There are no huge malls or modern, high-tech facilities all over the island of Mindoro. However, shopping in Puerto Galera is enough to provide tourists with the convenience and experience they look for in a tropical vacation. There are convenience stores, souvenir shops, food kiosks and drugstores.
A very helpful one-stop shop is Parkway Mini-Mart. Bottled water is a foreigner’s lifeline while visiting a humid tropical country like the Philippines, and Parkway Mini-Mart sells bottled water that’s much cheaper than those sold in hotels and resorts. This simple mini-mart makes vacationing in Puerto Galera more convenient, comfortable and tasteful since it sells not only what tourists need, such as bottled water, shampoo and sun-block lotion, but also what they crave for. There’s junk food, soda, and ice cream. While strolling in a hot and humid beach under the scorching heat of the sun, ice cream tastes more delicious than it already is.
Meanwhile, there is an interesting shop in Puerto Galera called the Tree of Life, pertaining to the coconut palm. The store sells coco oil that is unique in the island. There are also souvenir items here such as accessories made from shells, summer dresses, sea shells, and native bags, to name a few.
For the souvenir needs of visitors, there are tons of shops along White Beach that sell food, beach essentials, toys, native products, and all sorts of souvenir pieces, such as shirts, trinkets, bags, jewelry, sarongs and pearls. The most exotic items are native bags that were hand-woven by Mangyan women. The Mangyans are a tribal people that are native to Oriental Mindoro. They live on Mount Malasimbo, which towers over White Beach.
Two of the most popular souvenirs are refrigerator magnets worth Php100 for 3 magnets, bracelets worth Php10 to Php20 each, and “Puerto Galera” shirts worth about Php100 to Php200 depending on design and shirt color. These shirts are everywhere, and at the end of the day you will see almost everyone leaving the island wearing one of these shirts. A persevering tourist can find equally beautiful “Puerto Galera” shirts that are as low as Php50 or less.
To really enjoy shopping in Puerto Galera, one has got to learn how to haggle. Haggling or negotiating is every Filipino’s marketing skill. All over the country are thrift shops where prices of items can go down to as much as 50% if the haggling is handled properly. A haggler usually fakes surrender and would motion to leave and look at other stores. It is at that moment when the vendor usually says, “OK, how much discount do you want?”
Foreign tourists should try haggling just for the experience. They would probably not be very good at it, because local vendors know that they have enough shopping money to spend. This is when Filipino guides or friends can be very helpful.
Shopping in Puerto Galera may not be one of the leading reasons why tourists come, but it’s enough to let tourists enjoy a different kind of shopping experience in a tropical paradise.