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From mall tambays to entrepreneurs: The SM effect in SM City Sto. Tomas

By Eileen Mencias

When SM Supermalls opened SM City Sto. Tomas in Batangas in October 2023, it also created opportunities for entrepreneurs in the town.

Sherwin Lubuit, owner of Kwatogs and a loyal customer of SM malls, admits to regularly spending time in its malls. Inspired by more than just the air conditioning, the opening of SM City Sto. Tomas turned his dream into reality.

Lubuit aims to offer as many people as possible a taste of the authentic Batangas lomi experience—a bowl full of fat noodles in a thick soup with meat and lots of onions.

Kwatogs serves the iconic Batangas lomi, and opening a store in SM City Sto. Tomas represents a significant achievement for Lubuit. “To me, SM isn’t merely a business partner; it’s also a silent supporter that played a crucial role in turning my modest vision into reality,” Lubuit said.

Juddie Alegre harbored similar aspirations. Her establishment, Juddie’s Bulalohan, had been serving Alegre’s nilagang bulalo and had always dreamed of having a space in a mall. Being chosen as one of the tenants for the food court in SM City Sto. Tomas was a dream come true. “Iyon po talaga ang pangarap ko. Pinaganda pa po dahil kay SM po kami napunta,” Alegre said.

Thanks to SM Malls, both Lubuit and Alegre no longer need to travel to Manila for retail therapy or the comfort of hanging out in a mall. More importantly, they don’t need to go to Manila or other cities for business opportunities, as SM Malls provides these opportunities to communities where the malls are located.

“SM City Sto. Tomas can really serve as a hub for people to relax and have fun with their friends and loved ones,” said Sto. Tomas Mayor Arth Jhun Marasigan. “Many of our residents have found opportunities to open their businesses within the mall and its surrounding areas.”

The businesses that opened and the jobs created have spurred the city’s economy.

For Watsons Philippines, an SM Retail affiliate, 80% of the employees in SM City Sto. Tomas are from Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

“SM Supermalls is committed to being more than just a shopping destination; we are a pillar of community growth and development,” said SM Supermalls President Steven Tan. “We view ourselves as partners with the areas where we operate, helping create jobs and livelihood opportunities to spur economic progress.”

SM City Sto. Tomas is located at the foot of Mt. Makiling and is accessible to residents of Laguna and Quezon. It is the fourth SM Mall in Batangas, serving as a gateway to the province and the 85th mall of SM.

“The regions are providing a lot of growth potential for all our businesses as we continue to expand in many underserved areas,” said SM Investments Corp. president and CEO Frederic Dybuncio.

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