Wednesday, January 16, 2008


This is Plaza Moraga which is right at the foot of Jones Bridge on the north bank of the Pasig River.

Plaza Moraga was the site of the very first ice cream parlor in the Philippines, Clark's Cafe, which created a commotion when it opened in 1899. But of course, what made this area truly popular is Escolta, which means escort in Spanish. During the British occupation from 1762 to 1764, this street was favored by the British Commodore as a convoy route.

And as everyone knows, this thoroughfare has since become Manila's premier shopping center; that is, until the malls started sprouting all over the metropolis. Except for the Savory Restaurant that's still there and doing a brisk business, some of the well-known establishments that used to be in Escolta were Botica Boie, Heacock’s, Alonzo, Estrella del Norte, Dencia’s Pansit Malabon, Max’s Fried Chicken, and Hen. The first fully air-conditioned commercial building in the Philippines, the Crystal Building, still stands on this street but has been renamed Philippine National Bank Building. It now houses the City College of Manila.

To the left at the stop light is Plaza Cervantes where the First National City Bank of New York and the Bank of the Philippine Islands are located. A fellow blogger who used to work at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, Amadeo of The Ignatian Perspective, once shared an interesting trivia about this building.

He said, "During that big earthquake in the late '60s, part of the façade of that Plaza Cervantes building moved about an inch or two, noticeable only from the inside because of the cracked floor. So, one wonders if that building was allowed to be used soon after that. But it definitely was a landmark building site, as gleaned from its history."

Although the building remains standing to date, I'm uncertain if it's fully occupied. Plaza Cervantes seems dusty because of vehicular traffic, and not too many people can be seen in the area as compared to the neighboring streets even during the busy office hours.

Up ahead from Plaza Moraga, on both sides of Paredes Street (formerly Rosario) are rows of numerous banks; at its end is Binondo Church.

To view an image of Plaza Moraga taken during the late 1800s, click here.


posted by Señor Enrique at 8:27 AM


Blogger nutart said...

As I wrote before, you should be compiling all these wonderful research work, photos of yours and putting up a book, Eric! There will be publishers who would pick it up!

There is something also about being able to see the pre-World War pictures of our present places in Manila. I recall having been sponsored a slide show program by Kodak during my Fine Arts College days. That was the time we got into the Intramuros Administration office and with every old pictures of Manila, we traced where the place would be in the present. It was so exciting and because of our way of synchronizing the slides, we were cited some awards.

Ironically, I didn't get to see the final slide show...BUT! 10 years later, I saw our college slide show presented by Kodak in another photographer's seminar. Imagine! Sorry for the side story.

Thanks for the online historical Manila posts! i deeply appreciate it!

January 16, 2008 3:46 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! I'm sure an entity like Museo ng Maynila might be interested to present your slide show in one of their future exhibits. I wonder, is there any particular method your project was archived so just in case someone migt approach Kodak and request for those slide shows to be presented in some special exhibition or something? That would really be wonderful, Bernadette. I believe Kodak is very accessible in such matters.

Thanks for the compliments. Perhaps one of these days I will work on your suggestion. At this time, I'm still in the midst of gathering various materials :)

January 16, 2008 7:53 PM  

Anonymous paolo said...

I think I walked through these sections of Manila growing up... that was many moons ago and whenever I see those photos, what comes to mind is nostalgia and the way it was.

January 16, 2008 9:41 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

honestly, Eric, I totally forgot in what seminar I saw it in. I recall I was among strangers and wanted to point out with pride "Hey, isa ako sa mga gumawa nito!" but...could not share my saga with anyone. Then when the credits was about to come out...wala! Cut bigla. Ok lang, maybe the Universe wanted me to watch it all along anyway and not be attached to any "glory" it could bring. But I was happy to have seen what my classmates and I sweated over. And, better late than never :-).

I even have a faint recall of our facilitator. He was a big guy and a photographer, of course. Much into (at that time) state-of-the-art slide shows chich can comprise as much as 8 slide projectors all in synch with the taped audio. Yep, those were the pre-computer, pre-Power Point days. I'm old...:-).

January 16, 2008 9:58 PM  

Anonymous traveler on foot said...

Good day Senor Enrique. when I discovered your blog last year I found a new interest. Your articles and photos inspired me to revisit Manila and I share this inspiration with my family who at times joins me in rediscovering these wonderful places featured in your blog.

Thank you sir. Wishing you all the best.

January 16, 2008 10:21 PM  

Blogger LAD said...

wow. simple yet ecstatic photos.

January 17, 2008 4:49 AM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

shucks! what would i give to travel back to that era! =)

i think most of the buildings around plaza cervantes are sparsely occupied. i remember entering el hogar and the offices were only up until the 2nd floor. and oh, my lolo and tita used to work in botica boie. =)

January 17, 2008 5:41 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I wonder sopmetimes, Carla, if when we die and return to the spirit world, could we somehow revisit these places as they were then -- sort of time trsvel? As I look at the peacetime pictures of Manila, this thought often emerge. It would be a treat, actually.

Whoa! Is that right? Botica Boie was very famous back then up until I was growing up, and then Mercury sort of took over.

January 17, 2008 6:47 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Glad you like the photos, LAD :)

By the way, the Museo ng Maynila has an exhibit of some old pictures of the city. Worth checking out, I think!

Thanks for the visit!

January 17, 2008 6:51 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It was Sidney of My Sari-Sari Store who advised me that the best way to see and photograph Manila is by walking and not by driving around, Traveler on Foot!

You have a very nice photoblog; just visited it, and well-written articles, too! Please keep it up so I'll have another site to cross-link some of my entries in the future.

Ivan Mandy conducts some fascinating tours and so does Carlos Celdran. I think I had already taken all of what they offer ... hehehe. I was just over in Binondo yesterday and had lunch in a dumpling house I discovered through Ivan.

Thanks for visiting and please keep up your photoblog!

January 17, 2008 6:56 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Ay sayang, Bernadette!

It's really amazing how far we've come with technology, especially in presenting our images. I am in awe most of the time by these innovations.

But wasn't that a nice gift from the universe, eh? Love it! :)

January 17, 2008 7:00 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You must've been though this area, Paolo. It's one of the most visited in the city.

Speaking of Nostalgia, my eldest sister used to drag me along as her chaperone when I was a kid and right after attending mass at Santa Cruz Church, she, her gentleman caller and I would stroll along Escolta and window shop. Although it must have been like seven pm or so, Escolta was brightly lit with may people walking along its sidewalks.

But alas! These days it's dark and not too many people go there anymore. They should just turn those fine office buildings into living lofts as they had done in L.A. and New York. I'm sure the influx of residents will revive Escolta and the neighboring areas.

January 17, 2008 7:05 AM  

Anonymous Albert said...

Hello Senor Enrique,

I LOVE your photos of Quiapo, Chinatown and Cubao! These were also my hangout when I was a boy, tagging along with my parents making sales call. When I look at the photos it's as if I'm re-living my childhood! Thank you! Please keep posting and we'll keep reading!

A smile and a wave from Austin Texas,


January 17, 2008 7:26 AM  

Anonymous palma tayona said...

dear eric,

i have a little secret that i think you should be party to. i have been "secretly" saving your pictures in a folder in my computer. i particularly have a huge interest in images that feature ordinary people in street scenes and i am actually using some of them as inspiration in a future series of works that i am doing. i simply call them People on the Streets.

...and i have to thank you for that.

when they are ready, i will eventually show them to you.

January 17, 2008 7:46 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hello Albert from Austin, Texas.

Many thanks for your kind words. Don't worry I'll be posting more pics of the city that "we love!"

By the way, share with us your Wordpress blog URL so we can pay your site a visit, too :)

Wishing you and all our other fellow Pinoys in Austin, Texas a joyful Mabuhay!

January 17, 2008 8:36 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You may not believe this, Daniel, I dreamt last night that your one-man show was a huge success! And that I was taking more pics of you in your studio for another article on some new collection of yours. Coincidence, eh?

Wow! I'm honored. Can't wait to see them when done :)

Keep up the good work, Daniel. You know your works lighten my heart!

January 17, 2008 8:39 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Thanks for the mention, Eric.

But looking at the pictures, I am drawing a blank as to how to remember Plaza Moraga. I am only imagining a wide stretch of empty space to the right, asphalted over, and with some Chinese bakeries and restaurants on the side.

Is there a monument standing at the present time?

That first picture sure looks like it was taken from the approach of Jones Bridge.

January 17, 2008 11:00 AM  

Anonymous Albert said...

Senor E:

Sorry but I don't have my own blog (low tech! ha!ha!ha!). Will work on that later!

Regarding Cubao, nandiyan pa ba iyong COD Dept Store? Do you remember those mechanical Christmas displays? True story: one Christmas our family bumped into actress Marianne Dela Riva (remember her?) watching the COD show as well! Beautiful on TV, Beautiful in Real Life!

Thanks again for the photos and the reply!


January 17, 2008 3:51 PM  

Blogger ScroochChronicles said...

I remember visiting my Lolo here when I was a kid. He had a law office in Escolta. Also, he would always bring me Savory Chicken for pasalubong quite often. The names of the establishments you mentioned were often part of my Lolo's kwentos. Also my dad's. I remember arguing with him about Dencia's because I was insisting that it was Dencio's. Yun kasi ang kilala ko. He was saying that Dencia's had fantastic karekare.

January 17, 2008 6:40 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Like you, Scrooch, Dencio's is prominent in mind, especially since there's one I pass by everyday. Don't really know Dencia nor have ever been there when I was a kid.

Escolta was really a dazzling stretch of fine emporiums. From what I undestand, most salespeople in those establishment were required to speak Spanish, English and Tagalog.

January 18, 2008 7:11 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Albert ... it was a tradition back then for us kids to be taken and watch the COD Christmas display. Not sure, though, if it's still open.

Did you mean Maggie de la Riva? She was one of our movie stars back then.

My pleasure, Albert. Thanks for your visits :)

January 18, 2008 7:14 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes Amadeo, there is a wider stretch of empty space on the right (used as parking space) with Savory Restaurant right on the corner of Escolta.

There isn't any monument other than that Chinese-Filipino friendship arch on the beginning of Paredes Street.

Incidentally, the building adjacent to the Bank of the Philippine Island building collapsed a few months ago.

January 18, 2008 7:18 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

The above comment plus the one earlier tell me that Plaza Cervantes must be falling into desrepair.

As I recall the park itself is simply a narrow strip of an island. And I can't even recall what monument or statue was put on it.

Though for a good 6-months we worked on the 2nd floor overlooking the plaza.

January 19, 2008 2:37 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I wonder sometimes what the respective landlord of the buildings in this plaza plans to do with their property, Amadeo. These structures seem unoccupied and merely standing there collecting dust.

As for that tiny island with monument you speak of, let me go back there and take a closer look. It may right on Plaza Cervantes and therefore unseen form the photo above.

From the plaza, it would only take a comfortably short walking distance to Carvajal Street, indeed :)

January 19, 2008 7:18 AM  

Blogger mikkolicious said...

hi guys, im from the University of Santo Tomas and I was asked to do a project on the Bank of the Philippine Islands Building located on Plaza Cervantes regarding the building's history, development, renovations or restorations if ever. Archives regarding the building are just simply hard to find. I was just wondering if any of you guys could help me.

Thanks in advance guy! any of your help will be greatly appreciated.


October 07, 2009 11:44 PM  

Blogger mikkolicious said...

Hi guys, I was asked to do a school project for the subject Philippine Conservation on the Bank of the Philippine Islands Building located in Plaza Cervantes mainly regarding the building's history and its developments through the years. Any help from you guys will be highly appreciated. Historical files regarding the building are so hard to find.

Thanks in advance guys!


October 07, 2009 11:56 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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