A mere ten-minute walk from my place, I paid First United Building (FUB) in Escolta a visit last Saturday morning to see what 98B’s monthly Future Market is all about. Mom always says that Escolta was known as THE shopping destination in Metro Manila back in the day. Branded and imported. Prestige and quality. Escolta of Manila was the Ginza of Tokyo, or the Avenue Montaigne of Paris. Today, it is no more than a strip filled with shadows of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade back in the 1500s, which eventually attracted the rise of Spanish-inspired buildings of the wealthy in early 1900s. It is fortunate for present-day filmmakers that these vintage structures are left standing – though unmaintained. As a resident of Manila, I would often see production staff setting up lights and cameras around roadblocks in Escolta early in the morning, or late in the evening. The street, being lined with exteriors of early 20th century, makes a perfect setting for sepia-worthy milieus. That aside, these timeworn buildings are empty.
Wishing to spark some life back into Escolta, 98B COLLABoratory worked with FUB and Escolta Commercial Association (ECAI) to open a market right in the same spot where the once-famous Berg’s Department Store was. The Future Market offers a mix of vintage and creative. Items that will bring you to memory lane include vinyl records, coffee-tinted notes and posters, Fanta bottles with rusty caps and dog-eared books. Meanwhile, young artists and entrepreneurs sell their own creations of hand-drawn designs on postcards, wallets, shirts and bags, handcrafted accessories of leather and suede, lamps and planters elegantly made from popsicle sticks and everything else from anything else like can tabs, pencils tips, paperclips and what have you.
The market interiors are made of no interiors. Just the run-down, unpainted, brick-wall remnants of Berg’s and a mini exhibit in one corner. In this exhibit, a modern-day projector played hoary images from 9AM to 6PM that day, and on a screen of made-up scrapheap. Escolta is an old film left projected on a shattered screen – waiting to be put back together.
The sun is at its peak, and the heat is making me hungry; time to turn my back on Escolta and go on with my day. Maybe I’ll head to a mall in Ortigas or Makati or Taguig – and hope that Escolta will cross my mind again someday.
Photostream: Saturday Future Market, Escolta, Manila, Philippines