LOOK: Here's how Unimart looked like 53 years ago 2
The original Unimart building had a Brutalist touch in its architecture. Photo courtesy of Unimart
Culture

These vintage photos of Unimart Greenhills will take you back to the good old days

To many it was more than a just a supermarket, it was a family tradition.
ANCX Staff | Jul 21 2023

In the 70s and 80s, there was a popular grocery shopping center that people not only from San Juan but from neighboring cities loved going to: the Unimart Greenhills Supermarket. Founded by Filipino-Chinese businessman and University of the Philippines Economics graduate Joseph Henry Ng, Unimart was the first building erected at the Greenhills Shopping Center in Ortigas, San Juan. 

Unimart
Unimart Greenhills circa 1970

According to Ng’s biography “Entrepreneur for all Seasons, Supermarket Pioneer and Visionary Business Person” authored by award-winning Filipino novelist Charlson Ong, the idea to open a hypermarket in the shopping center was a response to the growth and development of the Greenhills community in the late 60s.

Unimart
Unimart Greenhills front lobby

The supermarket was inaugurated and opened to the public on March 30, 1970. It had a Brutalist touch in its architecture. But its grocery was patterned after the modern grocery stores in the US at that time. Unimart Greenhills was one of the first supermarkets in the Philippines to offer a wide variety of imported and local products.

Main entrance in Ortigas Avenue
Main entrance in Ortigas Avenue

To mark its 53rd anniversary, Unimart Greenhills recently mounted a photo exhibit that featured images from the early years of Unimart. This sparked a nostalgic trip down memory lane for longtime patrons of the superstore and San Juan residents who shared fond memories of the place in the store’s Facebook page. 

Checkout Counters
Unimart checkout counters, circa 70s

For many, Unimart was not only a go-to supermarket for buying necessities but also a favorite place for families to spend time together. “I was 10 yrs old when Unimart opened. My Mom would go grocery shopping while my Dad had coffee and snacks,” read one comment. The commenter, meanwhile, would do her own thing—hunt for Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books at the stationery section.

For many kids back in the day, the supermarket was also synonymous to enjoying their favorite snacks—especially Orange Julius, a popular frothy, milkshake-like drink made with orange juice, milk, sugar, and Coney Island ice cream.

Unimart's renovated facade
Unimart's renovated facade

There are also those who associate the name Unimart for its flavorful spaghetti, the chocolate cake from Cookie Monster, and the kakanins.

Bowling tournament at Unimart
Unimart held bowling tournaments for its employees. 

Former music executive Tato Malay, who used to frequent the place in the 70s and 80s, connects the place to memories of listening to visually impaired musicians performing at its vicinity. “I remember being captivated by their music, which was sincerely emanating from their hearts,” he told ANCX. Gerald Grana, a Quezon City resident, remembered Unimart as the place where “cool kids hung out when there was still no Glorietta. They go there at night, park their cool cars, drink beer, and play sounds on their car stereo.”

Awarding ceremony of bowling tournament
Bowling tournament awarding ceremony 

There are residents from other cities who make the trip to Greenhills to buy imported grocery items. “The best diyan. Dami kang mabibili mapa-Asian, Italian, o American,” said Imo Ochosa, a Cubao resident. “They’re selling a wide range of ingredients. Meron pa silang madalas ipromo na buy 1 take 1 na imported wine, P300 lang.”  

Building renovation in 1990
Building renovation in 1990. In photo: customer service supervisor Onofre Mercado, assistant chief maintenance Robert Almonte and suppliers representative 
Unimart
The new Unimart supermarket offers a wider variety of products than the original store.
Unimart
Fresh produce at Unimart. 

In 2017, Unimart Supermarket turned a new leaf as it moved to its current location along Club Filipino Avenue with a new and updated look. The two-level supermarket offers a wider variety of products than the original store. It also has more modern features such as self-checkout stations. It continues to be a popular destination for shoppers in the Greenhills area. In 2018, it opened a new branch at Capitol Commons, this time to serve the needs of the Pasig community.

Photos courtesy of Unimart