Art takes center stage at this mall

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A NEW Robinsons Galleria has risen in San Pedro, Laguna as Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) formally opened its third Galleria property on July 19 featuring a themed Asian section, a sculpture in homage to the city’s namesake saint, and four floors of retail and dining establishments.

“The Galleria name connotes a certain size and stand-out interiors. With the Galleria South, we have pulled out all the stops to put together a mall that is not only enjoyable but also quite memorable for its interesting artworks,” Arlene G. Magtibay, senior vice-president and business unit general manager at RLC, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview on July 21.

She explained that they decided to put a Galleria in San Pedro because the city is “the gateway to the province of Laguna, and may be considered part of the greater Metro Manila.”

Aside from Robinsons Galleria South in San Pedro, Laguna, the company has two other Gallerias — Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas which opened in 1990 and Robinsons Galleria Cebu which opened in 2015. Galleria Ortigas has a total gross floor area of approximately 216,000 square meters (sq.m.) spread across five floors while Galleria Cebu has a total gross floor area of approximately 158,000 sq.m. spread across four floors. In comparison, Galleria South has a total gross floor area of approximately 115,000 sq.m. across four floors.

The property, which sits on a 3.8-hectare lot, was formerly a Cosmos Bottling Corp. bottling plant and is located along the Old National Highway.

The city of San Pedro, called the “Sampaguita Capital of the Philippines” because it is where many of the sampaguita flowers are grown before being brought to Metro Manila and other locations, is home to more than 300,000 residents who, RLC said in a press release, “didn’t have a full-service mall to call their own” and would have had to go to either Muntinlupa or Santa Rosa for their shopping needs.

And in homage to the town, the mall has sampaguita petals etched on the ceiling of the mall’s driveway leading to the main entrance and floral accents on the mall’s ceiling.

To the city’s religious roots, RLC had sculptor Jefre Manuel create a sculpture called Book of St. Peter in front of the mall. It is a triangular sculpture made up of hundreds of names — St. Peter is said to guard the gates of heaven and has a book of names of those who are permitted to enter.

The mall also has a 250-seat chapel at top floor named after St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It will host several masses every week. The chapel has a beautiful view of the Laguna Lake and the neighboring Metro Manila during clearer days.

As the company’s newest mall, Galleria South also serves as the dry-run for new design concepts of the mall’s in-house tenants such as Daiso Japan, Handyman, and Robinsons Department Store. In particular, the department store in Galleria South has an expanded space for activewear brands (330 sq.m.) and carries 16 brands including exercise equipment.

The mall also has its own version of Eat Street, the revamped food court concept started in Galleria Ortigas this year, where, aside from having several dining options at the fourth floor, will also have a local marketplace where customers can find local favorites on sale.

Its Robinsons Movieworld has six cinemas with “the latest Laser Projection System” paired with Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround Sound and will include a VIP cinema with its own lobby.

The mall’s design is by ASYA Design which previously did Galleria Cebu, with artwork by artist Robert Alejandro of Papemelroti fame. Mr. Alejandro designed Eat Street in Robinsons Galleria Ortigas.

The mall’s third floor has a section dedicated to East Asian merchants and products. Called JK (Japan-Korea) Town, the section hosts a selection of Japanese-themed shops and restaurants. The section’s ceiling was painted in the style of traditional Japanese ukiyo-e paintings and has giant kokeshi wooden dolls.

The same floor will also have the wellness strip which includes nail shops and salons.

Ms. Magtibay said that after Robinsons Galleria South, they are planning to open a 55,000 sq.m. expansion area for Robinsons Place Magnolia and open two malls in Gapan, Nueva Ecija and San Fernando, La Union in 2020, as well as two expansions in Robinsons Antipolo and Dumageuete. — Zsarlene B. Chua