Shopping in the Philippines

shoppingShopping in the Philippines can be a disappointing experience for people who aren’t accustomed to visiting multiple stores to find things. I’ve been disappointed for more than 16 years. Shopping for anything other than Filipino food can be an exercise in frustration. The levels of incompetence in all the nearby venues is astounding. Since I live in Olongapo City, I only physically shop in Olongapo City and the nearby Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

It’s something I’ll have to continue to deal with for the foreseeable future. I’ll be living in the Philippines, off and on, for as long as my mother-in-law still lives. She’s 87. There will probably come a day when I’ll leave and not return. The house belongs to my wife, Josie. In fact, I only own personal items here, like clothing and electronics.

There are a lot of things that irritate me now that didn’t bother me when I moved here, but I don’t think Olongapo City is any worse than any other city. Finding things can be difficult, even in metro Manila.

Shopping for Food

There are stores where we regularly buy certain kinds of food. The irritating aspect is that they don’t exercise inventory control. Or, if they do, they don’t do it well. What else would explain why they run out of things that people continuously buy?

Most of what they run out of is the imported goods. Since they know they have to wait on shipments (by ship, no less), they obviously never order the items to restock far enough in advance.


One of my relatives recently looked for a certain kind of cream or ointment for Josie. She had to visit three different pharmacies. They didn’t even know the English word for what she needed, and I know pharmacists have to learn that word in college.

It’s a sad day when I can find the exact item at an online store in a matter of minutes, but no one can find it at all in the city. Josie didn’t get the item she wanted. She got an alternative that didn’t work well enough, and I had to order the right one from an online store. This is over-the-counter medicine, and it shouldn’t be that difficult to find in a physical store or pharmacy.

Shopping for Computer Parts and Peripherals

There are three shopping malls within five kilometers of my house. Each of them have stores in them that sell computers and computer-related peripherals. I have tried to find specific items without success, but later found them at an online store without difficulty.

Most of the time, the sales people have no clue what I’m talking about. If it isn’t mainstream and if I don’t specify what it is in Tagalog, I have almost no chance of finding it at any of the stores. I expect it now, since most of the employees are family members without any experience.

It’s unfortunate that most of what I end up buying comes from the countries of China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Bangladesh, but mostly made in China. I threw away a Logitech wireless mouse, made in China, and the adapter for a 4-port switchable USB hub, also made in China. Neither of them were expensive enough for me to demand a refund. I think I spent $7 or $8 for all of it, and I still have the USB hub itself.

I guess I’m tired of buying junk and the cost has nothing to do with it. Years of living in the United States spoiled me, I guess, and I expect better quality than what I’ve dealt with lately.

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

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