Straddling Two Worlds: Carbon & SM

December 2003


The Philippines straddles two worlds:

Here are two markets in Cebu City which demonstrate the dual worlds of this incomprehensible country:

Carbon Market
Located south of downtown Cebu City, adjacent to the port, this sprawling old market has everything: handicrafts, fish, flowers, fruit, meat, rice...

Carbon Market

 

Carbon Market Carbon Market

 

Carbon Market

 

Carbon Market Carbon Market

SM Mall

If Carbon Market is the carabao, then SM City Cebu is like the proverbial spaceship landed in a ricefield: a colossal, quarter-mile long blue monstrosity perched in the middle of the Reclamation Area, a sprawling filled-in swamp otherwise inhabited by squatter communities, shipping container yards and cemeteries.

SM City Cebu


But for thousands of Cebuanos, it is a taste of paradise, an air-conditioned Disneyland of glitzy shops and eateries where a 4-peso jeepney ride buys them a few hours of escape from the grim reality of Philippine life.
SM stands for Shoe Mart, a Manila-based consortium that has built malls all over the Philippines.

I went and talked with the leasing manager, who gave me the following information. SM City Cebu was built in 1994. The 5-story building comprises 756,000 square feet, has 350 tenants, and receives 90 to 150,000 visitors every day. It was built by the Shoe Mart Corporation, a Manila-based consortium that is the largest mall-builder in the Philippines with 16 built to date. Outside, I walked the building off and it measures 920 feet long by 400 feet wide.

SM City Cebu SM City Cebu

 

SM City Cebu SM City Cebu

 

SM City Cebu SM City Cebu

 

SM City Cebu SM City Cebu

 

SM City Cebu SM City Cebu

 

SM City Cebu SM City Cebu

 

SM City Cebu SM City Cebu

 

SM City Cebu SM City Cebu