Cubao Expo is a multitude of things in one. Originally meant as a collective of stores by local shoemakers (formerly known as Marikina Shoe Expo), it is now a vibrant community of artists, designers, art galleries, students, musicians, collectors, comics and cinema enthusiasts – and more.
It has become the venue for music gigs, art exhibits, fashion shows, film viewings, and even live graffiti spraying events. Students, artists, and writers have made it their beer haunt. The high level of creative energy palpable in the place is a direct effect of the assembly of very unique establishments – each with their own personality – put together in one short horseshoe drive.
Heritage, the soul of Cubao Expo, is a good place to start. It is an art gallery displaying both local masters and current contemporary artists. It is likewise an antique and curio shop that sells furniture, tribal sculpture, stained glass windows, lamps, weavings, jewelry, old books, records, and magazines, and an endless array of things you are likely to spend an entire afternoon just exploring.
The Grand Thrift Store is exactly what it says – but with more character than you’d expect. The place is literally covered from wall to wall with plaques, posters, glassware and crystal, handbags, different models of telephones and radios, and all sorts of knickknacks – many of which (especially the clocks) will bring you back down memory lane, to the bygone eras of 50 actresses, Imelda Marcos, and most probably to the time of your own grandmother. It is an unforgettable exercise in nostalgia all packed in a quaint little room.
With racks that are literally cabinets, The I Love You Store has a similar overwhelming feel as The Grand Thrift Store, only translated into the language of fashion. What adds more endearment to the eclectic mix of clothes, shoes, and accessories are the store’s painted walls, mini chandeliers, printed seats and couches, and cotton-candied ceiling.
Speaking of furniture and chandeliers, Karma boasts its own multi decade collection of retro interiors, which started as a private collection of its owners.
If gifts are what you’re looking for, MBS will surely have something that can be treasured. This can of course include comics, which Sputnik specializes in, together with graphic novels and figurines. You can also give an artwork from one of Cubao Expo’s art galleries is Pablo, which, with its white walls, pares down distractions for quiet appreciation.
After your sojourn for shoes – which Soliman can create for you made-to-measure – clothes, art, and whatnot, you can call it a day and call the waiters at Mogwai for a bucket of cheap beer, while catching up with ubiquitous faces from the local underground and indie scene.
Or if all that ogling and oohing got you hungry, proceed directly to Bellini’s Italian restaurant, and perhaps chat up the owner, who used to be part of the Italian paparazzi, between your pizza and pappardelle.