We brought back more than half a ton(ne) of luggage…


Almost 6 weeks since we sent them, our first shipment of balikbayan boxes from our recent NY trip arrived yesterday. We were thrilled to get them so soon. They always say it will take 6-10 weeks, but ours have always come in the 9-10 week range prior to this shipment. So this seemed like a good time to write about some NY outlet shopping as well as give the answer to the recent poll on how much luggage MM & Family had on the return from our summer holidays… We had just one major shopping day (6 hours total on site) at the outlet malls at Woodbury Common, about an hour or so upstate from Manhattan. If you haven’t been there, with its 220 outlet stores, you should seriously consider a trip the next time you are in the area, read about the place, here. The Kid loves Woodbury Common as she did a whirlwind shopping day there the last time we were in New York together with a cousin from Australia, and armed with her US$50.00 in spending money, she got tons of stuff and really enjoyed herself. I must say she is turning out to be a world-class shopper; a trait she got from me more than her mother…

I won’t go into too many details about our acquisitions, but the photo above is only part of the picture… We had another 150-200 pounds of goods shipped directly to the city!!! I have to admit that the bulk of this weight came from enameled pots and box1pans (80% off!), a blender, kitchen equipment, and lots of sheets/towels to refurbish our ratty ones… It always surprises me how CHEAP many of the consumer goods are in the U.S. For plain cotton t-shirts, of which I own one gross or so, I purchased a dozen or two at just $3.50 each after discounts. That is roughly PHP160 each. Similar shirts from my suki Arthur at the Manila bazaars cost between PHP400-500, and they make them here! So we found most clothing (without fancy brands) really reasonably priced. All of my kitchen stuff was also well priced. I even found a great 7-8 piece set of Le Creuset in an outrageous lime color (the color of the season) at 80% off which means I got 7 pieces for the same price of one pot at Rustan’s or a local department store…

Besides the kitchen equipment, our balikbayan boxes also held about 120+ magazines (my sister keeps her subscriptions then sends them our way), 30 cookbooks or so, food items, glasses, tennis balls in bulk, etc. Most of Marketmanila’s readers guessed that we came home with a total of 600 pounds. The actual number? Closer to 1,300 pounds. box2We brought home 6 suitcases and 3 handcarried bags with roughly 450 pounds, and sent 7 balikbayan boxes with roughly 120 pounds each for a grand total of 1,290 pounds!!! But now that we have unpacked everything, we realize that minus the magazines (recycled) and books, several sets of sheets that are a necessity, large bottles of olives, artichokes, mustards, etc. and bags of lentils, steel cut oats, and spices, the kitchen equipment, empty jam jars, Cascade dishwashing powder, there isn’t much else in those incredibly heavy boxes… Oh, and in case you were wondering how our maletas could be so darn heavy… think several hams, kilos of cheese, The Kid’s pile of candy, a gift of silver and, well, like all good Filipino shoppers…there were the shoes, the shoes!!! :)

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41 Responses

  1. You have a well-stocked kitchen arsenal. You, Mrs. MM and The Kid will be the best dressed family in town from head to toe! Lots of reading materials too from books to magazines! Woohoo. I am really impressed the way you manage your time and energy not to mention resources in keeping this blog alive and kicking! Kudos to you,your family including Sister and your household staffs.

  2. My goodness! What loot!! I only guessed 400 pounds MM..i was wayyyyy off!! Haha! Oh yes, i love those damn outlets in the US…went twice last year just to do some shopping…visiting my relatives were a second priority..hehe…clothes are definitely cheaper in the US than in Oz…especially branded ones. I bought Ralph Lauren shirts for USD 25..in Oz they cost about 90 bucks!! Clothes in the US are also better quality even though they’re also made in China..hmm…I’ve been hankering for my own KitchenAid stand up mixer and I never want to buy it here cos they’re soo overpriced!! Almost 700 bucks whilst in the US, i can get one for less than USD 300…hayy…kailangan na naman yatang bumalik…hehehe

  3. I’m so with you in finding the best bargain available there is in the planet. It’s like heaven when u find brandnames stuff in unbelievable prices. The Le Creuset pots and pan set you got for 80% it’s just to good to be true, that was an excellent deal, it’s like hitting a jackpot! hehehe
    I think the Woodbury Common is owned by the Chelsea Premuim Outlets family, i’ve been to the one down in Orlando and we loved it, just too bad there’s not much sale going on the time we went down…
    I was wondering, with all the new arrivals in your household, do have enough storage space to house all these precious items? ehehehe

    By the way, when you say that u brought back several hams in your luggage, do you have to declare that or not? Did the customs give you any problem at all? Frankly, I’ve never heard of having hams in your balikbayan box before, no offense MM. We should give it a try next time we go back home, instead of packing delatas, toothpaste etc, we should bring home something that’s extra special than imported delatas and soap for the family! hehehhe

  4. This post reminds me so much of home. I remember when I was young, and we used to travel here with my family, we always shipped home about 2 to 3 balikbayan boxes on our way home. Same things in them too. Cookware, appliances, books, clothes, shoes, Spam, Taster’s Choice (for my grand parents), etc.

    Sometimes, living here in the US, the land of abundance, you take these things for granted. We forget that things that are so plentiful here are in scant, unreliable quantities over there, and therefore so much more expensive. Hmmmmm….

  5. Me and my husband goes to Woodbury Commons a lot although we’re from Connecticut. I think half of the shoppers all the time are Pinoys. Anywhere I looked, I could hear different Filipino dialect. Like the saying that, “Filipinos are all over the place.” We always parked near the “corelle” store because that’s my first stop to shop. There’s always a good bargain there for my new kitchen. Next stop of course is “Nine West”…I really love shoes no matter what especially something that will match my outfit, for 75%off the original price why not? Then, it is a must to enter “coach” store.. sometimes it’s kilig to the bones if I see another 75% off…then I’ll go home satisfied with my shopping.
    I used to bring 6 (5lbs each) of hams in my hand carry. I remember asking people in the plane to help me place my hand carry bag in the cabin. One pinoy asked me “is this pure gold?” because it’s too heavy. Never had a problem with the immigration. Last year, I went back to Manila, I placed all those hams in my luggage instead because no food is allowed anymore. I dont want to take any chances.

  6. I know what you mean. But usually people from the US have a great time shopping here in the PI and bring home boxes upon boxes of stuff.

  7. MM, my brother is going to New York in August. Please tell me where to buy Le Creuset at 80% off even if it’s in outrageous color. Actually, I just need a stew pot but if I can get a set, why not?

  8. corrine, it was a one off sale I think, but I got them at the Williams Sonoma outlet at Woodbury Common. I think it was $199 for 7 pieces which is outrageously well priced. Some bigger pots are $250 per piece. There is also a Le Creuset outlet at Woodbury but I find them quite expensive at say only 20% off retail. Sometimes Zabar’s in the city discounts by 10-20%. Mine are a horrific color but pwede na at that price… Anna James, I know what you mean, my sisters come home and go crazy at greenhills…thank goodness pearls and beads don’t fill up alisbayan boxes… ellen, 30 lbs of hams…yup, that sounds familiar… dhayL, I don’t think you’ll have problems bringing dry hams, they keep well and they are special… Ellen, I saw kitchen aids in the U.S. at $249! MC, we try to do these home/kitchen replenishment runs every few years so we have a tendency to go a little wild…

  9. I want to have my own Kitchen Aid!!!

    mahal dito eh…ako lang yata ang walang kamag-anak sa US…hehehe.

    MM, would would buy me one when you go back? *wink*wink*

  10. wow, i was way off with my guess!! 1300 lbs!! golly! that’s like a lightweight car! hehehe. parang i can imagine the smell of the boxes inside–that stateside smell no? :)

  11. balikbayan boxes are God’s gift to a travelling Pinoy :-)! We still have to give it a try since everytime we have to pack extra goods too heavy for our luggage quota, we usually have to shell about a 100 euro just through the post! And the balikbayan boxes can allow much more kilos…!!! And it’s really true that some products costs much less in western countries! But, I must say, I envy your goodies—especially books and those kitchen equipment!

  12. whoa! that’s real shopping! I can see the patience, going to those outlets and then packing all those treasures..not so typical of a man. KUDOS! I am not so patient packing up BUT if my luggage will be full of shoes and food items..why not, why not?! For kitchen stuffs just an online purchase then delivered to a forwarder is a usual route. Next time…patience and I will get half a ton.This post makes me envious.LOL

  13. tulip, funny you should mention it, I am a notoriously lousy packer… Mrs. MM and The Kid packed most of the boxes and maletas!!! I unpacked though… :) erleen, they have the smaller kitchen aid mixers at S&R in the PHP12,000-15,000 range. Not as pricey as the heavy duty one pero pwede na for most baking needs here…

  14. That creuset set is very well priced. sobrang mura! MM, if you are replacing, you may want to post things you want to dispose of and sell them.

  15. Gosh, all these purchases helped the US economy, not to mention the Asian shipping lines. That’s wonderful, and most likely most of these products came from China, traveled to North America, then back to Asia.

    Well, happy to say that I guessed you brought back your highest category. Dead give away, since almost all Filipinos buy way too much and send balikbayan boxes home by the container load, it seems, such as in your case, MM.

    For those of us that do the reverse, we shop for food in Manila that aren’t available in the US, and also luv the Tiange in Greenhills for pearls, etc.

    Your family really tops the chart, traveling globally, shopping everywhere, and being holics for the best.

    Keep those posts coming; it’s quite entertaining.

  16. Egad, empty jam jars and old magazines … you’re such a pack rat! I’m trying to streamline my living over the next few years while I’m moving around a bit so I hope to minimize the stuff I accumulate. =)

  17. wysgal, at your stage in life and in my career, I traveled the planet with just two suitcases to my name, period. For the first five years of consulting, I could move city with all my personal belongings in a day or two, tops! :)

  18. i’m so envious of your le creuset bargain.. great timing for you.. when i went to woodbury, the discount wasn’t as huge..

    but it’s so funny that we filipinos have made the footprint famous.. when i was shopping for shoes for my siblings at woodbury, the salespeople would ask me if i brought an outline of their feet in a bond paper.. i remember my mom used to do it when we were young.. i guess it’s a typical filipino thing..=)

  19. marosee, HAHAHA!!! Funny you should mention THAT. Mrs. MM & I had paper footprint cutouts of all our crew on this trip so we could get them shoes!! They worked! :)

  20. For Filipino residents, those kitchen appliances bought in the US are 120 volts. Unless you have a permanent transformer in you kitchen outlet, there’s always the danger that someone in the family would plug it to 220 outlet. My mom did just that and she was so heartbroken.

    True you made a bargain but what lurks is a hidden danger of “burning” the motor from a silly mistake!

  21. when my sister from London visited us last Thanksgiving, I brought her over to Leesburg Premium Shopping Outlets. She mindlessly bought kitchen appliances (all Kitchenaid and Cuisinart) to take back to London with her. She said it was all so cheap (what with the 75-80% off). Lo and behold! she found out (rather late) that we have 110v here as opposed to their 220v.

    Guess who got the goods now,huh! hehehehe.

  22. Many of the older homes in Manila still have dual outlets…110/220V. If not, it’s worth it to buy a small step down transformer. Also, what we do when we open American appliances is to immediate put a masking tape sticker nearest the plug with a pentel pen marking “110” to reduce risk of misplugging. Also, unbeknownst to many, if you misplug appliances, many of them can be fixed with a little tinkering down in Quiapo. We found this out last year when someone plugged The Kid’s GameCube in 220v. For all of PHP300, we got it fixed and it was as good as new… It’s a little bit of a pain in the neck, but for a 50%-70% savings on a Kitchen Aid Mixer there vs. here, it’s a risk we would take often…

  23. Ahhh, I miss Woodbury Common. I used to find tons of Esprit stuff there that were the right size for me! Chelsea also has 2 outlet centers here in WA (North Bend and Tulalip) plus there’s the Supermall in Auburn so if you’re ever in our neck of the woods you and the Kid would be happy too :)

  24. It’s not much trouble getting a home hooked up with a 110/120 Volt wall outlet. It’s all a matter of good grounding. And typically you’ll get a good ground from water lines/pipes. I did that in our house, 1 near the living and 1 in the kitchen, though I have some electrical background. Any knowlegeable electrician can do the job at mininal expense. A step up transformer is more practical though, it’s cheap and it’s portable too.

    MM, you continue to amaze me. You have no idea how much a part of my everyday computing your site has been. Keep up the excellent work (to me its more of a service), and my best wishes to you and the gang. BTW there was no mention as to whether you enjoyed Bora and Pagudpud in general. I hope its forthcoming. Thanks.

  25. MM, I am basically a new poster to your site and have not gone over your archives.

    Quickly, have you ever made foods in a “Crockpot” (slow cooker). It’s cooking for the lazy, and unlike you, I am very unimaginative with food choices, and have time only for uncomplicated cooking.

    When I was visiting family last year, I bought one at SM Mall for about $20.00. I made good meals that everyone liked but they were American inspired recipes. I wonder what Filipino foods can be made using it.

    Have you ever featured this way of cooking in this site?

  26. Paolo, I haven’t made too many things in a crockpot, I don’t own one. But I suspect you can do a lot of Filipino type things in one such as roast pork with a soy based sauce with potatoes…kinda local in flavoring… or a slow cooked chicken or beef dish… the archives have nearly 1,200 posts, with many early ones on classic pinoy recipes, so it might be worth a browse… Dennis, yes, more posts on Bora and Pagudpud coming up, still have a huge backlog. And thanks for that info on voltage… I would be more likely to eletrocute myself if I put a ground to our water pipes… a hair raising shower perhaps…hahaha. :)

  27. Oh wow! Shopping at it’s highest level! Seeing those shopping bags and balikbayan boxes made me feel homesick of the U.S.A.
    Yes, it’s really nakaka-high to go shopping at Woodbury Commons. Especially the one they have in Oregon cause it’s tax free. And I thought I’m so nakakahiya in packing along with my suitcases cheeses and loads of nuts and chocolates, and even dips and Ragu Sauces, dyahe in case the Customs men open it, hindi pala. Mr. MM you are so taong tao pala just like us, hehehe. Kainggit naman the Coach Bag and the Lacoste! If you need help in unpacking those boxes, I’m an expert in them hehehe. Have a good day! Thanks for always giving us joy and inspiring us through your blogs. God Bless.

  28. Sweet Jesus!! You guys are good!! I am now inspired to do some brainstorming for my trip to New York this September. Isn’t that when all summer stuff goes on sale? Woohoo!!

  29. MM, super great deal on the Le Creuset pots! and i didn’t realize Williams Sonoma had an outlet pala…then again, its been a long while since ive been to Woodbury Commons…

  30. Wow $50 grand in shopping spree, lucky Kid :) I’m sure she enjoyed shopping – what girl wouldn’t! I send Balikbayan boxes to my bro twice a year and it pretty much contains the same stuff that you have in your boxes except for enameled pots. Glad the mail was fast!

  31. Mr. MM, you truly are a genius at shopping while Mrs. MM and the Kid are terrific at packing!! You know, I have a sis and sis-in-law who live in new jersey and i guess they get the stuff the send to us (syempre in a balikbayan box) sa woodbury coz we get our load of ralph lauren polo shirts and also some lacoste. i also get great hand-me-downs of nine west and coach bags. how i wish i could get the chance to go to the US and go shopping at woodbury but the biggest hurdle for me would be to get a US visa (huhuhu) ‘coz i’m just an ordinary government employee. maybe someday (sigh!) i’ll get that chance. till then i’ll just content myself with the balikbayan boxes sent by relatives from the US na pag binuksan mo sabi nila amoy america (is that true?)

  32. Filipinos have an extra shopping gene. Just got back from Paris with 5 suitcases, one duffle bag and one carry-on, a lot of rearranging at CDG to comply with AA’s only 23 kilos per piece( are they joking, no.) No tax at JFK after I explained that there were 25 old oyster plates in one suitcase, a complete 191 pc. antique silver flatware cum box in another for reshipping to Marketman and Mrs. M, one suitcase of cheese, and bakery supplies from Detout, one suitcase of linen and just one suitcase of clothes and handbags for daughter. This is after a trip to Leesburg last month… Sister’s husband wanted to know how I managed to charge at 12 stores in one afternoon (made a mistake and used his card not my personal one) and replied it takes practice, that’s all.

  33. Practice practice is the way to Carnegie Hall. Sister, you really know how to shop! Inquiry mind wants to know what is all in that one suitcase of cheese of course cheese but what kind in particular????

  34. Maria Claria, I buy “lait cru” or raw milk cheeses. FDA and customs in the US allows one to bring in 5 kilos for personal use. Usually I buy Epoisse, Brie de Meau, Roquetfort, Mount Blanc in the winter, etc. from an affineur, Jacques Vernier, with a great selection, aged on the premises. There are many incredible shops in Paris but I usually end up at Boursault in the 14th, a little out of the way but reasonably priced. 71 Avenue du General -Leclerc. Most cheese stores will vacuum pack for travel.In the summer one can purchase a small cooler to contain the smell and shapes. I also buy several kilos of Echire butter. For specialty baking supplies, go to Detout, near Dehilliran in the Les Halles area.

  35. Thanks Sister, you are my inspiration. I had seen Echire butter – never bother to pick up. Is it good for baking?

  36. Maria Clara, I use the Echire butter for table use, on bread. I can get good butter for baking in NYC, try Plugra, or Beurre Marie, available at Fairway on 76th and Broadway or West 131 and 12th Avenue.

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