Quezon City

reminiscing Cubao: C.O.D. Cubao Department Store

This 2010 Christmas season, I thought it would be appropriate that The Urban Roamer’s Journal pay tribute to what was once one of the premier, if not THE premier, Christmas destinations in Metro Manila: the commercial business district of Cubao in Quezon City.

On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to experience memorable Christmases past in Cubao in its past glory and be dismayed by its decline over the years, but at the same time hopeful for some future memorable Christmases to be witnessed in Cubao in the midst of its bid to recapture its old glory.

Long before malls became the premier shopping destination, it was the department stores who were considered the apex for the shopper. Back then, competition among department stores was thriving, cutthroat as some might consider. No other example of that competition was witnessed in those days than in the commercial district of Cubao in Quezon City.

Even as the advent of malls in the area with Ali Mall and Farmers Plaza by the 1980’s, the department stores at the time were still kings. But  for many shoppers like my family, one department store stood out among the rest: the C.O.D. Department Store.

The Urban Roamer’s old Cubao map: C.O.D. located on the upper left of the map

It began life in 1948 as a small department store located along what was then the bustling commercial district of Santa Cruz along the famed Avenida Rizal or Rizal Avenue. Given its small space and the cutthroat competition among department stores in the area, Manila C.O.D. to shoppers back then was “just one of those,” perceived as nothing different to offer compared to the bigger department stores of Avenida.

Christmas season of 1957 changed Manila C.O.D.’s fortunes to become a formidable retail destination, thanks to a shopping gimmick that would become a beloved tradition: the moving Christmas displays. Since then, there was no turning back for its growth. But the changing urban landscape of downtown Manila threatened its business. So in 1966, C.O.D. made a bold move of relocating its main department store to then somewhat-barren Cubao, while keeping the Avenida store as a branch. This made C.O.D. the first department store in the then-young Araneta Center which until that time only had its 6-year old coliseum as its landmark.

C.O.D. Cubao circa 1990’s: acknowledgements to http://paulding.blogspot.com/2007/12/pinoy-retro-litrato_06.html for the photo

With an area 10x larger than its old store with 5 levels of shopping goodness, it now boasted a wider array of merchandise that was unparalleled at the time. It also meant grander Christmas display shows that were now being held at the upper level of the building. This roamer has been fortunate to have wonderful childhood memories of C.O.D. not only of its Christmas displays but also of the wide range of items on sale, especially the toys.

By the 1990’s, C.O.D.’s existence was under threat once more, not to mention the whole landscape of Cubao from changing urban landscape and lifestyle brought about by bigger malls, the multi-chain ones especially. Sadly, there was no getting out this time for the once-beloved department store. In 2002, in the midst of an overall decline of Cubao and in the department store concept, C.O.D. itself closed down for good.

C.O.D. Cubao as Puregold Cubao, taken 2009

Its beloved Christmas displays eventually found a new home in Greenhills; the landmark of sorts that is its building though is another story. It was first rented out to supermarket chain Puregold though it only utilized the ground level of the building, giving a still empty feeling to what was once a shopping mecca of sorts. Then Puregold itself moved out a few months ago to a new location, which also happened to be the site of another once-famous department store: Uniwide Cubao, whose story is also interesting by itself.

As of this writing, the old building of C.O.D. now lies languishing in the shadows of a high-rise residential being built right across it. Only time can tell if the C.O.D. building itself would give way to some new high-rise project. Whatever will be its fate, its contribution to the urban landscape of Cubao and Metro Manila as a whole will never be forgotten by generations of shoppers who have roamed around and bought stuff from this iconic store.

Acknowledgments also to the Philippine Daily Inquirer and to Rod Samonte for the additional information especially for the above map I made.

© The Urban Roamer

21 Comments

    • urban roamer – I have nothing much to say, I'm the quiet one...which may be why I wander, write, take photographs, and get into social media too much

      urban roamer

      I would have no idea, sorry

  • Jason

    During my childhood days. my Christmas is not complete without visiting COD department store. I used to go there very often, together with my Mother and brother specially during Christmas holidays. COD is the favorite shopping place of my Mother in Cubao because we always had a discount every-time we shop. My Mother died last 2010 that’s why those places became more memorable for me. Oh… I wish I could use a time machine to visit my Mother and the old COD once more. 🙂

  • sayshaze

    sayshaze

    oh wala na pala talaga ito. My Mom told me last week to check this mall (she’s in the US na kasi) dito daw kasi siya nagpapatahi noon ng slacks for my Dad.

    This will be sad news for her. =(

  • gary

    When I was in highschool more than 3 decades ago, I usually go around first window shopping at SM, Ali Mall, Rustans, Isetann, and farmers to look for the rigjt shirt or pants. But I always end up buying in COD. Their prices were reasonable and the selection of designs I could not find on other stores. I miss COD.

  • Wayne Moises

    A department store chain was open in 1948 as a retail chain store known as COD with Christmas dancing mannequins to entertain by shoppers during the holiday season then closed in 2002 was sold to puregold corporation a grocery outlet then closed to lease to become a highlife condominium an apartment building then COD department store moved to its new location at green hills mall is their new home in San Juan city is more spacious than the original COD in Cubao q.c. Arabeta center became a shopping mall into the 21st century on the Philippines and remains a Philippine landmark icon of all time thanks for the information.from Wayne

  • Chard Abes

    i miss C.O.D nung bata pa kami madalas kami dyan nagshopping lalo na tuwing christmas season dyan sa Araneta Center Cubao lagi kami dinadala ng mga magulang namin dyan nanood kami ng Animated Christmas on Display moving mannequin taon taon at fiesta carnival pa mura ang presyo ang tinda nila mga damit na miss ko rin dyan furniture at mga toys dyan sa C.O.D Department store dyan sa Cubao at meron dyan Giant Christmas tree isa sa christmas icon sa araneta center sa ngayon sya nalang ang natira sa attraction taon taon pag sapit ng Christmas Season sa Cubao ang C.O.D. Ngayon nasa Greenhills Shopping Center na isinasgawa ang Christmas on Display tradition since inilipat nung 2002 sa bagong tahanan sa GREENHILLS SAN JUAN

  • moonix

    i’m one of those who miss COD! looking back in the 90’s when i was working in metro manila i used to visit araneta center with my Nanay (who’s now in heaven) and never missed dropping by COD because of its reasonable price,,& choices of merchandise.. in fact i’ve bought some sporting goods there like my fishing rod, mask and snorkel, and a dart board..& until now i’m still using those stuff, the more i’l kip them now ‘coz they somehow serve as my souvenirs/remembrance to that beloved dept.store…i wish they would not demolish the building 🙁

  • Floren

    I was teary eyed…reminiscing my childhood days. We livedvin Quezon city for the past 4 decades that it was a big part of my whole being. How i wished cubao in particular didn’t erase those classic memories. A landmark that many can relate. I guess it’s still the best place ever.

  • thea

    wow same for me, when I was a kid we visits COD when
    Christmas is approaching, always!I still remember those giant dolls dancing… my mother still tells me now how the old cubao looks like and what building are present there before.She said that she will be lost in cubao now coz it has changed a lot, that’s why whenever she goes there alone she always tells the driver to drop her off at Farmers, coz its still remains where it was before.

  • enrico

    1970 onwards, I always go to COD Cubao after classes (grade school) and make it a point to buy a matchbox car (Leslie, made in England) for P7.45 each, about once a week. Cubao back then had Alemar’s Bookstore, Ma Mon Luk along Aurora blvd., Robina roasted chicken beside New Frontier’s Theatre, Miilie Velez dress shop, Ferino’s Bibingka right beside COD which is still around I guess, Farmer’s (which was on fire 3 times I recall) Matsuzakaya, Cup ‘N Saucer resto with a dumbwaiter, probably the only resto in the Phils with a dumbwaiter, and a lot of other memorable shops. Shoe Mart had a small shop at the corner of Yale and Aurora Blvd, (BDO branch now) which only had a mezzanine and a basement where I bought a Universal brand basketball (Voit and Spalding were quite costly for my mom back then) The good old days sigh…

  • Benjamin Nable

    I think C.O.D stands for Cash On Delivery, I used to go there in my early 20’s ( The one in Avenida, in front of Ever theatre, I not sure, cause I have been living here in California for the last fifty years), pardon my memory cause I am already elderly. Hope this helps.

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