HUB: Make Lab, A New Escolta Landmark

Escolta is a neighborhood that is already familiar, especially to the regular readers of the Urban Roamer. For the past few years, we have roamed this neighborhood and looked at some of the interesting spots in the area which used to be the city’s financial and commercial center, with some no longer standing today while others manage to survive albeit struggling to find their place in a city constantly endangered by unchecked urbanization.

In the past there have been events like monthly Pasyal activities and the Saturday Future Market which were conceived to get people visiting Escolta again. While there was some successes made, they were sadly not enough and it became clear that more is needed to be done. Thus just last week, Escolta saw what could be described as the next phase in the ongoing fight for the district’s rehabilitation. It was the opening of the HUB: Make Lab at the First United Building.

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From Crystal Arcade to PNB Building to…Gone? The Saga of an Escolta Address

Escolta itself is a street has bore witness and reflected as well the ups and downs Manila’s history: from the glorious past, to the steep decline, to the present struggles and some triumphs of rebirth it is experiencing at the moment.

While we have buildings such as Calvo, Regina, and First United to tell us the resilience of this old commercial and business district in the midst of these shifts in the city history, if you want to learn more about the more tragic side these shifts have caused, we have this particular address in Escolta we will be looking at today. Continue reading


A Visit to the First United Building Community Museum

So much has been said about Escolta Street and its glory days as a premier center of commerce in Manila, its eventual fall from grace after World War II, and the current efforts to revitalize commercial activity here again. With the state of things in the city these days, such efforts are admittedly a tall order. Nevertheless, the work continues with much vigor and passion, thanks to the various groups and individuals with their unceasing love for Escolta and their common dream to see it reclaim its glory as Manila’s “queen of streets.”

interior of Escolta’s First United Building

One of those stakeholders happen to be the owners of the First United Building, the Syliantengs whose have been deeply rooted in Escolta beginning with their patriarch, Sy Lian Teng, an entrepreneur who ran Escolta’s (and Manila’s as well) premiere department store, Berg’s. As a tribute to Escolta’s heritage, the Sylianteng family’s passion for Escolta, and to honor the legacy of the patriarch who has made an invaluable contribution to this street, a community museum was opened last May 16 this year in the premises of the building: the First United Building Community Museum.

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Roundup Bits: Ferry Fares and Erap on Escolta

After publishing a couple of recent pieces on this site about the Pasig River Ferry and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) plans for Escolta, we now have some interesting updates about them. Without further ado, here are the latest developments: Continue reading


The MMDA and Escolta Redevelopment

Count me as one of the people who are not that fond of how the current administration of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is handling some of the problems Metropolitan Manila is facing today, from some of its traffic schemes to the problems of some of its traffic officers, among others, But that does not mean I would not give them some sort of praise if the situation warrants it.

This happens to be one of the things that I make such praise, thanks to the recent news that the MMDA is lending a hand in the revitalization in the old business-commercial district of Escolta by proposing a creation of an “Escolta Redevelopment Administration” to “help revive the area as transport, tourism, business, and culinary heritage hub and to assist the City Government of Manila.”

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino talking about proposed Escolta Redevelopment Administration in a recent meeting with stakeholders in the Escolta area (photo courtesy of the MMDA’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/notes/mmda/mmda-chairman-proposes-the-creation-of-escolta-redevelopment-administration/725740034145559)

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