Things to Do in Escolta Manila
Manila, Philippines — You’ve probably seen the buzz about #selfiEscolta online or in print. But even if you missed the event, you should still visit the Queen of Manila’s Streets. Here are 8 reasons why you go and visit this side of the metro:
El Hogar Building by Solo Galura
1. Magnificent sights
Of course, the first and most important reason to go to Escolta is to see its showcase of buildings. If coming from Sta. Cruz Church and Plaza Lacson, you’d first see the neoclassical Roman-Santos Building, with its majestic façade. Then after the small bridge are Regina and First United Buildings, which were both designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro, Juan Luna’s son.
Regina Building by John Tewell
Go down the street to see more works by National Artists for architecture. These include the Capitol Theater by Juan Nakpil and the round BPI Escolta building designed by Jose Maria Zaragoza. Other highlights include Burke Building, which was once home to the country’s first elevator (now sadly gone); and the TEOFF Center (Natividad Building), former home of the Insurance Commission.
And of course, who cannot forget the century-old El Hogar. Together with Juan Luna eServices Building—the former site of the Citibank headquarters in Manila—they mark the end of the proposed heritage zone.
2. Shop at the 98B Saturday Market
Looking for original artworks to display in your home? Or for one-of-a-kind accessories such as bracelets, earrings, or even wallets? Then don’t miss the 98B Saturday Market. Held every month, this bazaar gathers artists and crafters from around the metro at the ground floor of First United Building.
98 B Saturday Market photo by 98B
3. Get artsy.
On top of their popular market, the 98B Collaboratory also hosts various activities such as artist lectures and workshops. These are usually open to the public and free. Other groups, such as the Urban Sketchers, also host sketch walks around the area. To know more about these events, just check out the 98B Facebook page at www.facebook.com/98Bcollaboratory or join the Urban Sketchers Facebook group at Urban Sketchers Philippines FB Group.
Urban Sketchers Philippines phot by Ige Trinidad
4. Visit the Calvo Museum
Go on a nostalgia trip with a visit to the Calvo Museum, which houses various memorabilia from Manila’s storied past. Here, you’d find vintage bottles of various drinks on display, alongside a bevy of old newspapers. Not to be missed is its collection of movie posters from the Golden Age of Philippine Cinema and see how Gloria Romero or Rosa Rosal looked like when they were younger.
Calvo Museum in Escolta by Ryomaandres : Wikipedia
Entrance fees are P50 for regular visitors and P20 for students. Please call 241-4762 or 241-4578 to book a visit.
5. Good eats
While other streets in the Binondo district are more known for their food choices, Escolta also has its own treats for foodies. Start with a banquet at the two Chinese restaurants along the street, UNO and Crown Prince. Or go for the chicken and gravy at The Original Savory restaurant, which has been in operation for 50 years and counting.
Looking for some snacks? An outlet of Polland Hopia is also located at the corner of Yuchengco and Escolta Streets. There are also some fast food outlets and convenience stores, such as Tropical Hut, Pizza Hut, Mini-Stop, and Family Mart.
Doors at Polland Hopia in Escolta photo by Noel
And don’t forget to treat your sweet tooth with the 9-scoop Mount Everest ice cream sundae at Escolta Ice Cream. This dining establishment evokes the memory of Clarke’s, the first ice cream parlor in the country, which once stood near the foot of the Jones Bridge.
6. It’s accessible.
There are many ways to get to Escolta—by jeep, train, or even ferry.
To get there by train, simply ride the LRT-1 to Carriedo Station; you’d see the Roman-Santos (BPI) Building, Sta. Cruz Church, and Plaza Lacson once you disembark. It’s also a 15-minute walk from the LRT-2 Recto Station; if you’d rather not walk, then you can just ride one of the tricycles from Isetann Recto.
Pasig River Ferry by Roberto Verzo
You can also ride the Pasig River Ferry and disembark at Escolta Station, which is located beside the Zaragoza Building. Several jeepney routes also pass through the area, such as the ones en route to Tutuban. You can even disembark in front of Quiapo Church and just walk to the area, in the direction of Carriedo.
Those bringing their cars along can either park right at the street or at the secure parking lot near McArthur Bridge and just walk to the area.
7. It’s affordable
It’s safe to say that you don’t need to spend more than P500 per person for an enjoyable afternoon in Escolta. After all, you can just walk down the street and admire the beauty of the buildings for free. A meal at Escolta Ice Cream won’t cost more than P200; there are many affordable food options in and around the area as well. The Calvo Museum, too, also charges an affordable entrance fee.
Escolta Street in Manila by Martindemo
8. It’s the best way to contribute to the revival of Old Manila
Let’s face it—no matter how beautiful the remaining heritage buildings in Escolta are, we cannot escape the fact that much of its old glory has faded. Some notable buildings, such as El Hogar, have fallen into disrepair due to neglect.
But by visiting, you will lend a hand in the revival of the area. You will help prove to investors and real estate developers that Manila’s heritage is worth keeping instead of demolishing.
Now, isn’t that a great reason for a fun day out?