that ukay-ukay power

by Evans Yonson

(Note: This blog originally appeared in my Multiply account on 17 April 2008. In the coming days, I will be posting blogs written between 2004 and 2006 and posted in Multiply. The site will be offline soon thus the migration of several blog entries.)

cagayan de oro – i first heard of the word “ukay-ukay” (Cebuano meaning to sift through or dig up) in the early 90’s.mangukay means sifting-through or digging up used clothings in a public place. used clothings are shipped from abroad like japan, korea and the u.s.a. but i never really experienced any digging up then.

there’s a public market in manila (bambang to be specific) that sells second-hand clothes to as low as 10 pesos. that was a real bargain then. i remember wearing different Gap, Benetton and Banana Republic shirts everyday for 2 months.

when i went back to Cagayan de Oro in 1997, i bought vintage clothes as cheap as 5 pesos. with only 50 pesos (almost a dollar), i had 2 pairs of formal pants, 2 long sleeves, 4 Burberry shirts, and a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.

since baguio is only 5 hours bus-ride from manila, the wag-wagan (Tagalog for ukay-ukay) capital of northern philippines is another tourist destination. my favorite buys are the lapagayo sweatshirts and jackets.

in the u.s., there are the thrift stores like the salvation army. these shops are more organized than those found here in the philippines. but the prices when converted to peso are completely skyhigh. the filipino version is simply the best buy. my cousins in new york even send dollars for us to buy them second-clothes here and ship them back to the states.

with the summer heat, i wake very early now and the best way to get a bargain in ukay-ukay stores is early mornings.

latest buys – hawaiian printed long-sleeves polo 10 pieces for 10 pesos. beat that! 10 white Hanes shirts for 30 pesos. 3 dockers shorts for 5 pesos. whew!!!!

forget how this is affecting the philippine economy, it is in these buys that the purchasing power of the peso is really powerful..