Category Archives: Asia

Manila: a day in Escolta

My grandma has often told me how Escolta was the prime Commercial spot of the Philippines in her youth.  How there was once a tram line which, sadly, disappeared after the World war 2. Even during the occupation, Escolta  was the place to be,  after all commercial establishments  built their headquarters there which exuded  wealth in decoration as a sign of stability.

After the war, Escolta would never be the same again but the aura of the place would remain until the rise of Makati in the seventies. Fortunately some of the Art-deco buildings  are still visible in Escolta, but they are a dying breed. Whereas in other countries,  governments strive  to maintain these edifices with participation of the private sector, our government isn’t doing enough to promote conservation. The only realistic way of preserving this heritage, is to allow them to be used by the private sector with architectural constraints. In other countries, it is a prestige for businesses to set up shop and preserve city landmarks.

As Manileños or as tourists of Manila we can help restore Escolta, by giving interest to it, visiting it or through activism by protesting against the demolition of buildings like El Hogar, for example.

Having said that here’s how you can spend a day in Escolta…There are lots ways to reach Escolta, but the most original way is by using the Pasig river Ferry. Fares go from 28 pesos to 95 pesos depending on the distance, the ferry line stretches from Pinagbuhatan, Pasig  till Intramuros. From Makati, the nearest stop is Guadalupe which is very close to Guadalupe MRT station .

Escolta River Ferry Station / Old Manila Post Office
The old Manila post Office from the Escolta river ferry station
This was originally called Roxas Building.
This was originally called Roxas Building. The son of Juan Luna, Andres Luna designed this neoclassical beaux-arts building. Imagine this place without the dangling electric wires!
Inside the First United Building
The First United Building was an Artdeco designed by Andrés Luna de San Pedro, the son of Juan Luna, the Philippine’s foremost painter. It was Manila’s tallest building when it was built in 1928.
Capitol Theater
Designed by Juan Nakpil, the Edifice is now but a shadow of itself. Its decay reminds me how we do not value so much our past. Significant buildings are meant to be preserved.
Escolta in its Haydays
Escolta in its Haydays
Roman R Santos Building
Very close to Quiapo church is Roman R Santos Building. Escolta street starts just a few meters from this building.
Quiapo church
Quiapo church, is very close to Escolta! Lots of churches where this church is located, presently the neo-Baroque church was designed under the plans of National artist Juan Nakpil.
From Escolta, you will have to pass by the Chaotic market place. But that is an attraction by itself.
The Golden Mosque
While you’re at it why not visit the Golden Mosque which is close to Quiapo church. Manila can be quite cosmopolitan!
Chinatown - Binondo
Finish your day at China town! It’s just at the other end of Escolta street. Dis you know that Chinatown(Binondo) is the oldest China town in the World?
So many places to eat good Chinese food in Binondo!!
Manileños need not spend money to go to other countries to get the authentic Chinese food experience!