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Origin of the name
The word Malate is believed to have stemmed from the corruption of the Tagalog word "ma-alat," meaning "salty." Legends have it that tidewaters from Manila Bay flowed in-land as far as where the Remedios Circle is presently located. The salty sea water polluted the fresh water collected from wells, thus making drinking water in the area as salty.
The district is located at the southern end of the city of Manila, adjacent to Pasay City as its southern most border. North of Malate is the district Ermita and towards the east with San Marcelino street as border is the district of Paco.
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 are 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.
After World War II, the extensive damage and carnage left behind by retreating Japanese occupational forces in the area and by the mortar shelling done by liberating American forces was not enough to level all the buildings and houses. Displaced wealthy families who abandoned their posh Malate homes returned and re-built their private villas and kept the whole district exclusively residential until the 1970s.
There are two sides of Malate, the domain of wealthy expatriates west of Taft Avenue from Pedro Gil street to Quirino Avenue and the lower middle class families east of Taft Avenue.
The once exclusive residential areas on the western portion of Malate started to transform in the 1970s into a commercial area with some big lotted houses and residential apartments being converted into small hotels and pensionne houses. 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.
The western side of Malate across Taft Avenue remains as the quiet middle class homes with several apartment rows converted into dormitories for students enrolled at nearby schools.
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.
In the 1990s, Malate and its neighbor Ermita has been "cleaned-up" and legitimate big businesses have sprouted in the district with the likes of de luxe hotels like the Hyatt Hotel and Casino, the Pan Pacific Hotel,the Manila Diamond Hotel, Sheraton Hotel and the Grand Boulevard Hotel.
Shopping can be done at the Manila's first enclosed and full-airconditioned shopping mall, Harrison Plaza that houses an SM Department store and high-end retailer Rustan's.
Malate, east of Taft Avenue is continiously transforming itself as the center of recreation and entertainment for Manila with more restaurants, boutiques, entertainment halls, bars, discos and novelty stores opening for business. Life in the area that usually starts as soon as the infamous Manila Bay sunset is over and the neon lights, loud glaring sounds are turned-on
The block bounded by the streets; Maria Orosa, Julio Nakpil, Adriatico and Remedios have become synonymous to "street parties," al fresco 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 and managed "Ospital ng Maynila," located at the corner of Roxas Blvd. and Quirino Ave.
Malate is home to several well-respected educational institutions notably De La Salle University-Manila, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, St. Scholastica's College, St. Paul University-Manila, the Philippine Christian University, the Philippine Women's University and for secondary-level education is the Malate Catholic School.
The only public school managed & 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 Gardens.
Taking a leisure stroll 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 al fresco restaurants and cafes and further down south of the path is the exclusive Manila Yacht Club.
In front of the Malate Church or the historical Parish of Our Lady of Remedios is the Rajah Sulayman Park that boasts of a dancing water fountain. Further down Remedio street towards the east is the Remedios Circle that was improved and renovated under the administration of Mayor Jose L. Atienza, Jr. in 2006.
An open playground across the Manila Zoo was also renovated and improved and is now called, the Leveriza Children's Park.
Turn On the Neon Lights
Night clubs, bars and discoteques started to sprout along the Malate portion of M.H. del PIlar, Mabini and Adriatico streets. Upscale restaurants lined-up the corner of Adriatico and Remedios streets with the opening of landmark restaurants like the Cafe Adriatico, Larry's Bar and the Korean Village.
Visual and performing artists found a haven in Malate and in the 1980s, the open and nonexclusive watering hole for artists was Penguin Bar along Remedios Street fronting the Remedios Circle.
For a period of time, Malate was the place where artists, poets, writers, actors, and film industry professionals gathered, where there was no degree of hypocrisy practiced, just the basic rule of "come and be yourself, express yourself."
Despite the reign of a dictatorial regime in the 1970s into the 1980s, the glitzy life in Malate flourished and more into the later part of the 1980s.
Manila's awakening gay community that started in the late 1980s found a welcoming arm of refuge in the Malate district with bars such as the Blue Room, Mister Piggy's and Zoo. Gay impersonators, entertainers, dancers and icons of the fashion industry swayed their hips at the CopaCabana along Adriatico street and for those wanting to see sexy male dancers, one could go to Adam's Apple.
The district is noted for its gay village and is arguably the center of LGBT activities in the Philippines (and perhaps all of Asia). LGBT activity is centered around the area surrounding the intersection of Maria Orosa and Julio Nakpil streets, near the Remedios Circle. Numerous gay-themed and gay friendly businesses dot the area.<ref></ref> An annual gay pride parade is held in Malate every July. The city of Manila is also known internationally for their role in gay rights, similar to San Francisco, California.
- "By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II, 3 February-3 March 1945" by Alphonso J. Aluit (1994) Bookmark, Inc. © 1994 National Commission for Culture and the Arts ISBN 971-569-162-5