MANILA - The Manila City Hall's Clock Tower is set to open as the capital city's newest art gallery and coffee shop in the coming months, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said on Monday.
From a dank storage space, the topmost part of the capital's city hall has been transformed into a potential tourist destination, Domagoso told reporters on the sidelines of his weekly flag ceremony.
"About 2 years ago, kung nakita ninyo, puro bodega yun. Puro daga, pusa," he said.
(If you saw it about 2 years ago, it was just a storage room. It was full of rats and cats.)
"Nalulungkot ako kasi it's supposed to be an iconic place; clock tower, tapos ganoon ang itsura kaya sabi ko, talaga we really need to redevelop this," he said.
(I felt bad because it's supposed to be an iconic place; clock tower, but it looks like that so I said we really have to develop it.)
The 100-feet clock tower was first unveiled to the public in 1930 and is known to be the biggest in the Philippines.
The clocks are still running through metal gears installed in the upper decks of the hexagonal chamber.
"We need to reintroduce some development for the safety of everyone kasi that time, halos hindi namin maakyat yung clock tower dahil mabuay yung hagdanan," Domagoso said.
Aside from modernizing the staircase leading to and within the clock tower, chandeliers and air-conditioning units were also installed in the once-deteriorating landmark to make the space more "Instagrammable," the mayor said.
"'Yung ating mga artists, they can display their artwork there. Magkakaroon din ng coffee shop tapos yung mga tao, akyat panaog lang, makita nila 360-degrees yung buong Maynila," Domagoso said.
(Our artists can display their artwork there. There will also be a coffee shop and people can come up and down so that they can see a 360-degree view of Manila.)
"Puwedeng magpapicture yung mga tao. Magiging Instagrammable siya," he said.
(People can take pictures there. It will be Instagrammable.)
The idea was patterned after the clock tower of Washington D.C.'s Old Post office, the Manila mayor said.
"Kung ano yung naranasan ko sa Washington, sa Old Post Office, baka maranasan din ng ating mga kababayan sa Maynila at kung sino man ang dadako sa lungsod ng Maynila," he said.
(What I experienced in Washington, in the Old Post Office, I hope our fellow Manileños or whoever wants to visit Manila can experience it too.)
The city of Manila spent P19.83 million for the project, according to data from the local government.
The capital city has also invested millions of pesos in the rehabilitation of the Manila Zoo and the Arroceros Forest Park.
"Tingin ko, ang development na ito, long-term, short-term, mapapakinabangan ng tao," Domagoso said, noting that the improvement of tourist attractions in the city has helped spur jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(I think this development is beneficial to the people both in the long term and short term.)
"You see now the tangible development. Naging malinis, maayos. (It became clean and orderly)... You saw the clear disparity of where we are before as a city and its people," he said.