19 May2011

Cherries PHP800-1,500 a kilo!

Definitely not a common fruit choice. But every once in a while, I get a hankering for cherries, say once or twice a year, and feel the urge to splurge. So at Divisoria a few days ago (yes, I was there in the sweltering heat buying packaging materials), I spotted a street side vendor with surprisingly fresh looking cherries and was told they were PHP800 a kilo (roughly $18.5 per kilo or $8.50 per pound). Admittedly out a bit early for North America or europe (I can’t imagine they are from Australia or New Zealand at this time of year) where they peak in June or so, I was tempted. I tried to bargain but the vendor wouldn’t budge, and even the calculation that PHP200 would yield me 1/4 kilo didn’t do the trick, and I walked away. Later the same day, I chanced on cherries at S&R Taguig, and was shocked to see a price tag of PHP1,500 a kilo! Nearly double the Divisoria price! I realize it’s a free market and all, but this just goes to show that if you don’t know your prices, you could seriously pay a huge differential from other places in town. So okay, okay, Divi to Taguig is a hassle in distance, but just down the road at Metro Gaisano at Market!Market! mall, cherries could be had for PHP977 a kilo… Wild. Thank goodness in a few weeks more time I shall have access to the peak of North American cherry season and I hope they are say $3-5 a pound so I can indulge to my heart’s content. I know, I know, don’t eat too many or you’ll have the runs. :)

Mud Crabs / Alimango PHP400 – 899 a kilo!

I love alimango. Chili crabs, garlic crabs, sotanghon crabs, chilled crab claws with cocktail sauce, etc. At the Nasugbu market, PHP400 a kilo (turns out they are “imported” from elsewhere and are NOT abundant in the local area. PHP400-600 on the Tagaytay ridge from road side vendors, depending on your bargaining capacity (they whisper quietly on pressing that the crabs come all the way from Bulacan!). At the seaside market, for the finest specimens, say PHP400-450 from our crab dealer suki, with some of them weighing close to 3/4 kilo each. But at a Makati grocery, PHP899 a kilo for the same darned crabs! Sorry, but that’s just outrageous. More than double the price of Baclaran? It’s worth your gas to drive the little distance if you need to buy just 1-2 kilos!

Dry Pasta Prices PHP45 – PHP125 per pound

Standard 500 gram or 1 pound packages of dried pasta from spaghetti, penne, etc. So the brands vary and the quality of flour and other ingredients vary dramatically. But I suspect if you picked the three best brands you can find, and compare across various outlets, you would be shocked to find out that you could be paying almost double the price from one venue to another. I like S&L for great dried pasta and arborio prices (not to mention all their other stuff like cheese) that run say PHP50 or so for a pound of pasta. In the malls and large groceries, you’ll be paying up to PHP110-120 for similar quality products.

Woks from PHP400-600 at different branches of the same chain of stores!

I bought a cheap wok with a handle in Cebu to try out and got it for PHP454 or so. Back in Manila, I went to a branch of the same restaurant supplies store, and spotted the same wok. I ask how much and they say PHP580 or 600 or so. Shocked, I told the saleslady I just bought the exact same item in Cebu two days before for PHP454, and she quickly said they would give it to me for PHP400 instead! Yikes. No wonder they had no price tags, the prices are completely fluid! How annoying is that?

Chairs PHP5,900 – 6,900 some 40 meters apart!

I have been madly searching for reasonably priced, durable and attractive restaurant chairs. We had exhausted all known sources in Cebu, and I had spent a morning in Manila checking out half a dozen sources. First of all, a pet peeve. Everyone has dozens of floor samples, but when I asked if they had 40-50 in stock, the inevitable answer was first, a slight look of shock and widened eyes accompanied by raised eyebrows and slightly opened mouth, then the answer, “ay walang stock!” I can understand that happening once, but the same answer for 8-10 different models requested? Why do stores have so many frigging floor samples if they only have 1 chair in stock, the floor sample? And I am not talking about rinky dink small shops, but the biggest suppliers and retail chains that carry chairs… :( I found a very cool looking chair on the fourth floor of megamall, but nearly fainted at the PHP5,900 peso price tag, so I walked some 40 meters down the hall and spotted the EXACT same chair in EXACTLY the same color. The price? PHP6,900! When I mentioned to the sales person that the shop down the hall also had the chair in their window for PHP1,000 less, he just shrugged his shoulders…

Placemats (Chilewich and copies…) PHP 59.95 – PHP799.95!

I have always liked the design, practicality and look of these original Chilewich placemats, in the top photo in this link. Sister watches out for them on sale in her part of the world and has sent a couple of dozen our way over the past 7-8 years. They are washable, stain resistant, but look quite presentable. They were made with a “revolutionary” plastic or synthetic material when they first came out, and they were woven like mats or baskets. A few years ago, I noticed that VERY VERY close copies were coming out of China, and I bought these at Shoemart home store for just PHP79 per piece. They are good approximations of the real thing, but the colors are a bit off and the suppleness of the synthetic material differs oh so slightly. Fast forward to restaurant madness and I was seeking a particular design of placemat, but didn’t find the ones I wanted, but discovered that AUTHENTIC Chilewich products are carried at a home store in Serendra (not sure of the name) and at Shoemart Home Store in the basement of Megamall. The price of a real Chilewich place mat? PHP799.95 or so per piece. How odd that carried by the same parent company, SM, in their home section of their department stores, are the similar Chinese sourced placemats for just PHP59.95, down PHP20 from 3 years ago! If I were Chilewich, I’d be annoyed. :(

The moral of the post. Shop around if you don’t want to pay ridiculous prices. I realize time is money and all that, but if you think your convenience is worth so much, at least run the numbers once in a while to make sure that’s still true. :)



  1. enrique says:

    Hi Marketman! Our office recently built an office in Cebu although we are a Manila based design firm. I can refer you to a Cebu based company who can supply you restaurant type chairs. Please send me a private email so I can send you the contact information.

    May 19, 2011 | 3:00 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    enrique, thank you, will email you in a couple of minutes, would love to see what they have on offer… many thanks!

    May 19, 2011 | 3:02 pm

  4. ami says:

    Same goes for purchasing appliances, gadgets and cellphones. You have to look around the different shops and find the best deal or price. Example of this is Greenhills. You have hundreds of stalls and shops selling the same cellphone model but at different prices. Sometimes you have to negotiate with the sales person to get discount (especially if you’re paying cash) or ask them to throw in some freebies with your purchase (free memory card for a camera).

    My mom loves cherries and since fresh cherries are a rarity and very expensive here in Manila, she just makes do with the dried variety sold in groceries.

    May 19, 2011 | 3:05 pm

  5. tintin says:

    I experienced the same thing with medicines. Same drugstore chain but in different locations in Manila.. 1 jeepney ride distance, that is..

    May 19, 2011 | 3:36 pm

  6. betty q. says:

    …am afraid that this year is not a good year for summer berries such as strawberries which should be ripening soon but due to La Nina, might be really late if none at all this year…that goes for cherries. too. I saw cherries the other day but they are Chilean product and being sold for $9.99 per pound! I would rather indulge in Thai lanzones at $3.99 per pound and Manila mangoes at $35 per CASE of 60 mangoes!!!!

    May 19, 2011 | 4:19 pm

  7. jo says:

    wished the Philippines can grow blueberries and kiwis=)

    May 19, 2011 | 4:36 pm

  8. Lex says:

    As an advise to all readers, S & R is not cheap. For the large quantities they sell, they market themselves as a wholesaler. I used to think I was getting good deals there. Their garlic and onions are more expensive than many supermarkets in Makati. I have stopped buying essentials there. Consumers really have to be smart and really shop around. I am sure most of us shop in more than 1 supermarket anyway.

    Even Mangoes in some provinces sell for the same price as in Manila. I have stopped buying from the fruit stands in Tagaytay. They do not always better prices.

    May 19, 2011 | 4:50 pm

  9. Lesley says:

    Before the cherries were sold at P800 in Divisoria, they were “introduced” at P1200 the previous week or two. Sometimes the prices go further down when surrounding shops close around 6pm :)

    May 19, 2011 | 5:04 pm

  10. Lesley says:

    Our office used to buy chairs from these dealers. They might have what you need in the right quantity:

    CWC Group of Companies
    Citibank Tower, Unit A, 32 Fl.
    Valero Cor. Villar Sts.Salcedo Makati City
    Tel +632 7570181 to 90
    Fax +632 7570191

    Citimex, Inc.
    CWC Building
    #2 Zaragoza St. corner Palanza
    Quezon City
    Tel +63 2 714 1115
    Fax +63 2 715 9439

    May 19, 2011 | 5:14 pm

  11. Marketman says:

    Lex, many of the fruits in Tagaytay fruit stands come from Divisoria and elsewhere, I have seen the trucks delivering them. We only buy pineapples, bananas and occasionally kamote, langka in those stands…stuff that almost certainly comes from the area, otherwise, I avoid the stuff. Most of the plant stores there also sell stuff that isn’t necessarily grown nearby…

    May 19, 2011 | 5:15 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    Lesley, thanks for those contact details, may have to look them up…

    May 19, 2011 | 5:16 pm

  13. Lesley says:

    BTW I’m not sure why my comments say I’m from China :) Could be the China-made modem I use? haha

    May 19, 2011 | 5:16 pm

  14. kat says:

    Hi MM, this is completely unrelated to your post but i just wanted to thank you for that blog about The Corner Table. We were looking for a place to take a guest to dinner last night and i found your post. It was a truly delicious & memorable dining experience. I can’t wait to go back and try the other tapas and paella.

    May 19, 2011 | 5:19 pm

  15. Girl golfing says:

    Did they say if the cherries are from north america? I am currently in China and cherries are all over right now. Perhaps the ones from Divi are coming from China? I so love cherries when they are cold from fridge!

    May 19, 2011 | 6:40 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Girl golfing, I assumed they were from North America, but they certainly could be from China, making their price even more exorbitant if they have taken a shorter trip to Manila… kat, glad you enjoyed the restaurant, we like it a lot… Lesley, you must be using a server or IP that is based in China…

    May 19, 2011 | 6:49 pm

  17. cumin says:

    I got a very nice wok for P600 at As Is Where Is in Ali Mall. I think the shop has the same owner as Gourdo’s?

    May 19, 2011 | 7:29 pm

  18. Footloose says:

    But don’t you enjoy shopping around to compare prices (and occasionally chance upon a real good deal) rather than vainly butt your head against an impenetrable cartel of uniformly pricing retailers?

    May 19, 2011 | 7:48 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    Footloose, another great example this afternoon, a small bunch of saba bananas at one roadside vendor in Batangas for PHP100 (say 80 medium to small bananas)… THEN, some 10 kilometers down the road, from a brand new roadside vendor, who seemed to be just setting up today, the crew bought a HUMONGOUS bunch of saba bananas with medium to seriously large fruit, and roughly 150 pieces in one bunch for just PHP120. That worked out to just 80 centavos (2 Canadian cents!) per banana! That’s a jackpot of sorts as Manila groceries are charging nearly 5-6x that amount!

    The thrill of finding a really good deal indeed…

    May 19, 2011 | 8:12 pm

  20. Gerry says:

    Went to Calauag, Quezon to buy crabs last year. 1kg up was P680, 850g was P580, and 500g was P450. These were all class A export quality crabs and I went with the biggest they had since the trip was so long that we had to make it worth our while. We really looked like the dumb Manila tourists so maybe we paid more than we should have.

    May 19, 2011 | 8:27 pm

  21. enrique says:

    I just realized, I misspelled my email address. Please try again using the revised address.

    May 19, 2011 | 8:29 pm

  22. Marketman says:

    enrique, re-sent email, thanks.

    May 19, 2011 | 9:01 pm

  23. Dianne says:

    I agree with you, ami. I found out about a store that sells gadgets for a few thousand pesos cheaper than retailers in malls. It’s CMK Cellphones (http://www.cmkcellphones.com/) and I’m not quite sure if the store’s legit. It says on their website that they’re an authorized dealer, though. I really hope the stuff they are selling are not smuggled because I’m seriously thinking about buying from them.

    May 19, 2011 | 9:35 pm

  24. Stewart says:

    When it’s peak Dungeness crab season here, the Chinese groceries have live crab for as little as C$3.99/lb whereas the Safeways etc will have them for 8-10 bucks a lb. Gets even worse when it’s Alaskan king crab season, prices between restaurants vary from $8.99/lb (cooked!) from my “suki” to 23-30lb in the more premium restaurants and 9-12/lb live from the market. I do miss the big sugpo that we have in the Philippines though and our fruits. The Manila Mango sold here are grown in Mexico from seeds sourced in the Philippines. Much better than the Autulfo mango but still no where near the same league as the Guimaras.


    May 19, 2011 | 11:27 pm

  25. millet says:

    MM, when you come to davao we’ll bring you to our favorite crab buffet place -they own a fishpond so they have the freshest, fattest crabs. plus, they cook small portions each time, but they cook all the time! that way, everything’s freshly cooked and not drying out in the buffet.

    May 19, 2011 | 11:42 pm

  26. millet says:

    those outrageous price differences are not limited to food. try construction materials!

    May 19, 2011 | 11:45 pm

  27. tonceq says:

    Since you’ve mentioned saba MM, if you try buying some from our local wetmarkets you’d most probably be greeted by a 2 peso per banana price tag which you can lower to a peso a banana with some bargaining. mangoes at market stalls usually go for about 60 -100 pesos a kilo but you’d expect it to be 150- 180 pesos in the groceries. Brocollis sell for 40-60 pesos a kilo on the wetmarkets but are sold at about 50% higher in groceries… bottom line? shop smart and look around! you’ve got more to gain than to lose! (except some pounds from walking maybe) :)

    May 19, 2011 | 11:52 pm

  28. sister says:

    WA cherries everywhere for $2.50/lb. You should see the height of the season in June.
    Local Jersey strawberries are at the market, a whopping $8. a quart, the highest price ever. Last year it was $5. a quart which I thought was pretty outrageous but the supply is scarce this year due to the long rainy spring.

    May 19, 2011 | 11:55 pm

  29. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    We’re just starting our cherry season in the bay area. The first harvests appeared just last Sunday and not too big in quality. Its been cold and rainy spring which accounts for the late start.

    May 20, 2011 | 1:52 am

  30. quiapo says:

    It involves some running round and it’s a pity that your concept of price watch didn’t take off. Here in Australia some radio stations relay reports from listeners on cheaper prices of gasoline, and some newspapers show comparative food prices on one day of the week.

    May 20, 2011 | 7:29 am

  31. Annie says:

    @Dianne, my friend bought an iTouch from CMK complete with warranty and in an original package labeled ‘shipped from CA’.

    May 20, 2011 | 9:36 am

  32. enrique says:

    hi Marketman, I still have not received your email. I don’t know what went wrong.

    May 20, 2011 | 9:52 am

  33. Marketman says:

    enrique, I sent it twice to your new email address. Could it be in your spam folder? Thanks.

    May 20, 2011 | 10:21 am

  34. Bubut says:

    @jo, blueberries is available in the philippines, grown in baguio or sagada. the size is a bit smaller but they are good. price is P700 a kilo. i was able to buy at Salcedo weekend market.

    May 20, 2011 | 5:12 pm

  35. becky says:

    i think the most annoying bit here was the one about the wok. the only reason why the prices differed was the laziness of the personnel to streamline their prices with the other branches.

    if the customer didn’t care, so why should they?

    i think that’s their thought process. unfortunately (for them and fortunately for us), MM’s ever price-vigilant :) and so should we.

    May 20, 2011 | 6:22 pm

  36. Nick says:

    Re: Cherries. I don’t think they’re from New Zealand. The shops here starts selling them around about September-October which is our late winter early spring seaon. At the start of the seaon you can buy them at around NZD30.00 a kilo and towards the end you can get as low as NZD9.00 a kilo. Like you MM I indulge on quite a few cherries when they’re in season. And also I feel happy and invigorated when I see them on the shop shelves coz it means summer is just around the corner. cheers

    May 21, 2011 | 7:57 am

  37. Dragon says:

    Sorry can’t help but focus on banana (even if they’re saba) prices. Since the Queensland flooding early this year (where most of the banana supply is from), the price of bananas now hover between 10-13 Australian dollars a kilo…so guys, enjoy your bananas…

    May 21, 2011 | 3:19 pm

  38. ranny ace says:

    Woks from PHP400-600 at different branches of the same chain of stores!

    >>> May I know which store can i get woks here in manila? thanks…. the ones that you mentioned above… ty

    May 24, 2011 | 4:11 pm

  39. spike says:

    Hi millet, may i ask where that crab buffet place is?

    May 25, 2011 | 12:59 am

  40. ranny ace says:

    may I know what store do you mention the woks? thanks

    May 25, 2011 | 1:53 pm

  41. ranny ace says:

    there are alot of blueberries in baguio seasonal… even lots of organic vegetables cilantro , basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary… i mean like french american and italian herbs andami na sa baguio public market,,, everytime i go home i try to test 1 herb… and they are CHEAP unlike the markets and groceries here in Manila

    May 25, 2011 | 1:55 pm

  42. boggs says:

    Anyone here interested in getting some mangoes? We’re selling them at 750/20kg (roughly around 75-80 mangoes)! these are the carabao/kinalabaw variety, dubbed as the Manila Super Mango! We’ll be having a stall in the Ayala Alabang Country Club this Saturday, May 28! :) These mangoes came from our farm in Batangas! Guaranteed to be sweet when they ripen! You can contact me 0917-8012443 if anyone here is interested!

    May 26, 2011 | 9:17 pm


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