The Philippines straddles two worlds:
Here are two markets in Cebu City which demonstrate the dual worlds of this incomprehensible country:
Located south of downtown Cebu City, adjacent to the port, this sprawling old market has everything: handicrafts, fish, flowers, fruit, meat, rice...
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.
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.