For this month, The Menagerie presents you holes. Not just holes, but those holes that hide a little something shiny and valuable in them. Holes in the walls are just that – taken for granted, passed by, skipped over, despite the hidden gems that lay in wait for the enterprising few who would appreciate them for their real value. While you may or may not know these quaint Metro Manila locales, you are definitely advised not just to visit but to immerse in them, counterculture and all.
The Collective is simply a collection of stores and restaurants hidden away among the graffiti, lights and posters demanding that you “support the local indie scene”. From vinyl records to figurines, t-shirts to slightly overpriced bags, the stores at the Collective are there to cater to your hipster needs.
Yadu, for instance, sells eco-friendly bags and wallets made from recycled cloth and different fabrics. The Kanto is a self-described “artist-run space,” which serves as a space dedicated for artists to freely express themselves through their work. Skitzo is one other store where Halloween (and every other occasion) comes in early. It is filled with brightly colored costumes, tiaras, and wigs that can either send one back to 16th century England or all the way to the future as an alien in space.
As the sun sets and the darkness starts creeping in, The Collective turns into a playground for artists. The Collective has an area where artists could showcase their talents through nightly gigs and sessions, exhibiting their latest works such as photographs and paintings.
The Filling Station
On the outside, the Filling Station may seem to be a typical 21st century 24-hour restaurant, located along the Red Light District of P. Burgos. Step inside, however, and you will find yourself thrown back into the era when James Dean ruled the screen and the Beatles dominated the charts.
Every square inch of the Filling Station, from the black-and-white checkered floor to the poster-covered walls up to the ceilings, is decked with remnants of the 50’s and 60’s. The restaurant is complete with the bright red chairs, complete with waiters and waitresses wearing their 50’s inspired ensemble, eager to take your order.
The Filling Station manages to kill two birds with one stone not only by serving filling food and drinks but also by branding itself as a museum for those die-hard fans of the 50’s and 60’s. No two walls look alike. As soon as one sets foot inside, there are posters of famous movie actresses, actors and singers along the stairway, which lead up to the second floor where the restaurant is located. Apart from posters that line the wall, there are also advertisements, photographs, magazine clippings, roller blades, tin cans, helmets, clocks, vinyl records, street signs, and statues of King Kong, Elvis Presley, and The Hulk that welcome visitors and encourage them to come back to the past.
Ronac Art Center
Manila’s newest hub for contemporary art and retail is located along Ortigas Avenue in San Juan. Creative from the exterior, the Ronac Art Center does not cease to amaze their visitors from outside.
Visual space is what sets the Ronac Art Center from the rest, and by stepping inside the building one will find that the Ronac Art Center is comprised of the following levels: Underground, Ground, Uratex Premium Mattress Gallery, and The Deck.
On the first level of the building are various restaurants: Jozukin with its contemporary Japanese cuisine; Charlie’s Grind and Grill, with this new branch the perfect place to enjoy their famous Black Angus Burger in; and Yoggle, a yogurt bar where one can enjoy a cup of Dulce de Leche yogurt while strolling around.
The boutique shops are another must-see. Bunker Obey, owned by Borgy Manotoc, sells footwear and eyewear reflecting the owner’s taste. Secret Fresh, a toy store, sells different kids of vinyl and plush toys. The store sells different kinds of special products and toys specially crafted by local artists around Manila. Another secret that has yet to be discovered is the store named Secret Service. Secret Service is a haven for individuals who are devoted to buying authentic Vans.
These are but a few shops to be mentioned, but hard-to-find items are present in Ronac Art Center ranging from street apparel to funky eyewear, to skateboards, fashionable vintage and modern t-shirts, G-shock watches and much more. Do not be fooled. These are made with high quality materials and stocks are limited.
On the second level of the Ronac Art Center is an exhibit that showcases Uratex’s most popular product, its mattress line. Going to the third floor is a basketball court that is reserved by basketball teams from time to time; this is another popular venue for events. Then there is the Deck, the topmost part of the building where Ronac’s open mic Chill Sessions are usually held.
Known as the Melting Pot of Street Cuisines, Maginhawa street is located near UP Diliman. A seemingly endless street, Maginhawa does not only offer excellent dishes from different cuisines – from Spanish to burgers to Bipolar – to devour on, but also offers conducive venues for the people with the loudest minds: artists. These venues include recording spaces for rising indie bands and artists, a camera cart store that rents equipment for aspiring photographers, second hand books for book lovers, and even milk tea shops for those whose imaginations are stimulated by the sweet goodness. Maginhawa street is the place to be for people who yearn to satisfy their cravings at affordable prices.
Seemingly quiet and unnoticed at first glance, the Cubao Expo is the unknown dingy niche for individuals who want to obtain unique doodads and odd finds in clothes, shoes, and other vintage finds ranging from vinyl records, age-old furniture, snow globes, cameras, and musical instruments. When the night sets in, people flock to Cubao Expo not just for the shopping but also for the restaurants and packed bars; a perfect night haunt near the expanse of Aurora to bring you back to Cubao’s heyday.
So take a peep!
The holes in the walls are exactly that. Seemingly miniscule parts of the wall that no one bothers to look at twice—let alone, once. On the outside, they appear to be sketchy or even just another building to populate the already crowded streets of Manila. But take a giant leap of faith—or even just a step—inside these holes to realize the beauty that these shops have done in blending the old with the new. These “holes” aren’t architectural plagues, but generational gems to be treasured while we still can.