When you live or travel extensively in the Philippines, the mall becomes your go-to place to go chill and hang out. Before I moved here, I thought that would be crazy. There’s no way I’m going to hang out at a mall! What am I, a 13-year old girl? Instead, my favorite hangouts are coffee shops (Ok, bars!), gyms, nice public parks and the like.
But sure enough, since living in the small city of Dumaguete, I have gravitated to Robinson Mall from time to time. Let me explain why, and then tell you about the place.
My Trip to the Robinson Mall
Cities in the Philippines are incredibly crowded, polluted, choked with traffic, and lacking greenery like parks, lawns, nice grass and trees, or really any nature. Likewise, anywhere you are in the Philippines you’ll notice that it’s either as hot as an oven and near 100% humidity, or just warm and 100% humidity (dry vs. rainy season). It can also get more than a little chaotic, with street crime, beggars, or just overly aggressive sales people.
Due to those conditions, you tend to want to go to a place that is nice and cool (without having to pay the air conditioning bill yourself!), clean, safe, and orderly. No one is harassing you or begging you for money. You can actually breathe the air and, believe it or not, many of the malls in the Philippines have well groomed and nice park-like outdoor courtyards or areas.
While Dumaguete is far nicer than most cities, and you can walk around freely and safely and enjoy nature, it’s still nice to get a taste of the modern amenities from time to time at Robinson Mall. There are several other malls in town (Ever Mall, Lee Plaza, Cang’s, etc.) but they tend to be older, not as nice (or don’t have any aircon!) or just geared to a local Filipino standard.
So what can you do at Robinsons? The Sans Rival coffee shop has great java and all of their famous cakes and pastries and has become the unofficial expat hangout spot. There are also several other coffee shops (but no Starbucks) where you can sit and work, but I’ve found the AC doesn’t work well in those other spots. Robinsons also has their own series of stores, with a modern grocery store where you can get many western items (but pay handsomely for it), an appliance and electronics store, and several levels of a huge department store where you can get clothing or absolutely anything you need for the home.
Robinsons also has two sports stores, and while they aren’t cheap, they’re worth checking if you need something specific. There’s an official Apple store where you can buy Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc. parts, accessories and items, although the prices are sky-high and I’m not sure how much I’d trust them to repair my MacBook. You’ll also find a movie theater at Robinsons that has nice cinemas and two Hollywood movies and one Filipino movie playing at all times.
Of course, there are food courts with local fast food franchises and also Kentucky Fried Chicken, fresh juice bars, and several nicer restaurant like the Moon Café and a few others out back in their own outdoor plaza. Robinsons also hosts plenty of events, concerts, fashion shows, etc.
In all, it’s a good place to go every couple weeks on a bored Sunday, just to people watch or catch a movie. It’s also the best place you can be in Dumaguete during one of the frequent power outages (they call them brownouts) because Robinson’s mall runs on a generator! You’re welcome!