Saturday, July 16, 2005


I'm delighted to see that the majestic El Hogar Filipino building (on the left) has pulled it's image out of the dumps and is finding a new life in the world of showbiz. This beautiful beaux-arts building, designed by architect Irrureta Goyena and set by the Pasig River on Muelle dela Industria in Binondo, was built as a wedding gift for the union of a Zobel daughter and a Peruvian count back in 1914. It housed the offices of the lending company El Hogar Filipino (hence its name) and the original headquarters of Ayala Life Insurance Company. After World War II, the building found itself in the hands of the Fernandez clan who still run the building till this day. Sadly, this strikingly elegant structure fell into disrepair in the 1980s when downtown Manila's street life was sucked out of Binondo and Ermita and spat out into the gated developments of Makati suburbia. And although somewhat faded from it's original glory, it was precisely the building's urban gothic aura which helped it start it's newfound career. In 2000, the family started renting it out as the backdrop of Richard Gomez's ill-fated TV series, "Your Honor" and let it be used for a car and credit card TV spot. But from these random stints, El Hogar has now become the darling of Manila's TV and film production design world. Aside from being used as the backdrop for Globe and McDonald's commercials, it's also used as the setting for the music videos of indie groups Bamboo ("Hallelujah"), Cueshe ("Stay"), and uber cheesy pop princess Sarah Geronimo's remake of Foreigner's "I Wanna Know What Love Is". It was even used in the opening scenes of Peque Gallaga's recently premiered "Pinoy Blonde". According to Chris Esguerra, of Video and Light Production house, "Directors love using El Hogar Filipino. At different angles, it can become Paris, Rome, New York...". Producers at their company apparently use the building so much, they even gave it the nickname, "Studio Three". Good Job, Fernandez family, I hope you finally made enough money from these gigs to gift the building with a well-deserved paint job.
PS. All you Philippine architecture buffs out there, if I spelled the architect's name wrong, please send me the right way to do it.