What is Escolta to us now?
It is an unknown territory to most. It is a place where time hasn’t been kind to its structures. How we overlook the history of its walls and pavements. Worn out buildings and even abandoned spaces. A deteriorating area because of extensive neglect by the government and the community residing near it that supposed to advocate sustaining the life of Escolta.
The Glory Days
Escolta in her glory years was known to be grand in its architecture and as a centralized location that houses malls, drugstores, stores and stand-alone theaters. She was roaring lioness that commands respect and adoration in her time.
It was the commercial hub of Manila during the early 1900s and was a witness to many pioneering establishments in the country: first ice cream parlor, first movie house, first electric tram among others.
Commerce in the area was booming, large financial institutions, high-end boutiques, restaurants, and production houses. Neoclassical and Beaux artistry in its buildings built thru various visionaries of the world-renowned local and international architects.
Escolta’s glory days are far gone now. Her theater drapes are now closed and its limelight flickered to death.
Come the Youth
Come 2012- a group named 98B COLLABoratory was created. It is an artist-run advocacy and space initiative in Manila. They focus on community building, networking of artist, local material merchants and kitchen. Their main objective is to create a space where creative centric individuals from all forms of disciplines artists, designers, curators, writers, musicians, filmmakers, activists, educators, researchers, cultural workers, performers, architects, and students together with the general public.
Seeing the potential that is in Escolta Street, having vast open-air museum and exhibition of architectural heritage and magnificent sights. 98B COLLABoratory saw an opportunity to create a venue smacked in Manila. They are currently located on the mezzanine floor of the First United Building. The elegant six-story art deco building was built in 1928 and designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro (son of Juan Luna, a world-renowned Filipino painter during the late 1800s). Its history and heritage have been part of 98B’s backdrop.
First United Building
For the last three years, 98B COLLABoratory (98B) in partnership with the First United Building (FUB) have been organizing the Saturday X Future Market at Escolta a few years back and now they’re open during weekdays as well. Here you will find HUB: Make Lab, is an incubation space for artists, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs.
A project started by a collective community of artists, 98B the market aims to bring back the glory days of the former premier shopping district. Every weekend, most predominantly Saturdays. Where local artist makers of multidisciplinary design discipline gather and sell their own products. Entrepreneurs gather here and set up shops to interact with the community and sell artist-made merchandise, crafts, and quirky vintage items.
You can find prints of different art styles and different media from several of the emerging artists present in the market. They do not capitalize their art too much so you’d be able to purchase items at a very reasonable price.
The HUB serves as an incubation space for those who wish to experiment with a more market sustainable space.
Aside from the maker’s market, here you can find a nifty specialty coffee shop; The Den. A nondescript space at the back of a classic Art Deco building hailing from the Queen- Escolta. The Den is your gracious host inviting you to come ins and enjoy a cup or two of their specialty coffee.
Grey slabs of concrete mixed with industrial wooden fixtures and colors give this 82 square meters of space a distinct deep character. Started as just a coffee shop idea with a manual pour over pop-up. The three owners Gabriel Villegas and his partners Carlo Magno, and Arts Serrano saw the opportunity to open this concept coffee shop. The owners are also the architects behind The Hub.
Fred’s Revolucion the Cubao Expo famous has their second branch opened in First United Building having the same operating hours as the Cubao Expo branch—Tuesdays to Sundays, 5 pm – 1 am.
Switch off your autopilot perception
Ditch your Megamall or Ayala Malls and try experiencing what Manila has to offer. Re-awaken ourselves and see what these artists see. Also, we all need a change in sight after all.
Manila may be both chaotic and crammed but never dull. New shopping malls are rising next to the slum areas, the poverty and the luxury coexist in some weird alignment just next to each other. Manila may not be famous for its beauty, but its magnetic energy gives you the special feel. dissimilar and lively in so many ways, it’s a great city to explore even if you only have one day of time.
Although we’re presented with the BGC’s, Makati CBDs and new uprisen hip spots. We always go back to the core of the city. It is where we find its soul, the old funky vibe of what Manila should be. It has character and can cater to anyone.
Experience Escolta in a new light, with diverse people from different walks of life and even nationalities. Have a better appreciation of our history and homegrown collective community that strives to conceal Escolta’s history and value.
Update: Would you like to experience this day with us? We’ve recently partnered up with Klook to provide Out of the Box activity tours like this. You may book your own tour here A Day in Manila with the Fat Girls Day Out.
This article was originally written May 12, 2017.
The content was updated: June 27, 2018.
More information you may visit their official website and handles;
- FB: https://www.facebook.com/98Bcollaboratory?fref=photo
- IG: @escoltablockparty, @98bcollaboratory
- Website: http://www.98-b.org/http://www.98-b.org/
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