As of this writing, it is the second day of the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit being held here in the Philippines. It has been the fourth day now that I have decided to stay away from where the APEC action is happening to avoid the traffic and other possible “inconvenience” caused by road closures in Metro Manila. I guess it is safe to say that Manila is currently on a stand-still. Now this was the opposite of last Monday’s commuter horrors where a number of Metro Manila residents had to walk a couple of kilometres just to get to where they can take a ride home.
But let us face it, these things make us hate Metro Manila but it is all part of our daily metro experience. We cannot also disregard that Metro Manila has small pockets of things that we simply love and that we ought to discover AND appreciate. Hence the birth of the “Explore Manila!” project where our goal is to go around Metro Manila to discover these pockets of fresh air within the confines of Metro Manila.
Welcome back to “Explore Manila!”
Pateros is the lone municipality of Metro Manila. It is the smallest among all the administrative arm of the metro in terms of population and land area but interestingly it is also one of the most densely populated area in Metro Manila.
There are two theories as to how the name “Pateros” came about but many believe that it had to do with the ‘duck-raising” industry where the municipality is known for. Mention the name “Pateros” to any Metro Manila resident and the first thing that will come into their mind is “balut”, a native delicacy.
But more than the ducks and its eggs, Pateros is one place where you get to feel the bucolic atmosphere within Metro Manila. It has that charm of a small Philippine town and it was actually a surprise to actually find one that is just about 30 minutes away from EDSA.
Join me and let us walk and explore Pateros!
San Roque Church
At the heart of the municipality is a spiritual haven and refuge for its locals that through countless times, it has seen the glory and pains of history unfold. The San Roque Church that lies along the busy streets of Pateros was established in 1572. The first stone church was finished in 1815, designed by Father Santos Gomez Maranon. Six years later the belfry was added to the church.
Apart from being the center of faith in the area, the church convent also served as a temporary quarters of the country’s first president, Emilio Aguinaldo, in 1897. The church was later damaged in 1899 because of the revolution against American forces. It was also a sight of the gruesome murders of civilians in 1944 by the Japanese forces.
At present, it stands to guard Pateros serving as a symbolic image of how strong the faith of the locals are. Its age is made known by the arc at the entrance of the church’s ground and the historical marker by the church’s front door.
The church’s exteriors are simple and yet remains a dominant structure in the town’s skyline. The interiors of the church is highlighted by a gold-colored altar with the image of the crucified Christ as its centrepiece. The retablo in front of the church have intricate carvings. Apart from that the interiors are simple and void of any fancy.
Pateros Park-Plaza de Borja
Just right across the San Roque Church is the Pateros Park – Plaza de Borja. It is the center of the poblacion where a stage was installed. I guess these is a where people gather for local celebrations and town meetings. The plaza is also surrounded by fastfood merchants and merchandise stalls.
Unfortunately, the plaza was undergoing renovations during our visit and we were not able to appreciate its beauty at that time.
Pasalubong Alert: Alfombra
If Marikina, from my previous blog, is the shoe capital of the country then Pateros has its own brand of footwear that it is known for – the Alfombra. This unique slippers from Pateros is one of the two products that the place is known for. In fact, if you walked the main street of patreos, you would find that there sidewalks were designed with duck images and alfombra.
Alfombra is the Spanish word for “carpet’ which is the main material used for these kind of slippers. Hence, it is one comfortable footwear at home. It comes in a variety of colors and a unique feature of the Alfombra is that there is no right or left slipper so you do not have to worry about wearing it right. Any way is the right way.
The main streets of Pateros are lined with Alfombra makers and it is quite easy to find one when you are in the area. There are some variations from their designs and prices may vary based on the design. It is a great take home product from Pateros. Prices for the alfombra start at Php150.
Pateros Municipal Hall
A block away from the city’s commercial center is the Pateros Municipal Hall. On our visit, the municipal hall grounds were buzzing with excitement from both the young and old. I guess a typical weekend within the compound is the gathering of locals in the area – the old ones enjoying the day under the trees while the younger ones practicing their dances, either for school or for a barangay activity.
The modern structure of the municipal hall dominates the Pateros skyline, together with the San Roque Church. It stands as a guardian to its constituents. Fronting the building is a small open park where a small monument in honour of the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal. While in a small corner of the park is a small monument dedicated to the war heroes of Pateros.
Pateros is almost synonymous to the word “balut” – a native delicacy that claims that only the brave and the adventurous would dare to try. Pateros is one of the areas where the duck industry continuously flourish and from it comes products that it has been known for like fried duck, salted eggs, and the balut. It is the backyard industry for a number of Pateros residents.
I guess Balut is Pateros’ main produce. Balut is cooked incubated duck egg. People might think it is an easy eat but once you see the undeveloped embryo, you might have second thoughts about consuming it. That is the reason why it is said to be eaten by the brave and adventurous. Most Filipinos would not have any qualms eating the delicacy and yet there are still those who would have to take a nudge before even trying it out, including me.
If it interests you, you can check out Herrera Street where you will see most of these stores selling these produce.
Post Explore Notes:
Pateros maybe the smallest in area but, true to its image, it does have a huge heart. It stands more than just the balut or the salted egg. The locals are very warm and are more than willing to help out visitors. It is easy to go around Pateros as everything is close to each other.
If you are looking for a taste of a rural atmosphere, without wanting to leave the city, then you can head of to Pateros and you will easily captivated by its unique charm.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.