It’s rather ironical that Malate is now such a party destination when it was such a scene of carnage during World War II. You may also notice the air of gentility that lingers over the streets and houses—this is because Malate used to be reserved for Manila’s noveau rich, American expats who found a coastal home appealing, and some old Spanish mestizo families. After the war, they returned to Malate and rebuilt their mansions and bungalows. Up to the 1970s, Malate was primarily residential. The following decades saw many of these families moving out or renting out their homes to commercial establishments.
Today, Malate is one of Manila’s 16 districts, located on the southern end of the city, bordered by Pasay (south), Ermita (north), and Paco (east). Together with Ermita, Malate forms Manila’s Tourist Belt with its heart at Remedios Circle. While the streets Maria Orosa, Julio Nakpil, Adriatico, Remedios, and streets in between conspire nightly to create a name for themselves, ‘Street Party Capital’ of Manila, where al fresco drinking, dining, and dancing is the norm starting midnight until before dawn.
Malate offer varied watering holes and performance theaters. Its cuisine also covers a wide range of tastes and cultures. Several colleges, universities, and government institutions are situated here as well as Malate Church or the historical Parish of our Lady of Remedios. A dancing water fountain is on Rajah Sulayman Park. Other attractions include malls, 5-star hotels, and the Manila Zoo. The streets of Malate are also often bustling with sidewalk commerce.
Ermita, on-and-off again red lights district and host to a number of coin and antique shops, is just a stone throw away. The quaint bookstore of novelist and National Artist F. Sionil Jose, La Solidaridad, is on Padre Faura St, across Robinson’s Manila.
Legend has it that tidewaters from Manila Bay flowed farther inland than it does today, polluting with salt the freshwater wells in the area, which came to have the Tagalog moniker “ma-alat,” meaning salty. The word ma-alat was corrupted to Malate over time.