Steeped in history, the 90-year-old First United Building on Calle Escolta is an outstanding example of post-WW2 heritage buildings that are being adapted for reuse in Manila. It is now home to creatives, makers and innovators who are deeply invested in the rehabilitation and reinvigoration of its environs. Meet the folks who see the future of Manila in Escolta.

What can we do about heritage buildings remaining in Manila?

Vince and Reymart, co-founders of The Public School Manila Branding and Design Studio: As citizens and along with groups like Heritage Conservation Society, we can always look out for these structures by continually campaigning for their preservation and educating the greater public of their importance and the many possibilities of how we can save them.

What difference are you making in the community?

Carmel, founder of Kalsada Coffee: We have been helping to uplift the lives of coffee farmers in Benguet and Bukidnon by paying US$1 more than the Fair Trade rate, and investing in machinery for their farms. In turn, we have been able to sell their products at premium prices to third-wave coffee shops here and in the U.S.

How are you shaping the future of Manila in Escolta?

Mikki and Aliver, co-owners of the Ponderosa Hall store: Having witnessed the renaissance of Cubao X from a shoe expo in the ‘90s to an artists’ hub in the 2000s, we feel we have a chance to pay it forward in this burgeoning block. We want to bring the same energy to Escolta and help it become an influential creative market. We hope Philippines will be the first country that comes to mind when you think about a crazy idea or new concept.


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