Menagerie Menagerie Feature

Thrifts, threads, and things: Manila’s best markets and thrift shops

Some might argue that shopping is a mundane chore meant for the bare necessities like the sheets you haven’t replaced in five years and the occasional lamp for your aunt’s birthday, while others will say that retail therapy is the way to go. For the latter folk, sometimes all it takes is a new bag to fill the void. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, there is but a common denominator to our spending philosophies—no one can resist  good bargain.

However, if the concept of sales and having to brave the flood of fellow penny-pinching bodies makes your heart sink faster than you can say “sold out,” perhaps you would prefer to delve into the fine art of thrift-shopping. But be warned, instant gratification is rare. Time, patience, and willingness to sift through dusty racks and shelves where the sun doesn’t shine is key when it comes to finding the perfect piece.

Whether you’re on the hunt for a vintage ottoman to fulfill your New York penthouse fantasies, a limited release of Johnny Cash on vinyl for dad’s birthday, or a funky jacket ala Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, each one-of-a-kind gem makes this arduous but interesting task worthwhile. Below are a few of the most beloved thrift gold mines scattered around the Metro.


Antique Shops - Hannah Lucena


Future Market, Escolta

Thanks to the people of 98B Collaboratory, the Queen of Manila is reclaiming her crown as a cultural and artistic hub. Located on the ground floor of the First United Building, this monthly Saturday event is a haven for handmade pieces, kitschy accessories, repurposed vintage items, and collector’s finds you won’t spot anywhere else. If bracelets made from bicycle wheels, cassette tape keychains, and rare 1940’s Marlboro posters sound like your cup of tea, Escolta is where you should go.


Bookay Ukay, Maginhawa Street

Before Maginhawa became food truck capital and traffic magnet, it has long been home to one of the most loved secondhand bookstores in the city. Towers of books line the walls up to the ceiling, with not a single corner left empty. Selling both brand new and preloved books, Bookay Ukay has an extensive and interesting selection – from biographies and business titles, to contemporary and local literature.


Dapitan Street, Quezon City

Located near the famed Suki Market in Quezon City, Dapitan holds just as much cheap, good finds as the wet market it’s next to. At the entrance, there are merchants selling an array of wooden bowls, plates, and the spoon and fork your home probably has on display in the dining room. Second place to wooden dinnerware are the weaved baskets. Some stalls carry glassware, such as pitchers, milk bottles, glasses, and jars. Other stalls also carry quirky decor that go perfectly well with the Pinterest-inspired vision of a room you have such as ceramic unicorn heads, succulent holders with various cacti, watering cans, and decorative plates to hold your jewelry.

A one storey establishment labeled as Dapitan Arcade, with a font that looks like something fresh out of the 1970s, rests at the corner of Kanlaon and Dapitan street. Dapitan Arcade is home to next level antiques your mom would love to purchase for your sala or dining room. The smell of wood, abaka, and the familiar scent of your grandmother’s house greets you at the entrance. Its aisles are filled with wooden cabinets, crystal chandeliers, and home decor that closely resembles the ones your parents probably had in their homes growing up.


Evangelista Street, Makati

It’s quite ironic that Evangelista street is clad with modern day auto shops selling various car and motor parts, while at the same time, it’s also home to antique shops and thrift stores. By the intersection of Evangelista and General P. Garcia is a series of stores that serves as a crossroad of the present and the past.

Stores here face each other, almost as if representing a street-wide garage sale that takes place in the early 20th century. The stores are sandwiched between residential homes, with some of them being homes of store owners themselves. Antiques here come from Europe, as seen in the way the lamps, the cabinets, the paintings, and the dinnerware are designed and crafted. Having these shops so close to each other, the store owners help their neighbors get a sale for the day, persuading shoppers to check out the stores beside and across theirs.

With the different furniture filling up almost the entire first floor, entering the homes of these shop owners looks as if you’re entering a house from early 20th century Europe. Each store sells something the other store doesn’t, like clothes and sports equipment; while some sell more of one type of antique than the others such as lighting, appliances, and cabinets.


Makati Cinema Square

If you want the full experience of being someone who lived and grew up in the past century, Makati Cinema Square is full of not only shops, but also activities to feed your old soul. You can spend an entire day here, as every floor is full of things to see and do. If you’re searching for a good bargain, antiques such as glass jars, crystal chandeliers, colorful light fixtures, mirrors, clocks, and the usual wooden cabinets and drawers.

If you’re with family members that aren’t quite as interested in shopping as you are, or you’re just tired from looking at decades old furniture, Makati Cinema Square also has other fun stuff for you to check out. They have both an archery and shooting range, the most ideal place for you to release all your anger or even just to find a new hobby. If you (or the family members you went here with) aren’t into these sort of things, there’s always the bowling alley and the billiards room, if the aforementioned activities seem too violent for you. If you’re in for good finds and a little something extra—like a sports activity, if we may suggest—this place is for you.

Whether you’re on the lookout for a one-of-a-kind gem for bragging rights, an old vinyl record to gift your friend who’s just starting to collect, or simply just itching to spend a few bucks on something that’s more than your money’s worth, a place far from the shopping malls is a good place to start. The thrift shopping experience doesn’t end after paying for whatever you bought. The adventure you had while scouting for that one-of-its-kind jewel is as precious and timeless as the treasure you got.


Isabella Argosino

By Isabella Argosino

Audrey Giongco

By Audrey Giongco

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