Can Manila be restored to its former Glory?
History has dealt a nasty blow to the Philippine capital city of Manila, which is slowly being taken over by Makati, Quezon City and Taguig when it comes to cleanliness, entertainment and finance.
But the modern world’s view of Manila as a dirty old city is on its way to being transformed. Many advocates who still see hidden gems in the dark corners of the city are rising up today with a vow to restore Manila back to its former glory.
Manila Mayor Erap Estrada’s tourism consultant Carlos Celdran is cooking up a plan to revive the city’s ‘tourist belt’ which includes ‘Luneta, Ermita, Malate, Intramuros, Binondo (Chinatown) and Quiapo.’ Celdran also plans to turn Baywalk into a ‘pedestrian Broadway.’ One of his plans is to set up ‘tourist kiosks’ that serve as information desks for tourists.
Escolta has also been the target of heritage groups in the past weeks, including 98B and Ecai, which have been drawing attention to art deco buildings and other architectural wonders that have remained unnoticed through the years. Most of their plans have involved raising awareness on the value of Escolta in Philippine history by conducting walking tours and gatherings in the area.
The historic Escolta street in Manila was once the financial centre of the Philippines. It also served as a venue for many ‘firsts’ in Philippine history, including being the site of the first movie house, first elevator, first cable car and others.
The revival of the ferry service is also seen as a way to boost tourism efforts in Escolta and Manila in general. Heritage groups have lauded the Metro Manila Development Authority for bringing back the service as a form of ‘urban renewal.’ Since opening last week, Escolta station had been a popular destination among passengers.
These are just some of the initiatives being pushed by concerned Manilenos toward the revival of Manila. If these groups get enough support and exposure, perhaps one day all Filipinos will be able to talk about the capital city again with pride.