Baguio City, known as the summer capital of the Philippines is also known by another tag, the ukay-ukay capital of the country. Being the forerunner of the ukay business, it has the most number of stores concentrated on one area of the region.
Ukay-ukay, comes from the root word halukay which means to rummage through things. It is also called wagwagan, which comes from the word, wagwag; meaning to dust off, since the stuff being sold are mostly second hand wares.
Most of the ukay stores can be found on the lower side of the Session Road, housed on old multi-level establishments.
This is a bargain hunter's heaven. Everything from vintage clothes, leather boots, runners and sneakers, bags, jackets, toys and almost everything second-hand can be found here. Prices range from ten-peso clothing and toys to tens of thousand pesos for original designer bags. I once witnessed a guy asking for a bag for his girlfriend drop his jaw in disbelief when told that the bag he was asking for costs Php13,000.00. Well, it is still relatively cheap considering a brand new one costs Php30,000.00++.
Cheap as they are, you can find some really cool stuff here. Collectors abound in the area looking for steal finds. And what's more, you can still haggle with the vendors for a lower price, in fact it is essential that you haggle before buying as they tend to mark up the price on your first asking so as to give buffer to hagglers.
The market does not contain itself inside the stalls too. Once the sun retires, the sidestreets of Session Road begin to fill up with vendors. A sort-of guerilla style night market ukay-ukay. I was told that this is where the real action is. Amazing stuff you can find here.
So after a fine dinner at Session Road, hold your eyes open for a few more hours and don't head off to your hotel yet. Don your cap, slip on your jacket and drop by the night market to find that bargain treasure amongst the heaps of goods on the streets. To finish it off, grab a coffee from a roaming vendor and walk the chilly streets of Baguio to your hotel while stopping occasionally for hot fishballs and smoking sweet corns.