In the Philippines, hanging out at the local mall is just what you do on a Friday or Saturday night. There’s even a term for it: “malling.”
Unlike most American malls, lumbering zombies that they are, the shopping centers overseas are teeming with life. The five-story Ayala Center in Cebu City is just one labyrinth-like example: Beautifully landscaped both indoors and out, it’s a place where people come to eat, drink, socialize, catch live concerts or movies, play video games, and otherwise chill in the comfort of powerful air-conditioners and shaded terraces. More than 85,000 people descend on Ayala Center on an average weekday; on the weekends, that number rises to 135,000. Malling is very much a thing.
Since this particular mall boasts a predictable mix of Western stores (Adidas, Dockers, Topshop—snooze), we’d skip all that noise and make a beeline for the Korean cosmetics emporiums Etude House and Skinfood. From there, it’s grub time: Come hungry and order a plate of succulent, peppery “ribkeel” (chicken breast) at Sunburst Fried Chicken (2nd floor). Chase that with a quarter or half a kilo of cracklings and pork belly from local pig-roasting legend CnT Lechon (4th floor). But don’t call it a night until you’ve tried the syphon coffee and hazy purple halo-halo cake at UCC Cafe Terrace (1st floor). It’s a lot of food, sure, but you’re doing a lot of mall walking, too. Cher Horowitz would be so proud!
Cardinal Rosales Ave., Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines; +63-32-888-3777.