Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Despite the countless fancy new malls dotting Metro Manila, there are still some that can stand the test of time. Take for example the Makati Cinema Square. The mall opened it doors in April 1982, marking its 35th year in operation this month. Today, the structure is easy to miss amidst the high rises surrounding it. Nevertheless, its ideal location (it’s close to Little Tokyo), fueled by daily commuters and shop regulars, has kept it running all these years.
With age comes not just beauty but character. This seemingly rundown mall is an amalgam of different interests, all condensed in a nostalgic space — and there’s still plenty worth visiting.
Hardcovers and paperbacks
While most malls carry the franchise, the Booksale (GF) in Makati Cinema Square seems to have an extensive collection of material. Ranging from children’s books to Phaidon hardcovers to obscure magazines, the place is constantly restocked (on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) with bargain books. If you’re still having difficulty finding that Lucky Peach back issue, leave your number with the cashier and she’ll gladly inform you if one pops up in their delivery.
Bowling and billiards
One of the last remaining AMF Puyat bowling and billiard centers in Metro Manila, Superbowl (3F) is exactly what you’d imagine. Its billiards corner is home to regulars, foreigners, and the occasional student. It even has a smoking area masked by one-way mirrors and a pro-level table for those clandestine money matches. The other half takes on a surprising 34 bowling lanes, complete with wacky animations when you score a strike or gutter out. And of course, AMF Puyat establishments wouldn’t be complete without Magoo’s Pizza.
Guns and ammo
Makati Cinema Square is stocked with gun shops. While most places are for show and sell, two establishments are there to let you play with their pieces, too. Armscor Shooting Center (1st Basement) has over five different ranges throughout the country while Jethro Shooting Range (1st Basement) has two. Both places offer the same deal: 50 rounds, a handgun, an instructor, and a single target paper, all for ₱1,000.00 and a government-issued I.D. If you’re itching for more, these two ranges are also the ideal gateways to more guns and ammo.
With enough effort, it’s possible to scour all the thrift shops in Makati Cinema Square. While they all look alike, with their green hangers, signages (50% off and new arrivals), and uniformed layout, there are great deals to be had in these ukay-ukay outlets. We’re giving special mention to Mine and Urs Ukay Ukay (GF) since it’s a good place to start if you’re planning to take on all the thrift shops the mall has to offer — it's beside an antique shop with intricate furniture and chandeliers.
Punches and kicks
The Black Unicorn Martial Arts Gym (2F) is an open area steps away from a little tiangge. Don’t let that fool you though. The place offers muay thai, kickboxing, arnis, and mixed martial arts (MMA) classes both for groups and individuals. It even caters to the busy Makati worker by offering walk-in trainings for only ₱500, and brief workouts called Fitness Blast, a 45-minute workout for ₱300. A Brazillian Jiu Jitsu trainer is also expected to come this April to handle their MMA classes.
Beats and rhythms
Next door from the gun ranges are Makati Cinema Square’s home theater stores. It’s not unusual to hear jazz accompanied by the sound of gunfire. While most places sell similar audio systems, Watts*Hi-Fi (1st Basement) is a specialized store dealing in turntables. Starting at around ₱17,000 for the basic model, the place can jack up and deck out your turntable. A few meters down sits Bebop (1st Basement), a top of the line vinyl store. While there are several places that sell vinyl in the mall, Bebop is by far the best, with good quality records ranging from classical to the more recent, like the “Suicide Squad” soundtrack.
Inasal and Chinese merienda
The most notable restaurant in Makati Cinema Square, by far, is Aida’s Chicken (LGF). Straight from the heart of manukan country, this import has been dishing the famous inasal. With its own unique ambiance (paintings of naked women), the place is a good alternative to flying all the way to Bacolod for some authentic inasal. Beside it is Emer’s Food Center (LGF), which is as old as the mall itself — and their prices seem to have stayed in the ‘80s. This Chinese eatery specializes in short orders good for two. An afternoon visit requires the mandatory merienda order of cua pao and pancit.
Swords and arrows
Aside from martial arts and firearms, Makati Cinema Square is also home to an archery range. The Kodanda Archery Range (upper basement) offers archery lessons for ₱590 an hour, complemented by the usual range condiments: target paper, instructor, equipment, and unlimited arrows. Also found in the basement and open for about a year now is Republic Fencing, which offers fencing lessons for ₱1,000 per hour, again complete with instructor and equipment. The place also offers group and corporate classes, as well as private lessons.
Time and again
Arnesto (Mang Andy) Swiss Watch Repair (2F) is the place to go to for when that pricey watch starts to clunk out. Mang Andy has been repairing watches for more than three decades, with his stall finding its place in the cinema square in the early 2000s. It’s not unusual to see some of affluent Makati residents, in their pambahay, hunched over Mang Andy’s counter bringing in a watch for repair. Beside his shop sits Unique Bisyo (2F) which sells different items, but mostly high priced watches.
Underground Gallery (2nd level) is a relatively new addition to the Makati Cinema Square complex, initially opening a small square gallery space quite literally underground. It has since expanded to three spaces, with the other two standing opposite each other on the second floor, and favors featuring less commercial exhibits and mediums. On days of exhibit openings, see a handful of artists and art enthusiasts going up and down the escalators to visit each space. While looking at art on those days, expect loud music, free finger food, and a cold bottle of beer or two.
Makati Cinema Square is located along Chino Roces Ave., Legaspi Village, Makati, Metro Manila.