MANILA—In time for Halloween, Robinsons Galleria and actress Alice Dixson tried to put an end to an urban legend regarding an alleged serpentine creature that supposedly waits for its prey in the mall's fitting rooms.
The new commercial, "It's good to revisit old stories. But...," uploaded on Robinsons Galleria's Facebook page, features the actress who was once rumored to be among the "victims" of the slithering creature.
In the new commercial, Dixson is seen exploring the newly renovated Robinsons Galleria and then picks out clothes to try in one of the fitting rooms.
She hears a hissing sound, an apparent reference to the urban legend, only to find a child in a crocodile costume instead.
Dixson then tries other things to do at the renovated mall, and the ad ends with the line, "Time to make new stories."
According to the popular yarn, once the mutant snake finds a woman it likes, it would flip a switch and the woman would drop through a hole in the floor, straight into its mouth.
Dixson was said to have survived the scary encounter, but was allegedly paid by the Gokongwei family to keep her silence.
There are other versions of the urban legend, including one that says the snake is really the twin brother of Robina Gokongwei, a daughter of the mall's owner, tycoon John Gokongwei.
Businesswoman Robina Gokongwei-Pe once made light of the urban legend and traced its roots to "market competition."
In a speech 10 years ago in her alma mater, UP School of Economics, she said:
"You were not born yet when the story of my kakambal na ahas who was half-woman, half-snake came out when we opened our second Robinsons Department Store branch in Cebu in 1985. My kakambal was supposed to be the source of our wealth as she laid golden eggs. She was supposed to be hiding under the floor of the fitting rooms, and every time a beautiful woman would enter, the floor would open and she would land right inside the mouth of my kakambal na ahas.
"I have no idea who started this incredible story, but I have to tell you that some people believed it and even started staring at my legs to see if there were any signs of snakeskin. A few people still ask me about it, and I have to tell them na naging handbag na ho sa Robinsons Department Store.
"Thank goodness there was no Internet yet at that time, or you would start receiving photos of me with a snake’s body and my kakambal na snake with a woman’s legs.
"How do you deal with these dirty tricks? Nothing, just keep quiet and let the story fade away. Or better still, make a joke out of it."
In 2012, a video about "Robinsons snake is dead" made the rounds of social media following the opening of several Robinsons malls.
More that 30 years after the original story circulated, the joke appears to be on some of the Gokongweis' competitors since they are now one of the giants in the retail business with about 50 malls to date nationwide.