Escolta, Manila's version of New York's Fifth Avenue
Manila's Escolta was the place to be in the early to mid 20th century,
It was a thriving business hub that boasted of Art Deco buildings, luxury shops, and high-end restaurants. At its heyday, it was known as the "Queen of Manila Streets," a bustling center of commerce that rivaled the likes of New York's Fifth Avenue.
However, the once glorious Escolta gradually lost its luster in the late 20th century, as modern shopping malls and commercial centers sprouted across the city. The once-vibrant streets of Escolta became a shadow of its former self, with neglected and dilapidated buildings, and a dwindling number of establishments.
Despite its decline, Escolta still holds an important place in Manila's history and culture. It is a testament to the city's rich architectural heritage, a showcase of Art Deco buildings that reflect the country's colonial past. It is also a symbol of the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit, a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of the Filipino people in the face of economic and political challenges.
In recent years, however, there has been a concerted effort to revive Escolta and restore it to its former glory. Historic preservationists, local artists, and community groups have come together to revitalize the area and bring back its vibrancy and energy.
One of the key initiatives to revive Escolta is the "First United Building" project. This Art Deco masterpiece was built in 1928 and was once a bustling shopping center. However, in recent years, it fell into disrepair and was nearly abandoned. In 2014, a group of local artists and entrepreneurs took over the building and transformed it into a vibrant hub of art, culture, and commerce. Today, the building houses art galleries, shops, and cafes, and is a thriving center of activity in Escolta.
Another initiative to revive Escolta is the "Saturday X Future Market." This weekly market features local entrepreneurs, artists, and designers, who showcase their products and services in the heart of Escolta. The market aims to promote local entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation, and to encourage people to rediscover the charm and beauty of Escolta.
The efforts to revive Escolta have not gone unnoticed. In 2015, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts recognized Escolta as a "Heritage Zone," a designation that acknowledges the area's cultural and historical significance. The recognition has helped to raise awareness of Escolta's heritage and to attract more people to visit and explore the area.
The revival of Escolta is a testament to the power of community action and the importance of preserving and celebrating our cultural heritage. It is a reminder that our history and culture are vital to our identity as a people, and that they can serve as a source of inspiration and pride. By supporting initiatives that aim to revive and restore places like Escolta, we can ensure that our heritage is not lost to the ravages of time, but rather, preserved and celebrated for generations to come.