As of this writing, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) had yet to come out with its final report on the fire that struck the Metro Gaisano-Ayala building at the Cebu Business Park late last Friday evening. But that certainly won’t delay the store’s rebuilding which obviously will be done from the ground up.
Learning about the fire last Saturday morning through Facebook, I remembered something that occurred at the mall last month days before I took my annual sabbatical to Cagayan de Oro City.
I just bought tickets for the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” movie at Ayala Cinemas and was whiling away the time before the film showing by heading to the open air area leading to the various dining outlets and Cinema 5 when some mallgoers called the attention of the security guards.
The mallgoers and I smelled something burning and they pointed to the Christmas lights set up overhead at the entrance as the source of the burning smell.
The security guards immediately called up the maintenance personnel to fix the problematic lights which fortunately didn’t spark and catch fire at the time.
I wanted to take a photo of the incident but one of the security guards approached and shooed me away. I still managed to take a shot which was slightly blurry and was tempted to post it online but then I changed my mind and deleted it from my phone.
Two weeks and four days later, then came this news story about the mall fire which thankfully didn’t harm anyone but then destroyed the building and the millions of pesos worth of merchandise stored there.
The fire broke out late at night just as the mall was closing shop for the day and it remains to be seen if heads will roll as a result. Still, it’s far from being the end of the world for Metro Cebu residents who patronize the place and it’s only a matter of time before the store is up and running again.
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Staying some distance away from the Fuente Osmeña area, the destruction of the Metro Gaisano-Ayala mall meant having to make some adjustments to my daily route heading to the Cebu Daily News office.
I usually take the 12-L Labangon-Ayala mall route jeepney heading to Metro-Gaisano where I eat lunch and then buy packed meals for my work in the evening.
The mall’s fourth floor houses several food concessionaires serving cafeteria and street corner food and that is perhaps the only place within my travel route that sells food for under P100.
At that price range, it helps stretch my personal budget a bit long enough to last until the next payday and the meals are good enough — certainly not the epicurean culinary type but why be picky?
On the first day after the fire, I had to spend extra for my meals and trips which wasn’t a big deal until I saw my wallet last Monday. I wondered how I would manage to stretch it until payday until I realized belatedly that there are two malls that offer free bus rides at the Fuente Osmeña area.
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Both Robinsons Galleria and SM Seaside City have buses that fetch people to their malls and while Robinsons is nearer to the office, the SM MyBus units park at the SM City Cebu terminal located a walking distance away from where the CDN office is located.
So for the past few days, I ride the SM MyBus that fetch passengers in front of the BDO bank-Fuente branch, eat lunch and then buy meals at SM Seaside City where I ride another SM MyBus headed to SM City Cebu in reporting for work.
I also realized belatedly that the SM MyBus would stop by in front of Robinsons Galleria to drop off passengers and pick up anyone headed to SM City Cebu for free, so maybe I would try that next week.
In the meantime, I don’t mind taking the longer, more scenic route from Fuente to SM Seaside City and then to SM City Cebu. Passing through the South Coastal Road and seeing the waters and Kawit Island in the distance, it’s no small wonder why SM, Ayala, Filinvest and now the Gokongwei Group are pouring in money into the South Road Properties (SRP).
The view alone of the coastline is a major selling point and a beachfront property is always considered prime real estate as any broker would tell you.
But that’s another topic which is too extensive for this ordinary consumer to discuss and so I join the others in having to wait until Ayala and then Metro Gaisano open their doors to the public again.