Entrance to This Escolta Museum Is Free This February

It used to be a department store.

PHOTO BY Jilson Tiu/Spot.ph Archives

(SPOT.ph) Back in the 1800s, the most happening place in the Metro was the 393-meter Calle de Escolta. It was lined with luxury stores, restaurants, and many other stately structures designed in Art Deco style. But many of them have fallen into disrepair, and what's left of the historic district is being repurposed and playing a big role in turning the area into one of Manila's most vibrant creative hubs. 

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Case in point: the First United Building (a.k.a. Perez-Samanillo Building), which housed the Berg Department Store during its heyday in the 1930s, but is now home to art spaces, offices, a bazaar, and a museum. You can now check out this place for free as the First United Building Community Museum has waived their admission fee for the whole month of February.

The First United Building, which was the tallest building in Manila when it was completed in 1928, used to host the popular Berg Department Store. 
PHOTO BY Jericho San Miguel
SPOT.ph Archives
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Vintage everyday objects make for a fascinating glimpse into a time gone by.
PHOTO BY Jericho San Miguel
On the second floor of the building, you can find the office—now a museum—of store owner Sy Lian Teng. 
PHOTO BY Jericho San Miguel
SPOT.ph Archives
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The First United Building Community Museum features photographs of department store owner Sy Lian Teng, who bought the popular store from the German Ernest Berg. Also on exhibit are a variety of vintage everyday objects, like typewriters and letter openers, documents and receipts that show past transactions made at the popular store, aside from black-and-white photographs of old Escolta. It also hosts changing exhibits that are often about the past and future of the historic district.

Elsewhere in the building, you'll find HUB: Make Lab, an incubation space for artists and makers in the community. The booths feature a variety of sellers, with items ranging from notebooks to knickknacks. 

PHOTO BY Jericho San Miguel
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First United Building Community Museum is at 2/F First United Building, 413 Escolta Street, Binondo, Manila. Entrance is free until February 29.

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