Quezon City

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.

But there are those that are still noteworthy which deserve some special mention and have become landmarks by themselves over time, some of which, I’ll be noting here.

Along General Roxas Ave. right beside Gateway Mall is the National Book Store Cubao Superbranch building. Built in the 1970’s and renovated in the early 2000’s, it was one of the first (if not the first) to be considered a book store haven of sorts long before the advent of Powerbooks (incidentally owned by the kin of the National Book Store owners) and Fully Booked. In fact, it has a special section on the upper levels of the building which is dedicated in selling previously-owned books.

Along General Aguinaldo Ave. near the corner of Aurora Blvd. are examples of such noteworthy remnants of what Cubao was before. On the eastern end is the Aurora Tower, a residential-commercial building which is one of the oldest high-rise buildings in existence in Cubao. What’s noteworthy about it is that it also houses the Embassy and Consulate of the Republic of Colombia. I don’t know if it’s by coincidence or by design of sorts that the wife of a scion of the Araneta clan which owns much of the Cubao CBD (not to mention a long-time organizer of the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant) happens from Colombia. But we digress here.

Aurora Tower also is the home of one of the few remaining department store chains in the metropolis, and in Cubao as well: Isetann Department Store and Supermarket. Having been around this part of the city since the 1980’s, it has become a popular haunt for people looking for great bargains, with prices even lower than other bigger department stores. Isetann has developed quite a loyal following, which would probably explain its survival until today in this particularly evolving landscape.

Right across Isetann is another oldtimer in Cubao, having been there since the 1960’s. It’s a Chinese fastfood and restaurant called Chopstick House. It also has a loyal following, as patrons swear the food is good there.

Along Gen. Romulo near the former Gaisano Cubao are the Mercury Drug and Tropical Hut stores, which have been around this part of Cubao for a very long while. By themselves Mercury Drug and Tropical Hut are long-established brandnames; Mercury Drug since the 1940’s and Tropical Hut since the 1960’s. (predating even McDonalds and Jollibee) While Mercury Drug became an established leading drug store in the country, Tropical Hut did not get to the level of success its later rivals have enjoyed. A case of poor marketing for Tropical Hut as some pointed out.

Further along Gen. Romulo are a couple of bus terminals which cater to passengers going to the Southern Luzon area. They are both open-air type of bus terminals and don’t have much accommodation to passengers waiting for boarding. So don’t be surprised if you see them waiting under the shade of Ali Mall which is located right across the terminals.

But the view of these bus terminals may change soon as plans are afoot in the building of another phase of the Manhattan Garden City project in this part of Cubao. It is said these bus terminals will not disappear entirely but will be place on the ground floor of what is going to be a 4-tower residential condominium complex to be called Manhattan Heights. Or so I heard. And as you may know, plans can change even up to the last minute. So we’ll just wait and see what’s going to happen once construction starts.

the planned Manhattan Heights taken from the web, going to be built on top of the bus terminals (or so I heard but no confirmation yet)

to be continued…

P.S. you can now get in touch and keep tabs with me via Twitter @urbanroamer

© The Urban Roamer


  • Paolo

    I enjoy reading your blog! It gives readers a glimpse of the past and I hope one day our government will start restoring the old structures specially those in Manila. The series about Cubao brought back old memories.Sobrang nakakatuwa.The Fiesta Carnival, COD, Plaza Fair etc. even some of the moviehouses like the Diamond and ACT. Thank you very much for writing about these places.

  • oleng

    seeing those old pics is like bringing back my childhood days, remembering my childhood friends and also remembering where I used to live at Columbia street……thanks

  • Ate Jevs – fairy god sister ni Hitokirihoshi ng Hoshilandia.com, eat food, sing songs, explore life, travel places, meet people and love...advice/stories/tips


    nice to know these interesting facts about Cubao. Araneta Center was my family’s entertainment capital before especially when my father was still alive. When I was a kid, we used to go to fiesta carnival (maybe it’s Shopwise now) and watched in Acts. Before I prayed to try premier nights in New Frontier but it didn’t happen.

    I still go to Isetann and National Bookstore there if i have a chance and money. In Isettan, I like its ambiance, for being uncrowded and selling branded or unbranded for cheap price.

    I agree with you when it comes to the marketing strategy of Tropical Hut. With their variety of delicious foods, they must be one of the leading restaurants.

  • Rollie Querijero

    Some of the most notable landmarks in Cubao are the C.O.D. Dept. Store, Nation Theater, Jollibee (just in front), New Frontier, Rempson’s, the very first Shoe Mart (SM) along Aurora Blvd. Mamonluk, Fiesta Carnival, etc. All where there way before Ali Mall and SM Cubao. Any old photos?

    • urban roamer – I have nothing much to say, I'm the quiet one...which may be why I wander, write, take photographs, and get into social media too much

      urban roamer

      I tackled those landmarks in the previous installments of my Old Cubao series. unfortunately, I was only able to scour a few photos of them. just backtrack to the previous entries. thanks!

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