Back in the Streets: Hola Escolta Waves Back this 2023

The First United Building brings back Hola Escolta this 2023 with a series of workshops, heritage talks, markets, exhibitions, and performances from the street's creative community

Words and Images Hola Escolta 2023
Editing The Kanto team

After hosting its first block party in 2019, Hola Escolta is back this 2023! Starting November 25, the First United Building will open its doors to celebrate downtown Manila’s sights and sounds, history, and community. The event is also in line with the 95th anniversary of the First United Building, among the iconic structures in the heritage street that stand out as pioneers of adaptive reuse.

“Escolta, often dubbed the “Queen of Manila’s Streets”, was once the premier commercial center of Manila,” shares the Hola Escolta team. “Along this 400-meter west-to-east stretch of street are a few architectural landmarks scarred by war and weathered by time and neglect.” The reality is that our built heritage is “often seen as a static thing,” relics in our cities as victims of stagnation. Hola Escolta hopes to change this by taking the street out of its box and reminding us that there is more to it than the nostalgia-induced references of its better days.

“Rediscover Manila with some downtown disco as the streets get filled with music!,” invites the Hola Escolta team. “Performances start at 3:00 PM with music from Jalan, RICO DISCO, baby ikea, Teya Logos, Papa Jawnz, Jer Dee, and Marky.”

The weekend will focus on the unique convergence of people who are proud of their past, collectively shaping our future through design and creativity. It will open with a street market and a number of tours at 10:00 AM. There will also be a number of creative spaces opening their studios, all with individual programming from architecture to photography and fashion to dance.

A series of heritage talks and exhibits will be held at the Panpisco Building. A digital and physical exhibition will also be available in the Nilad Open House, where attendees can get to know more about downtown Manila and the Queen of Manila’s Streets.

Architect Arts Serrano of onezerodesignco, among the participating groups in the event, shares that this will definitely not be the last iteration of the event. “This is something that we want to be doing every six months. Hola Escolta will definitely be back next year!”

The Hola, Escolta! Manifesto

For almost a century, Escolta has seeded many contributions to the rich history of our country. We honor its stories, memories, and the built environment that have shaped, and are continuing to shape, our communities.

We champion artists, craftsmen, musicians, and makers. Here, the voices of independent creators are amplified. The rhythm of their drums inspires more creatives to march forward— taking our diverse culture with them to future generations.

We celebrate designs that are molded by our past, rooted in the present, and ready for the future. We believe in not only having a platform that highlights Filipino design thinking, but also for this platform to be accessible to all.

We value community over commercialism. The spirit that keeps Escolta alive lies not just in the buildings, but in its people. We prioritize the collective over the individual, and we want to foster belongingness and collaboration over isolated pursuits—ensuring that growth never compromises heritage and culture.

We believe that our cities should be for everyone. This is a space where seasoned makers share the lane with emerging talents. This is a space where knowledge is to be shared and not gatekept. This is a space where diverse voices from all backgrounds converge in discourse.

Of the streets and for the streets—hola, Escolta!

To know more about the event, visit Hola Escolta.

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