Escolta is one of the oldest streets in the Philippines. The street dates back to 1594 and became the main business center of Manila from the Spanish Colonial times. Escolta comes from the Spanish word “escoltar,” which means “to escort.” Spanish, Chinese, English, German and Indian traders established businesses at Escolta.
Escolta was so prominent that its name is mentioned by Jose Rizal in “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo.”
While Escolta can be so busy during the Spanish colonial era, the same street falls silent in the afternoon during the siesta hours.
The 1930’s brought even more prominence to Escolta as the premiere commercial center of Manila.
Two cinemas, Capitol and Lyric were the two cinemas near each other, providing motion picture entertainment.
Department stores like Heacock’s and The Crystal Arcade established themselves in Escolta.
The Pacific War had its effects on Escolta. Japanese flags hung over establishments in Escolta, reminding citizens who’s in charge.
During the Battle of Manila in 1945, Japanese shelled many parts of Manila, and Escolta was not spared.
After rebuilding from the ruins of war, Escolta experienced a renaissance in the 1950’s to the 1970’s as the leading commercial center of Manila.
By the 1980’s, the prestige and prominence of Escolta had begun to fade. Businesses started to move and establish themselves in Makati, the new rising star to the south of Manila.
As the 1990’s rolled in, Lyric Theater was demolished and a department store, St. J Square opened its doors to the public, despite the closures of department stores and other businesses in Escolta. Everyone who lived around or worked in Escolta had felt the street had already seen its better days.