Ever wonder why you can’t seem to finish touring your favorite mall in a single day?
Whiling away the time at shopping centers has been so ingrained in the lives of people nowadays that the term “malling” has been coined just to describe the activity. All over the world, there is hardly a city or town that doesn’t have some form of arcade or retail center where people can spend time or money (or both) whether on necessities or luxuries, and the Philippines is no different. In fact, many of the malls in the country are so big that they’ve managed to land themselves a spot in the list of the largest malls in the world. Here’s a rundown of the most monolithic retail havens in the country based on gross retail area.
1. SM City North EDSA
SM North EDSA is SM Prime’s first mall, and was constructed in 1983 on a 16-hectare land previously owned by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Launched in 1985, the Quezon City mall started out with a 125,000 sqm gross floor area, had three floors, and contained only SM’s fifth department store and the brand’s first supermarket. Thirty years since it first opened its doors, SM North EDSA is now the largest mall in the Philippines with a total retail floor area of 498,000 sqm containing over a thousand stores and restaurants, and the third largest in the world. And with the construction of 5,760 solar panels on its rooftops, SM North is also the largest solar-powered mall in the world.
Said to be the first to introduce “malling” as a Filipino past time, SM North has seen a lot of expansions and redevelopments, cementing its position as one of the pioneers of the “one-stop-shop” concept. A carpark named Annex 1 was unveiled in 1988, followed by the introduction of a retail building named Annex 2 in 1989. Annex 3, also known as “The Block,” was opened in 2006, and a reconstructed Annex 2 was launched two years later. These were eventually succeeded by The North Link (Annex 4), which primarily caters to business process outsourcing (BPO) companies; Sky Garden, an open area hosting several restaurants and an event venue; the Warehouse, part of which serves as valet parking; the five-tower condo development Grass Residences, and SM Cyber West Avenue.
2. SM Megamall
Opened in 1991, SM Megamall in Mandaluyong started out with just over 330,000 sqm of gross floor area and held the honor of being the largest mall in the Philippines for 17 years. It was eventually dethroned with the development of SM Mall of Asia and the expansion of SM North EDSA, but Megamall will always be recognized for having the first ice skating rink as well as one of the first trade halls in the country.
Megamall has seen multiple expansions over the years, namely the construction of Mega Atrium in 2008 and the rise of Building C in 2012. In 2014, it reclaimed its title as the country’s largest mall when it expanded its total gross leasable area to about 474,000 sqm with the inauguration of Mega Fashion Hall in 2014, increasing the mall’s collection of stores and dining options to over 1,000 offerings. The 101,000sqm, five-level addition houses a slew of international fashion brands and restaurants; as well as an upscale food court, an IMAX theater, and an Olympic-sided ice skating rink. But SM City North EDSA’s 2015 expansion again toppled Megamall from its pedestal as the Philippines’ largest mall, but has managed to secure its place as the fourth largest internationally.
3. SM Seaside City Cebu
Launched in November 2015, SM Seaside City Cebu is currently the largest mall in the Philippines outside the National Capital Region (NCR) and the eighth largest worldwide, with a retail floor plan of 470,000 sqm and a collection of over 400 shopping and dining options. One of its most notable features is the Seaside Tower, a 148-meter-high tower that will be composed of a viewing deck and several restaurants. As part of its recreational offerings, the mall also has an Olympic-sized ice skating rink, a 16-lane bowling alley, and a 350-seat large screen cinema.
SM Seaside City Cebu serves as the centerpiece of the 30-hectare SM Seaside Complex, where SM Prime is also planning to build an indoor events venue to be called Seaside City Arena, an SMX Convention Center, and an oceanarium to be named Cebu Ocean Park.
4. SM Mall of Asia
Opening in 2006 with a floor area of 406,962 sqm, SM Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City was then the biggest mall in the world for two years before being trumped by SM North EDSA in 2008. The mall consists of four buildings: the Main Mall, the Entertainment Mall, and the North and South Parking. MOA holds over 1,000 retail and dining shops, as well as the country’s first Olympic-sized ice skating rink and first IMAX theater, and the world’s first science discovery center called the Exploreum.
SM MOA might not have to settle for fourth place for long: during the mall’s 10th anniversary, SM Prime announces its plan to expand the massive complex to around 650,000 sqm to reclaim its place as the country’s largest mall. Aside from opening new shops and restaurants, the two-level expansion on top of the main mall—to be completed in 2017 or 2018—will involve the addition of a rooftop football field, botanical gardens, and parks.
5. SM City Cebu
Known by the locals as SM Cebu, SM Prime’s fourth shopping mall SM City Cebu opened its doors to customers in November 1993 with a gross floor area of nearly 162,000 sqm. In 2006, SM Cebu began the addition of Northwing, a 107,049 sqm expansion. When the new building was completed and launched in 2007, SM Cebu’s gross floor area increased to almost 269,000 sqm and its dining and shopping options reached around 680.
After the positive reception of the country’s first IMAX theater in SM Mall of Asia, SM Prime made an agreement with IMAX Corporation to launch more IMAX theaters, including one in SM Cebu, which opened in mid-2010. In 2015, the brand also announced that SM Cebu is set for more expansion, with plans to add more parking spaces and transport terminals as well.
6. SM Aura Premier
The 13th SM Supermall in Metro Manila, SM Aura Premier was launched in 2013, with a retail floor area of just over 251,000 sqm. SM Aura, whose name is derived from the elements of gold and radium to define luxury and elegance, is an upscale establishment that houses several high-end retail shops and dining concepts. Also within the premises are SkyPark with al fresco restaurants and bars, the 1,000-seat Samsung Hall, and the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod.
SM Aura is connected to a 40,424 sqm office tower serving as home to many government offices, including Social Security System (SSS), PhilHealth, the Pag-IBIG Fund, and the Taguig City local government. The SM Aura Office Tower, which rises 29 stories, is designed in accordance with international green standards, incorporating features such as energy efficiency and sustainable operations.
Owned and operated by Ayala Land subsidiary Ayala Malls, Glorietta was originally part of a park built in the 1970s that made up a portion of the Makati Commercial Center complex. The Zobel De Ayala family decided to redevelop the area in the early 1990s, giving birth to Ayala Center. Having been transformed into an indoor facility, Glorietta was launched in 1992, having a gross leasable area of 250,000 sqm.
Previously named Quad, Glorietta has five components. Glorietta 1 (formerly Quad 1), which retained the Quad cinemas until 2010; Glorietta 2 (formerly Quad 2), which then housed the theme park Glicos Great Adventure; and Glorietta 3 (formerly Quad 3) all opened in 1992. Glorietta 4, an entertainment hub that also houses the Oakwood Premier, was launched in 1998. Glorietta 5, which was launched around 2010, is detached from the first four components and is located beside Rustan’s Department Store. Glorietta 1 and 2 were redeveloped in 2010 and launched in 2012.
Ayala Land launched the 250,000 sqm Greenbelt in 1989, merging small arcades and shops within Ayala Center. It was then renovated and reopened as Greenbelt 1, 2, and 3 in 2002, followed soon after by Greenbelt 4 in 2004 and Greenbelt 5 in 2007. Greenbelt offers mostly high-end retail brands and sit-down restaurants with the exception of Greenbelt 1, which focuses mainly on supply stores and fast food chains. In the middle of Greenbelt is an open space with a park, several al fresco restaurants and the Santo Niño de Paz Chapel.
9. Robinsons Place Manila
Also known to patrons as Robinsons Ermita due to its location, Robinsons Place Manila is the largest Robinsons Mall, with a retail floor area of 240,000 sqm. The seven-level mall initially housed over 330 shops, restaurants, and entertainment facilities, but the development of the Padre Faura Wing in 2000 and the Midtown Wing in 2008 added to its retail and dining options, surpassing Robinsons Galleria in floor space.
10. Robinsons Galleria
Found at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue, the 216,000 sqm Robinsons Galleria was launched in 1990 as the first Robinsons mall. Prior to the construction of the mall, the land on which it stands was owned by SSS until 1987, when business tycoon John Gokongwei bought much of the land. Years later, Robinsons Galleria is now part of a mixed-use complex that includes the Galleria Corporate Center, the Holiday Inn Manila, the Galleria Regency, and the EDSA Shrine.
The five-level Robinsons Galleria is located in one of the busiest business centers in Metro Manila, offering over 500 local and international shopping and dining outlets and service centers.
Photo of SM City North EDSA courtesy of sminvestments.com
Photo of SM Megamall courtesy of sm-megamall.com
Photo of SM Seaside City Cebu courtesy of outoftownblog.com
Photos of SM Mall of Asia and SM City Cebu courtesy of smsupermalls.com
Photo of SM Aura Premier courtesy of PhilippineTatler.com
Photo of Glorietta by Jorge Láscar via Flickr Creative Commons
Photos of Greenbelt and Robinsons Place Manila via Shutterstock
Photo of Robinsons Galleria courtesy of robinsonsmalls.com