Taking you to a trip around the Metro

Manila’s Red Light District

By: Diana Ramirez

The Malate district is located at the southern end of the city of Manila; bordered by Pasay City to the south, by Manila Bay to the west, by the district of Ermita to the north, and by the districts of Paco and San Andres to the east. The word Malate is believed to have stemmed from the corruption of the Tagalog word “maalat,” meaning “salty.” Legends have it that tidewaters from Manila Bay flowed into the land as far as where the Remedios Circle is currently located. The salty sea water polluted the fresh water collected from wells, thus making drinking water in the area as salty as seawater. Malate during the Spanish colonial period was an open space with a small fishing village. During the Spanish period, the center of activity was focused around the Malate church, the Our Lady of Remedios Parish that had a cult following among pregnant women having a difficult pregnancy. When the Americans came to the country by the turn of the 19th century, American urban planners envisioned the development of Malate as the newest and trendiest exclusive residential area for American families. American expatriates and some of the old Spanish mestizo families populated the district in modern high rise apartments and wide aread bungalows. The district can be directly accessed by main roads like the Roxas Boulevard, Quirino Avenue and Taft Avenue with well-known streets like Mabini and M.H. del Pilar. The Light Rail Transit (LRT-1) rolls along Taft Avenue and stops at three stations located in Malate, the Vito Cruz Station, Quirino Station, and the Pedro Gil.

In the 1990s, Malate and its neighbor Ermita has been “cleaned-up” and legitimate big businesses have sprouted in the district with hotels like the Hyatt Hotel and Casino, the Pan Pacific Hotel, the Manila Diamond Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, Grand Boulevard Hotel, and the Cherry Blossoms Hotel. Shopping can be done at the Manila’s first enclosed and fully air-conditioned shopping mall, Harrison Plaza that houses an SM Department store and Shopwise Supermarket. Specialty restaurants and cafes also started to open in the district, as a result of the spill over of business from next-door Ermita district, which was for a time the red-light district of Manila. Malate has been called the center of gay night life, and has a Gay Pride Parade every year. The block bounded by the streets Maria Orosa, Julio Nakpil, Adriatico, and Remedios have become synonymous to “street parties,” drinking and dining, street dancing, and even ground-level concerts.

The country’s forefront financial agencies like the Department of Finance, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or BSP (Philippines Central Bank) and lending institution LandBank of the Philippines established their headquarters in the district, while the National Naval Command Headquarters of the Philippine Navy, a unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is at the boundary limits of Manila and Pasay City along Roxas Boulevard. Locating a fully functional medical facility is the city-subsidized Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, located at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and Quirino Avenue.

Malate is home to several educational institutions such as St. Scholastica’s College, De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, De La Salle University, the Philippine Christian University, the Philippine Women’s University, St. Paul’s College, and for secondary-level education is the Jesus Reigns Christian Academy and Malate Catholic School. The only public school managed and operated by the city government of Manila in the district is the Doña Aurora Quezon Elementary School. The district is also home to the country’s first sports stadium, the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and the country’s premiere zoological park, the Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden.Promenades by the Manila Bay has been made more convenient and safe with the opening of the Manila Baywalk that starts near the junction of Pedro Gil St. and Roxas Boulevard. Tourists and alike can enjoy different types of restaurants and cafes and further down south of the path is the exclusive Manila Yacht Club.

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