Tuesday, August 15, 2006


This may be David Street with Escolta up in the corner while Muelle del Banco Nacional (north bank of Pasig River) is right behind.

The two buildings in the above picture: the beige on the left and the mustard on the far right corner are similar to the industrial buildings in downtown Manhattan areas -- Soho and TriBeCa -- which were converted into spacious living lofts.
I emailed this picture to a friend in New York and told him that if some of the buildings in the Escolta area like these two were converted into living loft spaces, this neighborhood would make an ideal residence, especially for those who wish to stay in Manila. Gardens could also be set up on the roofs just like on some of New York's buildings.

In addition, living in this area will put you within walking distance to Binondo, Divisoria and Quiapo. And with more residents breathing life into this area, probably more shops will open as well to provide their products and services, not only for the benefit of area residents but also for those coming over to visit -- attracted by the revitalization efforts in the neighborhood.

I can also see more cafes and restaurants, as well as art galleries opening along Escolta, including a super bookstore like those of Barnes & Noble and Borders in New York. Capitol Theater may be reopened to show nothing but art and independent films -- both by local and foreign filmmakers. Even startup companies such as graphic design studios, animation companies and call centers may be given tax incentives by the government if they were to locate their operations in the area, as well as for offering summer internship programs to the students of the nearby city college.
I don't exactly know how safe it is here at night, but with a true sense of neighborhood, ample security and adequate exterior lighting, through such gentrification, Escolta may once again regain some of its former glory.

However, don't mind me, for I'm only dreaming.

Photo of Polland Café at the corner of Escolta and Nueva/Yuchengco Street; Savory Restaurant is at the corner. At this café is wherethose who sign up for Carlos Celdran’s walking tour meet (Walking Tour of Escolta and Quiapo and the North Side of the Pasig River).


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posted by Señor Enrique at 5:56 PM


Blogger Photo Cache said...

my fond memories of escolta consisted of me and my girlfriends walking (yes walking) from mendiola to escolta to buy shoes from syvels. along the way, we take several stops to browse at shops along recto and avenida, but we always ended up buying at syvel's. thanks for these photos. they transport me to a great time in my life.

August 16, 2006 1:55 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

I thought he was going to correct girlfriends (plural) instead of walking hahaha...

August 16, 2006 5:14 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

lol SA. Perhaps one at a time, say in a span of 10 years? Something like "to all the girls i've loved before, to travelled in and out...with me to Escolta?" :) Joke only PC.

Based on the photos above, it looks different now.

August 16, 2006 5:51 AM  

Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Eric,

There actually was a study done for the rehabilitation of Manila during then President Estrada's time. This study was was done by Archt. Jorge Ramos and a few architects (including, by some bizarre error in judgement, myself) were part of this ambitious project. We had actually already finished the study in terms of logistics and funding and were about to develop the master plan but, sadly, was eventually shelved when Erap was impeached.

I used to have a copy of that study but I had to return it to Arch. Ramos.

Oh well, c'est la vie!


August 16, 2006 6:25 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Come to think of it, P.C., as young as I was then, my father and I would always walk it -- from his office at F. Torres near Recto to say, Plaza Miranda over in Quipao, or to Juan Luna near Jones Bridge and I don't remember ever taking a calesa or pedicab to transport us. It was more pleasurable walking around then, too. And perhaps, this was where I gained a penchant for walking practically anywhere when I was transplanted to New York City.

Syvel's! Now that's a name that sounds familiar, though rather vaguely. My sister a year older than me has an uncanny sharp memory and will ask her more about this emporium and for whatever memories she might have of it with me, her and our parents.

Thanks, P.C.!

August 16, 2006 6:47 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Who knows, S.A.? P.C. may be one of those Don Juan's of Manila.

But I'm sure he didn't necessarily mean girlfriends as actual sweethearts. Most probably female school friends.

August 16, 2006 6:52 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

As I would tell the young ones around here, Ipanema, during my youth, you'd be considered fortunate to even kiss a girl on the cheek; even holding hands in public was deemed scandalous :) And course, a girl of decent upbringing would always have a chaperon...be it her yaya, siblings, or entire family... hahaha!

Really tough during those days :)

August 16, 2006 6:58 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! Incredible, indeed, Hb00! But quite disheartening that it was never launched.

But then again, a new administration in the offing might give it life with a green light (keeping my fingers crossed on this one).

Nonetheless, Mayor Lito Atienza is doing an admirable job in gentrifying some parts of the city. BUT with an all out support from the administration, I'm sure he can accomplish even more.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Hb00, I can at least keep dreaming about someday living in a spacious loft apartment near Pasig River! Awesome thought, really :)

And I'll throw a big party for all my blog friends when that happens ... hehehe.

August 16, 2006 7:09 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

I bet it was Eric. Something like Sampaguita pictures era?

I think the best and the most sensible way to go to these places is walking.

August 16, 2006 9:09 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That would be my elder siblings' era, Ipanema. Talking about even later than that -- glad to have spent my later teenage years in NYC for that matter :)

August 16, 2006 9:24 AM  

Blogger Cathy B said...

Someone should send Mayor Atienza your blog Eric! And he should hire you as a consultant :) then Manila would really return to its old glory!

August 16, 2006 10:23 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Nice thought, Cathy ... lol! But I think architects such as Houseband00 will do a much better job at giving Mayor Atienz the valuable counsel in those matters.

But then again, as I've witnessed in several neighborhoods of NYC, with or without the city administration's blessings, for the most part, it was actually the residents themselves who initiated the revitalization and beautification projects in their own areas.

Nonetheless, from what I heard about Mayor Atienza, he keeps an open door policy when it comes to receiving ideas pertaining to the continued rehabilitation and growth of the city of Manila.

And finally, the Escolta gentrification (especially the residential spaces) I'm talking about should be for the benefit of our middle-class; not for the priviliged elites who already have their gated communities (modern versions of Intramuros) in Makati.

August 16, 2006 10:43 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice dream, though. He he he. You're really missing Barnes and Noble, huh?

August 16, 2006 11:19 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Is it showing, Irene? ... hahaha!

I might have to take a quick trip/visit next spring (otherwise known as after the thaw) :)

Let's see if there'll be less hassle with security and all by then. Heard you can't even take a book with you.

August 16, 2006 11:28 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just sad to think that Escolta used to be the Wall Street of the Phils until Ayala Avenue took over. I haven't been to Escolta in ages.

August 16, 2006 12:05 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, BW, major financial businesses went on mass exodus towards Makati. But I have a feeling that Escolta will experience a resurgence or yet another renaissance, if you will. I'd like to think that there are enough moneyed people out there who made their fortune in the old Escolta, and might want to pay back via revitalizing this area. Just a hunch.

BTW, those areas in NYC I mentioned -- Soho and TriBeCa -- really took off when young people with excess cash from their bonuses at Wall Street started buying those spacious lofts.

August 16, 2006 1:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Syvel's huh? Now that's a name I haven't heard in ages. Maybe you should run for mayor or councilor of Manila next year?

August 16, 2006 5:05 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Run as councilor, Ladybug? Wow! I don't think I have the necessary money and clout to run for public office ... hehehe!

August 16, 2006 5:15 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I can at least keep dreaming about someday living in a spacious loft apartment near Pasig River! Awesome thought, really :)

I am also interested in a loft!
Eric, let's buy that mustard building. You can get the top floor.
And yes, let's put a garden & swimmingpool on the roof of it.

But sorry, no S&M allowed. (info Celdran's blog) Lol.

August 16, 2006 8:56 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

lol Sidney, I read that post this morning while in the office and I was confused what she does. If you read her MySpace info, I thought, what can't she not do? Until I read your post. I went back and clicked on the S&M (Wiki page)...and I laughed! I said to myself...oh that club!

I read years ago about S&M clubs in Hongkong and some executives (!) actually go there for their lunch break. I find it a disturbing article for reasons why they go there.

With all due respect to the author, I don't care if Manila will not be considered a well-rounded Metropolis for the absence of S&M clubs. We've enough evil places. I think the British guy who text him should be sent to Hongkong, the nearest S&M club. Don't know if we have one now in Manila.

August 16, 2006 10:21 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senor Enrique,

I don't think gentrification will never happen to old classic neighborhoods of Manila. I live in Southern California and am quite amazed on the urbanization of cities such as Los Angeles. Everywhere you turn, industrial buildings and old buildings are being converted into lofts! Los Angeles is re-inventing itself!

When I read blogs citing old buildings in Manila being demolised, I ALWAYS wonder why there is no interest in converting them into lofts.

I hope your dreams will one day be a reality! It was such a delight to see that I share a common interest in revitalizing and reinventing Manila.

August 17, 2006 2:16 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Eric, take Sidney's offer. He told me months ago he's 'mildly' rich. So, he can afford that mustard building. :)

August 17, 2006 6:40 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wish I had the funds for that nice building, Sidney, but dreams I have a lot of :)

Actually, one of the people I know who had a loft in NYC was a photographer -- he worked and lived in the same place.

Lol ... no, Sidney, not into it at all ... I'd be too chicken ... hahaha. Besides, at my age, one whip might be enough to induce a massive heart attack ... hahahaha!

August 17, 2006 6:44 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

From what I understand, Ipanema, those into gaining carnal pleasure from pain usually suffer from intense societal guilt.

This reminds me of Brea from Desperate Housewives whose husband, Rex, was into S&M ... hahaha!

Is that right, Sidney is "mildly" rich? Maybe we should have him run as city councilor then and help push for these civic rehabilitation programs!

August 17, 2006 6:51 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I've only heard that such conversions were also occuring in L.A., Anonymous, but I haven't back over there to actually what they had done. BTW, same happened/happening in Philadelphia and at some other cities across the States.

Come to think of it, personally I'd rather live in a converted loft space than in one of those high rise buildings; the apartments in which are box-shaped with low ceilings and thin walls. You can hear people talking from the apartment beside your and people walking on top of you.

BTW, first I saw South Beach in Miami Florida, it was a city heading towards total decline. It was abundant with low-cost nursing homes for the aged. Young people would rather stay in Ft. Lauderdale area then.

But nowadays, after years of rehabilation, South Beach had become a hot place to go to. Many old homes/mansions were also restored (one of which was Versace's residence when he got shot).

I really hope that same revitalization programs occur in Manila. It was totally devastated during the war, and with what we have left, we ought to preserve.

August 17, 2006 7:04 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

He should run for those posts, he's got money to distribute. But first you've got to make him 'honourary citizen', whatever you call it.

I'm still waiting for my share Sidney. This + 20 shares c/o myepinoy...hmmm.. i can open a food stall selling 'buchi'. :)

August 17, 2006 8:06 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm on my way out to get some buchi again, Ipanema! hehehe.

Hmmm...so Sidney promised you 20 shares of those Berkshire Hathaway stocks, eh? After the buchi stall, you'll have plenty left to chip in to buy the mustard building!!!

August 17, 2006 8:12 AM  

Blogger ipanema said...

lol Eric, I don't know if you can play badminton with all buchi stuff into your tummy. :)

No, not shares. I told him before that if he's got nowhere else to put his riches, he knows where to throw it, after I mentioned I'm below poverty line...lol

Rolly of myepinoy's latest topic on Buffett shares jokingly said he can give me 20 shares. Lista sa hangin. Is this the correct expression? :)

August 17, 2006 8:57 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

ipanema: you don't forget anything, do you?

What does it mean to be rich anyway? It is just a matter of perception.
Some people feel rich when they have 1,000 pesos in their bank account. I belong to this category of people. Don't need much to be happy...

August 17, 2006 10:03 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

lol Sidney. I remembered the discussion at Dr. Emer's blog months ago.

I should ask that from you since I'm below poverty line. :)

BTW, I always remember what people say to me but I seem to have voluntary amnesia of what I promise to some...lol.

August 18, 2006 2:42 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I totally agree with you, Sidney. Absolutely! Wealth must be first a matter of consciousness.

August 22, 2006 4:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senor Enrique,

Eastern Columbia Building (Art Deco Bldg.) in Broadway Street is being converted to lofts.

Linda Vista Hospital in Echo Park which closed 12 years ago is also being converted to lofts. It's a National Historic Landmark.

I believe the Sears Tower is undergoing a transformation too.

Check out Curbed LA's article.

la.curbed.com (Buena Vista Lofts Redux)

I hope it'll be in my lifetime that I see Manila gets reinvented!

August 23, 2006 9:11 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Simply amazing, Anonymous! That is really wonderful ... even the Sears Tower?

I will definitely check out the URL you mentioned. Thanks!

BTW, I will join Carlos Celdran's walking tour of this are in a week or two, and will ask him about any revitalization of the are he might have heard of. He's quite privy to such matters, especially with our landmark structures. Will post a separate entry of whatever I learn from him.

Thanks for stopping by and for your input.

August 23, 2006 9:27 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi! i'm planning to go to escolta next week. i'm wondering if they have public parking spaces in the area (i'm planning to drive going there). if parking will be a big problem, i just might leave the car somewhere and commute going to escolta. by any chance, would you know (or happen to see) if atlanta jewelry is still in escolta? thanks :) --anna

December 23, 2007 2:16 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, Anna ... there's plenty of parking along Escolta.

I usually park in front of the large Chinese restaurant across the street from PNB Building which is now occupied by the City College of Manila.

I didn't notice Atlanta Jewelry, though.

December 23, 2007 7:00 AM  

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