Like a pebble, that dropped into a placid lake, causing ripple effects, into waves, and circles of change; the Escolta Commercial Association Inc.(ECAI) has launched once more its tireless efforts for a change in support to the new city mayor of Manila Hon. past President Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s program for urban renewal is ECAI’s resolve to fulfill. This is ECAI’s courageous and persevering answer to Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, now Mayor of city of Manila, challenge for the private sectors’ contribution for the revitalization of the city of Manila particularly that of Escolta.
Escolta Commercial Association Inc. (ECAI) deserves our warmness commendation and congratulations for its vision, mission and objective in transforming Escolta thoroughfare as one of Manila’s premier landmark, being an internationally renowned historical heritage.
According to Lou Gopal in his blog “Escolta – a rich history”, during Spanish times, the Escolta is less than a kilometer in length, was a quiet, awning-covered street in which during the traditional siesta time, looked like a path between two rows of tents.
The coming of the American troops after the Spanish-American war ended transformed it almost overnight into a wild, noisy jumble of honky-tonks. Governor Taft soon changed all this when one of his earliest official acts was to bar all saloons from the Escolta and it became a respectable shopping, dining, movie houses and thoroughfare of business and trade once again.
When I was a child about 10 years old, my father, Ramon F. Cuervo Jr., would bring me to see his realtors office which he shared with the late Realtor Gabby Ambrosio. Their corporation was Perpetual Investments Inc. and soon after my father incorporated RF Cuervo Inc. which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. RF Cuervo Inc. was located at Room 304 Natividad Building Escolta corner T. Pinpin, on the ground floor was the popular high-end shoe store Walk-Over and a specialty store known as Bookmark. On special days our lunch would be at Savory which is still existing up to today at the corner of Escolta fronting Jones Bridge. After lunch we would watch movie either Ideal or Odeon Theater. My happiest moments was going to Berg’s Department Store of Mr. Sy Lian Teng to look at the toys that mesmerize me.
I recall that when we would walk up and down Escolta, my father would meet his business associates, clients, friends and acquaintances. In the early afternoon we would attend holy mass at the Sta. Cruz Church. At that time, everybody were well dressed even the middle class usually with white pants and shirt with necktie and formal shoes. Walking and enjoying at Escolta was indeed a happy, pleasant and “feel good” experience.
Sad to say, today, Escolta is not like the prosperous past. There are several problems, concerns and issues that have to be addressed by the city government of Manila and Escolta Building and Property Owners. One of these concerns is law enforcement, there is a need to put more safety and security so that there be peace and order to attract shoppers, business and tourists to come to Escolta.
Fortunately Kagawad Andrew Arriola will help and coordinate with the city authorities and police force to address the problems of informal settlers, street children, and vagabonds. It is imperative that this street of Escolta be clean, green and a pleasant, healthy place to live, work and play.
Kagawad Arriola also plans to build a 2-storey barangay office and hall to be located somewhere along Escolta street.
Another important necessary development and requirement for the revitalization of Escolta is to provide ample parking buildings.
A possible site identified by ECAI is the present abandoned and condemned PNB Building and other idle properties along Escolta.
A truly note-worthy urban renewal project, that has initiated the transformation and redevelopment of downtown Manila is the beautiful Juan Luna Building.
This is the development of Joey Berenguer and an active member of ECAI and the representative of Juan Luna E-Services Building. This project is considered as pioneer for revitalization of downtown Manila. The Juan Luna E-Services Building is a fusion of technology and history. Registered with the National Historical Institute of the Philippines (NHI), restoration of the building is underway to preserve its aesthetics and to incorporate modern technological facilities and amenities suited for current business such as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). The Juan Luna E-Services Building will soon be completed.
Escolta is an unpolished diamond, we have special heritage buildings such as Calvo Building built 75 years ago which will be celebrating its anniversary on August 14, 2013. Other buildings are Regina Building, First United Building(former Perez-Samanillo Building) were popular for Bergs department store, and TEOFF Center (former Natividad Building).
ECAI is actively reviving the historical strip and the association does not take security for granted. They are in close contact with city and police authorities, the local barangay, and keep it safe from petty crimes. Its primary mission is to renew interest in Escolta; to attract people to the area; and most importantly, to attract 21st-century businesses to the area, especially call centers.
It would be ideal and a realization of a 20 year old dream that Escolta would be a tourist destination, a business hub, and a premier dining, shopping and retail thoroughfare hopefully by 2015 Escolty would be ready to receive our foreign guests from the World Bank, APEC, and ASEAN .
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III during his State of the Nation Address stressed that he wants the 16th congress, to give priority to the Land Administration Reform Bill.
In answer to this challenge, Former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who’s program during his campaign included the urban renewal of Manila. To achieve this the honorable mayor will review the land use plan and valuations of the properties so as to achieve its best use.
The Former President Joseph Estrada is famous for transforming San Juan into a prosperous city. After winning as a senator in the year 1987, he won as a Vice-President of the Philippines in 1992 and ran for Presidential Election in the year 1998 and won. With his vast experience, wisdom in public administration, and know-how, both in local and national government, we are confident that Hon. Joseph Estrada can and will transform Escolta to its glorious and great days, legacy and heritage worthy of its historical value.