Aldevinco shopping center celebrates half a century of Mindanao, shopping, and heritage

In 1963, Conrado Alcantara and his wife, Ladislawa, took one look at an 8,370 square meter property along Claveria Avenue (now Claro M. Recto) and decided that it was the perfect place for a commercial complex.

The Alcantaras had their eyes on the property and bought it.

This was where the first shopping center in Davao City was built. Aldevinco Shopping Center, designed by Architect Roman Solitaria, continues to stand proud today since it was blessed and inaugurated on January 2, 1965.

“For 50 years, we’ve been able to develop loyalty among our tenants as well as our core customers,” said Tomas Alcantara, chairman of the Alcantara group. “Over the years we’ve been able to cater to the increasing number of tourists that come every year. Aldevinco has become a necessary stop for tourists in Davao and we’re happy to have contributed to making the city a destination.”

Aldevinco Shopping Center, also known simply as Aldevinco, is located at the corner of Claro M. Recto and Roxas Streets, has become a landmark in the city’s Poblacion District.

Even amid the growing number of malls in the city, Aldevinco remains to be the go-to place for tourists who want to shop for souvenirs like indigenous crafts, antique, Batik products, and brass items that are uniquely Mindanao.

Aldevinco currently houses over 100 shops, most of which are operated by the second and third generation families of the original tenants.

“We hope to continue to perform as a shopping destination in the years to come no matter how small we are,” Alcantara said. The number of tenants in Aldevinco remains at an estimate of 50. “A great percentage of them remained with us through the years.”

For example, Mildred Aguila, the woman behind Milsan’s Quality Mart has been with Aldevinco since the beginning. Her store in Aldevinco has been a realization of her dream to become a business owner; since she was a teen, she’s always had a knack and passion for selling.

With the support of her aunt, she and her husband was able to rent a small space to sell an assortment of goods. She used her earrings to buy more items to sell, investing in quality pieces that were fashionable and in demand at that time.

With her diligence and creativity, her store stood the test of time and allowed her to send her five children to good schools.

Nestor Quizon, another entrepreneur who’s been with Aldevinco for 50 years, looked back at his fond memories of the shopping center. “Ladislawa Alcantara encouraged entrepreneurship, especially among women,” he said. “That, I think, is the Alcantaras’ greatest gift to Davaoenos.”

The late Bon Tan Lua, who hails from Zamboanga, now has her two daughters Nancy and Lilia oversee her family’s business flourish over the years. The New Davao Julie Trading, managed by the second generation of the family, is frequented by balikbayans and foreigners for wooden and shell crafts.

Josephine Chu, the woman behind Josephine Classic Wear Botique, stays relevant in retail by keeping up with trends. She offers an assortment of fashionable native products and souvenir items. “People from all walks of life shop here,” she said, “because only in Aldevinco will you find popular items and unique finds side by side.” (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)