Manila, my manila

Real Living (Philippines) - - Editor's Note -

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.

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