An apology to Manila (2 of 3)

I regarded Manila and its people as one. I forgot that underneath all the dirt and grime, Manila is asking for another chance. I forgot how much damage people can do to their habitat. Whatever shit is going down, the city reflects it. Manila now reflects how dirty the Filipinos can get just so they can live better than everyone, forgetting the place that gave them their identity.

But it's not too late for a change.

It was a swift ride from Abad Santos to Carriedo Station. The group agreed that they will accompany me to Regina Bldg. in Escolta to ask Sir Jackson regarding the problem of my camera.

The rain was unforgiving. No one from our group brought an umbrella (as far as I know) so Nim decided to buy one for us. Thanks Nim! We walked from Carriedo Station, crossed Sta. Cruz Church and to Escolta. The rain subsided a little, but we still got wet. Manila, on the other hand, was still busy.

Escolta, nicknamed as the “Wall Street of the Philippines” was then the equivalent of Ayala Avenue in Makati now. A stroll through the Escolta today still reveals some of its former glories. It was the shopping capital of the rich and the privileged Filipinos.

Going back in time during the early 20th century, a casual tourist in Manila will find in Escolta all the luxurious bazaars: Heacock's, La Estrella del Norte, Oceanic, and Beck's, to name a few. They are all gone now, replaced by more modern edifices, now occupied mostly by banks and fast food stores. Yet Escolta still exist, only its past splendor is gone.

It was also in the Escolta where the first Ice Cream parlor was established(Clarke's Ice Cream), the first cinema house was founded (Cinematografo), and the very first electric cable car was installed (the Trambiya), yes we have trams back then. It was indeed the classic old Manila of cobblestones and beautiful promenades.

I recently found out that while in Escolta, one should not forget to drop by the Escolta Museum which is located on the mezzanine floor of Calvo Building where you can have a glimpse of fin de siècle Escolta and its vicinity through old photographs, newspaper articles, advertisements, vintage bottles etc.. So if you're curious about the street, you can just google it or visit the museum.

Escolta in 1920s, anonymous photographer

It was around 2:30pm when we arrived at the street. Our main purpose in Escolta is the beautiful Regina building which still stands up to this day, a vestige of the old times gone by. The building is open for the public but you have to know someone inside, because the security is kind of strict when it comes to first-timers. Also, taking photos inside the building is strictly PROHIBITED.


Yes, we found an ukay-ukay shop on the building's commercial space below. Too bad it's my no-expenses-first-since-I-bought-a-new-camera day.

Regina building is still functional and according to different sources, it has been a nest for shady transactions of the Bureau of customs. The gloomy atmosphere inside clearly reflects how most of our beautiful architecture is neglected and left to rot.

We were slightly apprehended by the roaming guards since it's a no-camera zone. Nevertheless, we still managed to take a decent photo.

Trying to imagine what Manila was before the War leaves something for the imagination. Unfortunately, nowadays we can only glimpse this by taking the elevated train along Taft Avenue. There are still vestiges of the great Philippine architectural wonders of the American Colonial Period, but one has to see this only in the mind’s eye, as much is hidden in urban concrete or the urban neglect of a mega-city.

If we can further imagine what used to be tall Acacia trees along Taft Avenue—instead of the dismal concrete blight of contemporary mass transit—one can go back in time almost a century ago when Manila was a fair city and a paragon of the American image of colonial gentility.


Lee had a small wound in his foot, and I'm quite worried that we were walking in the rain while his shoes are soaked in floodwater. Leptospirosis? No.

After a short rest in Escolta, we decided to go straight to Luneta, and CCP.


To be continued.
I’m so sorry, Manila. What am I to do? I guess I’m just going to have to love you unconditionally, which is how it’s supposed to be. If you want to see my companion's photos, you can visit their site:

Nim of Sunburnmotel
Jeric of Rustyjerk


  1. Yea I agree. What is supposed to be most foreigners' favourite element of Manila which is the people, is also what is its downside. Filipinos give very little importance to the preservation of anything me thinks.

  2. bitin! waiting for part 3 =) reviving escolta is a dream of mine that still has hope... I think the government should seriously bring back the best things about the old manila i'm sure it will help the current situation..... =)

  3. aside from the photos ang ganda ng narration mo. i like it. hintayin ko ang last part. i love how manila hide their beautiful buildings, yung mga tipong panahon pa ng mga americano...kailangan talaga hanapin po para ma appreciate.

  4. If I remember it correctly, Regina building is Nim's favorite. =)

    I wanna share with you my good friend's post:

  5. Yes, sabi nga niya samin! And thanks sa liiink! :D 'twas a nice read!

  6. oo, minsan pag sa LRT nakasakay, andaming masusulyapan eh, kung pwede lang isa-isahin yun mapuntahan bago sila mawala nang tuluyan...

  7. yes! kaya naman gawin ng governent natin yun eh, the only problem is, each new mayor elected tries to change or outdo all the things the previous administration has done, kaya ayun, walang nangyayari. :(

  8. binuhay mong muli ang pag-ibig ko sa lungsod maynila.. I might do another round of Manila series.. (focus: Manila by night, The old tram rails, Divisoria night market, Old Churches of Manila)

  9. agree with ian, Bitin nga, good read! well written! naalala ko i had an idea about Escolta when it was being asked in Digital LG Quiz (donno if you know that quiz show, haha!) been there twice na, pero waa ako idea na pwede gawin, may museum pala dun...

  10. your photos are beautiful, your words inspiring.


It would be nice to get a feedback from you :)