Manila, my manila
If you think that the old Manila street called Escolta has suddenly become Hipster Haven, then you are terribly mistaken. I actually consider the term insulting to its illustrious history.
Aside from its storied past, there are the thousands of memories held dear in the hearts of many Filipinos and long-time ex-pats. My parents, who had come of age by World War II, had clear recollections of Escolta in its heyday and thereafter. As a little girl, my mother used to visit my grandfather at the PECO offices in the wonderfully angular Hamilton Building. My father watched movies at the Capitol Theater, although Ideal Theater along nearby Avenida was the more popular venue. I even have childhood memories of the puppies sold in front of the neoclassical Don Ramon Santos (now Bank of the Philippine Islands) building right at the corner of Escolta.
And the buildings! Almost all were done by the masters, the most recent of which is the Zaragosa-designed, spaceship-like Commerce Bank at the end of the street. Escolta is a visual reminder that the Philippines was once an economic and architectural powerhouse, and could still be a powerhouse once again.
So let us rediscover this amazing street (read Sunshine Funa’s feature on p. 26). Shop for unusual objects, meet the artists, visit its museums, eat hotdogs at the lone ice cream parlor, and take photos of the breathtaking buildings. Experience its charming vibe in all its grittiness. And if you can, create, design, and build around it once more—but be respectful of its original beauty and glory.
(From top) Rachelle Medina at the corner of Escolta and Burke Streets, Paula de Guzman and Sunshine Funa at the 1/0 office at First United Building, photog Michael Angelo Chua getting a good shot of the Regina Building.