Earlscourt is one of the popular places in London. The late Princess Diana has once lived in this borough even before she was married to Prince Charles.
Pinoys started to come in the UK in 1970. The government needed health workers, domestic helpers and chambermaids in hotels. There are numerous hotels in Earlscourt that generated jobs for the pinoys. Living in this side of London was a lot cheaper during that time. Later on, the Pinoys began setting up businesses.
The Divisoria supermarket is one of the first one-stop shops in Earlscourt. The parents of Bing are pioneers of UK’s little Manila. They’ve come in the early 70s as chambermaid and bellboy. “We started with forwarding then remittance followed by a sari-sari store, I was born here while my other siblings were petitioned by my parents” says Bing.
Pinoy–brand canned goods, crisps, skincare products and anything that you can think that you want to buy from a Filipino store could be found in Divisoria market. Their products are at a lower price compared to the other shops according to Bing. Hence, they called the store, Divisoria; inspired by the real Divisoria in Tondo Manila. Divisoria is a market district known for its wholesale and bargain shopping. “Beauty products are our best-sellers” adds Bing. Bing’s family didn’t hire staff for their shop but instead the whole family run Divisoria Supermarket.
Not so far from Divisoria Market is the Pinoy Store owned by a couple, Gary and Virginia Farochilen. They’ve been living in London for 35 years. They thought of opening an off-license store after they’ve retired from work.
“I enjoy listening to the chitchats of the Pinoys visiting our store as well as the laughter” shared Bing. Pinoy Store offers almost the same products as Divisoria Supermarket except that they have a salon at the second floor. It is really expensive to get hair services in local salons in London so pinoys travel to Earlscourt to avail the more affordable services of Filipino-run beauty parlours.
It’s interesting that beside the Pinoy Store is Manila Supermarket! It’s like SM beside an Ayala Mall although they’re far smaller than these giant malls and despite of the close proximity there is a healthy competition among the storeowners.
Sunday is the busiest day in Earlscourt because most of the Pinoys have no work. Most of them have only a day off and they really maximise the day. They flock to Earlscourt. It’s not only the grocery stores that are packed but even the cafes and restaurants are crowded as well. With just 10 pounds or less than 700 pesos, Pinoys can satisfy their stomach with their favourite food to their content. Earlscourt is also the best place for Pinoys to meet up with friends and hang out.
It is true that no matter which part of the world Filipinos go, they would always crave for something made in the Philippines!