Souvenir shops in Manila are usually devoid of fanfare. These shops are boring, sedate and sell expensive items that rarely have any novelty value. Oftentimes we ultimately just skip the whole souvenir shop and just take whatever we can from the environment, not a very sustainable way for a very nature-loving country.
Last Valentines weekend, Tricia and I got to explore Intramuros. We did so to kill time while waiting for our walking tour to start. We were able to visit two interesting and I think the go-to shops in Intramuros. The first being “The Papier Tole Shop” found along General Luna street in Intramuros.
The Papier Tole shop is a quaint little shop whose shelves are lined with unique novelty items. Like its name, expect papier tole items of Manila landscapes being prominently displayed inside.
Contrary to its name, tole (pronounced too-lay, unless the French have a different way of pronouncing it) items aren’t the only items being sold here. The scattered knickknacks and bric-a-brac all hold surprises. On one shelf you’ll find paper products, then in another, a random doll or ornament from Japan or some other oriental country.
As we made our way around the store, there were really a lot, as in a lot, of interesting items. The tole items just make up one part of the shop, its the paper products from the local artists who really steal the show. We found interesting notebooks with interesting covers. There were planners, stamps, notepads and writing materials for the inner writer/OC-planner in you. For stationary freaks this could be the heaven that you’ve been looking for.
For a store as old as the city of Manila, you can expect some very interesting and unique items. At the same time, some items don’t come cheap, the tole works can cost upwards of PHP 1,000, while really interesting and novelty ones can start around PHP 1,500. Understandably, since most of the items here aren’t mass produced but are handcrafted with delicate workmanship and skill.
Tricia, was excited with most of the stationary products, even buying herself one of the notebooks with a cover of the San Agustin church in the 1800’s. As for me, well, it was the trinkets that I was really interested in. Ever since time immemorial, I have been looking for interesting items to adorn my library. Luckily enough I was able to find one care of my lovely girlfriend. Tricia pointed out an interesting model of a jeepney made out of the wrapping paper that the Papier Tole shop uses.
Apart from the items sold, we were able to talk to one of the people manning the store on that day. Apparently, our dear old kuya/cashier is also a paper tole artist himself. He says that the store employs a number of people to masterfully recreate Manila scenes using tole. As a bonus, he gave us a calling card and told us that the store sometimes holds tole workshops at a cost of PHP 1,500, though some scheduling/appointment needs to be done beforehand. An interesting bit that no doubt helps the store and the surrounding community in one way or the other.
The Papier Tole Shop can be found in General Luna Street, Intramuros. It is just across the San Agustin Church. Papier Tole is open everyday and closes at 6pm. You may contact them at (632) 536-8692 or fax (632) 527-0553.