What’s in a word: Ukay-Ukay

Posted on: January 9, 2011

If you are one of those who have been to the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio City, then you are already aware of this growing culture known as ukay-ukay. From the term “halukay” which means to dig up or sift through, ukay-ukay is the act of digging up from a pile of discounted clothes (some of it branded) such as shirts, blouses, skirts, dresses and pants, or pieces of accessories (bags, shoes, stuffed toys, belts), or linen (blankets, tablecloths, bed sheets, pillowcases, towels).

Ukay-ukay stalls are the Philippines’ equivalent of the Goodwill stores in the US. In the early 1980s when calamities frequented the Philippines, some humanitarian organizations would send second-hand garments and other goods to the refugees and victims. Soon enough, the shipped goods, upon piling up, were bought in bulk by traders and sold to the public at rock bottom prices. They used to market it to the low-income bracket, but when its popularity sky-rocketed, even those well-off but budget-conscious Filipinos started sifting through piles of clothes in search of signature brands. Discovering a great piece takes time, but your patience pays off once you get that prized find. And before you know it, you are addicted to the “ukay adventure.”

I have been visiting numerous ukay-ukay places within the vicinity of our home, but my favorite is the one near Jollibee Pateros, where their tagline says “Where fashion is recreated.” Literally, right? Being a regular “digger,” I perfected their cycle. First, they will post a sign saying “New Arrivals” which means most possibly, there will still be branded goods ready for the picking, with a price-range of Php100 to Php250 (about 2 to 6 USD). In a day or two, when the best ones were cleared, they will post a sign saying, “All Items @ Php50!” About a week after, it will become “3 for Php100!”, and then “All Items @ Php20!” until it becomes “All Items @ Php5!” The all-items-at-five-pesos sale is only for a day, and by this time I learned that a new shipment will be coming the next day, so they are clearing up space for new garments. Basically, the whole cycle lasts for about a month.

My targeted days are those with new arrival and the five-peso-sale, the first one in search of branded items and the second for those I can “transform,” so I am mostly in search of good fabrics or embellishments.

In my next post: first transformation for the year!




1 Response to "What’s in a word: Ukay-Ukay"

[…] a part in this blog as what I have written in my post explaining the meaning of ukay-ukay (click here to see it), it is their place of origin. And I don’t know why, but they also have the best […]

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