Creation of body to revive interest in Escolta pushed
MANILA, Philippines—Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino has proposed the creation of the Escolta Redevelopment Administration to help revive the area and turn it into Manila’s transport, tourism, business and culinary heritage hub.
The idea came to him after his meeting with members of the Escolta Heritage Association last week where measures on how to improve the newly opened Pasig River ferry system were discussed.
Tolentino noted that the ferry service has made Escolta accessible once again with the opening of the Escolta station for people coming from other parts of Metro Manila.
In the first two weeks of the ferry service’s operations, the area has become the most popular destination among passengers, particularly among those going to Binondo (Chinatown) and Divisoria.
“This proposal is aimed at remembering Escolta not just as a historical footnote but as part of the continuing Philippine economic progress,” he said in a statement.
Escolta is one of the oldest streets in Asia. It was known as the country’s first business capital and the home of shops and boutiques selling goods from China and Europe.
The street was lined with several fine examples of European architecture in the Philippines, rivaling famous European capitals such as Brussels in Belgium and Madrid in Spain.
By the late 19th century, Escolta had become a fashionable business district hosting the city’s tallest buildings as well as the Manila Stock Exchange.
The body that Tolentino is proposing is similar to the Intramuros Administration, which was created by law to manage the restoration, reconstruction and urban planning of the walled city earlier declared a historical heritage area.
According to the MMDA chair, he is willing to draft a bill seeking the creation of such an agency that will then be endorsed for approval to appropriate government agencies, including Congress.