The Manila Christmas rush is in full swing and the crazy shopping madness has indeed started. I haven’t gotten a jump on my shopping yet since I fear the overflowing parking of the malls and the crowd, especially with two little girls in tow. It’s quite hard to shop when both my eyes are on them all the time.
There have been the usual bazaars popping up left and right, and I’ve been hearing great things about some of the “finds” that people get. Since I’d come back into Manila, I’d been more fearful of the bazaar crowds and parking troubles. My last (dated) impression of a bazaar (for the benefit of my non-Manila friends, a bazaar is a bunch of stalls side-by-side selling all sorts of things — like a street fair except it’s in air-conditioned quarters. It’s a very common event come the Christmas holidays here) was that there were mounds of stalls cramped together, with merchandising sky high, and very little walking space. I remember it being incredibly hard to breathe. At one point, it seemed like everyone was selling a little bit of the same thing, I was seeing triple and didn’t know which way to go. It was exhausting. I couldn’t for the life of me, think about bringing in the girls and risk losing them amongst clothes, food, and the crowd. But still, bazaars are great places to get shopping done.
So — I picked as a “test run” to shop at the Mommy Mundo Bazaar a few weeks ago. I was a lot more confident about coming to this one because Janice (the founder of Mommy Mundo and fellow SoMom) was running it and since I know Janice personally, I was sure she and her group would think of every single concern moms (like me) would have.
True enough, the minute I entered I knew I was going to be able to breathe easy. There was ample space to walk in and register AND there were signs for stroller parking and an area for moms to breastfeed and change diapers. I’d never encountered a bazaar like that before – ever! It’s so simple and it addresses the basic needs that moms with kids would have when coming to bazaars like this. I’m glad they thought of it.
Then there was a “welcome” huge loot bag that came with the registration filled with samples, a magazine, and space to put your shopping buys. I also got my 24/7 2013 Mom Planner which I am genuinely excited to use. There’s a reason as to why it’s called a mom planner — because it is tailor-fit to suit the way a mom writes down things in her week. There are portions for each child, for the husband and for mom herself. There are Child Info Sheet pages where you can list down each child’s friends, parents, contact numbers, activities and schedules — and I found that pretty neat. Now with the two girls in two different schools, I feel like there are so many new parents and friends to keep track of, it helps to have it all in one planner! There are coupons too which I know I will use particularly when summer sets in. And finally, there are inspirational quotes from real moms for each week. Of course I will say that I am privileged to have been one of those that Janice asked a quote from. I’m so flattered that she used it (My little claim to fame)! 🙂
The SoMoms had a booth where we could meet other moms at the bazaar and talk to them about pretty much anything under the sun. I was pretty excited about that and I hung out there for a while (It was in front of the Enchanted Kingdom booth too and I was eagerly waiting for the Wizard mascot! Alas, he eluded me that day). I would say that I met a lot more people as I mingled through the bazaar. Again I was quite surprised at the few that I spoke to who have already come across my little blog and so I’m glad that it somehow has helped them; so thank you once again.
I think that the best part of it all, was the quality of the concessionaires present at the bazaar itself. I’d venture to say that there weren’t that many stalls as compared to a typical bazaar, but the ones that were there sold a good variety of products. It was a good mix too because as I observed, there was not much direct competition amongst the merchants, and that seemed to give the everyone an equal chance to make enough for the weekend. I even got to speak to several of the moms at their booths. A common thread in our conversations was that they realized when they became moms, there was a huge opportunity to create or distribute brands and products for moms, babies and toddlers that catered to needs not yet met by the usual local sellers. Everything from lactation treats, the Spinkie pillows, wooden toys, soft sole shoes to brands like Happy Baby and my very own carrier Baby K’Tan were there and I was so glad to see them (and in my head I was looking for excuses to buy more from them too!). In the case of Tricia Matoto-de Santo, the creator of a now-favorite purchase, the Dizzy Dress (thank you CrashTestMommies and OCMominManila for the discovery!), she created her dress as a happy compromise between her and her daughter’s daily clothing dilemma (something I am currently experiencing with both girls!). I am glad she did as Sam loves her dizzy dress. Jamie loves Sam’s dress too — which means I need to get another one so that the girls can happily twirl together.
I loved shopping at this bazaar, talking to other moms and discovering all these new finds. It was easy, it was relaxing and quite honestly a lot of fun. The girls came for a bit and enjoyed playing with the other kids their age. There was enough space between the booths so I never lost sight of them. Of course, the Mommy Mundo Bazaar has now set the standard for what I feel a comfortable bazaar experience should be. I can’t wait for next year’s run because I think I am going to do a bulk of my shopping here (ergo – I should save up for it already!).