Escolta – a rich history.

Manila business district – c.1935 (click to enlarge)

Jose Damaso Gorricho, a quartermaster of the Spanish army, married Ciriaca Santos of Imus, Cavite.  Her fortunate marriage to a Spanish army man paved the way for the hardworking Ciriaca to start a business by supplying “zacate” hay for the many horses of the Spanish cavalry in Intramuros;  she became known as a “zacatera.”

As her “zacate” business flourished, Doña Ciriaca Santos de Gorricho purchased land across the Pasig River from Intramuros where she could grow the “zacate” hay she supplied to the cavalry.  Years later, urban development fortunately sprawled to that particular stretch of Gorricho land which eventually became the Escolta, the premier commercial district of Manila.

One of Manila’s famous streets, the Escolta, could also be the oldest. For the most part, it has lost its gilded edge and glory as Manila’s downtown area. It certainly has a rich history dating back to the early Spanish colonial days but I’m not going to go back that far. To me, it started to get interesting after the American colonization of the Philippines. Not only were the times moving Manila into the 20th century, the Americans influenced the modernized “look” of the city. With the influx of a large number of American investors, American companies clearly dominated the economy, with most of them establishing their headquarters around the center of business activity, the Escolta.

During Spanish times, the Escolta, less than a kilometer in length, was a sleepy, 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 thoroughfare once again.

Pertierra advertisement at Carriedo location-1901.

Pertierra advertisement at Carriedo location-1901.

Salon de Pertierra, established in March 1896 by a Spaniard named Pertierra, was the first movie-theater house in the Philippines. Initially built as a phonograph parlor beneath the Casino España building along Calle Perez in No. 12 Escolta, this theater was designed in preparation for Pertierra’s first movie show in Manila in time for the Christmas season in 1896 however it was not until January 1897 when the first four movies (French) were shown. They were silent films with subtitles accompanied by a piano or orchestra. Below, Spanish and Filipino together in a rare photo taken in 1849 at one of Pertierra’s studios on Carriedo.

My grandmother, Aurora on the right with her sister, Adelaida.

My grandmother, Aurora on the right with her sister, Adelaida.

My grandmother, Aurora Zaragoza y Busto,was a piano and voice teacher that subsidized her meager earnings by playing the piano at some of these silent film houses.


Escolta with horse-drawn tranvia – c.1910

Clarke’s Ice Cream Parlor at the corner of Plaza Moraga and Rosario St. -c.1920

Interior of Clarke’s Ice Cream Parlor

Clarkes’ Ice Cream Parlor – around 1900.

The photographs (click to enlarge) of that time show a distinctively American look. On the west side at the foot of the Bridge of Spain (later replaced by the Jones Bridge) was Clarke’s Ice Cream Parlor, founded by M.A. Clarke. “Met” Clarke came to Manila as an early American entrepreneur, starting on a shoestring but soon became fabulously successful with his soda fountain and restaurant that quickly became the principal gathering place for the emerging business community.

He was also heavily invested in Benguet mines. In 1910, the expensive 60-ton mill which Clarke had financed was flooded by heavy rains. He mortgaged most of his holdings only to experience a severe typhoon that struck Baguio a year later, which demolished the site. The blow wiped Clarke out and the restaurant was sold in auction. Clarke returned to California where he died shortly thereafter.

The photo below shows Clarke’s on the west side of the Bridge of Spain. This was before that bridge was replaced by the Jones Bridge built just about a block west of this location. It gives you a good idea of the previous entrance into the Escolta.

Bridge of Spain leading to the Escolta showing Clarke’s on the west side.-c.1899

Clarke’s interior – c.1905

The American Bazaar, Manila’s first American-style department store founded in 1898 by Isaac “Ikey” Beck on the Pasaje Perez and later moved to the Escolta and renamed Beck’s at 91 Escolta. Interestingly, I recently ran across an article that revealed my grandfather, Julio Lopez Busto, worked under Mr. Beck at his import/export firm.

My grandfather, Julio Busto

Escolta-1935. Beck’s on the right side and Heacock’s across the street. (courtesy J.Tewell)

The department store on the Escolta also distributed the Crosley and other brands of radio receivers. Always the entrepreneur, Beck purchased a radiophone transmitter, antenna poles and insulators and installed Manila’s third broadcasting station, KZIB, a 20-watt station atop the Farmacia San Fernando in Binondo. The radio operation was later upgraded to a 1000-watt station located within the Crystal Arcade, with a crystal transmitter and broadcasting service strong enough to cover the entire Philippines.

Its programming included music and radio shows from its affiliate, Columbia Phonograph Co. in America as well as discovering and featuring local talent in Manila. Harry Naftaly, KZIB President proclaimed, “We have a number of surprises for the Philippine radio public. We endeavor to put life into our announcing. We get away a bit from the stereotyped manner of announcing and report social news, arrivals and departures from Manila, and other items of momentary interest to our audience.”

Both Naftaly and Beck were interned by the Japanese at Santo Tomas Internment camp. I. Beck died while in camp on August 14th, 1944.

Beck’s would soon be surpassed by Heacock’s, an upscale department store that carried clothing, shoes, cosmetics, jewelry, sporting goods and gifts.

Interior of Heacock’s-1941


Sam Gaches, Heacock’s mgr.

Sam Gaches was largely responsible for Heacock’s success. He joined the company in 1910 as a treasurer then on to President and General Manager.

Under Gaches’ helm, Heacock’s moved into their new million-peso, eight story building on the corner of Escolta and David in September of 1930. The Heacock retail store occupied the main floor with the jewelry department and Denniston’s photography department. The cafe was located on the mezzanine floor which gave the customers a pleasant overlook of the entire store. Their offices and stock rooms were located on the second and third floors. The remaining floors were rented out as offices and suites. In addition, parking for 75 cars was provided in the basement.

Heacock’s at the corner of Escolta and David.

Sam Gaches was also interned by the Japanese at Santo Tomas Internment Camp and died shortly after internment.

The Escolta Ice Cream Parlor at #69 Escolta pictured above next to Alfredo Roensch & Co. around 1910 which became M.Y. San Restaurant founded by the Mar family. That whole section would later be replaced by the Crystal Arcade. The restaurant is gone but the company still makes their famous crackers and biscuits. Our store, Gem Gift Shop, was located next door to the M.Y. San during the Fifties. Our driver picked me up from school (American School in Pasay) and I’d have to wait at the store until closing and ride back home with my parents. So, everyday I’d have merienda at the M.Y.San and usually see a movie at the Lyric or Capitol. I put on a bit of weight during those days !!

Heading up towards Sta.Cruz and the little Visita bridge over the Estero del Reina, The Walk-Over Shoe Store was THE place to get shoes. I recall after seeing Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” at the Ideal (I think I saw three showings that day), he wore a pair of very cool black and white loafers. Being a huge Elvis fan, I just had to have those !

Walk-over Shoes

Naturally I found them at Walk-Over’s !

Botica Boie -1953

Botica Boie -1953

One of the most memorable stores for me in the Fifties, was the Botica Boie. Oh, I loved that store. It smelled clean, disinfectant clean – I guess because it was primarily a drug store but…it also had a soda fountain where you could order chocolate ice cream sodas. Also, it was the only store to have electric eye doors. I remember going in and out just to watch those doors open magically. Although the original store was founded in 1830, it went through a series of owners, claiming the name Botica-Boie.

Reinhold Boie

Actually started by a Spaniard in 1830, the Botica went through a succession of German pharmacists until incorporated by Reinhold Boie and Paul Sartorius into what we knew as Botica Boie. For 86 years Botica Boie used to be located at 81-87 Escolta where the Lyric Theater now stands. In 1916, it moved to 95 Escolta, running back to Calle San Vicente. The two-story building was remodeled and another two stories added in 1920.

Boie’s Fountain Ad-1931

In 1925, the San Vicente building was torn down and a five-story concrete building was erected on the site for office, laboratory and other departments. Some time in the 1960s the venerable Botica Boie closed its doors. Luxurious goods were also found in the area — La Estrella del Norte, Oceanic, La Perla del Oriente, and Heacock’s.  The windows usually displayed the most elegant shoes and apparel imported from the United States and Europe.

The Escolta of the Thirties and Forties were not exclusively “American”. The Estrella del Norte was founded by the Levy Brothers (Levy Hermanos).

Estrella del Norte at the foot of Jones Bridge.

Estrella del Norte at the foot of Jones Bridge.

In 1873, brothers Adolf, Charles and Rafael Levy arrived from Alsace-Lorraine by way of San Francisco, fleeing the Franco-Prussian War. They brought with them five crates of religious medals, statues and gold chains which they were unable to sell in California but were quite popular in Catholic Manila. Their first store was in Iloilo, named Estrella del Norte. They were quite successful and later expanded their businesses throughout Manila including their store on the Escolta. They also secured the Packard dealership with their “Estrella Auto Palace.” Leopold Kahn, also from Alsace, arrived in 1909 and joined them in business. The Levy Hermanos also owned the Oceanic Jewelry store. Source: Escape to Manila by Frank EphraimPlaza Moraga-Estrella del Norte entrance-m1950s

Escolta – empty of traffic during an air raid in late 1941.

In addition, there were also a handful of Indian merchants such as Assandas, Bombay Silk Supply, B.I. Sehwani and of course our jewelry store, Gem Gift Shop. My dad, F. Gopal, immigrated to Manila from India back in 1935 after being offered employment from a friend of the family. He worked at Bombay Silk Supply for a few years but his entrepreneurial spirit motivated him to start his own business. He had an import-export office in the Crystal Arcade before the war, a nightclub and restaurant during the Japanese occupation where he met and married my mom, Carlota Busto y Zaragoza, and started his jewelry store on the Escolta in the early Fifties.

My dad – F.Gopal, owner Gem Gift Shop. c.1956

Escolta in the mid-Fifties. Assandas on the right behind awning.
H.Alonso on the left.

courtesy Paulo Alcazaren

The Capitol Theater, designed by Nakpil in 1935 in the art deco style depicts Filipinas in native garb set within a tropical landscape. It sat 800 and had an unusual double balcony. It must have contracted to run Columbia Pictures because I remember seeing a lot of “B” westerns there. On the other hand, the Lyric was more of a Warner Bros. venue. The side of the building connected to the Crystal Arcade. Unfortunately what the destruction of the Battle of Manila did not do, the years of neglect have successfully transformed this beautiful example of art deco into the current eyesore.

Capitol Theater – late Thirties.

The Lyric Theater sat 1600 people and was designed by Pablo Antonio, the foremost Filipino modernist architect of his time who also designed the Ideal, Life, Galaxy, and Scala theaters.

Pablo Antonio, architect

Frank Goulette, entrepreneur-1901.

Frank Goulette, a former policeman acquired the Lyric in 1913 and went on to start a chain of movie houses through the Philippines. He died in 1933. The Lyric was taken over by Eastern Theatrical Inc. (Rufino family).

The honor of having made the very first talkie properly belongs to Jose  Nepomuceno. His Film Punyal na Guinto (Golden Dagger), which premiered on March 9, 1933, at the Lyric theater, was credited as the first completely sound movie to all-talking picture. Source: History of Philippine Cinema, Arsenio Bautista

The first, and by far most memorable full-length animated feature from the Disney Studios, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” premiered at the Lyric Theater on May 1, 1938.

Lyric Theater – 1920s.


The Lyric Theater – early 1930s.












The Lyric Theater was built at the former site of the Gutierrez Building shown below. It underwent a makeover sometime in 1937 with a complete change in facade.

Lyric-grand openingLyric-Escolta-Ligon(2) 1930

Escolta c.1920s

These two photos show a striking change from the architecture of the previous Spanish colonial period to the American era. Note how “modern” the buildings became in just a decade. Puerta del Sol moved to the south side of the street probably to accomodate the Crystal Arcade building.

Escolta showing the Crystal Arcade on the left – c.1937

During the Japanese occupation, the Escolta continued to be the main shopping center of Manila. The world war impeded importation of manufactured goods, especially from America but stores remained open for the most part. Traffic thinned as gasoline was confiscated by the Japanese Army and transportation was mainly by calesa, tranvia, charcoal-powered buses and a jerry-rigged contraption called a “dokar” which was a horse powered configuration of part automobile and part calesa.

“On the Escolta, we saw long lines of Jap soldiers waiting to eat in the former American Hardware building which had been changed into a serviceman’s cafeteria. Heacock’s Department Store had been converted into a gallery with propaganda pictures, art-display exhorting the Japanese war effort, and children’s exhibits. There were photographs of the various war fronts in the window with large signs in Japanese.” source: “Gods, Angels, Pearls, And Roses”, Sofia Adamson

Life on the Escolta continues during the Japanese occupation c.1943

The utter destruction of Manila in March 1945 caused ruination of this once beautiful city and the showcase that was the Escolta. Reconstruction started immediately but the glory of the Crystal Arcade was not resurrected and the excitement of the premier street of Manila would never again be as it once was.

War torn Escolta in rubble-1945.

Only a year after the war, Escolta comes back to life.-1946









Late 1945, view from Plaza Moraga at the foot of Jones Bridge.

I left Manila in 1962 to settle in Seattle and didn’t return until 2004 when I filmed scenes for my documentary about the Americans interned at Santo Tomas during the occupation. I was eager to see the Escolta again hoping to perhaps identify where our store used to be. I was saddened by the decay and the neglect. Of course nothing stays the same – I guess that’s what we call progress. But there have been efforts to revitalize other important historical sites such as Intramuros. I’m so proud of the fact that my cousin, Ramon Zaragoza, helped restore portions of the old walled city. I hope some remaining buildings such as the Metropolitan Theater can be restored to its former glory, and not give way to idiotic mayors who seem to have no respect or admiration for the past and let icons of art deco like the old Jai Alai building go. Let’s not give up hope, not just yet !

Some of the other buildings on the Escolta in 1931 were:
Masonic Temple
Heacock Bldg., Escolta and David
Meralco Bldg., Escolta and David
Philippine Education Co., Escolta and Pinpin
“34 Escolta”, Escolta and Nueva
Roxas Bldg., Escolta and David
Samanillo Bldg, Escolta and David

Philippine Education Co.

There were many other stores such as Aguinaldo’s , Syvel’s, Kairuz, Berg’s, Soriente Santos, and Philippine Education Co. that will need to wait for another episode.

photo courtesy Paulo Alcazaren.

Next time:  Other landmarks gone by…
Author: Lou Gopal 

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100 Responses to Escolta – a rich history.

  1. raymond ador dionisio says:

    Great documentary about Escolta. I do agree with you about the senseless wanton destruction of iconic art deco buildings in Metro Manila. I used to remember the Jai Alai Stadium and watched movie at Capitol when i was a kid.

    They should rehabilitate and restore these building to it’s old glory, then show premiere world class opera’s(like Mama Mia) or high tech IMAX, 4D films to make it self sustaining. I hope more people like you flourish. Best Regards

  2. myles garcia says:

    Mr. Gopal, like the previous comment…what a GREAT history of the Escolta you have put together. Coincidentally, I am on Facebook page called “San Juan, Rizal Days,” and the Escolta of old is one of the hot topics of discussion and nostalgia. I might find it somewhere else on your site, but what is the documentary you are talking about?

  3. lougopal says:

    Hi Myles and thank you for your comments on my Escolta post. A few years back I produced and directed a documentary about the Americans, British, Australians and other Allied families who were interned at Santo Tomas during the Japanese occupation. There were almost 4000 people interned there for about 3 1/2 yrs. Many died from starvation, including my uncle, Raymond Leyerly, an American who married my great-aunt, a Filipina. I wanted to honor his memory and the rest of the internees as well as over a hundred thousand Filipinos that died over the course of the occupation, especially during the Battle of Manila. It’s a story of hardship but more importantly, how they managed to survive against tremendous odds. More information at: Thank you, Lou Gopal

  4. Fernando Sim says:

    Your article on Escolta stirred my memory back to the ’38 when I was a kid growing up in Ongpin St. between Nueva & Rosario streets. Most nights with some playmates we would go gawking at Crystal Arcade store displays & amazed at the expensive Stetson hats & other items display at H. Alonso. Years later, after the liberation of City of Manila, in early 1946 I think, my brother Paul Sim with 5 friends established Scotys Department in ground floor of Samanillo Bldg. a few meters from Assandas. In 1949 my brother found a space at nearby Burke Bldg. Escolta corner David streets which started the Sim’s Dept. Store. Those were the glorious days, H.E. Heacock, Botica Boie, Syvels, Soriente Santos , Kairuz & many others which escaped my memory. However, I remembered H. Alonso & Syvels at Regina Bldg opposit Samanillo Bldg.
    Our Sim’s Dept. Store had to close in 1981 due to low business volume & high rental & over head expense when people flock to the new (1 stop shopping) malls aggravated by downtown traffic & short of parking space.
    Most of elder Sim’s family have gone & the younger generation are scattered from San Diego, CA to Toledo, OH
    & Jacksonville, FL.

    I salute you Mr. Gopal for the article & more power to you!

    Fernando Sim
    San Diego, CA

  5. lougopal says:

    Thank you for writing Mr. Sim ! I too have fond memories of the old Escolta of the Fifties. Talking about Botica Boie, Kairuz (where my dad bought my bike) and of course I remember your family’s store, Sim’s. What great memories and I thank you for sharing them with me !

    All the very best to you,
    Lou Gopal
    Seattle, WA

  6. Pat O'Leary says:

    Lou Gopal,
    An outstanding and comprehensive writeup !! Many details and landmarks you mentioned from years back sure brings one down memory lane. I even forgot the spelling of Heacock’s ( I spelled it Hickok ), but the other enterprises were remembered. I used to favor Lyric and Capitol theater, and did go to Galaxy, and definitely spent a lot of time at Scala. Post war years found us in Tayuman (near the race tracks and Catholic Trade School ). Later went to Paco, then Pennsylvania. Did go to De La Salle College, grade school thru college. Left in’64 , now here in Georgia, USA. Old pal Chris Conner and I were schoolmates from kindergarten all the way up thru HS’58.
    I had to reread what you wrote twice around – was just fascinating, and the sense of nostalgia really came to the fore, but good !!! Many Thanks for doing this, and sure enough look forward for more ! >>>
    Pat O’Leary

  7. lougopal says:

    Thanks for your very kind comments. I am nostalgic of the Manila of the 50s and 60s and can’t believe how much has changed. But there are many wonderful places Manila has to offer these days, especially in Makati and southward. I read Chris’s notes on Facebook every day. Did you know Ed Crame ?

  8. Danny Tiongco says:

    Hi Lou,

    Thanks for the Escolta article.

    Escolta was always the place to go in the late 60’s. I am from the province so I never get to see Escolta that often.

    There was a gun store right next to the WalkOver shoe store in the Regina building. The son of the owner has a used camera shop and I was his assistant when I was attending University of Sto Tomas. Everyday, there was group of photographers gathered in front of the store chatting nothing but photography.

    Are you still residing in Seattle?

  9. lougopal says:

    Hi Danny, What was the name of that gun store ? I don’t seem to remember it although I do remember WalkOver very well. Yes, I still live in Seattle. Thanks for visiting my site.

  10. Danny Tiongco says:

    Hi Lou,

    I have to look at my old photos. The store was by the creek side. I am not sure if they were there before 1962.

    I work near Safeco field right next to the Port of Seattle, Alaskan Way South.

  11. Jack (Pocholo) Monasterio says:

    I remember Escolta like yesterday. I would walk there from Letran College in the 50″s and see my Mother
    at Rebullida Jewelry Store where she was the cashier. While waiting for her to go home, I would go to
    M.Y. San to buy their wonderful chicken pie or see a movie at either Capitol or Lyric. Then we would walk
    to the waiting buses and go home at Paz street in Paco for 10 centavos. Those are my best memories now
    gone forever.

  12. lougopal says:

    Jack, it sounds like we did the same thing. I’d wait for my parents to close up our store by going to those theaters or the M.Y.San which was next door to our store and order a plate of shanghai fried rice. I was a chubby little kid for sure. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  13. Rita Jethmal Paris says:

    I am the daughter of Assandas Jethmal who owned Assandas. I think our fathers were friends. Thank you for reminding me of those wonderful years. Escolar was a thrilling place for me when I was a child. You could watch a movie, eat Chinese food and look at all the stores.
    I loved Bergs when I was small.

  14. lougopal says:

    Hi Rita, I’m very pleased that you enjoyed my site. Yes- I remember our dads getting together many times.Escolta was magical in those days. If you have any photos of the Assandas store, Escolta, or of our dads together. I would love to see them. I’ll send you my email. Cheers, Lou

  15. Bobby Manasan says:

    Hi Lou,
    I remember my mom taking us shopping at the Squires Bingham store at the Escolta in the late 40s / early 50s. The clerks used to hand us US comic books as gifts for coming into the store. At Bergs there was a toy called the MOBO BRONCO toy riding horse which we could not afford. 40 years later I saw one in a Maine antique store. I also saw another on ebay selling for $185 (used).
    I found the 100-year history of Squires Bingham on this website:
    My late grandpa worked at Botica Boie before WWII. i remember playing with its magic-eye door after WWII.
    Thanks for you nostalgic article which brought back lots of happy memories of my childhood.

  16. lougopal says:

    What wonderful memories, Bobby! I can only imagine how exciting that must have been to get stateside comic books. That magic eye door at Botica Boie was fun indeed. Thank you for sharing your childhood memories.

  17. lougopal says:

    I believe that gun store was Squires Bingham that started out as a photo shop then evolved into firearms.

  18. JC says:

    VERY NICE! I was born and raised and lived in Manila City for 27 years! I wish to go back next year and how I hope that Manila will be back to its glory days…. minus the pollution, poverty and politics.

  19. lougopal says:

    There are parts of Manila that I think could have been better planned to accommodate growth and traffic. It’s a shame that former mayors (Lito ) took it upon themselves to destroy landmarks such as the Jai Alai bldg. but many parts of Makati,Quezon City are beautiful. The Intramuros has been restored and if you go with an open mind, you’ll find Manila is still quite charming and of course, the Filipinos have always been gracious hosts.

  20. ed montilla says:

    I hope you have something about a radio station in your area; KZRH AM which was located on H.E. Heacock Co. It first started broadcasting on July 15, 1926! Its owner i believe was Samuel Gatches owner of Heacocks! I love your blog and i gives so much information of the place (Manila and suburbs) since i was an born in the province. Please continue with this wonderful blog of yours. Thank you very much.

  21. marlene ocampo says:

    What I remember about Escolta was the popular phrase… “lakad Escolta” dressed to the nines ( in high heel).

  22. Pat O’Leary, did you Mom once own a restaurant on the top floor of the Rufino Building?

  23. Rani Gidwani says:

    Hello there Lou!

    These are priceless precious memories which left me teary eyed! And to think that you had captured, saved and posted these to share with all of us who knew Manila from then is awesome!

    I am with Philamlife Insurance and my Manager’s office is in Binondo. So I go there, crossing Jones Bridge, passing Escolta and a lot of these places downtown.

    I remember going with Ellen and Kamlu in the pick up
    Truck to Ever, Lyric etc.
    theaters whichever were showing Elvis’ movie and sat there from 7:15 am up till late afternoon enjoying the jam sandwiches Pina had made for a whole day marathon.

    I remember going to Greg’s for those sturdy school
    Shoes…shopping downtown was a day’s outing and one which we all enjoyed.

    Bowling at the Indian Club, running around at Nomads Cricket club were fun times!

    Thanks for the memories…I really wish that we meet one day Prem. in the meantime be in touch and remember that you have friends here who care about you!

    Loves and hugs and Gods blessings to you and all at home…,


  24. lougopal says:

    Rani, I’m so pleased you liked the article.Thank you for sharing your precious memories, especially of our dads playing cricket on Sundays. Love and hugs back !

  25. Lou,whoever you are….let me thank you for sharing such awonderful experience and pictures. I had a teary eye at first when i was looking at the pictures….then a tear fell when im reading evrybodys post…it was also a coincidence that i am listening to PEDRO VARGAS EL RELOJ…something touched my soul. I was born in1973..im39 now…with all the technologies ang high buildings we have this days…i felt that my life will always missed something…Its the time you and evrybody who were born at that circa who witnessed and experience the life of a place called ESCOLTA….How i wish that i was a friend of my father because he used to tell me stories about this place when hes still alive. He is a jeepney driver and he live in TONDO..anyway just let me thank my father for the memories! GOD BLESS YOU LOU,MABUHAY KA! edgardo,DAVAO PILIPINAS

  26. lougopal says:

    Edgardo, thank you so very much for your kindness. Your father being a jeepney driver probably knew more about the city than anyone else. I’m sure you are very proud of him. I would like to think that maybe I might have ridden on his jeepney at one time. Maraming salamat !

  27. I’d be very happy to think thesame way sir….my father was born in 1937. How old are you now sir? Thank you also for your kindness and effort…you didnt know how much happiness and memories you had given me today. You reminded me to share this story to my children….

  28. lougopal says:

    I am 68 years and still having fun ! God bless.

  29. ben caj says:

    Mr. Lou, your recollection of the past not only brought life to places like Escolta even momentarily, but also gave me a chance to reconnect with my father, as I recall the names of Escolta stores (like Botica Boie) that I have heard from him occasionally when he shared with me his experiences during his younger years. He has passed on in 2006, but what he shared with me are very much alive in my heart. Thank you for this distinctive effort of yours. Now, I realize there is a site I can always visit for another dance with my father.

  30. lougopal says:

    How touching ! Thank you for sharing your memory with us.

  31. Greta Sevilla says:

    I love this post sir. Thank you. I miss my grandfather, I’ll definitely ask him more about Escolta when he comes back to Philippines. Even reading the comments made me want to live in your days. I am 21 years old BS Architecture student and our thesis would be proposing the revitalization of Escolta and reading this blog made me more motivated in our proposal. 🙂

  32. lougopal says:

    Thank you for writing Greta. I encourage you to continue your studies and your pursuit to help revitalize the districts and landmarks of Manila. It will be because of people like you that Manila will be able to hold on to our heritage.

  33. Dilip Mirchandani says:

    I have been receiving your posts from Filipino friends and greatly admire what you have put together.
    You may have missed my father, KT’s shop on Escolta, next to the pen shop and near Lyric – Pioneer House. It was there from, I believe 1949 to 1962. I’m sure your dad and my dad must have known each other. It was such a small community. Have I ever met you?
    Now I see a name here from the past that I recognize, Rani Gidwani.
    All the best, and congratulations on this great site.

  34. Carla Arguelles Ramsey says:

    My Father is the late Architect Carlos D. Arguelles. He designed the PNB on Escolta. There is an association that is fighting to preserve and revive Escolta. Your help in getting the word out will be much appreciated. I dream that my children’s children will be able to proudly walk this street and get a feel of our history.

  35. Milette Orosa says:

    Dear Mr Gopal.
    I am the daughter of the late Jose Y. Orosa who was President and GM of H.E. Heacock’s during the early ’50s. I understand from my cousin- Mario Orosa – that you knew my Mom and Dad? I would appreciate if you could email me via your private email address so I can communicate with you.
    Milette Orosa

  36. Lulu Tan-Gan says:

    Dear Mr. Gopal,
    Thanks for your article! I had a big smile on my face when I read you article. The pictures brought me great HAPPY memories with my dad. I was then studying at the “Holy Ghost College”, renamed “College of the Holy Spirit”. That must be in the early 60’s. He would pick me up from school and we would stroll along Escolta to Rizal Avenue. Botica Boie was my favorite. My father bought one sturdy Heacock belt and used it for 20 years! I also remember Aguinaldo’s, Berg’s , Assanda’s and Syvel’s. We would frequent the movies houses too.

    I also remember hearing Escolta! I was so amused by the rumbling and vibrating sound from the pebble stones, made by the tires of the car or the calesa. I was actually irked when the city contractors cemented the pebble stones of Escolta!

    In my circle of friends, I am one of the few Manilans. Having pleasant memories of downtown Manila made me feel very much rooted. I also have great respect for heritage. After writing the above, I now realize the reason why I am into the design and development of our indigenous textile in my field of profession.

    Thanks for pleasant memories!

    Lulu Tan-Gan

  37. Richard Cheng says:

    Hi Lou,
    My dad, Sian Yok Cheng, used to work at KZRH as a radio technician at the Heacock Bldg. Now called DZRH, they had a big anniversary celebration about +/- 15 years ago and they discovered my dad. My dad had confirmed that it was the radio station’s transmitter that was smuggled to Corregidor to broadcast the famous ‘Voice of Freedom’ message. Years after that, he established the first recording company in Manila called Super Records, located at the upper floors of the Associated Bank Building (now Panpisco) years before Villar Records at Escolta also.
    I used to work with Carlos Arguelles who did the PNB building, Philam Life, Quad Car Park, etc. and now living in Vancouver, BC. Thank you for this wonderful post and hope to meet you someday.

  38. John Casey says:

    Dear Lou,
    Just wanted to say thanks for all you have done to preserve peoples memories, for old timers to reminisce, for people to think about the importance of history.
    Like you, I grew up in the Philippines, of foreign and Filipino heritage which goes back a couple of hundred years. I also remember with fondness Dewey BLVD where we lived for awhile, Malate, Rizal Avenue (particularly as I could go free to the movies because of my dad – he set up Universal Pictures after WWII), Army Navy Club, Seafront, etc. etc. . My mother went to AS, I went to AS, IS, my kids also graduated from IS and I still live here. My dad came from Australia and set up Universal Motion Pictures after WWII.
    I could provide you with much more but I just wanted to make a couple of comments about the Escolta and in particular, the store: Puerta del Sol. The proprietor was JF Ramirez, my GGG Grandfather. It was one of “the” department store in its day, and I even remember in a conversation with Carlos P Romulo decades ago – that when he was young, he always looked forward to shopping there. JF Ramirez however, spent much of his time in Paris pre and post 1900, although his son, JV did spend much time in the Philippines…
    Anyway, just another anecdote to add to the tapestry of memories.
    All the best.

  39. Ruben E. Apilan says:

    Dear Mr. Gopal,

    I really enjoyed your stories about Escolta. Although I was born in Mindanao I did visit those places that you mentioned and it brought tears to my eyes remembering how beautiful the place was. My mother used to bring me to Manila at my young age and we explored the Old Manila that I used to know. I remember Botica Boie and its automatic door and the interesting stuff they sell. Now retired and living here in Toronto I still visit the Philippines but all that magic is gone. I will be treasure those memories for as long as I live . Thank you for writing about this once beautiful place.

  40. martin kalaw says:

    Dear Mr. Gopal,
    We are asking your permission for the use of your pics of Clarke’s ice cream parlor for a coffee table book on the history of refrigeration and air-conditioning in the Philippines. We’d like to send a formal request but we don’t have your contact info.
    Hope you can reply asap.

    Very truly yours,

  41. I’m in my 20’s and I really enjoyed looking at this vintage photos. *Sigh*

  42. lougopal says:

    JayL – the reason I write this blog is not only for people who may remember the old Manila but also for young people like you so you can see what Manila looked like back in the day and hopefully your generation will find it important to save some of our heritage ! Thanks for writing !

  43. Noel Alcantara de Torrontegui says:

    This is amazing! I remember seeing pictures of Manila during Spanish era from our family heirloom (my grandfather is Spaniard related to admiral Montojo). I also heard about botica boie while studying to become a pharmacist en Centro Escolar. I finally see it here in your blog!! Muchisimas gracias a ti señor Lou…..

  44. Ray says:

    Dear Mr. Sim:

    Greetings from the Philippines!

    I am a student of the University of the Philippines in Diliman campus doing my thesis on corporate architecture during the American colonial period. My study covering the El Hogar Filipino, Pacific, HSBC and China Banking Corporation buildings, all located on Juan Luna Street in Binondo, Manila, Philippines, will examine how these early 20th century buildings were erected and used, and their relationship with Manila’s urban space in the context of a colonial past.

    It is with much interest that I read this comment. Your personal experience of what Escolta was like before is enough to whet anyone’s curiosity of life back then. Some say that time was the heyday of Binondo, but a part of me is hoping that it will have its renaissance soon. Anyway, will it be alright if I ask for your email? I would just like to know more about Binondo then, especially commerce along the Anloague/ Juan Luna Street and Muelle dela Industria.

    Thank you and regards to your family in San Diego.

    Respectfully yours,


  45. Elsie says:

    Dear Mr. Gopal,
    Discovered you by chance when I wanted to find out the name of Sibal’s department store. I returned to study at UP in Diliman 1960 – 1962. I remember Ermita but not Escolta. Just 10 days ago, I bought Angus Lorenzen’s “A Lovely Little War” and your great documentary, “Victims of Circumstance.” Kudos. I have been playing it now four times, and will replay tonight. I was born just before the war started. It has been exhilarating learning about my country’s history. In fact I made some changes to my memoir novel when I got the facts. I am trying to recover some memories of the war and Manila when we returned from Pampanga in 1944. Does Sibal ring a bell?


  46. Oliver Nolasco says:

    Sibal is identified with Alemars. Please correct me if I am wrong. Thank you.

  47. Jean-François Pluquet says:

    Hi, Fernando.

    It’s only recently (last month) that I’ve discovered Lou Gopal’s fantastic website about the old Manila. And it’s only now that I read your mail saying : “amazed at the expensive Stetson hats & other items display at H. Alonso”.
    H. Alonso was my wife’s grand-father. I heard a lot about him and his store. Unfortunately it seems that there are no records, no photos to get a precise idea. I’ve traced his early years when he was a hat dealer on Plaza Santa Cruz. Then I found (thanks to Lou Gopal) pictures showing the H. Alonso shop in the Natividad building during the 30’s and in Regina building in the 50’s. But I never heard of H. Alonso in the Crystal Arcade. Would you remeber where was his shop located in this famous Crystal Arcade? Thanks a lot in advance for your reply.

  48. I like Escolta, it was the place where I first being hired as an employee (Sales Representative) of F.E. Compton Company located at Regina Building in 1969.

  49. Ramon M. Ong says:

    Great article on the Escolta! It brought back many memories, because my Papa had an office in Gibbs Bldg. in Dasmarinas St. Later on, he moved to the Metropolitan Theater Bldg. The Magnolia Rendezvous Ice Cream parlor was on the ground floor, while his office was on the 2nd floor.

    Kindly refresh my memories of Rizal Avenue with a similar article like your Escolta article. Avenida Rizal has a rich history, from the Carriedo St. corner to the Manila Grand Opera House and maybe even up to the Scala Theater. As a kid, I never went to the Ideal Theater (Php 1.20 for a first run movie), because my Papa preferred Scala Theater (Php 0.85 for double program movies) and Mayfair Theater. There was a Php 0.60 moviehouse near Mayfair, but I do not recall the name.

  50. Thomas Uhing (EX-svd) says:

    Hi Ernesto! I think you are thinking of Dennis O’Leary, a former SVD seminarian’s Mom. Mrs. O’Leary ran the Marco Polo, the cat’s meow of a restaurant for the Executive lunch crowd at the top floor of the Rufino Building in the 60’s. When we visited our dear friend, whom I have lost contact with, Carlota Dizon, who was the Executive Secretary of the top man, Mr. Andres Soriano from the beautiful building on the corner of Paseo de Roxas, sadly destroyed and replaced by Ayala Executive Tower, and a close friend of Mrs. O’Leary, she invited and treated us guys from Catholic Trade School in Sta. Cruz and other SVD schools and parishes in the Provinces several times, which we enjoyed immensely, after the plain seminary food. Sometime later, I’m not sure, Mrs. O’Leary took a building on Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong near today’s Jollibee Corporate office building at the head of San Miguel Ave., or now replaced by the EDSA Central Arcade. I enjoyed a meal by myself with Mrs. O’Leary, who was warm and jovial. Not sure what happened to her son, Dennis. Ah. those were the days! I arrived Nov. 1960 and still hanging around, an old timer, living in Antipolo.

  51. Nikka says:

    Hi Lou, very nice documentations of historical places in Escolata and even though I wasn’t born that era, I appreciated Manila while reading your articles in each places you’ve wrote. By the way, I’m currently have a project in school, doing a research on historical establishments in Manila since 1899 downwards is the preferred year of our professor. You might have know historical establishments during that period that still exists today. Thank you! You can e-mail me if you want.

  52. Mon Tresory Y. Miraflor says:

    Hello Lou.

    I just recently stumbled on this article and reading it brought out a lot of memories.

    I am a sucker for nostalgia and memorabilia. I love to reminisce and for the most part, I still cling to the past.

    I am of the “Baby-Boomer” generation and I certainly enjoyed reading your article for part of what you told, I can relate.

    In late 1959, I was a young probinsyano “transplant” from far-flung Siquijor Island in the Visayas, to continue my High School and College at Mapua Tech.

    My first sight of the City was surreal, dream-like and unique, for not very many would experience it the way I did. I was on a ship, the M/V Elena and after a 36-hour journey from Dumaguete City in the south; we entered Manila Bay at dawn. City lights were still on and it reflected against the misty morning sky creating an eerie seemingly welcoming glow only an innocent country boy like me would appreciate.

    And then as if it had a life of its own, the City magically unfolded under my curious eyes. The Jeepneys, the Buses, the paved Avenues, the tall Buildings… the life.

    I was the last school-age member of my family to join my older siblings studying and working in Manila. We lived in a two-storey, two bedroom apartment at 1860-G Florida, in Malate.

    At that time, Malate was considered among the best, decent, quiet and safe bedroom community around the City and it was not too far from everything… the Markets, the Schools, the Offices, the Churches and of course it was very close to Dewey Boulevard and the Luneta.

    As a whole, without even realizing it then, my experiences around Manila and its suburbs was full, no matter that we barely had enough of anything.

    But memories of the 60s like these are priceless…

    The bus and jeepney rides to school, the weekend get-aways to watch the movies at Theaters that line the Avenida and vicinity, the strolls at the Luneta, window shopping at the Escolta, the Sundays at Quiapo and Divisoria, the visits at the USIS Center in Ermita to read American Magazines and listen to their “new” stereophonic system.

    Manila Times Radio DZMT’s “Times Tower Revue” at 6:00 PM or Jo San Diego’s “All Night Stand” at midnight, Joey Lardizabal at DZWS, MBC’s “The Nite Owl” on Fridays, the daily noontime “Student Canteen” with Leila Benitez,

    The intense NCAA Basketball rivalries, San Beda, La Salle, Ateneo, the Coeds and pretty girls at Centro Escolar, Saint Theresa’s, Santa Isabel’s.

    The Ambos Mundos Restaurant, San Andres Market, Ma Mon Luk, Aristocrat, the Brown Derby… Bulakeña.

    PAL’s “Mercury” flights, Filipinas Orient Airways, Air Manila and FAST Airways.

    The “playing“ neon lights on top the Jai Alai Building, the large “Coffee Pot” pouring on top of the Besa Boxing Arena at Plaza Lawton, the Christmas display at Alemar’s, the Tony Martin Show at the Rizal Coliseum and Nat King Cole at the Araneta, Flash Elorde.

    I could go on forever, but these and many more, are among the warm memories that often play in my mind.

    Your article certainly helps inspire the mood.

    MonTY aka Choy

  53. Mon Tresor Y. Miraflor says:

    That would be the Palace Theater.

    On the other side around the same vicinity along Rizal Avenue aka Avenida Rizal but opposite Good Earth Emporium would be Ever and State Theaters.

    Ideal Theater would be at the foot of Avenida Rizal, and farther up would be Dalisay, Universal, Avenue, Odeon, Galaxy, Roxan and then the Grand Opera House and Scala Theaters.

  54. lougopal says:

    What a beautiful and descriptive narrative of your memories of Manila in those bygone days. You’ve transported me back as well. It sounds like you may have become a writer some time in your career. Thank you for sharing your story with me. It was Wonderful !

  55. Mon Tresor Y. Miraflor says:

    Hello again Lou,

    Thank you very much for the very nice words. You inspire me.

    But I am not a writer per se nor have I ever been one to compose, but I do love to write every now and then, especially about subjects that touch my heart.

    In my passion for nostalgia, just as you are, I have a shoebox full of “old” pictures among my memorabilia collection. I also have accumulated a number of vinyl LP albums to complement those warm memories with music of the time.

    I am most probably one of but a few remaining remnants that believe music from vinyl LPs sound much better that of CDs.

    The two of us and most of your followers share a common passion. Although not as “vintage” as your collection, I’d like to share with you some of the pictures from my shoebox.

    Most of them are images of my family and many of friends revolving around my little island, “Isla del Fuego”, the Island of Fire… Siquijor Island. But the whole idea is that, all are part of my memories.

    I am still in the process of posting more images but when you have the time, the pictures may be viewed at:

    By the way, I am retired and live in northern California, for some forty years now.

    In the manner of Bob Hope’s tune…

    “Thanks for the Memories”.

    MonTY aka Choy

  56. Ken Smith says:


    I just stumbled onto this post. It brings back old memories.

    More than a half-century ago, I met Jo San Diego. I was then a 19-year-old American in the US Navy, stationed in Zambales. I would listen to Jo on DZMT and one night I called her. We chatted about something and she invited me to visit her studio during a broadcast.

    So, I began a series of visits to the DZMT studio when Jo was on the air. At the time, she seemed like a much older woman — maybe 25, and I was still a teenager.

    One of my highlights is that during a station break — when Jo had to go to the rest room — she asked me to do the time check. So there I was on 50,000 watts all over Southeast Asia. I said: “This is DZMT in Manila, The Philippines, and it is 1:05 in the morning.”

    Jo would almost certainly not remember me. But, I certainly remember her and she had immeasurable influence on my life. We became friends, of a sort, and she introduced me to me to other people. For example, Jo took me to a film studio and I was an extra a movie.

    So, if anybody here is in contact with Jo San Diego, please tell her that I fondly remember her.

    Ken Smith
    Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

  57. lougopal says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story, Ken ! I hope somehow you and Jo will reconnect. Good luck !

  58. Mon Tresor Y. Miraflor says:

    Hello Ken,

    I too have been a fan of JSD since I was in High School in the 60s, back in Manila.

    DZMT was one among a few Radio Stations around Manila that our radio was always tuned in to and my family would be listening to.

    During one of JSD’s evening programs, I called-in for a song-request and that was my few seconds of claim-to-fame for having connected with a personality in the industry. I must have been 15 or thereabouts then.

    About five years ago, after a long search, I found out JSD, after a very long stay in the USA, returned to the Philippines and was back on-the-air but this time with another Radio Station, DWBR-FM, based in Quezon City.

    With the magic of the internet, I was able to listen to her program, a two-hou Sunday musical, via streaming from San Francisco. It was not the best signal mode as compared to a direct over-the-air broadcast but it was good enough for me.

    Once again, through song requests, she and I had connected. I also sent and provided her with CD’s of hard-to-find, “Songs-of-the-Times” that she could play over-the-air. We had kept in touch since then.

    Roughly four years ago, I finally met JSD for the first time… after fifty years.
    She was in San Francisco for a short visit. We clicked and we seemed like old friends, the way we carried on.

    I was in Manila last June. Jo, an aide of hers, me, my nephew and niece and the operations Manger of the Radio Station she worked with, had lunch together. We had a grand time.

    I will let her know of your quest and I will forward your note to her.

    I am sure she will be delighted to hear about you.

    BTW, she addresses me as Vinyl… because she knows I prefer LPS over CDs’

    MonTY aka Choy

  59. Louise A.s. says:

    Good Day, Mr. Gopal.

    I could not contain my excitement upon seeing your website showing the old Manila. I have always been fascinated by history particularly of the Philippines. And I am very proud to see how Manila or the Philippines used to look like during the early days. I always use the expressions ‘ooh!’, ‘aah’, ‘wow!” whenever I view all these pics. My parents used to tell me stories about some of the popular places in Manila, Quezon City, and San Juan and how they reminisce the good old days. In this regard, I would like to ask permission if I could post some of the pictures and a few articles from this website to my blog. I would like to share these stories to the younger generations and the generations to come, including the foreigners who visit my blog regularly, so that they could get a glimpse on how Manila used to be and how it has been transformed at present. I am also positive and looking forward to seeing Manila rise again in the years to come. I will be crediting your website so that they could also have the chance to view our history on this site.

    Thank you and more power.

    By the way, this website is already your legacy. Have you thought of publishing a book on this with all the pictures included with the title : Experience Old Manila?

    Have a nice day!

  60. Ed Passi says:

    I can’t say enough of the wealth of fascinating information along with the substantial collection of intriguing images. I commend you on the most exhaustive narrative I’ve yet come across on this historical subject. I have a personal connection myself with the subject locale, as I had spent a great deal of my early youth hanging out with friends on those city streets back in the ’50s and early ’60s till I left the old country, and even still have an old photograph of my father walking me there as a little kid the year after the end of WWII. I, too, as with the other viewers, lament the sad decline of that place, given such a rich history and which touched many people’s lives in many ways.

  61. BOYET LAPLAP says:

    Hi Mr. Lou! I really enjoyed much this Nostalgia Manila. I’m Boyet currently working here in Dubai, UAE as a senior shipping executive. I was born only in 1971 but during my childhood in the 70’s my father and mother used to bring me to Escolta for shopping. We still shop during the early eighties at Syvels. I dunno what was the former building that stood before on that same spot of Syvels. I remember seeing Capitol Theater and those old shops there. But those were the years that Escolta is slowly deteriorating. My mother when she was still a young lady used to work as a sales clerk at “THREE KINGS DRY GOODS and CHILDRENS WEAR” at P.Paterno St in Quaipo. I remember her stories that SM started as a small shoe store in Carriedo, which still operational in the 90’s and Cinderela was the contempory of Three Kings Dry Goods and Childrens Wear back in the 50’s. According to my Mama, Escolta, Carriedo, Avenida at Escolta was the posh shopping, entertainment and fine restaurants district before the advent of the big malls in Makati and Cubao. In ’89 to ”90 I worked at Three Kings in Paterno St. while i was studying in at PUP-TS (the old school that was before as PCC. Also a historical spot where the 1st assembly after WW2 was held was also a former Japanese School) in Lepanto. Everytime my Lola Viring asked me to deposit the collections of the day to the banks in Dasmarinas and Ongpin, I used to walk from Quaipo, passing Carriedo, Avenida and Escolta. At time it was in ’89 -’90 and the district is no longer posh. the place already lost it’s glory. So sad those historical buildings now stood in neglect, if not already demolished. Oh, one more thing, i remember i entered into an old building in Ongpin, it is like a 5-6 floor old building, if can remember it right the building name was like “Marvin Bldg.”. The building was like built in the 20’s. It has an elevator that is classic. I was amazed that i have experienced that classic elevator. I hope with the help of the City Gov’t of Manila will spearhead to unite in one enormous project al the top architects, civil engineers, city planners and interior designers to work together to restore and bring back the fame & glory and the vibe of what was Escolta of the American Period. Thanks again.

  62. Tuesday Mesina says:

    Hi Mr. Gopal! I just want to write and tell you how amazing Manila Nostalgia is. Reading through everything really makes me look back and see how glorious Manila was back in your time. After reading some of your entries I often find myself asking for stories from my Lola. She always tells me beautiful stories about her when she was young and how she first got in Manila. Anyway, I really appreciate your site so much for showing me how it was back then and how glorious Manila was. Looking forward to new entries!

  63. Michael Mendershausen says:

    I am writing a novel about my family in the Holocaust in Europe and the Philippine Holocaust the affected my Filipina wife’s family. The second part of the novel my Jewish characters, who were saved by President Quezon when he offered sanctuary to 1200 German Jews, get caught up in the Bataan Death March and in general the occupation and then the battle for Manila. I need information on any Japanese business in Manila before the invasion. Many of the Japanese store owners were in the Imperial Japanese Army and joined their comrades when they invaded. What would have been a typical Japanese retail business or restaurant? Thank you for your help or help from any of your readers.

  64. says:

    Thanks for walking me back to the old days. I had the pleasure of seeing the old sights. The pleasant surprise was seeing the post of Fernando Sim, a very good friend. All the companies mentioned are known to me, such as Kairuz, Walk Over, Botica Boie, etc. I came across the news that Savory burned down. My recollection of the place is their flagship dish — their chicken.

    To borrow from the lines of Bob Hope’s favorite song: “Thanks for the memories” Jose S. Panlilio

  65. Doming F Arenal says:

    I was looking for news about Sim’s I am sorry to learn that it has been closed decades ago’ During the 60s I bought a Grado stereo cartridge for my sound system That was my first and last encounter with Sim’s

  66. Art Montesa says:

    Was that gun store called P.B. Dionisio?

  67. Steve Goulette says:

    I much appreciated the information and photos about Manila. My grandfather was Frank Goulette, but I never got to meet him since he died of illness 20 years before I was born. I never learned much about him, but it was nice to see the photos of his Lyric Theater.

  68. lougopal says:

    He was quite an entrepreneur on the Manila scene. More is written about him in a book by Lewis Gleeck,Jr. called “The Manila Americans”.

  69. Raul Consunji says:

    I lived down the street from Ashok Jethmal and his family in Paco. He was a year older and attended La Salle like I did. We used to play together when we were kids in our neighborhood together with my cousin, Dicky Miranda. I heard a couple of years ago that Ashok had passed away. Assandas made the move to the Makati Commercial Center and had its own building there but after a fire burned it to the ground, it just never recovered, unfortunately. This must have happened sometime in the early 1970s. Glad to have discovered this website as it is chockful of information about old Manila which you’d not find anywhere else.

  70. rommer says:

    I just wanna ask if there is still other photos of the old Regina Building?Thank you

  71. lougopal says:

    Yes, please go my Facebook site “Manila Nostalgia” . There are quite a few of the Regina.

  72. Rolly F. Julianda says:

    Hi sir Lou Gopal, what is the name of the former building that housed the Singer Sewing Machine store and Fotografia Schuren, Fotografia Inglesa before it was converted to Capitol Theater and who was the owner of the building ? The building is now have a replica in Las Casas de Filipinas de Acuzar, sir Gerry Acuzar renamed it as “Paseo de Escolta” Thank you very much.

  73. Tessie matusalem says:

    Thank you for your article about Escolta.
    I went to school in CONCORDIA College in Paco, Manila. Lived in Dapitan Street while going to school in Paco. We lived in the US for 45 years and are now back here in the PHILIPPINES after we built a house here in ISABELA.
    My favorite place to shop my shoes was Syvels in Escolta and loved shopping in Escolta.
    Too bad the government is not interested in reviving Escolta. Is there a branch of the Philippine Gov. who restores part of the Philippine history like they do in America? I noticed Filipinos don’t have sense of pride in restoring historical areas here in the Philippines.

  74. Ren Castro says:

    Based on the old Manila business district map above, there was a side street in Escolta called Pasaje Paz. Is it in the corner of Capitol Theater that time? What happened to this side street? Today, there was no side street between Yuchengco Street (Calle Nueva) to Tomas Pinpin Street (not to mention Soda Street near Pasig River).

  75. Jaime C Laya says:

    Hi Mr Gopal,

    I was an Arellano High School student in the 1950s, located on Teodora Alonzo Street, one block north of Azcarraga. Classes ended at noon and I used to wander around the area exploring and check out Avenue, State, Ideal, Capitol, Lyric, etc. (P1.20 for an orchestra seat), delicious fruit forbidden by Nanay. I saw all the Esther Williams, Fred Astaire, Debbie Reynolds and the other happy movies of those days. I spent a lot of time at the USIS Library at the corner of Escolta and David and at the Kodak shop on David where Tatay bought me my first camera, a Brownie. I went there a lot browsing those little transparencies mounted on round holders that you slipped into a lighted viewer to see three-dimensional views of faraway places–Paris, the Alps, Tokyo cherry blossoms. I collected stamps and dropped by at Don Sixto Ortiz’ philatelic shop further up. There was also an optometrist in the same building where I got my first eyeglasses. Don Sixto was pure Pinoy, a courtly gentleman of the old school, always in a suit. I’ve forgotten the name of the optometrist but he was another distuished looking Spanish-Filipino gentleman. Botica Bowie has a special memory–I accidentally ran into my big crush there just before going off to graduate school. I have a souvenir of old Escolta in my garden. Hans Kasten sold me a truckload of piedra China cobblestones originally at Escolta. He said he bought them when the public works people were prying them up and concreting the street. They were in his Forbes Park garden.

  76. Jaime C Laya says:

    Hi Mr Gopal,

    I was an Arellano High School student in the 1950s, located on Teodora Alonzo Street, one block north of Azcarraga. Classes ended at noon and I used to wander around the area exploring and check out Avenue, State, Ideal, Capitol, Lyric, etc. (P1.20 for an orchestra seat), delicious fruit forbidden by Nanay. I saw all the Esther Williams, Fred Astaire, Debbie Reynolds and the other happy movies of those days. I spent a lot of time at the USIS Library at the corner of Escolta and David and at the Kodak shop on David where Tatay bought me my first camera, a Brownie. I went there a lot browsing those little transparencies mounted on round holders that you slipped into a lighted viewer to see three-dimensional views of faraway places–Paris, the Alps, Tokyo cherry blossoms. I collected stamps and dropped by at Don Sixto Ortiz’ philatelic shop further up. There was also an optometrist in the same building where I got my first eyeglasses. Don Sixto was pure Pinoy, a courtly gentleman of the old school, always in a suit. I’ve forgotten the name of the optometrist but he was another distuished looking Spanish-Filipino gentleman. Botica Boie has a special memory–I accidentally ran into my big crush there just before going off to graduate school. (We got married three graduate degrees later-she went abroad too.) I have a souvenir of old Escolta in my garden. Hans Kasten sold me a truckload of piedra China cobblestones originally at Escolta. He said he bought them when he saw public works people prying them up and concreting the street. He laid them out in his Forbes Park garden where they were till he sold the place and moved to BGC.

  77. Jaime C Laya says:

    It wasn’t quite on Escolta, but there was a radio station (DZRH?) on the top floor of Insular Life Building on Plaza Moraga. Some of my grade school classmates (Albert Elementary School on Dapitan) and I went there one evening to a quiz show run by Bob Stewart I think. The theme song was “School days, school days / It’s the golden rule days / Answer the question and win a prize / Saving account too if you are wise / … I got called to the front and was asked the question, “What are Eskimos’ houses called?” ‘IGLOO!!!” 😄😄😄 It was an easy peso.

    Thanks a lot for your posts, Mr Gopal. It dredges up old memories and brings history closer to your many readers and admirers. All the best!

  78. Hello Lou,
    I hope you don’t mind if I call you Lou. I am older than you sir, I turned 75 last May. I enjoyed reading your article and this is the first time I’ve seen it on FB. I worked at Phil Trust Co. besides Sta. Cruz Church from 1967 to 1972. I spent mostly my break and lunch times roaming around Escolta window shopping only during those days, very expensive place to shop. I met the owners of Rebullida at a party hosted by a relative married to Dr. Jose Genato, brother of the famous basketball star of the 50’s Tony Genato. I also visited Seattle several years ago when I stood as one of the principal sponsors at my niece’s wedding, stayed at WorldMark-Camlin at Ninth Avenue. Very nice city, reminds me of San Francisco where I lived for so many years since migrating in 1974. My wife and I now live in Oakley, an hour drive from the City by the Bay. Thank you very much for sharing your “Manila Nostalgia.” History was my favorite subject in school. Take care and looking forward to seeing more of your writings….

  79. Ravi P. says:

    Hello Lou, I would like to know if you have any information on this young lady’s photo that was taken by Francisco Van Camp in the year 1875 in Manila?

    Your feedback is appreciated!
    Ravi P.

  80. Ken Perlado says:

    Reading comments here gives me some chills.
    I was born in 90’s so i didn’t really saw the glorious days of Escolta, but seeing those pictures made me feel so amazed.
    I really feel bad the the local government didn’t do its job to maintain this historic landmark for us young generation and future generations to see.

    BTW Thanks Lou!!

  81. Jose Maria Escoda says:

    Oceanic Commercial a department store own by a Jew was born after the war 1947 . It rose to become the country’s most posh department store till the mid 1970s. Whenre the rich and powerful went to shop . Where the manager and pioneer salesladies who hailed from exclusive schools for girls and were Spanish speaking.

  82. sonny says:

    Just to add: One can go along Echague St and start at the Magnolia outlet, go under MacArthur bridge, pass the Quinta Market and the Chinese bakery at the opposite side, pass Society theater, intersect Villalobos St and go to Plaza Miranda/Quiapo church then continue along Carriedo and pass Valleson department store then finally link with the Pasig river-end of Avenida Rizal. Sigh … and I’m now 74 yrs old. God bless.

  83. Wayne Moises says:

    I am the big fan of world history in popular culture in TV films comics animation & media throughout the world. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne.

  84. Wayne Moises says:

    I went to Avenida/Downtown when I was six years old together with my grandma aunts & siblings to travel & shop to buy things & eat in the restaurant since the 1960’s era & having a good time. Thanks! From:Wayne

  85. Jackie Co says:

    Hello Mr.Gopal,
    Thank you for sharing your memories of Old Manila. I’m trying to weave threads of our family history. Sadly, relatives who could have shed light have long passed. For starters , I heard that one of our great aunts owned a pharmacy named Colossal located either in Azcarraga or along Recto Ave. in the 1930s-1950s (?).Any bit of info from you or your readers will help tremendously. More power!

  86. Wayne Moises says:

    I am the big fan of world history in popular culture in TV films comics animation & media throughout the world. Thanks! From:Wayne

  87. Wayne Moises says:

    I went to Escolta when I was a kid during the 1960’s & 1970’s to go shopping eat at snack bar & watch movies too with my relatives & friends & having a good time the good old days.

  88. Wayne Moises says:

    I lived in Manila Philippines since 1963 when I was 3-4 years old together with my parents & siblings via steamship from Honolulu via Hongkong & then to Manila is my home for several years & living with his relatives & it’s history let’s bring back the good old days & bring back memory lane. Thanks! From:Wayne.

  89. Wilson Lee says:

    My father ( Unamico mfg and United American Import Co., Rosario St, Binondo, Manila ) used to supply leather goods to Sim’s Dept. Store under the trade name of Playtex.

  90. art b. pascual says:

    Hi Mr. Lou,

    This all started from a post of Titas and Titos subscriber in FB where childhood memories and experiences are discussed. I was fascinated to see old photos of Manila and one of those is the image of old jones bridge and escolta. That led me to dig more info and found your blog or this site where I saw more than what i expected.

    Thank you so much for the info. Nakakapanghinayang na nawala ng yung grandeur ng Jones bridge/Puente de España. The picture is so vivid how magnificent it was then. It’s so european that you won’t believe you’re in Manila. Entrance pa lang, grabe! Puede syang makipagsabayan sa mga tulay ng Paris at Roma.

    I was introduced to Escolta in the 70’s during my HS days in San Sebastian College. My mother and my aunt used to tell me that they would ride in “tranvia” whenever they would buy dresses in Escolta. I envy them and you who have lived a part of your life in Old Escolta.

    I read an article that some business sectors, non-government organizations and government agencies are planning to revive Escolta. I hope they would consider bringing back the tranvia plying Binondo and crossing again Pasig river through Jone bridge as it used to be. It’s like a giant theme park. I know this is a big investment though but totally a sight to behold and experience for a person like me and the young generation as well.

    Thank you so much for this blog Mr. Lou. Welcome back to our country and to your roots again.

    God bless you so much and the rest of your family.

  91. Wayne Moises says:

    Manila is a historic capital city of the Philippines became the international cities of the world.

  92. Raul Consunji says:

    Hello Lou,

    The photo by Francisco Pertierra you show must have been taken after 1885 as that was the year the Pertierra moved to Manila from Salamanca in Spain. 1849 was a quite a bit too early. His original studio was at 2 Carriedo. Sometime after it was taken over by Sternberg Hermanos.


  93. Paula Wilson says:

    Hello, you mentioned Gregg Shoes. Im wondering if you have any recollection of the shoe factory. It was Greg shoes along N. Domingo st in San Juan, Metro Manila.

  94. Ren Castro says:

    Do you have an idea what year inaugurated Syvel’s store Escolta is?

  95. Wilson Lee says:

    Bombay Emporium, Sylvester and Bergs dept store were our customers.

  96. Wilson Lee says:

    Unamico , Rosario St., Manila, used to supply leather goods to your store. My current address is Rockville, Maryland 20850

  97. Kenaz says:

    Hi everyone, would anyone know when Syvel’s was made? Do you have photos of it during its high time, or maybe at least a description of how it looked like? Thank you!

  98. RemBrito says:

    Hi Mr. LOU GOPAL,
    Thank you very much for an excellent nostalgic piece on ESCOLTA AVENUE.
    I am currently researching on my father’s ( OLEGARIO SY BRITO SR. ) ownership of our family restaurant – Dencia’s Kitchenette at 95 Escolta Avenue ( it’s been renamed Davao Dencia’s Restaurant Inc. ). I can safely assume our humble kitchenette was located 4 STORE FRONTS after LYRIC theater in the direction of Jones Bridge. Can you shed some light on Dencia’s Kitchenette.

    Yesterday – November 11, 2021 I found out that the street numbers on ESCOLTA Avenue have been changed for quite some time now, the street numbers start from # 207 ( SAVORY CHICKEN, next door to Polland Hopia ) before Quentin Paredes St where the Chinatown welcome tower stands & JONES BRIDGE to #488 Escolta Avenue towards Santa Cruz church.

    Thank you Mr. LOU GOPAL.

  99. Diane Rodill says:

    Raul. Hello From Seattle.
    Can you tell me when the Pertierra Studio/Cinema closed? I have an original photo of my tatay from that studio and am writing his historical biography. Many thanks. Diane

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