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Historical Buildings - a new focus for gentrification and growth

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Historical Buildings - a new focus for gentrification and growth


I take it as a very positive sign that Filipinos are rediscovering their architectural heritage and moving to preserve their history, and restore the glory of some of the older parts of Manila


A New Life for Old buildings ( Apr. 16, Manila Bulletin, pg 14)


Slowly but surely, conservationists are getting heard and noticed for their work in integrating old buildings into our city


Buildings mentioned in the article:



+ Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, built 1934 - Art Deco, designed by Juan Arellano


+ Private Residence on Guevarra St, San Juan > now Cafe Ysabel, an iconic restaurant



+ Tutaban's old central railway station, is now a very popular shopping mall (now owned by POPI / Ayala)


+ The Henry Manila, in Pasay City has been converted into a successful boutique hotel, from two palatial homes built in 1948


+ Quezon Vacation House was relocated from New Manila to Quezon Memorial Circle, a not too distant move, and its function of being a reminder of a famous President is preserved



+ Bahay Nakpil-Bautista, a wooden house built in 1914 is now a museum


+ Teodora's is a restaurant run by the grandson of the original owner of a mid-20th century home


+ Other buildings have been less-succesfully preserved, like Joy Cinema, in Libertad and Bellevue Cinema in Paco, are (just) clothing stores


Successful gentrification works best, when the new purpose of a building helps to remind people of the original purpose of the building. Makati's Nielsen Tower was built in 1937, when the Ayala Avenue CBD was the country's first civilian airport. It is now part of a high end restaurant run by Colin MacKay, who respects and values its history. The restaurant is named after the Blackbird, one of the fastest planes every built (in its time.)

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Binondo - a wonderful challenge for Preservation


(the article goes on to talk about this)


"If there is one area in Metro Manila that would be deemed as crucial to conservationsists, it would be Binondo, said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world. The district has a number of (classic) office and commercial buildings built in the early to mid 20th century that are still standing."


So far, there are only a handful of examples of adaptive reuse:



+ Perez-Samanillo Building, built in 1928, was one of Manila's first department stores, Berg


It was sold to Jose Cojuanco in 1968, and renamed the First United Building.

Later, in 1979, he resold it to businessman, Sy Lian Teng. And after his passing, the building moved to the stewardship of his son. Roberto Sylianteng.


Mr Sylianteng found a new use for the building in bringing in an art collective, 98B COLLABoratory to find new ways to bring life to the building. Initially, the held art markets in the building on Saturdays. And the building now hosts a variety of enterprises:


+ Hub, a group of artists

+ Make Lab, an incubator space for small businesses on the first floor

+ A community museum on the second floor

+ A touring company, Manila Who on the fitth floor

+ A new co-working space is planned, and will be launched soon


The concept of adaptive reuse is spreading fast, and may be an important catalyst in gentrifying Binondo, and other historical areas in greater Manila


110175381.jpg : More photos, David M.

+ Former Citibank head office in Binondo.


Has been been refurbished and renamed as Juan Luna Place

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Revival of "the Queen" (Escolta Street) - Apr. 16, Manila Bulletin, pg.15



Manila Escolta Street, looking west, Regina left, Perez-Samanillo building right, Manila


"Escolta used to be the Queen of Manila's streets. During its heyday between the late 1890's and the 1930's, this is where the people of Manila would come to socialize, watch a movie, or shop. But in the 1960's people and businesses began moving into new hubs like Quezon City and Makati."


Eventually, Escolta lost its customers to new shopping centers in areas like Cubao, Makati, and Greenhills. By the 1980's there was a rapid decline underway in the Escolta area. Concerned building owners and landlords got together with Manila Mayor Mel Lopez, and established the Escolta Commercial Association. The focused on issues like garbage collection and street vendors. But these efforts where not enough to reverse the powerful decline.


Fortunately, an imaginative visual artist, Marinka Constantino came to Escolta in 2012, and sought a space in an old building for herself and artist friends. She befriended the owners of the First United Building, Robert and Lorraine Sylianteng. Marinka and her collective moved into a small space in the building in July 2012. They used it for meetings and seminars.


90 B COLLAB working with ECAI also began to hold weekend art fairs in the building on a monthly basis. And this was eventually turned into a more formal arrangement, and was renamed The Hub: Make Lab. The ground floor was turned into stalls, which were leased out to budding artists and entrepreneurs. And a space was dedicated to a coffee shop, The Den, and a bar, Fred's Revolution.


This activity, and the regular events has helped to attract back to Binondo a younger generation. And we are seeing business like that of a young architect, Angelo Serrano, setting up their offices in the builidng also.


The 98B COLLAB group continues to innovate, and try new ideas. They now have a regular quarterly event, known as the Escolta Block party. When this happens the street is closed, and they have live DJ performances, and booths on the streets offering food and gift items. The theme for the April 8th event was "a food trip."


New businesses continue to arrive at the HUB, such as: Kine Shawarma Place and Lucky Dumplings.


The glory days of Escolta are unlikely to come back, but Roberto Sylianteng aims to continue t be relevant to the surrounding community. He wants to help spur the revival of bayathan, the Filipino value of helping out one's neighbor in the spirit of community.

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Block Party


Philippines (March 7) – “Commemorate and revive the beauty of old Manila”- that was the very purpose of the recently conducted Escolta Block Party. Spearheaded by the folks of the First United Building, this collaboration is actually the second Escolta Block Party after the success of the first one last November of 2016. February 18 of this year marked the second and equally successful block party on the oft-forgotten street of Escolta.




Local business owners, different types of artists and heritage conservationists joined forces as they throw a different kind of party on one of the most famous streets of downtown Manila. Despite the rainy Saturday, people from all walks of life kept coming to feel the weekend vibe by enjoying all the good stuff that this party could provide. You can spot trendy millennials, foreign tourists and locals walking along the street. The party started at eleven in the morning and would last until midnight.


Stalls and stands were mounted to provide space for merchants selling, from different artworks from emerging artists, clothes in diverse hues, pop-art culture-inspired bags and pouches, witty stickers and patches down to vintage finds such as old money, vinyls, magazines and newspapers. A few steps from the street stalls is an intriguing portal which will lead you to another set of stalls full of quirky finds, a place called the HUB: Make Lab activity area. Inside the hub is a flea market–a collaboration between 98B COLLABoratory and Saturday X Future Market—which houses a wide selection of products for each and every type of visitor in Escolta.


> http://www.eaglenews.ph/life/travel/escolta-a-blast-from-the-past-part-2/

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  • 2 months later...

I MEET SKEPTICS who doubt that much will come of the gentrification trend in Binondo


Some of the objections, I hear are:


+ Binondo is dirty, crowded, and poor

+ It is okay for trading businesses, and warehousing... but does not attract higher end jobs, nor many professionals

+ The crime and corruption you will find there, are much worse than Makati, BGC etc.


My own reaction to these sorts of comments was:

"No doubt, Makati and BGC are easier decisions. But if PH is going to do start-ups, they will need some cheaper areas too"

"I think the key thing will be to find tenants rolling out from Universities"


Then we moved on to having a discussion about whether or not the Unis there have the bright and entrepreneurial students

who can start and staff vibrant new business, that can help fuel a fast gentrification of the Binondo / Chinatown area


I was told the best two Unis in the immediate area are:



> source: http://www.feu.edu.ph/manila/index.php/feu-where-my-heart-belongs-2/

Far Eastern University

Far Eastern University (FEU) in the University Belt area, West Sampaloc, City of Manila, is a nonsectarian, private university in the Philippines. Created by the merger of Far Eastern College and the Institute of Accountancy (now Institute of Accounts, Business and Finance), FEU became a university in 1934 under the guidance of first president Dr. Nicanor I. Reyes, Sr. It has been noted as the leading proprietary (for profit) university in the Philippines. FEU's campus is noted for a number of historical buildings preserved from the first half of the 20th century.


1989 introduced substantial revitalization to FEU that took place over a number of years, with renovation and modernization of facilities and grounds and upgrading of the University's educational standard. This resulted in the accreditation of the Institute of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Education, and the Institute of Accounts, Business and Finance, and, in the mid-1990s, the Deregulation of the University by the Commission on Higher Education. Enrollment and financial systems were computerized with the help of Oracle in 2001, resulting in efficient archival and retrieval of data. The auditorium was upgraded to accommodate modern stage productions and the new twice-monthly presentations by local and international artists established by the President's Committee on Culture.


Leading graduates:


Far East University / Is quoted on the PSE as: FEU ... all-data : 10-yrs : 5-yrs : 2-yrs :






San Beda College

San Beda College (Spanish: Colegio de San Beda) and (Filipino: Dalubhasaan ng San Beda) is a private Roman Catholic Benedictine college run by the Benedictine monks in the Philippines. It is located in Mendiola, Manila, for college and Taytay, Rizal for Elementary and High School. It was founded in 1901 primarily to "defend the Catholic battlements in the field of education."[1] San Beda, which was known then as El Colegio de San Beda, started as an all-boys grade school in Manila. It has since then expanded to a full college with both undergraduate and post-graduate degree offerings. It has two other campuses: the San Beda College-Rizal (the largest San Beda campus in size) and the San Beda College Alabang (formerly known as St. Benedict College and Benedictine Abbey School) located in Alabang Hills Village in Muntinlupa City. San Beda College Alabang however is autonomous from the other two San Beda campuses and has its own set of administrators and officials. The San Beda Graduate School of Liturgy in Manila, meanwhile, traces its academic roots and origins to the Paul VI Institute of Liturgy in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.[2]

Located in a once quiet, middle-class residential area, San Beda College is now part of Manila's University Belt, an irregular crescent curving for about six kilometers through six districts of Manila, containing more than thirty colleges and universities.

San Beda College offers programs in the fields of accountancy, business, marketing, economics, and law.

. . .

In 2013, of the 50 Richest Filipinos ranked by Forbes Magazine, five were elementary and/or high school graduates and alumni of San Beda College, namely, Mr, Robert G. Coyiuto, Jr. (Rank No. 12); Mr. Andrew Gotianun (Rank No. 17), Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. (Rank No. 20), Ambassador Jose E.B. Antonio (Rank No. 32), and PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan (Rank No. 50).


The San Beda College of Law (CoL) was founded in 1948 upon the initiative of former rector-president Fr. Sergio Martinez, OSB. Feliciano Jover Ledesma, an Ateneo graduate, was the first dean of the San Beda Law School...It has also produced lawyers such as the current President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, former Senator Rene Saguisag, the late Senator Raul S. Roco, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila M. De Lima ...


> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_Belt


I will do some further pondering on impact the negative forces might have on gentrification

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  • 7 months later...

"Emphasise historical value" - suggests Colliers Quarterly, 8 Feb. 2018

Admiral Baysuites is the restored Army Navy Club built in 1899 while the latter is the redeveloped Admiral Hotel completed in 1939. The Admiral Hotel was once the tallest building in Manila and used by the Japanese Navy as their headquarters during the Second World War. We encourage operators of these hotels to emphasise the cultural and historical aspects of their facilities. Colliers believes that developers should explore other historical structures that could be redeveloped into hotels and other accommodation facilities. To encourage more investors, both local and national developers should tout an attractive set of incentives to potential developers


The Admiral Hotel was renovated as a European-inspired luxury boutique hotel. It is an 8-storey hotel with a luxurious 53-storey residential condominium called the Admiral Baysuites. It has become a symbol of elegance and romantic charm that the Old Manila is known for.

Once the hub frequented by the Philippine’s elite before the war and a beacon of seafarers, Admiral Hotel underwent redevelopment to keep up with the times but still preserving its status as a premier hotel where guests can retreat.

Situated right at the premier side of the Roxas Boulevard, the hotel was renovated as a European-inspired luxury boutique hotel. It also features a 53-storey residential condominium called the Admiral Baysuites.

This landmark hotel once catered to some of the most prominent people of the world such as Lord Mountbatten of Britain, former US President Herbert Hoover, and General Douglas MacArthur. It has become a symbol of elegance and romantic charm that the Old Manila is known for. Fusing timeless designs with modern amenities, it offers both classic and cosmopolitan residence that is a perfect blend with the picturesque water of Manila Bay.

The new Admiral Baysuites offer a spectacular view, extraordinary service and hospitality with premier club amenities that include a cafeteria, beauty center and playground. Massage services, secretarial and room services can also be availed by guests. Business meetings and conferences can also be hosted in the hotel’s well-equipped business center and conference facilities.

> MORE: http://guide-manila.com/business/admiral-baysuites-hotel-manila/

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