Friday, November 4, 2016

All Aboard at the New Tutuban Center Main Station…

My earliest memories of Tutuban goes back to my elementary days during summer when our family regularly visited our relatives in Bicol. At the time, buses were already in transit, but the PNR was far more economical although the trip was relatively longer because of several stops at stations in between. But, for a young kid like me, the train is much fun to ride because we get to stroll from one cabin to another all the way to the engine car. Sadly, during the last two decades, the trains have steadiliy detriorated and faster buses with their airconditioned coaches have overtaken the PNR trains which led to shutting down transport services to the Bicol region.

All aboard! Let's shop at Tutuban!

Bicol Express! (Photo credit to Gapyear.com)
Tutuban Center was built in the mid 1800s and it was originaly the first railway station in the Philippines that connects Manila to the North, particularly the Pangasinan province. Today, Tutuban is no longer the terminal landmark everyone is familiar with when people travel to outside Metro Manila. It has now become an iconic bargain shopping center for those who wish to hunt for commodities at rock-bottom prices. 

The revitalized Tutuban Center Main Station. As if it was just built yesterday. (Photo Credit: wikipedia)
Tutuban Train Station circa 1800's (Photo credit: flickriver.com)

Inaugurated in 1991, the shopping center was initially just housed in a modern building right beside the old train station. For almost twenty years, the center has served people from all over with goods at heavily discounted rates. Shoppers would usually rush to Tutuban to get the first dibs on great bargains before the Christmas holidays arrive and weeks before the school year opens. 

The urbanized building inaugurated in 1991...
Tutuban offers goods suited for every occasion. Photo model not included :)
Recently, there was a revamp on the management of Tutuban Center and the bulk of its ownership now belongs to the Ayala Corportion. As part of the Ayala heritage and culture, the old Tutuban terminal underwent a major refurbishing to revive its former architectural glory. Take note, this was not rebuilt. A major part of its entire original building was simply restored to preserve its original structures like the bricks, the steel trusses, and intricate iron moldings. 

Bolts, nuts and rivets hold everything together. No welding here... 
 The Steel Trusses are part of the original structure
So the next time you’re in the Divisoria area, do visit the revitalized Tutuban Main Station. You will be brought to a special part of history where early Filipinos used it as a gateway that brings travelers to and from far places of Luzon. The boutique and shops located on the sides are the actual platforms on which people waited for the trains to arrive.

This hallway used to be part of the platform where people waited for the arrival of the train...
The shop located in the middle of the hallway resembles a train cabin...
Inside at the third level is a new food court with offerings from some of the popular and iconic food shops in Divisoria and Binondo. I’m sure many would recall the times when families, after attending mass at Binondo or Quiapo Church, would stroll along Escolta and Avenida and eat at some of Bonondo’s best kept secret restaurants. These food landmarks like El Presidente, Kikiam in Ilaya, King’s Bake shop, Eng Ho, and Panciteria Lido, noted for their exquisite Filipno-Chinese cuisine, can also be found in the Main Station building.

The original location of El Presidente is at Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila
The Chicken Feet of El Presidente is something to look forward to...

My attention was paticularly captured by the wrought iron pillars with their intricate artistic Spanish colonial designs. The supporting trusses at the ceiling are also originals, which are still held together by rivets and bolts because the welding technology during the 1800’s were nonexistent yet. I am completely amazed that these structures had withstood dozens of calamities, earthquakes, and the devastation of World War II. 

Just one of the steel wrought Pillars that supported the train station for more than hundred years
Today, Tutuban Center is starting to be filled up with more shops that include both international brand boutiques and some popular bargain retail stores like Anding’s Toys and Flowers, Inc., which offers so much more than its name. Everything from party favors, garden accessories and holiday dĂ©cor can be found in this establishment. Anding’s had been in business for more than 20 years and counts large malls and merchants among its clients. Its merchandise is so varied that the store takes up 317 square meters or about 18 stalls. 

These and more are available at Anding's Toy Store and Flower Shop...
The prices on the tags are not final, so don't forget to bargain...
This coming Holliday season, buying gifts can be more fun than if you just visit the usual malls. Plan your shopping adventure and head on to Tutuban Center where the Filipino culture and historical heritage is revived. It is where you can still haggle for discounts because in Tutuban, the commodities’ price tags are never final. 


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