Jackpot in Kalibo: helpful stores for foreign visitors

shopping jackpot in kalibo includes small businesses like the one pictured here

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

Jackpot in Kalibo!

The provincial capital of Aklan in the Philippines has a few more stores I discovered today. These will be seriously helpful as we continue our travel pause on Panay Island during the coronavirus pandemic.

Helpful stores in Kalibo

Giant stores


One is CitiHardware. It’s like a Home Depot in America. But better. The prices are better, and it’s like an oasis in the desert when working on big projects in a pandemic causing some supply shortages at smaller businesses.

Nothing against the small family-run stores. In fact, all of our supplies for the Ati sustainability projects have come from small businesses.

At CitiHardware, I found water tanks!

Jackpot in Kalibo - CitiHardware has water tanks like these, needed for the Ati community betterment projects.

We need one of these soon, as we work to improve the water situation for the Ati tribe. In fact, tomorrow is a big day for our Ati projects: it’s the day the chickens are scheduled to arrive!

I’d been to Kalibo a few times now, but never noticed CitiHardware. Thanks to Tedly’s friend Juli for flagging the place.

On my trip today, I got the needed details and prices on various sizes, and I’ll be back to place an order soon.


Another store I discovered is Unitop. This is a massive store – like a triple-mega WalMart. But better, because again, prices are better. Of course, the quality of items is reflected in the prices, and I think everything I looked at was ‘Made in China’.

Every shelf was full. From groceries to appliances to hardware and home wares, school supplies to clothing to toys. You name it – it was there. Kind of a stark contrast to some empty shelves back north in Malay.

I love my husband dearly. But if he were to ever enter that store, I don’t think I’d see him for the rest of the day. (Tedly is a shopping PRO at finding super deals.)

Small businesses

Spreading the love, I also checked out more small businesses. As a capitalist American, and the daughter of small business owners, I will always seek out the ‘little guy’ when it makes sense. In fact, on previous trips to Kalibo, I’ve only patronized the ‘City Mall’ and ‘Gaisano’ stores for items I cannot find anywhere else – like ground coffee.

Across from the public market, one small business sold accessories in bulk: purses and hair items for girls and women, watches for boys, sunglasses for every kid. I bought some items there. (Picture of me and a clerk at the top of this page.)

And because I can’t resist a new (used) clothing store, I browsed through a really cute, clean, well-kept ukay ukay store. The proprietor offered me two shirts for 50 pesos ($1). Sold.

She asked me to ‘please come back’. I will.

Micro business

Shopping done, it was time to visit friends, and pick up a special order. My Scottish expat friend lives just outside the hustle and bustle of Kalibo. His neighbor’s family has a young man making planters for sale.

We got to talking on my visit last week. I ordered a few pots then, and went back today to pick them up as I left Kalibo.

Like everyone else in this pandemic, Gido has had to adjust to the ‘new normal’ in these crazy times. Pot-making was not his original plan. But here we are. He made my special-order pots perfectly, and he packed them up perfectly for my bus ride back north.

Gido and Ellen smile at the camera, holding a planter pot.

Sometimes, a micro business is so worth it!

I appreciate Gido’s work ethic and his intelligence. We’ve had some good conversations so far, and I look forward to talking again. And also, the Hangout Beach Resort – our pandemic ‘bunker’ – needs more, larger pots.

Thanks for reading, “Jackpot in Kalibo: helpful stores for foreign visitors.”


State of the Nation Address

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte delivered his annual address to the country late this afternoon.

7 highlights:

  1. The Philippines cannot confront China over maritime claims because the country cannot go to war.
  2. Duterte will not allow children to go to school until there is a coronavirus vaccine, but children can do e-classes.
    • Because many families are too poor to pay for online learning, the government will utilize TV frequencies for teaching.
  3. The president told telecom countries to improve their services by December ‘or else’.
  4. Duterte asked lawmakers to pass an act that would slash corporate tax rates from 30 percent to 25 percent to stimulate growth.
  5. There will be an infrastructure construction push to help the economy recover.
  6. 71 free online courses will be offered so people can retrain for different jobs.
  7. Duterte ‘fully sports’ tourism and recreation recovery, and wants national and local leaders to work together. (No date set for international tourists to enter the Philippines.)

Read more on the official government page.


Earth Vagabonds (Ellen and Tedly) were traveling in the Philippines with Tedly’s mother since late 2019. When the pandemic shut down borders, they decided to stay in Malay, Aklan, Philippines, on the mainland across from Boracay.

These are the tales of their adventures on a slow travel pause.

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