Malls: Redefining the Town Plaza
Since the time of Spanish colonization, this was where you would find the church, the town hall, and homes of the key government officials. Front and center would be an open court, sometimes a square, often a circle, with a monument in the middle. This was the town plaza, the center of activity. For hundreds of years, it was where the ordinary Filipinos congregated, where we would socialize, feast, and find entertainment after work or hearing mass.
In recent years, as development has changed the face of the towns, turning them into cities or suburbs subdivided into villages, the need for a place like the town plaza has given rise to its modern-day counterpart.
The Malling Phenomenon
SM may not have been the first to build malls in the country, but it is definitely at the forefront of the phenomenon, successfully turning its structures into the plazas of today. Its first mall was SM City North EDSA, followed by the similarly designed, box-shaped SM Centerpoint, which is now called SM Sta. Mesa.
The opening of SM Megamall in 1991, however, was when malls truly became the places where families and friends could shop together, eat together, and have fun together.
The Town Plaza, Updated
The concept of the town plaza came with the opening of the SM Mall of Asia. The first structure in the complex was the Shrine of Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, which was requested by Saint Pope John Paul II during his historic visit to the Philippines during World Youth Day in 1995.
As in Spanish times, when towns around the Philippines were built around the church, it was only after the Shrine of Jesus was opened that several structures were built around the complex: the Mall of Asia, which is envisioned as the destination mall in the Asia Pacific region, SM’s corporate offices, and the E-Com centers. The latest additions are the residential condominium units and the MOA Arena.
The architecture of the SM Malls has evolved during the years, becoming more modern, creative, and environment friendly. Today, we have breathtaking structures like SM Aura Premier, SM Lanang Premier, and the Mega Fashion Hall, the new wing of SM Megamall.
The first mall, SM City North EDSA has undergone a renovation that has transformed it to a complex with a Skygarden. The SM Mall of Asia on the other hand, will be adding two more exciting floors with a botanical garden and a football field.
This year, SM opens another mall in Cebu: SM Seaside. Like the SM Mall of Asia, it is by a body of water. Like MOA, the first structure built in the area was the Chapel of Saint Pedro Calungsod, which was part of the historic Thanksgiving Mass when he was declared saint. Again, it is a take-off from Spanish times, when the church was the first structure in a town.
And in the future, we can expect more stores, more malls and more exciting concepts from SM. Innovations that reflect the changing needs of its customers
Innovations which, like the town plaza, we can expect them to be rooted in the values and culture of the company that has created a store and malls for families.