Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Philippine Pearl Market: The Real Perlas Ng Silanganan!

Whenever I fly home, I usually stay in the provinces. I just stay in Manila for a few days when I have to. Its traffic gets even more irritating every time I am there. And when I'm in Manila, I make the most of my day (and night) to optimize my vacation. 

So, on one hectic day I was in Manila, I met a friend for lunch, met friends for merienda, went shopping for South Sea pearls (for my Mom!), and lastly, had a reunion with friends, who all used to live in Seoul, later that night. 

Well, of the four things I scheduled that day, I am sure one was not like the other. Would the words friends, reunion and pearls go together? Ha-ha-ha!
                                     (A light lunch at Italiannis)

I actually asked my friends to meet me at the Greenhills Shopping Center (in San Juan City, Metro Manila) as the pearl market is in there. And after having a light lunch with Alfa at an Italian restaurant, we roamed around the shopping complex before I met up with Nancy and her daughter Anna by merienda time. 

             (Puto bumbong merienda at Via Mare)

I know little about pearls and I would need all the help I could get when it came to quality and price range. That's why I had to meet up with Nancy. Having purchased pearls on several occasions from a favored vendor, Nancy would be able to tell me what was a good buy (or a good price!)

Still full from our merienda, we made our way to the famous pearl market to locate Mrs. Nawal's stall, her suki (favored vendor). The pearl market is actually rows and rows of stalls along tight alleyways owned by vendors selling pearls, gemstones and other jewelry. But the primary (and most popular) merchandise they sell is pearls. Most vendors are from Mindanao, where the best and most expensive pearls come from. I was told the most expensive ones are from the really deep seas, the South Sea pearls.

      (Pearl necklaces to choke for! Ha-ha-ha!)


We told Mrs. Nawal what we wanted, and as I stood there being overwhelmed by these pearls of different sizes and colors (and of course, prices), I wondered whether a short visit and a purchase at the pearl market would make me now a pearl expert. Ha-ha-ha!   

                           (Overwhelming!)

Just like most stalls, Mrs. Nawal  had her pearls hanging from the ceiling, on small and big boxes, or just laid out. I told her I read somewhere that Queen Sofia of Spain visited this pearl market during her visit to the Philippines. Mrs. Nawal said that it was from her stall the Queen bought her pearls from. Hmm. I wonder whether Mrs. Nawal's pearls now form part of the Spanish royal family's jewels. A jeweler for royalty!

                   (How deep is your pearl?)

After zeroing in on what I wanted to buy with the help of Nancy and a lot of haggling (Thanks, Nancy!), I was able to buy South Sea pearl earrings and pearl necklaces for my Mom and sister, which would now form part of our own royal family jewels. Ha-ha-ha! 
            (Mrs. Nawal is a jeweler for royalty!)

The Philippines is known as Perlas ng Silanganan, or Pearl of the Orient, for its natural beauty. But at these times, it's not only the country's beautiful landscape and hideaways most international visitors come for. And based on stories of the Queen's visit, and international visitors and balikbayans search for a variety of fine (and comparably less expensive!) jewelry, it's the real perlas of the silanganan they come for, and most of them shop here at the pearl market of the Greenhills Shopping Center, where most pearl vendors (with the best quality pearls!) are gathered. 
So, now that I am a pearl expert, I have to ask: how deep is your pearl?  :-)

8 comments:

  1. Wow! I'm overwhelmed too. I seldom visit Greenhills and in case I'm in the area, we are usually out for restaurants and other bargain finds. :) I guess being a grown up now, this is something I have to learn. While most of my Chinese friends would tell me that pearls are not suited for single females, I beg to disagree. :) In my opinion, this is one of the best gifts every woman would ever receive.

    Your mom and sister will surely be happy. Enjoy your stay in the Philippines!

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  2. I'm planning to sell pearls in my online gift shop Makulay.com. Does anyone here know where the moslems in Greenhils shopping center get their stock? Anyone who ended up here looking for pearls who may have leads, please share.

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    1. Please find me on Skype justinubuntujapan or email me at oneplanetonefamily@gmail.com. I have the information that you want re pearls.
      Best regards,
      Justin

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    2. Please find me on Skype justinubuntujapan or email me at oneplanetonefamily@gmail.com. I have the information that you want re pearls.
      Best regards,
      Justin

      Delete
  3. Wow, pearls here are very expensive, at least iyong mga tunay. And I love pearls! Marami kasing glass pearls or made of quality plastics. I'll put this in my bucket list for our next visit to the Philippines :-)

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  4. Hey Alphonse!!! I was doing a general Google search on Greenhills pearls and your blog popped up! 😃 will try and find the place where you got your pearls from. See you soon in Seoul!!😘 ( Veronica of Mafia).

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Veronica! Were you able to buy your South Sea pearls? How many strands did you buy? :-)

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