PHILCOA: Then and Now

It looks like we'll soon have to say goodbye to Citi Mall.

philocoa throwback pictures
PHOTO BY Google Maps Streetview

( There are spots in the city that become part of the daily life of many. A place that you pass through practically every day, flowing through a sea of strangers collectively moving through the same halls—or in this specific case, the same commuters' hub and strip malls. PHILCOA. We're sure you've heard the goodbyes online as the Quezon City hotspot is expected to close, or at the very least, go through a massive change, come January 31. 

Also read: Divisoria Has Gotten a Makeover: We Compare Just How Big the Difference Is

Time to say goodbye to PHILCOA as we know it?

First things first: When the average commuter says "PHILCOA," we usually mean the commuting hubs on both sides of Commonwealth right by where the offices of the Philippine Coconut Authority are located. On the side heading towards Fairview, past the corner of Maharlika and right before the fork leading to University Avenue (of UP Diliman, of course) is Citi Mall and L Paseo—the shopping and transport hub that has long been collectively dubbed PHILCOA. 


Online, the January 31 date hit right in the nostalgia. Most folks reminisced about the Jollibee branch here much the same way we bid goodbye to the old McDonald's when it shut down in August 2021. The ever-present Mercury Drug was also part of the buzz. 

In a chat with the UP Diliman Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Development Raquel B. Florendo, she points to two main factors for the upcoming changes to PHILCOA, particularly Citi Mall. "It is something to do with safety and the major development (around the area)." 

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philcoa commonwealth overpass mrt 7
The view from the PHILCOA pedestrian overpass on January 13 shows that the MRT-7 is well underway.
PHOTO BY mia rodriguez

"Safety that was already on the part of the local government, so that is already uncompromisable," she says. Citi Mall is situated right by the tracks of the upcoming MRT-7, which runs along the area's section of Commonwealth Avenue. "In terms of retrofitting the building, it may not be anymore viable considering that there will developments in the area related to MRT-7," says Florendo. "They're going to build already the area where the pedestrians will go up from the terminal." 


Also read: WATCH: The MRT-7 Is Officially Shaping Up

Why the buzz around PHILCOA?

philcoa quezon city citi mall in 2015
Spot those trees on Commonwealth's island back in 2015. Citi Mall to the right still had a lively collection of chain restaurants and other stores, as well as a fixed transportation-hub system.
PHOTO BY wikimedia commons / judgefloro

The place has long been a transit point for many commuters; you can hop on a bus, a jeep, a trike, a taxi, or basically anything else from this area. For students, it was the go-to meetup point thanks to the location and all the fastfood restos in the spot. Then there's the matter of convenience buying, from the fruits and veggie stalls by the overpass to the bargain stalls along the Super Baratilyo hallway of Citi Mall, and of course, the Mercury Drug that's been there for as long as anyone can remember. 

philcoa citi mall commonwealth
In January of 2023. Most of the Citi Mall shops have closed down.
PHOTO BY mia rodriguez
philoca citi mall 2014 google
A snapshot from 2014 via Google Maps Streetview shows all the old shops that populated Citi Mall, McDonald's included.
PHOTO BY Google Maps Streetview
philcoa el paseo jollibee 2014 google
L Paseo in 2014.
PHOTO BY Google Maps Streetview

A quick walk through the place on the morning of January 13 shows that it's not quite as lively as it used to be. Most of Citi Mall's second floor is now boarded up, the stalls of the Baratilyo are closed, and we can't forget having said goodbye to the old McDonald's here back in August 2021.

philcoa old super bartilyo sign
The old Super Baratilyo sign remains unchanged in January 2023.
PHOTO BY mia rodriguez
philcoa mercury drug
Mercury Drug is still there, though the second floor of the building no longer appears to be accessible to the general public. 
PHOTO BY mia rodriguez
philcoa commonwealth overpass
The overpass remains, too, as seen past the fences put up around the area.
PHOTO BY mia rodriguez
philcoa mcdonalds closed
The old McDonald's has been pretty much abandoned since its closure.
PHOTO BY mia rodriguez

It seems that at some point, time began to stand still in PHILCOA—the old Citi Mall signs remain practically unchanged, along with the Super Baratilyo one. The McDonald's, too, is still empty. Time has continued changing things all around it, and while it seems to finally be catching on, the memories of old PHILCOA will remain.

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