Thursday, January 13, 2005

je suis fatigue

I started out the morning with the strongest coffee blend I could find at the nearby coffee shop I loathe so much, Gloria Jean's (because almost everything they have is overpriced and atrocious). I had an early morning pickup by my client with whom I would spend the entire day looking at all the inline stores in the "immediate vicinity" - which, used here, means "within an hour or two of the city" (I'm just thankful I didn't need to visit all 100+ concessions he has all over the country). All part of the hat I wear as a marketing consultant for his three brands.

We drove to Alabang and I was greeted by the sad edifice that is Festival Mall, huge, zombie-like and sad in its sprawling emptiness. I looked at the store, interviewed the manager and the salesfolk, took an ocular around the site, made copious notes then declared I was done. Sales are bad in this mall because of its location and vicinity to other malls, a true observation that would be repeated over and over in the locations I would visit.

We took the highway to Laguna and visited Robinson's Sta. Rosa, a mall supported by factory workers and other industrial zone folk. Over lunch (in a smoke-friendly mall), I talked to the staff and made my observations and notes, delighted by the existence of a provincial mall that did quite well. But perhaps not for long, as the behemoth that is SM is in the process of building their mall near by.

It was a long drive to the next sites in Cavite - Imus and Dasmarinas. On the way, my mind wrestled with all the facts I was collecting and everything I was learning about my client's business. I made several spot-on analyses and engaged my client in conversation as I began to create the framework of my upcoming tasks. My attention was intrigued by several posters I had to speed read as we passed them - ads for Virgin Cola, with the tagline "Do you want a Virgin?".

Robinson's Imus and Cavite suffered from proximity to the SMs nearby (one in Bacoor), and the lack of shoppers made me sad again. An empty mall in mid to late afternoon is a sobering sight. I did my work, talked to a lot of people, played around with the products, spied on the competition by engaging in a little skullduggery to get information from unsuspecting promo people in their employ, and did a lot of drawing (I can't draw people, but I can draw maps and rough floorplans).

By the time we headed towards the Coastal Road and Roxas Boulevard, it was evening and traffic was just a mess. It was a good thing I was busy thinking to be enveloped in my usual travel-ennui and impatience. I got good news via cell phone: my company won an important bid I presented for a year-long communications contract with another mall developer, and my other website project was a go. When we passed the Jipang Building which housed my favorite Kenko massage place along Roxas, I silently wanted to be dropped off to have a painful but soothing massage - but no dice, since I had one more mall to go.

The last time I was at Harrison Plaza in Manila was years ago when I conducted a Magic tourney for Novelty. This was the site of the last inline store I was scheduled to visit for the day. More interviews, more notes, more drawings, then dinner with my client and quick visit to the DVD pirates (by the way, the pirates of Virra Mall, including my fave Billy, are now located at the Metrowalk Mall, across from Meralco - which is also the new home of Brazil, Brazil, famous for its churrasco, big chunks of meat cooked with skewers in charcoal ovens ).

Finally, the long drive home - from Manila to Ongpin in Chinatown to Espana to Cubao to Ortigas and up to Nikki and Sage. Along the way, the inevitable political discussions and we discussed the thought of hiring another country to manage the Philippines to get things in order, like professional managers.

I am dead tired but had a very fruitful day. Now I get to sleep. Another pair of early meetings tomorrow. No rest for the wicked and all that.

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