What started as a console renting business back in 1997 turned into the Philippines’ first ever physical store to showcase all things retro. That’s how the Retrogamerph Store’s story began. It wasn’t easy at first, especially during the early 2000s when the PC gaming industry was booming, nobody really wanted to play consoles anymore. This in turn made the owner go into the PC renting business, but ultimately kept all of his video game consoles. After a few years, the passion of the owner was yet rekindled during the times when online gaming was the trend, and he continued to collect more vintage consoles and games. By transforming his rental shop into a fully fledged store because of his love for the old school games and consoles, Erwin Esteban, the owner, became a pioneer in opening the gate to the Filipino community (and foreigners too of course), young and old in appreciating the consoles and games that we all grew to love as a kid.
Being the first shop to focus solely on retro, Erwin hopes to educate the minds of the people about our childhood games and consoles. Over the years throughout the Philippines there have been many online stores selling similar goods, multiple groups dedicated to buy and sell for the electronics and games of Sony, Nintendo, and other gaming companies, but little to none actually have a physical store. In fact, Retrogamerph Store is one of the very few to have a physical retro shop in the Philippines.
Being an avid collector throughout the years, Erwin is one of the creators of Retro Gamers and Collectors Philippines (RGCP), a group wherein people share their passion in retro gaming. The group started out with only about five people (more or less) on the concept of having a small bunch of them solely discussing their love for games. Years after, what became a small group turned into a fully functional hub for buy and sell for all things retro, as well as moments where collectors and enthusiasts alike share their collections/hauls to one another. From a group of five, the Retro Gamers and Collectors Philippines (RGCP) has now a whopping 8,434 members (and counting)!
Since then, the members of the group (including me) affectionately call Erwin as “Chairman”. Erwin was also featured in one of the episodes of “AHA!”, a series hosted by Carlos Agassi that focuses on electronics, games, and even some throwback consoles that aired in GMA Network, one of the major broadcast TV and radio stations in the Philippines. One of the episodes of AHA! that featured Erwin was entitled “AHA!: Throwback Gaming Consoles and Video Games” that aired in June 22, 2014 showcased consoles like the Atari 2600 which popularized home-based video gaming, Nintendo consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Sega consoles like the Sega Megadrive, and many more. There the media acknowledged Erwin as the overall head of the RGCP group. For those of you who are interested in watching that episode, you can watch it here. The AHA! series is spoken in Filipino though, but there are generated subtitles that are automatically translated so you can more or less get a sense of what they are saying. Another series he was featured is on the show “GameChanger Philippines” on the ABS-CBN New Channel, another major TV/radio station in the Philippines wherein he showed his collections and advertised RGCP to the public which you can watch here on a part of GameChanger Philippines’ segment “Evolution of Video Games” which aired in the 28th of November 2015. This one was recorded in English, along with official subtitles below when other people in the segment spoke in Filipino, so it should be easy for everyone around the world to understand.
Erwin not only prides himself as the overall head of the biggest known retro group in the Philippines, but also his vast collection of vintage games/consoles and limited editions/rares.
While looking over his collection, I found this Gameboy DMG with its outer shell slightly melted(?). Erwin explained to me that years ago there was a contest in the RGCP community wherein the goal was to mod and design your average Gameboy DMG in a creative way, kind of like a “Pimp my Gameboy” contest. Chuckling, I affectionately called it a Gameboy S’mores Edition, since taking at a first glance the first thing that popped into my heart was marshmallows by the campfire.
Those are some pretty darn rare Gameboy Light console variants! It’s such a shame that the Tezuka Osama World Shop edition has a lcd burn (the one on the far right).
You can tell Erwin’s not skimping out on the good stuff. Some of his limited edition collection include all three of the Nintendo 64 Pikachu Edition variants. The light blue and orange ones being Japanese exclusive ones, and the dark blue one available only in the North/South of America and in Europe. He’s even got a complete in box Sega Dreamcast Sakura Taisen (Sakura Wars) edition, a Nintendo 64 Pokemon Battle Set that’s a Europe and Australia Exclusive, and a Sega Game Gear Ninku variant (with the blue, white, yellow, and red game gears below it). Some loose rares he has include a GameCube Hanshin Tigers unit, which was only given during the commemoration of the Hanshin Tigers winning 1st place in Japanese Baseball League Championship back in 2003 and a Gameboy Atlus Newing, which only about 50 in the world were made. And that’s not even half of the limited edition games and consoles!
Some custom made console units for the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Famicom!
The walls are filled to the brim with games on tons of platforms. From Atari games all the way down to PlayStation 2 games. With this much games, it must be hard picking what choice of game would you want to play for the day. Definitely a game library to be proud of.
Walls just filled to the brim with different kinds of consoles, handhelds, and gaming accessories. Every nook and cranny within the shop serves a purpose. With almost no small space peeking through the corners, consoles are wedged together, supporting each other’s weight. Handhelds such the Sega Game Gears and Game & Watch are displayed in a glass case, while below them there are loose Family Computers stacked neatly on top of each other. You can practically feel the childhood nostalgia oozing out of the place, with every glance you take reminds you of that certain game or console that you played with as a child.
If you think I’d leave here empty-handed, you must be crazy!
I tried to resist the urge to buy something and failed miserably basically. I got pretty good deal on the Goemon 3 (Legend of the Mystical Ninja 3) on the Super Famicom, Puzzle Bobble 2x on the Sega Saturn, and Gameboy Color (as seen on the first picture) for just over 14 USD. The owner decided to throw in some freebies as well like the Gameboy Micro silicon case, a RGCP patch and sticker, and Pokemon Green (JPN) for the Gameboy (second picture).
Overall, if you want to learn more about anything retro, this is the place to be. The owner, Erwin Esteban is very accommodating and friendly. He will gladly help you out if there’s anything you are looking for. He does repairs and mods as well, so if you want to either put a region switch on your GameCube, get any of your old consoles up and running and much more, he’s your man. And best of all, especially for all you lucky folks that aren’t living in the Philippines, Retrogamerph Store does international shipping! You can check out his online shop on Facebook, where he posts his items that are for sale and modes of payment that you can do, like PayPal. He’s not only limited to selling though, he accepts trades and buys from others as well.
Contact info of Retrogamerph Store:
Contact no.: 09055170588
Address: #131 P. Pablo Street, 10th Avenue, Caloocan City