Reminiscing the cinematic glitter: the old movie theaters of downtown Manila (Final part: south Santa Cruz and Binondo)

At the height of the glory days of downtown Manila, movie theaters were sprouting not only along Rizal Avenue but also in nearby streets as well in the downtown area as a whole.

Binondo-Sta Cruz theaters

One such street, Florentino Torres, which ran perpendicular to Rizal Avenue was once home to two prominent movie theaters, the Deluxe and Republic theaters. Republic was no longer standing by the 1990s as a commercial building that bears its name stands today. Deluxe, which was a landmark in itself in its twilight years thanks in part to its proximity to Ambos Mundos Restaurant, was gone during the mid-2000s and a modern-looking commercial building now stands in its place as well.


the former Deluxe Theater

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Reminiscing the cinematic glitter: the old movie theaters of downtown Manila (Part V: the theaters north of Recto)

As was noted in the previous installment of this series, Rizal Avenue or Avenida was once Manila’s movie theater lane that ran from Blumentritt to what is now Plaza Lacson (Plaza Goiti in the olden days) In contrast however to the movie theaters found at the south of the intersection of Rizal and Recto Avenues, the movie theaters north of that intersection are not as well-known. Nevertheless, they contributed to what was once a lively entertainment scene in that part of the city once before.

North Avenida theaters

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Reminiscing the cinematic glitter: the old movie theaters of downtown Manila (Part IV: at Avenida south of Recto)

If New York City has a Broadway and its stretch of theaters, Manila had (take note foks, it’s “had”) Rizal Avenue or Avenida Rizal (nicknamed Avenida) with its strip of movie theaters. It was also a pretty long strip that ran from Blumentritt up north all the way down to Plaza Lacson. (or Plaza Goiti as it was called in the old days) One can imagine what the avenue looked like in its heyday, seeing a long stretch of neon signs, especially of movie theaters that lighted up the way. Being the movie theater hub of Manila back then, Avenida was also home to some of the most prominent movie theater structures one can find in the city, designed by some of the country’s most renowned architects of that period.

South Avenida theaters

One of those prominent theaters was Avenue, designed by National Artist Juan Nakpil in the 1930s. This art deco theater used to be the exclusive home for films of Paramount Pictures. After falling into hard times in recent years, the theater was demolished in 2006 to give way to a parking lot cum bar and commercial space, something that has been met with public outcry and condemnation. Continue reading


Reminiscing the cinematic glitter: the old movie theaters of downtown Manila (Part III: along Recto Avenue)

Claro M. Recto Avenue in Manila is an interesting thoroughfare in that it has served to link Manila’s educational and commercial hubs. As such, the area around that road formerly known as Calle Azcarraga is an area of bustling activity.that has made it a prominent Manila thoroughfare through the years.

Recto theaters

the Urban Roamer’s map of the Recto movie theaters through Google Earth. this is not considered authoritative. also, there is a movie theater not included in this map, U-Belt Theater as there is no documentation found yet as to its approximate location.

There were about a dozen or so movie theaters that used to stand along this stretch of the road. Around the University Belt side of Recto alone, there were the Manila Cinema and U-Belt Cinema, (which I don’t know what sites they are now) as well as the “big four” of the U-Belt Recto area which happen to be all located close to each other, Miramar and Maxim along the westbound side and Eastern and Tandem right across them. There were other movie theaters in Recto’s U-Belt area as well like the Manila Cinema and the U-Belt Cinema as well. Continue reading


Reminiscing the cinematic glitter: the old movie theaters of downtown Manila (Part II: the theaters of Quiapo)

The journey of discovering downtown Manila’s old movie theaters begins at the city’s geopolitical center: the district of Quiapo. While it may be hard to see Quiapo today as a haven for cinema, (except for the cinema released on those not-so-legal optical media) in the olden days, Quiapo boasts of some of the most notable movie theaters in the city, even though they may not be as numerous as that in the Avenida Rizal strip. In fact in its heyday, there were about a dozen or so movie theaters found in the district, many of which were concentrated along the stretch of Quezon Boulevard, Quiapo’s main thoroughfare.

Quiapo theaters

the Urban Roamer’s self-made guide on downtown Manila’s movie theaters through Google Earth. Disclaimer that this does not intend to be an ultimate reference of sorts as some theaters may not be included here and exact locations of some are only approximate.

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