Reviving Escolta

Reviving Old Manila’s Escolta District

The beautiful Regina Buildilng built in 1934

The beautiful Regina Buildilng built in 1934

It was a hot and humid noon when I arrived at Carriedo LRT station and crossing Plaza Sta. Cruz, a glimpse of two imposing buildings that looked like sentinels, standing guard right after the bridge. Regina Building, a neoclassic architecture stood proud. Across it, the equally elegant First United Building with its beautiful art deco details.

The street in between was abuzz with people, hovering around tents, bazaars, walking around while a stage for an afternoon’s mini concert was being set up. Another group was following a guide as they toured to learn more about this historic strip and its imposing architecture.

Calle de Escolta, from its founding in 1594 has flourished as a street of commerce when Chinese migrants from the mainland trooped to Manila to make their fortune as the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade was in full swing. A merchant’s street, an international emporium where almost everything from Asia and Europe found its way into its many busy shops.

From the close of the 19th century to the prewar years, it was the place of many firsts: first ice cream parlor, first elevator, first business addresses of some of today’s known brands and for a time. It was the center of finance. But it lost its luster and businesses started to shift to Makati in the 60s that slowly, it has degenerated into shuttered buildings and some are now warehouses.

And now, plans to revive the Escolta district are afoot with several activities and events geared towards awareness and conservation of which, #selfiEscolta, the buzzword that Saturday was just one among many. It’s not easy work but with the team up of different organizations within the district, arts and heritage conservation groups under the Escolta Revival Movement, there is hope that in the future, if not soon, Escolta District will once again flourish.

Interested to know more about Escolta and the efforts for its revival? Check out the FB page Explore Escolta.

Bernie of Heritage Conservation Society - Youth with the Regina Building in the background

Bernie of Heritage Conservation Society – Youth with the Regina Building in the background

Escolta Street with the #selfiescolta street market event flanked by the Regina Building at the left and the First United Building at the right.

Escolta Street with the #selfiescolta street market event flanked by the Regina Building at the left and the First United Building at the right.

The beautiful staircase of the First United Building right across the Regina Building. Note the beautiful wrought iron railings.

The beautiful staircase of the First United Building right across the Regina Building. Note the beautiful wrought iron railings.

Capitol Theater in art deco style

Capitol Theater in art deco style

Old Philippines stamps on sale at the #selfiescolta street market event

Old Philippines stamps on sale at the #selfiescolta street market event

Crafts at the street market

Crafts at the street market

One of the products at the street market fair

One of the products at the street market fair

Food products on sale

Food products on sale

Left, Bernie and Makel of HCS-Youth; right, one of the sellers at the #selfiescolta event

Left, Bernie and Makel of HCS-Youth; right, one of the sellers at the #selfiescolta event

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

3 Comments

  1. Berniemack Arellano
    January 3, 2015 @ 23:45

    Niwanga nako diri oe! LOL!

  2. estan
    January 4, 2015 @ 15:59

    Hahaha

  3. mae
    January 26, 2015 @ 15:41

    Can you give me instructions if how can I get to Escolta st. from LRT Carriedo station. Is it walking distance only or I still need to ride a jeepney? Thanks! I hope to get a response now. Gb!

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