UM / Ukay Monday

11:23:00 AM

Let me just say for the record that I am not a fashionista. Not that there's anything wrong with being one - I actually admire people who have really good taste in clothing. In college, I lived in jeans, five org shirts (one per school day), and flip-flops, which is why I'm really grateful that the dress code in Ateneo was implemented after I graduated. I didn't have a lot of money growing up, so clothing was never a priority; I only bought things that I really needed.

My former boss, MM, would always tell me that I should dress nicely because every time I meet with a client, I was representing the company. I told her that I couldn't afford new clothes because I was paying for a condominium unit, so I didn't really have extra money for clothing. One random day, she brought me an entire shopping bag full of dresses, tops and skirts, and I'm so lucky that they all fit me nicely! That got me started with caring about how I look.

It's not about vanity, but rather about being presentable. We don't have to be dressed to the nines all the time, and we also don't have to wear all the latest in fashion to make a statement. But whether we like it or not, people respond to how we look. We encounter lots of people on a daily basis, and we never know who we will meet so we have to be ready! In my work, I often found myself rubbing elbows with CEOs and other business bigwigs. I definitely felt more confident when I dressed nicely.

El Cheapo Heaven
(photo from the internet)
Let's face it, though - I couldn't rely solely on hand-me-downs. MM gave me a lot of clothes, but I couldn't keep wearing the same pieces over and over because clothes wear out in time. I needed to invest, but I had a limited budget. I found the perfect solution: UKAY-UKAY! To those who are not familiar (people not from the Philippines), ukay-ukay is a second-hand shop for clothes, shoes and bags. The term originated from the Filipino word that means "to dig," because you literally have to dig into mountains of clothing to find what you're looking for.

There are a lot of ukay-ukay spots here in Manila, and I haven't really had the luxury of time to explore every one of them. Besides, some shops are too big, and I find myself overwhelmed not just with the selections, but also with the smell. For this reason, I've been really partial to smaller stores. Although the selection is not as big, it takes me less than an hour to go through all the piles and racks.

Ukay-ukay shopping is not the most pleasant thing on earth, but it's incredibly rewarding. I'm going to share with you the places I do visit, and of course, my awesome finds! :)


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