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7 cool bits of Philippine history that took place in the ‘City of Firsts’

It’s Araneta Center no more.

The commercial hub in Cubao just rebranded itself to Araneta City, and harking back to all the firsts that had happened there, proudly calls itself the "city of firsts."



Welcoming guests at its recent launch in the Monet Ballroom of Novotel Manila was a small photo exhibit displaying all of the firsts that Araneta City ushered. It was pretty amazing in the most educational way possible.

We mean:

1. Japanese restaurants are now a dime a dozen, but did you know that the first Japanese restaurant in the Philippines opened in the Araneta compound way back in 1967? That’s Matsuzaka House.


Credits: Araneta City Archives
Credits: Araneta City Archives

Cool right?

2. The Araneta Coliseum was the first indoor arena in the country and in Asia. It opened on March 16, 1960 with a boxing match between Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and Harold Gomes. More than 33,000 people witnessed the match, paying P0.80 for a general admissions ticket and P5 for reserved seats.

With a dome that measured approximately 108.0 meters, it was deemed the largest arena in the world when it opened.

3. Neil Sedaka — of "Oh Carol" fame — was the first international artist to perform at the Araneta Coliseum. His concert was on May 4, 1960.


Credits: Araneta City Archives
Credits: Araneta City Archives

3. Myrna Panlilio was the first-ever Binibinig Pilipinas Queen, and she was crowned at — you got it! At the Araneta Coliseum. The year 1964 was when Binibining Pilipinas pageant debuted.

4. Alimall was the first fully-air conditioned shopping mall in the Philippines. It opened in 1976, one year after the monumental Thrilla in Manila.

As we all know now, it’s named after Muhammad Ali.


Credits: Araneta City Archives
Credits: Araneta City Archives

5. New Frontier wasn't just a cinema. It had the first ice and roller skating rink in the Philippines, which opened in 1968. The New Frontier Skating Rink had a capacity of 900 skaters. Wuw.

6. Lighting a giant Christmas tree has become a tradition among Philippine establishments every Holiday season. Araneta has been at it since 1981, when it first lit its giant Christmas tree.

7. Fiesta Carnival is the first all-year indoor amusement center of the country. It opened in 1972 and spanned two hectares. — LA, GMA News