Have you ever wondered what you can find in your own backyard?
This is the question that I aim to propose on this segment of my blog. The idea was to discover the interesting spots in my place of residence and work area. This would mean doing my research and working on discovering the sights of my featured place.
I have been a resident of Pasig City for more than a year now and I got really interested in discovering what Pasig City has to offer. Pasig City is one of the oldest towns in the metro. The city started out as a settlement along “Bitukang Manok" and later blossomed to become one of the highly urbanized cities in the Philippines. The city is rich in historical attractions which was enough to convince me to hop on a passenger cab and head off to “downtown” Pasig to feel the romance of the old town.
The town of Pasig was first established in 1572. The name of the city was derived from an old Sanskrit word that means “river flowing from one body of water to another”. The city covers a land area of 31 square kilometres and is the home of one of the Metro Manila’s business districts – the Ortigas Center. The city has its own share in the history of the country and was once known as the capital of the province of Rizal.
Pasig City Museum / Concepcion Museum
The yellow façade of this heritage house stands out along Brgy. San Jose. The house was built in 1937 by Don Fortunato Concepcion, a former mayor of the city, and it is also known as the Concepcion Mansion. It served as the headquarters and garrison of the Japanese during World War 2 until Pasig was liberated on the 19th of February in 1945. It’s historical contribution was recognized by the city that it was declared as one of the city’s historical sites and landmarks.
The government acquired the house in 1980 but it was only recently that it was utilized to serve as the city’s living museum that outlines Pasig’s historical timeline, photo exhibits, and antiques. It would have been a great way to find out more about Pasig unfortunately the museum was closed at the time of my visit.
Plaza Rizal is an open space park right across the Pasig City Museum. The lot where the Plaza is located was originally the site of the first beaterio outside of Manila known as the Beaterio de Sta. Rita de Pasig that was created in 1740. After the beaterio sustained heavy damage during the World War 2, it gave way to the development of the park in honor of the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
Pasiguenos have a strong devotion to Dr. Jose Rizal and the park is a concrete example as to how they pay tribute to his nationalism. Aesthetically, the park is such a welcome relief as there are only a few open space parks that can be found in the metropolis.
At the back of Plaza Rizal stands another heritage house – the Raymundo House. The dark-colored house stands silently in the corner void of any signs of its historical significance. The only thing that will make you stop and admire it is the “bahay na bato” design that is also indicative of its age. I presume that it is privately owned as the public has no access to it. But it was also nice to see that the house is properly maintained by its present owners.
Bahay na Tisa
Another mute witness to the city’s history is a heritage house that sits silently at the other end of P. Gomez Street is the Bahay na Tisa. The house was built in 1850 by Don Cecilio Tech y Cabrera with its roofing made of tiles or “tisa” hence its name. The original roofing was badly damaged during the Japanese occupation and was later replaced by asbestos roofing.
The Bahay na Tisa is the oldest standing heritage house in the city and it also plays a role in Pasig’s rich culture as the venue where they celebrate mass on the Sunday after Easter where the sick people of the town receive communion and benediction from the parish priest. Interestingly, the local government has conferred the distinction of the “Dangal ng Lahi” award to Bahay na Tisa for its cultural contribution to the city of Pasig.
Standing out along Burgos Street is a yellow heritage house known as the Guanio House. The house served as the “Cuarteles del Guardia Civil” or barracks of the civil guard. The house is still being utilized by its private owners.
The old city of Pasig was born along the river called “Bitukang Manok” or was also known as the Pariancillo River. The river is a major tributary of the mighty Pasig River and links the town to the nearby town of Antipolo. The river was also the site of the Asemblea Magna – the gathering of hundreds of Katipuneros in May 1896, led by Bonifacio and Aguinaldo, that gave birth to the rise in arms for Filipino Independence.
Unfortunately, the development along the river has taken a toll on it. It was harder to imagine that a river was once present in the city as Bitukang Manok has been reduced to a small dirty creek with only the historical marker to remind people of its historical significance.
Nagsabado sa Pasig Memorial / Plaza Bonifacio
Plaza Bonifacio is the home of the only sculpture in the country where Andres Bonifacio is riding a horse – a fitting tribute of the local government to Bonifacio for his role in the armed struggle for Philippine independence. Behind the sculpture is the “Nagsabado sa Pasig” Memorial – installed to remind people of the events that transpired in August 1896 when Filipinos gathered to launch an attack against the Spaniards.
Pasig Cathedral (Immaculate Concepcion Parish Church)
The belfry of the cathedral juts out of the skyline of the town center. The cathedral and its belfry is a dominant structure in town, indicative of the role of religion in the city’s early settlement and its development. The congregation was founded by the Augustinians in 1572, about the same time the town was established.
The current structure was built from 1722 and was completed in 1762. It served as a military facility during the British Occupation and was also the venue of the 2nd Philippine Commission in 1901 that gave birth to the provision that created Rizal as a province.
The high ceiling and the white-washed walls of the church’s interior gives an impression of a huge space when you are inside the church. The church is highlighted by a gold-colored retablo with the Immaculate Conception as its central figure.
Pasig City Hall Complex
The thing that impressed me with the local government of Pasig was its effort to make the town center accessible to its constituents. They have constructed elevated walkways that connect the old town center to its city hall and further on to its public market. These walkways are very convenient for public and getting around by foot is relatively easy.
The façade of the 5-storey complex greets you as you walk along the elevated walkways. The newly renovated complex is said to be the first of its kind as it boasts of a rooftop skypark – the Pasig Panorama Park. I was not able to visit the park but the leisure walk through the walkways that snake around the government complex provides a good view of the open parks within the compound.
Well within the premises of the city hall complex is a new hub for the culture and the arts the city. It was formerly known as the Pasig City Convention Center but was recently renamed as the Tanghalang Pasigueno and is the home of a grand theater with state of the art light and sound system and can seat 1, 300 people at one time.
Pasig City Mega Market
Considered to be the largest market in the country with 2, 435 stalls scattered onto the three floors of the market complex, the Pasig City Mega Market was constructed in 1974. Market administrators have effectively managed the market to provide consumers with an organized public market. The first floor was assigned for we.t produce while the second floor houses the dry goods. The central part of the market is an open area where fast food stalls are assigned. Fridays are extra special for consumers as an evening flea market is opened where you can find RTWs at very cheap prices.
You definitely find a different market experience when you visit the Pasig City Mega Market. It is very organized and it is easy to find what you are looking for. The market is also clean , even its wet areas.
Best Discovery: Caruncho Tower / Pasig City Revolving Restaurant
Very little is written about this unique tower that juts out of the Pasig City skyline. From afar, it looks like an observation deck or an airport control tower which may lead you to think that an old airport was probably located nearby.
My research yielded a great discovery during my downtown walk in Pasig City – the Caruncho Tower. The tower was built in 1974 and its topmost floor was a revolving restaurant that offers a spectacular view of Pasig City and its surrounding areas. However, the restaurant ceased operations and the tower was neglected.
It now houses the administrative offices of the Pasig City Mega Market. I tried to seek permission to go up the tower but was told that I needed to submit a letter and is still subject for approval. It is disheartening to see that such a structure had gone to waste and I really hope that the city government can look into giving the tower a face lift and use it as a tourist attraction.
Foodstop: Dimas-alang Bakery
I was looking for some take-home goodies from my afternoon walk and I thought of heading up to the first and the oldest bakery in the city – the Dimas-alang Bakery along Mabini Street. Opened in 1919, the bakery’s name is said to be from the pen name of the National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, which meant “untouchable”.
Food items to try out are the not-so-sweet aglipay, bonete, pandesal, and my personal favourite “di ko akalain”. The shop is open 24 hours.
My afternoon discovery walk in Pasig City yielded a lot of interesting facts about Pasig City. It is good to see and appreciate the efforts of the local government in preserving its heritage sites but a part of me is disheartened for the neglect suffered by the Caruncho Tower which could have been an attraction by itself. It is also amazing to discover something new about my current place of residence and being able to see the beauty of my own backyard.
Getting there: One can take an FX cab from Megamall to Pasig. Fare is at Php20 one way.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.