermarket. Even the in-mall Jolibee’s was still under construction. Only the front mall-way of the entire building was dedicated to other retail operators and the major part of the entire structure was devoted to Gaisano’s Department Store (up) and the Supermarket (down). As we made our way to the escalators, I looked at my wife at the same time she looked at me when we both realized there was no aircon in the entire mall. I will reiterate here that the main purpose of our visit was to stay comfortable this long day without power. Now we had to spend money and be miserable at the same time!  It didn’t seem to bother my sister and her kids who had never seen a mall before…and the fact they also live without aircon. Even the food court was only opened with three vendors, one Pizza and Lasagna place and two Ice Cream outlets. I was expecting a Homer Simpson “WOOHOO” kind of day and it turned out to be a D’ OH!

We had both good intentions and great expectations for this day. But as far as the kids were concerned, they all thought it was a fabulous day. After all, they got to experience their first real mall (ha ha) and ate ice cream. At least their next mall adventure won’t be a let down because anything in my opinion could beat this place. I did manage to make a cognitive choice though…rather than to stay with the wife and her sister and look at shoes and bras, I hung with the two boys in the better parts of the store…the sporting goods and toy sections. Even the Gaisano Dept. Store was somewhat lacking in being fully stocked, but this could very well be considered a soft opening along with the good probability of island living and all those inherent logistical problems in keeping shelves fully stocked. I’m sure it will get better with time.

Just For Men

Outside of hanging in the more intersting parts of the department store with the boys, I managed to break away and get over to Gaisano’s Home Furnishings and Improvements department where I logged some “guy-time” and whereI did find something to buy. Although the department was only stocked about 80%, I managed to spot something I’ve been searching out for a long time in Calbayog City (STP Fuel Treatment) where I have canvassed the entire city and nobody seems to know what I am talking about. I bought several bottles and I will save a couple empties for my Show-and-Tell next time I go into town…especially for the guy at one auto parts store who insists there is no such product!

STP Fuel and Carb Treatment

STP Fuel and Carb Treatment

 

 

 

 

I guess just finding my STP made the whole day worthwhile…aside from seeing the kids really enjoy themselves!