The metropolis hustles and bustles early morning as most of its residents rush to work hoping that they could get to work on time. Traffic slowly crawls along EDSA while the long lines getting onto an MRT crawls beside it. This same scenario recurs in the late afternoon as the sun sets in the Manila Bay horizon. We can expect that it would still be the same, and hoping that it won’t get worse, the next day.
Welcome to Explore Manila!
No matter how bad things may be in this bustling metropolis, we love Metro Manila. The rich colors and flavors of Metro Manila offsets the not-so-good side of it. And you have to admit that Metro Manila has a lot of interesting pockets that would definitely pique your curiosity. That is what we aim to discover with my project “Explore Manila!” We would like to give you a glimpse of what makes this metro a lovable place.
We were all exhilarated with the freebies that we were getting from our Pasig exploration. Talk about good timing! We came in at a time when Pasig City was gearing up for their annual festivities of its foundation that, at one point, we found ourselves aboard a horse-driven carriage being toured around the city town center, complete with police escorts. We looked and felt like VIP tourists at that time.
Pasig City is one of the oldest communities in Metro Manila. Prior to this city being a center of business and growth, Pasig started out along the banks of “Bitukang Manok” – a creek that also played a critical role during the Philippine Revolution. Most of the economics and history of the old Pasig was centered on “Bitukang Manok”.
At present, Pasig City has turned from a small community into one of the major business districts of Metro Manila.
Food Stop: Dimasalang Bakery
Our first stop is the oldest bakery in the city. The bakery opened its doors in 1919 under the ownership of Ambrosio Lozada. It adapted the name of our national hero’s pseudonym – Dimas-alang, which means “strong and always ready”. The bakery evolved to be part of Pasiguenos daily lives with its daily offerings of breads and pastries. Its bestsellers include pan de sal, bonete, aglipay, and the “di ko akalain”.
We had our own share of goodies when we visited the bakery and I also tried their turones which is a thin bread rolled and had fillings in it. I got chocolate and pineapple and it was good. A definite food stop when you find yourself in the old town of Pasig.
A short walk from Dimas-alang Bakery is a cenotaph honouring the great plebeian, Andres Bonifacio. The monument that stands near the town center of downtown Pasig is the only monument where you will find in the Philippines where our hero is on a horse.
Behind the cenotaph is a wall that bears the names of Katipuneros who participated in the “Nagsabado sa Pasig” – the first victory in the revolution.
This now dead creek was once the waterway where the town of Pasig once thrived. It was where the city roots its birth as this body of water was once the center for commerce of the old Pasig. It is also the mute witness to the fateful “Nagsabado sa Pasig” event where Katipuneros gathered for an uprising on August 29, 1896 against the Spanish forces. The event would later on be recognized as the first victory of the revolution.
Too bad though that with the development of the city, Bitukang Manok was reduced to what it is now – an old dirty creek.
The Pasig City Museum
The first time that I had a walking tour in the Pasig town center, I was not able to check out the Pasig City Museum as it was undergoing renovation. As luck were on our side during our exploration, we were able to check out the museum and got some VIP treatment in the process.
The Pasig City Museum is housed in the Concepcion Mansion, a heritage house at the heart of the old Pasig town. Built in 1937, the house not only served as the home of the prominent Concepcion family but was also used by the Japanese as a headquarters and detention center during World War 2. It was also where the American Flag was raised in 1945 signifying the liberation of Pasig from the Japanese. At present, the museum is a good stop if you want to learn more about Pasig City’s history and rich cultural heritage.
The museum walks you through the rich history of Pasig starting from the time of its early occupants along Bitukang Manok until its development into a city. Notably, they have a strong reference to “Nagsabado sa Pasig” event – the first victory during the revolution. The exhibit features a relief of the event and a narrative that eventually led to the victory of the Katipuneros.
The museum also houses the collection of artifacts and memorabilias of prominent Pasiguenos, outlining their numerous contributions to the rich history and culture of the city.
Just right in front of the Pasig City Museum, is an open space park dedicated to our Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero. The park is complete with park benches and it is a good area to actually just sit down and watch the town buzz around. The park is a good vantage point where you will get to see the town center in a 360 degree view.
Just right along the main street, you will find the markers dedicated to Jose Rizal and the great honor that Pasiguenos bestow unto him for his role in the country’s freedom against Spanish rule. It is also interesting to know that Pasig was once the designated capital of the province of Rizal. It was only in 1975 that Pasig became part of Metro Manila.
Bahay na Tisa
The Bahay na Tisa is the oldest “bahay na bato” in Pasig City. The house is called as such because its roof was originally made from tisa and was changed only into asbestos after it was damaged during the war.
The house was also known as the Freedom House during the Martial Law years as it was the venue of political meetings during that time. And apart from its political history, the house has religious significance for the city. The “Bahay na Tisa” opens its doors every Easter Sunday for the sick to visit the Sto. Nino de Pasion and receive communion.
Colegio del Buen Consejo
Jus within the town proper is another historical site recognized by the National Historical Institute – the Colegio del Buen Consejo. It is one of the oldest private schools in the city. It also served as a refuge for Pasiguenos during the World War 2 and was damaged during the liberation. It was rehabilitated in 1948.
The Pasig Cathedral is one of the oldest structures in the city. It was founded in 1573 and coincides with the establishment of Pasig as a town. It is also known as the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral and it is the first Marian church in the country.
The church is a prominent structure in the old town of Pasig and, just like a sentinel. It has watched over the town for centuries and up to this day.
Pasig City Hall Complex
As I have previously mentioned in my previous blog, I was quite impressed with Pasig’s government complex because of the ease of access because of the overhead pathways from the town center to the city hall and then further on to the public market.
The city hall complex also has a lot of open air parks where locals and visitors can enjoy a lazy day. What really caught our attention was the Tanghalang Pasigueno, the city’s center for the culture and arts.
From our vantage point, I could actually see that the Caruncho Tower was also going through a facelift. I hope that this meant that the government is now focusing on making the tower useful for the city’s tourism. I hope that the tower will also be accessible to tourists and visitors soon.
Post Explore Notes:
I have to say that our Pasig exploration was one of the most exciting that we have done. It must have been our good timing as we came in at a time of festivities. The city government offered us free snacks and a kalesa ride around town, which was the one that got all of us excited. It was a great experience for all of us and it was nice to know that the city government of Pasig have also laid out plans to push the city’s tourism projects.
It was one of those out-of-the-blue conversations that later turned into a ruggedly outrageous adventure where we suddenly conquered a destination that we were not physically prepared for. What made us go through the whole thing was our sheer love for travel and that cool company of IG friend that push you to the limits and yet you come out smiling from the trip. It was one hell of a trek but, in the end, it was all worth it.
On The Road
It was already 6.30am and, with me at the driver's seat, I knew that it was going to be a long and exciting day for us. I remember the conversation that I had the day before when we suddenly decided to head off to Tanay, Rizal and conquer the off-beat destination of Tinipak River. There were no plans to head off anywhere that weekend and all we had was the travel bug hitting us all at the same time. So on the very last minute, we all decided to just head off to a destination that piqued our interest for the longest time.
Touchdown: Rustic Daraitan
Peaceful and beautiful, I was totally captivated by the beauty of Daraitan - the jump-off point to Tinipak River. The three hour drive was a leisure drive through verdant greens and rolling hills of Rizal, not to mention the rough road that would later bring us to these peaceful community.
Imagine being greeted by a rustic scene of a community enjoying a lazy Sunday by the river. Families having a small picnic in small huts while the kids play around the shallow waters of Daraitan River. On one side, you can see a family of ducks paddling together, not mindful of the visitors arriving and chatting excitedly. It was surreal.
Daraitan is comfortably tucked along the mountains that border Rizal and Quezon. It is a sleepy town that marvels itself with one of the cleanest rivers in the country and an amazing landscape that will keep you in awe, every step of the way.
It is the first stop if you are heading up to Mount Daraitan or if you are trekking to Tinipak River. One will be amazed with the makeshift wooden bridge that you need to cross to get to town where you need to register. After the registration, a guide will be assigned to you. The town was buzzing with activity and the locals seems to be used to having visitors around especially during weekends.
Before we started the trek, we prepared everything that we needed to bring. As I have already mentioned, we were not prepared so we had to go through everything on the last minute. We bought water, light snacks, and lunch. It would also be nice to have a flashlight with you because if you intend to enter the cave, you would need the flashlight.
On the Trail
Half way through the trek, I was getting excited with amazing views that was unfolding right before our eyes. The rugged beauty of Daraitan and Tinipak will never cease to amaze you from the start of the trek down to the end. Rock formations of varying sizes will challenge your creativity. The bigger rock formations and grand mountain ranges will make you realize how small you are compared to the vast landscape of the Sierra Madre Range.
There are a couple of camping sites found along the riverbed for those who intend to spend a night or two in the area. One of the camping sites that we stopped over was close to a spring where fresh, clean, and potable water flows from a mountain source. Our guide mentioned that the stream was the locals and campers main source of drinking water so I did not waste my time, emptying my water bottle to fill up with water. I guess our guide was right about it being potable as my tummy did not have any violent reaction when I started drinking it.
As we neared Tinipak River, our group had to navigate a narrow path that sits along the ridge of the mountains. Locals have set-up steep wooden stairs along the mountains walls with rails for easier navigation of visitors. Our guide was quick to remind us to take extra precaution because one wrong step and we will fall off the ravine.
Tinipak River and Cave
The river flows through a bed that is bounded by huge white rocks on both sides. Small coves can be found along the river where one can pitch a tent or take a rest to enjoy the beauty of nature. Every now and then, you would hear a scream of delight followed by a splash of water. Our guide told us that there is a part of the river where one can test their guts by jumping off a cliff onto the river. Too bad though that I was not able to try it out.
I was amazed by the white rock formations surrounded by the lush green forests of Tinipak River. It was quite a treat for me who like to enjoy being close to nature. We found ourselves a place under a huge rock that would serve as our “shelter” during our brief stay in the area. Yeah, talk about going back-to-the-basics kind of trip. The clear waters of the river looked so inviting that I decided to take a dip. The ice-cold water of the river was a refreshing treat after the hike and I really enjoyed just feeling the water run over my body and listening to its gushing. A small pool was created as a basin where people can enjoy its waters.
A five-minute uphill trek will also lead you to a small opening. Our guide told us that the opening leads to a cave where a pool is also located where one can also take a dip. Our adventurous side took over us so our group decided to take on the challenge to explore the cave.
Traversing the cave can be quite a challenge as it requires a great deal of balance and one needs to be cautious of the jagged rock formations inside the cave. It would also be a huge help if you have a dependable flashlight that you can use a sit will help you navigate through the cave easily. As the cave is small, it can only accommodate a certain number of visitors at one time so local guides have to queue their visitors prior to getting in. It is also a good way to preserve the cave’s interiors.
The cave has a single opening for its entry and exit. Getting in and out can be quite a challenge so be extra cautious. The sound of rushing water greets you as you enter the main cavity of the cave where a small catch basin allows visitors to take a relaxing dip. The water flows from deep within the unexplored area of the cave and rushes out to join Tinipak River downstream.
As we prepared to head back to Daraitan, I remember getting excited for the hour trek back because I would be enjoying the river and mountain views from a different perspective. This kind of nature trips always excited me.
It was nice to see Daraitan and Tinipak River just as it is about to take traction on the tourism front. It is a great weekend getaway for those wanting to escape the city life even for just a couple of hours. The untouched beauty of Daraitan and Tinipak River is something that we could all enjoy and I hope that the local government can establish a sustainable livelihood plan for the community that will not only showcase the beauty of their place but also preserve it.
Getting there: One can take an FX van to the town of Tanay from Shaw Boulevard. From the Tanay Public Market, one can hire a tricycle to Daraitan. Heading back, one can take a trike from Daraitan to Tanay and take an FX back to Manila.
If you are taking a car with you, you can head off to Antipolo via Ortigas Avenue. Turn right once you see the Ynares Center and go all the way down J. Sumulong Road until you reach the Manila East Road. Turn left and head towards Laguna area. Once you are in Tanay area, you turn left along Sampaloc Road and drive along the highway until you reach Marcos Highway. You turn right along Marcos Highway and then left along the Makaira-Daraitan Road. There are signs along the way so you will not get lost.
Travel Time: 2-3 hours to Daraitan.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.