By: Paolo M. Bustamante
How can we preserve our built heritage? Well, there are a lot of ways such as adaptive reuse. But what is adaptive reuse? Adaptive reuse re-purposes old buildings for new uses. In Manila there are a few buildings that utilize this system such as the Luneta Hotel in TM Kalaw St., The Department of Tourism Building in AGRIFINA Circle and the Juan Luna Building in Binondo. But there is one building that really caught my attention and that is the Elpo Building in Divisoria.
Last Sunday, I had a chance to visit one of the busiest places in Manila, and that is Divisoria. The whole stretch of CM Recto Avenue (formerly Calle Azcarraga) is dotted with gorgeous heritage buildings but sadly only a few people, such as myself, can see the potential of what this avenue can offer.
Graciously standing at CM Recto Avenue, the Elpo Building is a good example of adaptive reuse. It was once a department store for shoes known as the El Povenier (also known as ELPO). Back in the 1950's and 1960's, the ELPO used to be the premier brand of rubber shoes in the Philippines.
The PHILTRUST Bank now occupies this building. Kudos to the Philippine Trust Company for not demolishing this work of art. I am not sure about the choice of color for this building tho. I wish the owners kept the original color scheme of the building which was light purple and green, but I am very happy that this building was spared from being demolished.
There are a lot of beautiful historical buildings in Manila waiting to be discovered. I hope that I can cover them before they face the wrecking ball. In recent news, Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada plans to rehabilitate the whole strech of C.M. Recto Avenue. Go Mayor Erap! Bring back the glory of Manila.