GG goes to Escolta!
On the fifth floor of First United Building, a balcony with a view—the neighbouring buildings across don’t look anything like the sterile infrastructures of Makati and the Fort; refreshingly, no one mall in sight. This should’ve been the Manila that we got to know—post-colonial strains and all—instead of the self-serving, public art-deprived facade built to exact economic growth (at the expense of a poorly planned metropolis).
Going to Escolta is, like many conflicting experiences we have in our own damn city, a repatriation of sorts. You sit on that balcony and think about how disconnected we are to Manila, how disappointing that that we don’t know our own streets. But the whole building, built in the 1930s, screams new life. Down at the ground floor no one is trying to be cool or overstate themselves. No one is even peddling their goods hard. Feel free to grab a spoon and try some granola ice cream. There’s a real sense of community at the HUB, an exciting bubble of energy that surely some corporation will try to assimilate or appropriate. But they won’t be able to.
GEN. MDSE. is one of the stalls on the heels of this revival. Think of them as an off-shoot to a sari-sari store, carrying items ranging from cement bento trays to flour sack tops to coffee. Derek Tumala, part-owner of GEN. MDSE. and designer for Slaves of Liberty, gamely hangs out with GG. He took us up to his studio (he’s also part of multimedia collective Mvltiverse), to the balcony, and played some disco.
Escolta, as chill as it can be.
What do you think is the most surprising or random product people will find at GEN. MDSE.?
We got frogs named Fidel and Castro for the paludarium kits!
How has the reception been to the store, and the HUB in general?
We never thought we’ll get much attention from what we thought was just selling stuff we like, the L’Officiel Manila feature really helped us to be heard. HUB’s been well-received by a diverse crowd and it’s not that easy.
How does it feel to be an integral part of the growing community in Escolta? In what direction do you hope it’ll move forward?
It’s rewarding to be part of the Escolta revival. It’s a learning process not just about retail, but how heritage and community became vital on what we do. We want Escolta to grow not just a retail hub but a culture-centric venue where contemporary and old meet. We crave for that ‘real’ Manila vibe.
Photography Nash Cruz
Styling Karen Bolilia
Model Jessica Alberto