an Expo of an alternative Cubao

At this point, we are going to end for now our little series on old Cubao. I think it is but appropriate that we close this series with a feature on a landmark that has best represented the evolution of this particular area over the years.


It was known before as the Marikina Shoe Expo, a complex of shoe stores (all of which housed in the same type of 2-story structures) located along Gen. Romulo Ave., right across the old Rustan’s store in Cubao. Opened in 1972, it was meant to showcase the best of the Marikina shoe industry. It won’t be long before the complex and the stores in it gained a wide and loyal following, among them, the (in)famous, shoe-loving First Lady Imelda Marcos. Continue reading


A Shared History: Ali Mall and SM Cubao

Located at the southeast end of Cubao’s commercial district are a couple of landmarks that seem to have some intertwined history of sorts, sharing a unique history in a place as ever-changing as this area called Cubao. Both have their start in a period that was known as Cubao’s golden age of sorts as it was then known as the premier commercial district in the metropolis, then faced a period of decline and are now going through an age of rejuvenation of sorts as is the area which they are located.


In the midst of all these, it is remarkable to note their resilience in the midst of these changes. Though in the process, both had to reinvent themselves to meet the challenges these changes brought to Cubao. Continue reading


a few other remnants of Old Cubao

In the midst of a continuing evolution of Cubao’s landscape brought about by modern trends and a recent redevelopment bid, it is interesting to see some of the structures that have become known as landmarks of old Cubao still manage to survive.

But the survival of these structures can either be a good or bad thing, especially in a place as ever-changing as Cubao. While it’s good to see some old “architecture” surviving in this part of the city, they can also be a bane as it can hamper the development of a certain area, especially if they are what can be called as “eyesores.”


Unfortunately, a number of old buildings that still stand in Cubao, particularly some of the ones located along EDSA and along Aurora Blvd., are eyesores by themselves which do not complement much to the atmosphere Cubao has been hoping to project. Worse, some of them have become favorite grounds for unsavory elements that have pretty much damaged Cubao’s reputation over the years. Continue reading


the “Farmers” of Cubao

For those who were fortunate to have witnessed Cubao’s old glory from the 1960’s-1980’s, it seemed far-fetched to entertain the idea of a possible demise of this colorful district. But by the 1990’s, this idea became an unfortunate reality as Cubao became endangered thanks to the shifting tastes in entertainment trends, the rise and the mushrooming of the shopping malls,(spearheaded no less by SM which ironically has a presence in Cubao as a department store) and the competition waged by rival commercial districts, particularly the malls of Ortigas Center and Makati’s old Quad and Greenbelt shopping centers that have been revamped to become the classier Ayala Center. The deteriorating peace and order situation did not help either as old patrons found themselves avoiding Cubao due to incidences of theft and other petty crime.


The Urban Roamer’s old Cubao map: the ones marked in regular font are the ones still existing in Cubao today

In the midst of all these, Cubao still managed to survive thanks to the presence of Araneta Coliseum and the reinvention of some of the old retail establishments to become retailers of second-hand imported goods, otherwise known as wagwagan and ukay-ukay stores. At one point, Cubao could be consider the metropolis’ leading ukay-ukay center of sorts. But this reinvention was short-lived as Cubao’s developers decided to take a new route in revitalizing Cubao, in the process forced the closure of these establishments and killed whatever potential Cubao had as a possible shopping haven for second-hand goods that may rival those found in Hong Kong. Continue reading


reminiscing Cubao: the Fiesta Carnival

More than the stores and the movie theaters, if you ask anyone who experienced old Cubao as to what was their best experience of the place, the most popular answer would probably be their visit/s to that beloved placed called Fiesta Carnival.


right at the heart of Cubao: Fiesta Carnival, along with Araneta Coliseum

Long before Star City and (in some way) Enchanted Kingdom, one of the ultimate, if not THE ultimate, amusement park in the metropolis was the Fiesta Carnival. Despite the name though, it was not housed on a tent like the carnivals we see in the movies. Rather it made its home under a warehouse-type structure with a variety of shops surrounding the building. Very far from the common conception indeed. Continue reading