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Forum Robinsons is Closing, Why are People Going to Miss It?

'Player of the Game yan si Rob Forum. Napaka-underrated. Maaasahan.'
by Clara Rosales
A day ago
Photo/s: Forum Robinsons/Facebook

Forum Robinsons, that stretch of concrete thats a sign that your EDSA Northbound journey is still a long way to go, will close its doors on April 30, sending people online on a nostalgic trip of memories made in the 18-year-old Mandaluyong mall.

Over the past two years, Filipinos mourned the closure of their favorite pre-pandemic spots (like Tomato Kick and Chocolate Kiss), most of which had to say goodbye due to financial constraints during a global health crisis. While the Forum Robinsons closure was called an opportunity for a fresh start and brought on a huge sale, its patrons will still miss it.

Whether you’re sentimental or not, it’s normal for people to get attached to spaces. It’s called place attachment and it’s part of environmental psychology, an interdisciplinary study focused on the relationship humans have with their natural and built surroundings.


Forum Robinsons Closing Sale Has These Items at 80% Off

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What’s place attachment?

According to researchers Leila Scannell and Robert Gifford, three dimensions make up place attachment: person, psychology, and place.

Depth and reason of attachment are different for everyone, with some more likely to attach based on a space’s capacity to meet needs, create communities, and permeate memory.

This commonly happens for homes and schools, but it can happen for malls, which are public places often designed to fulfill many needs at once.

The one-stop shop

It's not a destination mall to unwind, but Forum Robinsons had all the essentials for surrounding condo dwellers and BPO workers.

“My family knew that mall as Pioneer. When I was growing up, it felt like an adventure going all the way along EDSA from where we lived in Cubao to get to it…It felt like a grand place; can still remember how mesmerized I was by that fountain in the center,” said Luna (not her real name), now a 20-something Mandaluyong office worker.

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It's been an EDSA fixture since 2004, halfway between Robinsons Galleria and Megamall in Ortigas and Ayala Center further south.

“It’s where I used to hang out nung first few weeks ko at work,” Zia (not her real name) said. She had been going to the mall for at least half a decade prior to the pandemic. 

Forum Robinsons pre-pandemic had a terminal for jeepneys along Pioneer Street and buses plying EDSA would drop off passengers at the mall, where new ones would replace them immediately. You could also catch a tricycle or e-trike nearby.

When COVID-19 jabs arrived, the mall transformed into a vaccination center.

The mall was no architectural feat by today's standards. It had no trees or parks, and its setup reminded you of 2000s malls left behind as the world kept up with modern trends.

“I came back to the area thanks to work when I was all grown up and it was an entirely different place. The fountain was gone. It felt more like a transient space at that point, which it was for me as it was on my commute,” Luna said.

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Very little about it was worthy of a post on Instagram now, but what it lacked in aesthetics was made up for with function.

“Like I know we’d always say how ugly it is, but like…it really had everything, you know…” Zia said.

“I mean, may ID picture place pa sa Forum which saved my life when I was doing visa applications,” she said. That same place took the photos I had to submit for my first job.

It also had a money exchange tucked away in a corner, along with a small bazaar where you could get a cheap phone screen protector and case. It had enough restaurant options if you get bored of the cafeteria choices at work.

It even had a hardware store connected to a supermarket lined with fast food kiosks supported by employees catching a quick meal during a break. That supermarket would sometimes carry products you won’t find at other malls. You could leave the mall with fries, a few slices of dragon fruit out of curiosity, and a set of screwdrivers on sale, just because.

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Watching a movie after work was also a go-to for many employees. People can even get their hair done after a stressful day or before rushing to a big event. Just for kicks, I checked if the mall had a dentist, and it did.

Zia even recalled a friend doing last-minute gift shopping for the Christmas of 2019. But more than anything, she enjoyed going there with coworkers to catch a breather in the middle of a hectic day.

Thanks for the memories

“It sounds so emo but, seriously, where are we gonna go now when you just want a break?” she asked. 

The mall was there for almost every moment you could need it: grabbing medicines for a sick friend, ranting with a workmate over coffee, or buying wrapping paper for an anniversary gift.

Looking back on it now, those little moments nurtured such a strong attachment, so much so that Zia said, “Player of the Game yan si Rob Forum. Napaka-underrated. Maaasahan.

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As someone who also worked near the mall, it wasn’t my first option for a fun night out, but it was the one that accommodated a quick cry session.

I got off work around 8 p.m. one day pre-pandemic and ran into the basement of a coffee shop to console a friend weeping over a terrible boss. No plan, no reservation, just be there. It was the closest place and real-life tears didn’t need a ‘Gram-worthy background to fall. 

In fast-paced Mandaluyong where everyone seemed to work overtime, tears shed late at night in public was normal. Everyone in Forum Robinsons would pretend they didn’t see you crying about work.

“There’s [also] something comforting about being alone there, maybe because it’s always so busy and no one really cares,” Zia added.

“It was a little sad seeing it so transformed, and even sadder now that it's officially closing—still, hey, thanks for the memories,” Luna said.

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