Despite the fact that Makati Cinema Square (MCS) is just a stone’s throw away from bigger and more modern malls Greenbelt, Glorietta, SM Makati, and SM Mall of Asia, people—young and old, rich and poor, local and tourist—still flock here for good finds, cheap eats, and great value.

The cinema square with no cinema (Photo by Tammy David)

Pirates’ lair

Located along Chino Roces Avenue (Pasong Tamo) in Makati city, Makati Cinema Square is named as such since it used to be the center for film viewing in the city, until it lost such title to nearby Glorietta and Greenbelt. Through the years, the square has suffered from neglect, until recent efforts were made to restore its former glory.

Some parts of it has been renovated and repainted, and new elevators have been installed. MCS, however, remains to be a cinema square without a cinema. The slight renovations, nevertheless, brought in new stores that offer the latest fashions and spa services, yet still, the star of the square remains to be the hundreds of Muslim souks selling pirated CDs and DVDs. No matter how many times the police raid these shops, they pop out over and over again.

MCS offers a variety in merchandise and sellers (Photo by Tammy David)

But while these stalls are notorious among the authorities and intellectual property guardians, these shops are famous among movie and music fanatics. People troop here to search for exotic finds, scouring from rack to rack as if looking for treasure, until they see clear copies of DVDs and audio CDs that may be missing or hard to find in legitimate record stores.

Unconventional shopping

Apart from DVDs and CDs, a wide array of novelties can be found in the square. It has a lot of ukay-ukay or thrift shops that sell second-hand clothing, shoes, and even designer bags for as low as a dollar. Amid these are kiosks and stores selling anything from RTWs, underwear and tacky gowns to makeup and beauty products, to guns and ammunition.

Pirated DVDs for sale (Photo by Ahmed Shamoo)

Electronics vendors sell generic DVD players, mobile phones, karaoke systems, and other cheap gadgets. On the ground floor is Book Sale, which sells trade books at marked-down prices. Nearby is a shop selling all sorts of clocks and watches. There are also several walk-in shops offering antique furniture, jewelry, and other souvenirs. Likewise, the square is connected to Isetann Department Store and is just across the street from Waltermart mall.

In addition to the variety of merchandise, MCS also has a mix of vendors—from Roman Catholics, to Muslims, to the Taiwanese.

Unique attractions

Blind masseurs offering their services for $2 to $4. (Photo by Tammy David)

Most of the square’s entertainment facilities can be found at the basement. Blind masseurs offer 30-minute massages from as low as $2 to $4. Nearby are a number of small walk-in compartments for express foot and back massage. There is also a small arcade with simple rides for kids. Ironically, this children’s arcade faces shops that sell ammunition, while just a few steps away is a shooting gallery, which offers a free use of its gallery and protective gear, but you must rent a gun for P250 and buy bullets for P10 each. The mall’s bowling alley and bingo gallery can also be found at the basement.

If you want to learn something new, then maybe you want to try taking up short courses on playing the violin, guitar, or any musical instrument at several small music academies inside the mall. At the basement, near the stairs, is BodyPoint Dance Studio, which dabbles as a gym during weekdays and a martial arts studio on weekends. It is from here where you can book lessons to study kung fu, karate, aikido, or the famous Filipino traditional martial art, arnis (stick fighting).

Dining

For those tired of shopping and browsing the stacks of pirated CDs, fast food chains like Shakey’s, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Jollibee, Chowking, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars Pizza! Pizza!, and Yellow Cab Express are where you can go for a quick bite. Kiosks selling ice cream, dim sum, and other snacks are also found inside the mall. El Buono Pizza house, owned by Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, is said to sell the biggest pizza in the country.

Thrift shops selling used clothes for as low as a dollar (Photo by Tammy David)

Just across the street is Little Tokyo, a Japanese-owned complex with authentic Japanese groceries, stores and restaurants, while on the other side is Amici, an Italian-themed restaurant offering pizzas, sausages, and homemade gelatos and gelato cakes.

Opening hours

MCS is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

How to get there

Makati Cinema Square is located along Chino Roces Avenue (Pasong Tamo), near J. Victor Avenue in Makati city. The best way to reach it is via a taxi, but you can also ride the MRT, get off in Magallanes station, and take a jeepney bound for PRC. Ask the driver to drop you off in front the mall itself. You may also ride the LRT Line-1, get off in Gil Puyat (Buendia) station, ride a bus going to Ayala or a jeepney going to Guadalupe, and then ask the driver to drop you off in Chino Roces Avenue. Once there, take another jeepney bound for Mantrade and ask the driver to drop you off in the square.


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