RT Cunningham

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Shopping in Olongapo City, Philippines

Tagged with olongapo city, philippines, shopping, subic bay freeport zone on December 6, 2023

shopping Shopping in the Philippines can be tedious for people who aren’t accustomed to visiting multiple stores to find things. If there’s anything like a Super Walmart, I have yet to find it. Shopping for anything other than common items can be an exercise in frustration. I expect it now, after dealing with it for years, since most of the employees are family members without any experience.

Since I live in Olongapo City, I usually shop in Olongapo or the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. When I moved here in 2006, other than independent stores, there was only the Olongapo City Mall. It only had three or four shops in it. That mall was replaced by SM City Olongapo Downtown (originally without “Downtown” in the name) in 2012 and the Harbor Point mall was finished at the freeport zone the same year. SM City Olongapo Central was finished in 2019, while I was in the United States.

All three of the SM malls have cinemas, by the way, and all of them are within five kilometers of my house. SM City Olongapo Central is the closest, less than half the distance of the others. It’s usually our first stop.


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, they obviously never order the items to restock far enough in advance.

We used to buy the things we stock up on solely at the Royal Subic store at the freeport zone. Nowadays, we also buy them from one of the SM supermarkets at either SM City mall. The SM supermarkets have more local products to choose from. There are smaller stores near the public market that we sometimes buy from, but we usually send a relative to buy what we need. That area is just too crowded.


One of my relatives once looked for a certain kind of ointment for my wife, 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 that online store. This is over-the-counter medicine, and it shouldn’t be that difficult to find in a physical store or pharmacy.

Computer Parts and Peripherals

Each of the malls have shops in them that sell computers and computer-related peripherals. I have tried to find some specific items without success, only later to find 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 terms they understand, I have almost no chance of finding it at any of the stores.

It’s unfortunate that most of what I end up buying comes from the countries of China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and Bangladesh, with the majority made in China. I have thrown away more products than I care to remember. I guess I’m tired of buying junk and the cost has nothing to do with it.

Warehouse Membership Shopping

I’m only familiar with one non-membership warehouse store, and that’s the Puregold building at the freeport zone. Coincidentally, Puregold took over the S&R membership stores in 2012. That’s probably why there will never be an S&R membership store in the Olongapo/Subic Bay area. There is, however, an S&R Pizza inside the Puregold building. There’s also an S&R Pizza inside the Harbor Point mall. S&R Pizza doesn’t require membership.

As far as I know, S&R Membership Shopping is the only warehouse club store in the Philippines. According to their website, there are 22 branches. We went to the one in San Fernando, Pampanga, a couple of days ago. I checked the website today and found out there’s a closer one in Dau, Pampanga. Obviously, I should have checked the website first.

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

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