Friday, August 08, 2008


Those who grew up in Manila during the '60s will remember that Good Earth at the corner of Avenida Rizal and Bustos Street was the largest and first department store along Avenida that boasted having escalators in the building.

My brothers, cousins and I used to go to its coffee shop for a late morning merienda after attending mass at the nearby Sta. Cruz Church. I always ordered the shrimp salad sandwich served on toasted white bread.

However, I don't remember having bought anything at Good Earth. Ready-to-wear clothing was not popular back then as they are now; the trousers and button-down polo shirts I had were custom-tailored with fabrics purchased separately at Central Market. Also, my eldest sister who was then studying in Chicago used to send me Banlon and other knit shirts.

The building that was once Good Earth is now Good Earth Plaza which houses several establishments, including a motel on the sixth floor; unlike when it originally opened as just one huge department store. And at dawn last Monday, it was gutted by a fire.

According to a PDI article, it took firefighters nearly 22 hours to put out the blaze; finally extinguishing it at 3:00 am, Tuesday. The arson investigation division of the Manila Fire Department suspected the fire stemmed from pieces of rubber in the first floor of the building. Chief Inspector Myra Bico roughly estimated damages to property at P26 million.

The fire destroyed several stores inside the building, including Robinsons Supermarket and several stalls selling electronic items, cell phone accessories, pirated DVDs, and jewelry.

Although only the ground floor and basement of the eight-story building were damaged in the fire, thick smoke and intermittent rains made it difficult for firemen to battle the blaze. The fact that most of the stalls inside the building were closed made the job even more arduous.

The building's close proximity to the LRT's Carriedo Station forced the LRT 1 that runs above Avenida to suspend operations, then cut in half. Full operations only
resumed the following morning, Tuesday.

Meanwhile, according to a GMA News report, the office of DOTC Undersecretary Guiling Mamondiong is considering filing a P700,000 damage suit against the owner of the Good Earth Plaza building. The P700,000, Mamondiong said, represents the amount of lost income for the disruption of the Light Rail Transit Line 1's operations.

On Tueday afternoon when these photographs were taken, many stall owners were in the vicinity to ask the authorities when they could possibly enter the building to collect whatever undamaged property and inventory they might have left. And sadly, many who used to work in the building also milled around to learn about the status of their employment.

To view a vintage '60s photo that shows Good Earth and Ideal Theater, click here.

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Related link:

Fire at Good Earth Plaza, Carriedo, Manila City - YouTube

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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:05 AM


Blogger Photo Cache said...

I barely remember my first encounter with Good Earth. But I know that my brother took me and my mom there to eat. I was in the process of enrolling in one of the schools around the University Belt and he took us to eat there, of all places. He said it was good. I can't remember what I ate. My head was spinning from the sensation of being in Manila, which I thought was my first time? Afterwards, I don't remember going there ever again.

August 08, 2008 8:22 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this place the same as the Good Earth Emporium?

I was in college when it opened and I use to shop there for cosmetics, deodorant aerosol, Facial astringent for my acne etc.

The Good Earth plaza you mentioned, I am not familiar with.

August 08, 2008 8:31 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Let's not forget, Photo Cache, that Avenida and Escolta were the prime shopping areas at that time. And then Cubao. The Ayala's Makati was still being developed at that time.

The shrimp sandwich was pretty good at Good Earth :)

But the open turkey sandwich was even better at Sam's located down the block on Bustos Street. The grave was awesome! My father used to take me there. I couldn't afford it on my own with my one peso a day allowance at that time...hehehe. Sam's had already closed.

August 08, 2008 9:23 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The Good Earth Plaza used to be the Good Earth Emporium, Anonymous!

It's located on the corner of Avenida and Bustos Streets. A few meters from Good Earth, on the same block along Avenida, is the Ideal Theater.

Remember it now?

August 08, 2008 9:25 AM  

Blogger reyd said...

Ok, that is really sad to hear that the former Good Earth Emporium was almost a total lost.
Isa yan sa mga bldg that can be considered as part of modern architecture in Pinas. Madalas din kami diyan during my high-school days after watching a movie in Universal tapos lalagariin namin ang Avenida at dadaan kami sa Alemars to check on new books or Aero-Model magazines. And speaking of that coffee shop, diyan kami nag snacks nuon ng GF ko from USTe, until I convinced her to walk some more yards towards Santa Cruz (no, not those cheapy biglang liko) but towards Toho restaurant, kaya memorable yung Toho sa akin.... hahaha!
And on the sad note, kawawa naman yung mga employees na nawalan ng trabaho and another weird move na nakakatulala, why is the DOTC suing the bldg. owner for the LRT lost of income? Pag nasiraan ba ang LRT, puwede bang mag-sue yung mga passengers for their lost of income? :lol:
Ganyan ba talaga sa Pinas? Sinadya or accident yung pagkasunog, idedemanda ka pa because of those affected by that tragedy?

August 08, 2008 11:52 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Good Earth because that was the place where I bought my very first "Chuck Taylor" or Converse rubber shoes. I used to wear "Chuck Celo" or Marcelo rubber shoes before LOL. Also on Bustos street there used to be a made to order shoe place called Besa, Besa's or something. I never aspired to own one of their expensive shoes but it gave me a kick to look at their price tags and wondered who would buy their shoes. I guess its the ones who want to make a social statement, rather than wear a comfortable, well-made shoes that costs a lot less.

August 08, 2008 12:33 PM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,

...not to mention that we were just discussing Good Earth Plaza (Good Earth Bazaar) a couple of days ago and look what happened!

Okay, the narrow & short street was calle Bustos & not Ronquillo, as I mentioned. I used to go to La Perla Restaurant on calle Bustos for my open turkey sandwich, I don't know if it's now called Sam's. There was also a "CRISPA" store very close to the small stalls vendors selling "castanas" before Sta. Cruz church.

I have to get home as soon as I can, before I'll be like Rip Van Winkle in my own city!!!!

Thanks Eric, for Manila's past & present, Like I said your Senor Enrique is the home away from home,
ka tony

August 08, 2008 1:12 PM  

Blogger Gita Asuncion said...

i was so sad when i heard about the fire... we used to call this GEE. pasyalan namin when we were little. special pasyal yan kasi a trip to GEE meant a new pair of shoes for me and my sister. terno pa. same style, color lang ang iba.
then there is the twist ice cream cone that comes in vanilla, chocolate or combination. dyan nagstart yan diba...
oh well, my childhood rendezvous is now just memories... kalungkot naman...

August 08, 2008 10:37 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"Ganyan ba talaga sa Pinas? Sinadya or accident yung pagkasunog, idedemanda ka pa because of those affected by that tragedy?"

Ewan ko nga ba, Reyd. Suspecha ko pakana lang ng DOTC yun para mailagay pangalan nila sa dyario. Alam mo naman dito, eepal at eepal ang mga iyan lalo na kung may ambisyon lumaban sa eleksyon ... hehehe!

Anyway, are you sure sa Toho nga kayo nagpunta? Baka naman bigla ding lumiko ... hehehe. But seriously, wala na ata yang Toho Restaurant. Marami ng mga kainan nawala sa may Plaza Sta. Cruz area, tulad ng Moderna at Wa Nam.

Good Earth was the newest sensation back in those days. And you're right, very modern nga ang building.

August 09, 2008 8:07 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I also had the Chuck Taylor, bertN, pero low cut. Finally enjoyed those after wearing years of Elpos during elementary years ... hehehe.

As for leather or dress shoes, the closest I got to those custom made edition was the hand me down Beatle zippered boot from my brother Pepsi. I think he had them custom made from Glenmore over in Azcarraga.

Ang Tibay were mostly what I wore as a kid and then later on Hush Puppies and leather shoes bought in Cubao.

August 09, 2008 8:11 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, Ka Tony. What a coincidence!

I don't remember La Perla, but Sam's was where my father used to buy me those turkey sandwiches. It was right on the same side of Bustos Street the famous Crispa store! How I love those t-shirts :)

Better bring along a pair of "very comfortable" walking shoes, Ka Tony, when you come home because you will be doing lots and lots of walking for sure :)

August 09, 2008 8:15 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I almost got teary-eyed as I read your memories of Good Earth, Gita, because you reminded me how wonderful those downtown Manila was back then.

And thanks to everyone as well kasi madami na rin akong nalilimutan. Your comments awaken those memories in me.

Thanks very much Gita, and everybody!

August 09, 2008 8:17 AM  

Blogger angmgaibon said...

I don't know if there was a mini ferris wheel atop Good Earth's dept. store. But it was somewhere in Sta. Cruz area. I think it was closed during the early 80's.

August 09, 2008 10:17 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Ayyyy Eric, pareho tayo nalilimutan na ang old Manila!!! bertN is right, there was "Besa's shoe store" mahal ang mga sapatos & you can have yours customized!!! Katabi ng Besa's on the corner of Bustos & Plaza Sta Cruz was the Alemar's Book Store, but they also have toys, noong bata pa ako tulo ang laway ko sa window display nila!

There were two theaters at Plaza Sta. Cruz, "Astor" & "Cine Sta. Cruz," which was almost at the Dasmarinas bridge.

I remember this stiff bridge, that "kutcheros" have to stop their "kalesa" & waited at the top of the bridge, because of the heavy traffic at calle Dasmarinas, then pagumandar na ang traffic, that was the only time they can proceed, kasi nga walang preno ang mga paa ng "kabayo" na tadtad ng "boston." A lot of times at the foot of this bridge, car drivers nagugulat na lang sa likod ng kotse nila may maririnig silang malakas na "krassshhhhh!!!" ...tapos bigla na lang silang may katabing "kabayong hilo!!!"

parang kahapon lang Eric,
ka tony

August 09, 2008 11:58 AM  

Blogger fionski said...

Kung kailan naman nakakita ako ng dress na type ko sa Good Earth, saka naman sya nasunog!
Que lastima!

August 11, 2008 6:46 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Goodness! Haven't heard 'que lastima' since my Tia Victoria slipped and fell near the canal when I was in high school ... hehehe!

Fret not, Fioski, only the main floor and basement were seriously damaged by the fire. Good Earth might reopen soon, and the dress you fancy may still be there :)

August 11, 2008 7:39 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

susmarya! it got burned? sayang nman. i remember good earth emporium nt because of the shoes, the clothes and the sandwiches my mom used to buy there when i was kid. i remember it for the mala-assemblyline like candy counter. everytime she'd bring me along to gee, she'd leave me by the candy counter where they it has this conveyor belt filled with candies that goes round and round. you just take your pick (i'd take my sweet-old time) and bring it to the lady at the counter. i even remember her name - elsa.

i think when the lrt was built, nalugi nang husto yung gee and (if i am not mistaken) the ceo or the owner jumped from the rooftop to hie death on the sidewalk.

hay, memories...

August 12, 2008 10:47 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I knew that many stores along Avenida experienced major losses during the extended delays in the construction of the LRT line, Daniel -- people found it arduous to walk with all that construction going on. Also, air-conditioned malls started springing up elsewhere.

But I didn't know about the owner of Good Earth jumping off the rooftop to his death. Wow!

August 13, 2008 9:39 AM  

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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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