Jai Alai Manila, the Sky Room and lost memories

Manila Jai Alai building. Photo source: I took a photo of this from a collage of photos of old Manila on the wall of a Chinese restaurant and can’t find any credits on who originally took this picture.

This is where Dad used to play during his pro pelotari days. An elegant Art Deco structure that has been part of Manila’s history for as long as I can remember. Its Sky Room was also once the playground of the elite back in the City’s glory days.

The Manila Jai Alai building and its Sky Room got torn down along with some of our best childhood memories. I thought it was supposed to give way to a structure for either the City government or for the Judiciary and it would’ve been great for the city if that were the case and would have been a better compromise to losing it than this eyesore of a residential condo that would soon, had it not been for this online petition and the City council’s resolution, rise and be forever stain the background of Rizal monument.

Grandma ran a restaurant in the parking area at the back of the Jai Alai and one of my aunts would tell us amusing stories of how Dad literally grew up in this building, learning how to play, breaking a few windows of the building as he learned the sport and eventually playing pro and becoming one of its most celebrated players during the 1970s up to the 80s. It must have been heartbreaking for him to see it being torn down.

We used to spend quite a lot of time there as kids and I still have vague memories of the route we take when going there going through Ayala bridge or through Taft Avenue during the day when it was still closed to the public and also at night when its lights illuminated the sky behind Rizal park.

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