Calbayog City is Growing Again!

LOOK OUT, Soon to Open!

I would be remiss if I fail to mention that Filipinos have their own way of appropriating words from the English dictionary and applying them as they understand English usage and sentence structure. In many cases, their use of English follows similar rules in Tagalog sentence composition. It is the very reason you will not see an announcement like “Opening Soon” or “Coming Soon” but an announcement that is rather more like a warning… Look Out, Soon To Open! In this case, I am referring to the local Gaisano Super Metro Hypermarket, which is currently under construction and getting close to completion. And that will be the “Official” name of the new supermarket that will grace Magsaysay Blvd. in Calbayog City when it opens.

The other day, I happened to be in town with my camera and decided to take a walk through the construction to see what I could find out. I was given a security pass and proceeded to the main entrance where I was met by the Store Manager, a young 30 something woman named Mae, who is well versed in English and was happy to answer all my questions, but refused to let me enter the premises to take photos without corporate approval. She explained to me how to request this corporate approval, but looking at the timeline in this case, by the time I might get approval, the store could already be open, so I just obliged her and asked her a handful of questions as follows:

Me: So when do you expect the store to open?
Mae: Our tentative date is February 15th, but that can always change.

Me: What is the official name of the store?
Mae: It is Gaisano Super Metro with the Hypermarket format.

Me: So it is simply Super Metro Hypermarket?
Mae: Yes.

Me: How many floors will there be?
Mae: There will be two floors. The main floor will be the supermarket and the top floor will be general merchandise.

Me: When you say “general merchandise,” what exactly do you mean?
Mae: There will be clothing and shoes, housewares, hardware, home furnishings and things like that. There will be a little bit of everything.

Me: So it will be like a Walmart?
Mae: Yes… er, what is this Walmart? I think I heard of that.
Me: It is like an everything store.
Mae: Yes, like that!

Me: I have obtained a photo showing only 4 checkout registers, is this right?
Mae: No sir, there will be 12 check out lanes in the Supermarket and there will be at least that same amount of check-outs on the second floor.

Me: In the supermarket, will there be an international foods section?
Mae: Yes sir, there will be an imported foods section.

Me: And how about meats? Will there be a good selection of beef.
Mae: Yes sir, there will be a meat, poultry, sea foods and fresh produce section.

Me: So you are saying there will be beef?
Mae: Yes, there will be meats, poultry, and sea foods.

Me: So if I cannot find say…kidney beans or French’s mustard or….(she cuts me off here with)
Mae: … You just get in contact with me. I am the store manager.
Me: Thank you, that sounds good!

Me: What are all these outbuildings facing the entrance?
Mae: These are outparcels available for lease to independent businesses. (While pointing, she indicated that a cell phone company already leased one space and she was meeting with Jollibee’s later this day to discuss the largest and centermost parcel. LBC is also considering a space based upon her comments.)

Me: About the parking situation, will there be a parking area for cars?
Mae: Yes (while pointing to the west side of the complex), that area over there will be for vehicles only. Motorcycles will require parking in the front.

Me: That is kind of a small space for parking cars. How many cars can park there?
Mae: It is proportioned to park 30 cars. We have rented the basketball court next door for our opening day because we think we will need more parking for that day. After that, if the parking lot is full, customers will need to park on the street.
Me: Do you think the East Awang basketball players will like you for that? I mean, they cannot play basketball now during this time.
Mae: It’s no problem.

Me: So I cannot take any pictures of the inside?
Mae: No sir.  Like I said, you will need our corporate permission. But you can take pictures from here (while standing in front of the main entrance).

So I did!

Hypermarket Front Entrance
Hypermarket Front Entrance
Inside the Hypermarket
Inside the Hypermarket
Hypermarket outparcels for lease
Hypermarket out-parcels for lease
Supermarket Check-outs
Check-outs to be installed.
Racks being installed
Racks being installed.

Thanks to Mae, the Hypermarket store manager, for taking the time to provide answers to some burning questions many Calbayognons have about their new store (I hope I spelled her name right). Thanks to Skyscraper City for supplying me with the last three (inside) photos on this post.


38 thoughts on “Calbayog City is Growing Again!

  1. Hopefully the opening of Super Metro won’t severely affect the Gross sales of the people from the Calbayog Market. In Catarman where Gaisano Grand opened the people from their market suffered the most, they lost a lot of income, good thing is that Gaisano closed down for a while due to the typhoon and as a result some of the market people regained their costumers.

  2. Can you do a follow-up of this story once this opens up.
    I am curious to know what type of butcher/meat will be available.

    Also, what imported items would be available.

  3. Funny you should mention this. The largest grocery store in Calbayog City (Justmar) usually finds the shelves rather depleted just after the holidays, which is normal when you live on an island. But yesterday (Jan 14th) my wife noticed that the store shelves were even more bare than two weeks earlier. We have had no bad weather to speak of so ferry traffic cannot be the blame. It could be possible that they are nervous about losing many customers. We’re gonna keep an eye on it and see if this is just bad timing with restocking or whether it is by design. I’m curious now myself.

  4. Sailor John, I did try to ask her twice about beef, and she would only answer like I described in the post. I am anxious as anybody on this question and will definitely write a follow up article next month. I suspect though it could take about 6 months for the grocery store to settle in with supply vs. product demand. I’m sure they will be introducing product throug trial and error to the area to see if the people will readily accept it or not.

  5. We are all very curious about that sailorjohn. I doubt very seriously if I will go to the store when it first opens. I’m sure it will be super crowded. However after a week or two I will be in there. I will be taking pictures and making note of items that they have that we have not had while living here. That kidney beans was a good example, but the meats and the produce sections will be my #1 areas of concern. I’m hoping for things to be able to make a decent sandwich. We have things, but not on a consistent basis. I suppose dill pickles and good deli meat will be too much to ask for, but I’ll be looking anyway.

  6. I am jealous, we still are waiting for our Jollibee to open. You have more than one place to buy groceries, however limited. I haven’t had much luck going to Tacloban either, seems they are always out of items we are looking for. If they finish the road from Taft to Catbalogan it might be worth the trip. I will keep reading and be ever hopeful. Good dill pickles and deli meat– maybe someday, just like fast internet.

  7. I’m looking forward to shopping at a new more modern store. I hope the folks at Gaisano can provide some of the goods currently missed by expats there. As far as the local markets go they’re going to have to learn to adjust to a changing marketplace or suffer the consequences. I would not be surprised to see them have difficulties.

  8. If you want the best beef, you could have always bought some from our meat shop just across Super Metro, it’s called Sabi Meatshop. We slaughter 3 cows and 7 water Buffalo every week, we almost never run out of supply.

  9. Randy, thanks for giving us this update on the New Gaisano Super Metro with the Hypermarket format. Good job with the interview and current photo’s. We were wondering how its coming along….looks like it might make it happen the tail end of Feb or Mar.

  10. Justmar has been our store to shop when we visit. When we arrive at the airport. After dropping off our bags on pump boat to Takut (Sto. Nino island). We head to Justmar to shop, send family to market for veggies, pork. Hit the butcher shop if needed. Eat or bring roasted chicken for boat ride to island.

    Justmar has been around since 1981 when I first visited the city.

  11. About 8 years ago, we took our adult son with us on his first visit back since he was 8 when we closed down Subic Bay.

    We decided to freeze some meat, bacon, steaks, hambuger for us to have. I think we had maybe 10 steaks, 8-10 poinds hambuger, and 8 bacon. We put in a average size cooler with dry ice prior yo us leaving for the airport. Then placed into another carry bag for the cooler.

    We stayed in Manila for two days before flying down to Calbayog and onto Sto Nino island.

    Once we settled down, I unpacked the cooler and the dry ice was gone. All the meat was still hard as a rock.

    It was nice having NY steaks on the island for four meals.

    No issues with Korean airlines checking in at all. When we were checking in the old domestic building, a Pinoy customs guy asked what was in the bag. Wife and cousin told him and he said we coukd not do without a permit. I was told to keep my mouth shut as I would have made situation worse.

    My wife and cousin went with him carring the cooler. They returned with a permit. Askef how much it cost us. Nothing said to me, which I know was wrong.

  12. Thanks Tom. Like she said, they are still targeting Feb 15th. Hopefully the anxiety will not kill off a few expats before then!

  13. Dill Pickles and fast internet – The two most elusive things in the Philippines! In Samar anyway. Where do you live Ray, in Taft? I’ve never been that direction, but some day soon I hope. Thanks for reading.

  14. It’s been the largest grocer in the area for sure. Lately though, it has been overcrowded and understocked. My wife always complains because it is so warm in there and the lines are so long. She will be putting in an application for a permanent parking spot at the new Hypermarket, I’m sure.

  15. Sailor John…Of Course, the old “Free Permit” trick. Happened all the time, I’m sure. These days, Customs is under a watchful eye, so many are hesitant to cross that line. Oh, and if you ever head this way again with a cooler full of dry ice, throw in a Porterhouse for me! lol

  16. For sure Justmar is hot inside, especially in the months of April to June when we visit.

    Having this mall open will be good, but a headache at the same time. We don’t plan on owning a car once we visit for many months soon. Starting to plan house on lots.

    Its been 3 plus years since last visit.

    Can you give me an idea, land marks where this is located?

    I’m under the impression this is where the old market was.

    What’s the latest of the mall being built down near Rawis?

  17. Hahaha.

    Sure if we bring a cooler.

    Since then, we have avoided doing this. With the butcher shop, name slips my mind. We would pick up meat there or go to the market.

    When I’m there, with the heat, my appetite is not that big on the island. Work around that by rice with Vienna sausage, spaghetti, top ramen to name a few. Of course Jolly Bee or local eateries in Calbayog on weekly runs.

  18. The new Hypermarket is located on Magsaysay Blvd, just next to Christ the King College. Visit Calbayog Info and search under “Grocery” and it is already geolocated on Google Maps. The Gaisano Grand Mall downtown (where the old market used to be) is well underway with the fifth floor already being raised. It could be a year before this one is open.

  19. By “market” I don’t mean Justmar, in fact I wouldn’t give a crap if that cheap Chinese businessman who owns Justmar goes out of business. What I meant by market was the public market in barangay Bagacay, some people there struggle to make ends meet and to bring food on the table at night and it would be sad to see some of them go out of business once Super Metro, Gaisano Grand and Robinsons open.

  20. This Hypermarket, is this a different company that is building this?

    With the old market gone, I’m told it was moved in the area in Rawis near our lot.

    How is the market doing?

  21. Hypermarket is one of the “formats” that Gaisano Metro uses. It denotes the combined supermarket with a department store, similar to that of a Super Walmart.

  22. Hi Jords33, I think my sister-in-law took my wife to Sabi Meatshop once and there was no beef available. I will let her know. She likes to buy lean ground beef in quantity. Maybe you could tell me what type of beef do you butcher… is it Grain fed or grazed beef? Thanks for answerering!

  23. John, if you are hoping for a deli-style service, you have your hopes set waaaay to high. There will be no deli to speak of. Only butchured meats. If you have an interest in certain items, you might want to talk with the store manager, Mae. She seemed willing to please.

  24. Mark, just like in any community that welcomes a big box store, the mom and pop businesses usually always suffer. The unique thing here is that many people will go shop where they can save even one peso. That will be the saving grace for many store and market owners… hopefully.

  25. Hi Jords33, I agree with you. I hate to see the smaller independent market people get affected, but that will likely happen unfortunately. On the other hand, because Calbayog City is quickly becoming the center of commerce on Samar Island, the population will grow with new jobs, and demand for products and services will increase. Hopefully the old business axiom “competition is healthy” will hold true and nobody will suffer!

  26. Not looking for deli meats at all.

    Just more options in buying fresh meat. With just the market years ago, then the butcher shop opened.

    Now another option available for us to use.

  27. Agree.

    The more options for variety in products, food, fresh meat is good.

    Justmar will have to adjust in products and costs.

    Remembering I think it was Mercury Drugs that was selling boxed cereal from the states years ago.

  28. For retiredinsamar

    I was wondering if anyone here in the Calbayog area familiar with Narcisa Hills development in Rawis.

    Our family lots are there in various locations. We will start building hopefully by April/May.

    I’m wondering how much progress has been done since we were there 3 years ago.

    Any update would be greatly appreciated.

  29. I’m familiar with Narcissa Hills… what Phase are your lots in? There have been a few new homes built in the older part of Narcissa Hills, but Phase III has made no progress.

  30. Agree. The old market, like so many in the Philippines is where 90% of the locals shop.

    JustMar owner had a good thing going on for years for those from the islands who had sari sari set up. They had shelves filled for them to stock up. They could not do that in the market.

  31. Asawa and maybe her sister will be heading to Calbayog in April. Her sister has not been back in 40 years.

    I may be able to go also as I will need yo push them to walk fast in Incheon since only a 1.5 hour layover, change planes.

    Getting off the plane, then rushing to get through crowd and another security check takes times.

    I’m hoping I get to go.

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