Calle Escolta was once the up-and-buzzing commercial and cultural hub of Manila. It started as a trading street for merchants back in the 16th century and gradually developed to a cultural melting pot when both Eastern and Western migrants planted their primary business addresses there in the 1800s. Escolta flourished through the years and became the center of finance, art, and entertainment. Serving as the home of Philippine’s many firsts–ice cream parlor, theaters, elevators, and department stores–it proved itself deserving of its title as the Queen of Manila's Streets.
Escolta was indeed a glory, but it lost its crown when other business districts like Makati started to develop in the 1960s. In recent years, however, there have been numerous efforts from different organizations, startups, and volunteers to jumpstart its resurrection. Empowered young people lead most, if not all, movements and they’re bringing in various modern techniques to propagate their passion.
The Escolta Revival Movement, an alliance of professionals, public institutions, as well as art and cultural communities, aims to spread extensive awareness about cultural conservation among online communities and younger generation by the use of the hashtag #selfiEscolta. To launch the campaign, they organized a festival called #selfiEscolta: The Manila Street Heritage Festival in 2014 and encouraged the participants to post pictures and videos of the event on their respective social media channels along with the hashtag #selfiEscolta. The event featured various programs and activities that showcased the street’s finest heritage buildings.
2. Save-The-Dates and Influencers
Saturday Market @Escolta is a bazaar, thrift market, vintage shop, and art gallery all at once. It is located in a run-down building that used to be Berg’s Department Store, one of the first department stores in Escolta, and it occurs at least twice a month since it started in 2013. This is 98B Collaboratory’s contribution to a much bigger plan to regenerate interest in the area. Since then, more and more independent shop owners and event organizers are drawn to hold their events in the famed Calle. Various gimmicks such as craft workshops, walking tours, and food bazaars are held. As a result, Escolta has started to become the go-to place for both media and influencers alike.
3. Vibrant and Trendy Branding
Last February 18, the second Escolta Block Party was held at the famed street. It’s a gathering of the Escolta community to celebrate the street’s heritage and commemorate its history. Aside from the prepared activities throughout the day, one of the other notable things about this party is its branding and graphics. Consistent from its Facebook event page to its official website, the event branding made use of trendy flat style, bold typography, and vibrant CMYK colors that attract the eyes of the millennials. It’s also relevant to point out that these elements are key design trends for the year 2017. With that said, the entirety of the design took out the vintage aura of the Escolta that was, and proposed a more contemporary feel to it. The effect shined a spotlight on the modern Escolta which hooks both those who are experiencing the street for the first time and those who were able to witness it during its prime.
Social media has become a powerful tool for advocacy, changing minds and hearts for the betterment of the community. With its help and the support of thousands of concerned persons, the Queen of Manila’s Streets will reign again.
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