Arts and Culture

Escolta Royale

By Janina Lim, Lifestyle Editor  |

THE NAME “ESCOLTA” is derived from the Spanish word “Escoltar”, which means “to escort”.  The name is perfect for this downtown street in Manila that played a significant role in escorting business deals 500 years ago.

During the Spanish colonialization, foreign businesmen from various countries such as France, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Taiwan would flood Escolta along with the goods they are to merchandise.  Spaniards designed Escolta to be the center of trade.

However, even prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, Escolta has already been utilized as an area for the purpose of business by the Malaysians and the Chinese, hence the establishment of the oldest Chinatown, Ong Pin.

Upon the entrance of the Americans into the Spanish colonized realm of the Philippines, Escolta becomes a street of luxury and aristocracy with the majesty of its homes making a walk along this downtown a sublime sight. Architectural design emerged in a variety raging from neoclassicism, art decos, Beaux arts. Architectural designs of early skyscrapers came into surface. Its evolution was a turn from not just a mere business center, but also a canvass of artistry. It was today’s Makati in terms of business and architectural buildings. Although in terms of style, Escolta had more class than the standard skyscrapers in Makati.

In the 1960’s however, Escolta’s charm gradually disappeared with the increasing population leading to the congestion of the street. In addition to this, the growth of other financial districts nearby like Quiapo brought Escolta’s escorting role to an end. The rise of Makati aggravated its crestfallen state.

Today, the heritage sites of Escolta, one of which is the Capitol Theater by National Artist Juan Nakpil, is said to be confronting the threats of demolition; heritage sites of which are the only hold old downtown Escolta grasps onto for existence, heritage sites filled with the memories of the majestic world it used to belong.

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