Cebu is an amazing island filled with cultural and economic diversity [literally] right next to each other. It is interesting to see how the locals cater to the expatriates and foreigners for one reason and only one reason… Money.
Let’s first start with the fact that Cebu island lays claim to the #5 largest shopping mall in the world. Let that sink in… 5,000,000+ sq ft of retail therapy on an island where the average local annual salary is ~$5,000 USD per year. All of the upscale malls target foreign money to bring revenue to the country.
You can buy everything at these upscale malls – even a house. A new 3 bedroom condos sells for the modest price of $60,000 USD. Looking for something a bit more upscale? Don’t worry, visit one of the half-dozen other companies that are also selling houses and hi-rise condos.
All of the upscale areas, malls and retailers are extremely well maintained and laid out much like US-based malls – the goal, is to keep you shopping and spending.
The reality of things is that the Philippines counts on revenue of the foreigners to grow, however the locals do not shop at the upscale malls. Locals are accustomed to shopping at the markets around town.
Indoor, outdoor and covered markets are where locals buy food, clothing and the daily supplies needed to survive. While it’s not quite FDA-approved conditions, the food you can buy is the freshest you’ll ever eat (short if picking it yourself).
The fun part of shopping in the local markets is the ability to negotiate on price. While it may sound like a lot to pay 150 Pesos for a pair of sunglasses, that translates to just $2.50 USD.