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After our afternoon coffee munch in Datu’s Brew, I decided to take Belle “sightseeing” to Cotabato’s famous Barter Trade Center.

This is where you can buy a selection of local wares from native bags, to scarves, malongs, and batik dresses. I casually told Belle these exact words, “I like to shop around there.” She straightened up from her slouch in the backseat, eyes lit up and nodded, all the eagerness to go home obviously gone. We went out for coffee, why not for window shopping? Total girls’ day out. My mind was busy calculating how much we were about to spend on this impromptu shopping trip. (I’m kuripot that way.)

The Cotabato Barter Trade Center or simply Barter is a haven of sorts. There were blouses of all fashion – from trendy to traditional, this leopard print harem pants that were too comfortable for words selling at 250 matatawaran pa, a chic black and white animal print scarf, there were colorful pants (read: pink, purple, yellow, blue) which I could easily work into my everyday wardrobe and scarves, scarves and SCARVES galore!

I had a huge crush on the floral scarves I saw as we were driving by but up close, the animal printed scarves were what made me fall in love. This red one was the winner of all the scarves there.

I was ready to hit the mute button on the “ka-ching” money noises which were reverberating in my head when I grabbed it. Right when I was ready to pull out the moolah, the saleslady in an elementary student’s uniform changed the price from 150 to 180. Wasn’t it supposed to go the other way around? From up to down? Turn off. Zero for sales talk. My buzz was killed. These people are known to change their prices if they see you have money to spare – at which I DO NOT! I did salvage the scarf moment and went there the next day and bought it from a different saleslady. I got it for so much less this time. 🙂

I thought Belle was just happy to be toted around by her mom who was busy ogling but apparently, she had business of her own. I didn’t see the signs at first, thinking she was just goofing around when she grabbed a cap from the stall. I was busy looking up to the scarves hanging from the ceiling that I didn’t notice her inherent liking to the hijab.

She grabbed one and asked me to put it on her. Being a convert, I didn’t, scratch that, I still DO NOT know what is what from what. I had to ask the saleslady to help us out – which was quite embarrassing since it looked fairly obvious. After she donned it, I just couldn’t say no. I mean, could you?

I was asked a hundred bucks for this. Of course, I  had to ask for a discount and got it for eighty instead. I am clueless as to how much these really cost so I went ahead and paid for it, no “kaching’s” in my head this time.

All in a mommy’s day.

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