An oasis exists somewhere in Cubao, established not to break the monotonous side of Metro Manila but to create a space for Manileños to shake off their routines. From shoe showrooms of Marikina’s hand-made kicks, this are at General Romulo Street evolved to the ever marvelous Cubao Expo.

Though the place has aged and consumers may have toned down compared to how the crowd was in the mid to late 2000s, some millennials and collectives still rediscover the former Marikina Shoe Expo as their hideaway. And we, too, found ourselves walking the pavements of the place, overwhelmed by the feeling of wanderlust.

Through a short afternoon stroll around, we got to visit two shops and a resto, complete with the bright noon light glazing the colorful facade of the shops, welcoming every wanderer and loyal customers of Cubao Expo.

Bellini’s Italian Restaurant

We first had our lunch at the iconic Bellini’s and it turned out to be a good kick to start our mini tour. Before going in of the place, we were told that it is where a scene from the movie ‘One More Chance’ was shot. Though in awe, this can’t conceal the fact that Bellini’s has so much more to offer.

While waiting for our food, we feasted our eyes with the interior of the restaurant. A display of Italian wines decorates the walls of the structure with the colorful hand-painted murals of the country’s finest places: the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Trevi Fountain and the Flavian Amphitheater.

After eating our lovely meals, we received shots of complementary home-made sweet wine and ‘graccis’ from the Italian-speaking Filipino servers.

Not too hidden from the rows of cafes and shops, Bellini’s Italian Restaurant lies inside Cubao for city adventurers who are seeking for a different flame without compromising their wallets. Surely, it is a classic place for events as intimate as first dates or as formal as business meetings.

Unique Vintage and Lost Art (UVLA)

Our second stop was on the shop Unique Vintage and Lost Art or UVLA. Here, we felt like stumbling back in history upon seeing vintage items through a wide collection of flat irons, photographs, typewriters, sewing machines, CDs, books, toys and jewelries that may even be older than us. But what really caught our attention are the old modeled bicycles, customized toys, and vintage posters of the advertisements even dating from the 1800s.

With this shop, a new store is raised called Studio Soup Zine Library located in UVLA’s second floor. The Studio Soup Zine Library includes unique stickers, comics and handmade wallets from independent artists that are worth dropping by especially for art enthusiasts and fellow creatives.

Zines at Studio Soup Zine Library

Besides UVLA gaining from this business, they’re also helping local artists showcase their talent in different aspects of arts by organizing art gatherings like Local Loca – a selling event promoting local artists’ works.

With all these, no one will definitely leave UVLA empty-handed nor without acquiring pieces of wisdom from the past.

Vinyl DUMP Thrift Shop

For all the old souls, this Vinyl shop is for you! With racks and racks of preloved vinyls from artists like The Beatles, Michael Jackson and The Rolling Stones, the Vinyl Dump Shop is sure a great find for the avid records collectors and fans.

This thrift shop is one of the must-visit vinyl shops in the metro offering not only old recordings but also old magazines. The Kagatan Vinyl Swap Meet first started here, turning it into a quarterly get-together where collectors trade and buy and sell vinyls for great deals. Prepare yourself for treasure hunting and some crate digging with a chance of ending up with a rare find.

Other Shops that can be found in Cubao Expo are barbershop, Talas Manileno; another vinyl shop, Gold Digger; cultural food stall, Geo Shop; furniture and lifestyle store, Kendo Creative; ukulele store and café, Four Strings, bookshop The Reading Room, thrift house, Angel Spirits; clothing store, THE Clothing; and a lot more.

Cubao Expo is located along General Romulo St., Cubao, Quezon City.

Words by Marisol Gaspar and Kayleen Reyes
Photography by Reinier Abagat

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