Explore Manila! (Quezon City)
A sudden downpour is probably one of the dreaded scenarios of everyone residing in Metro Manila. It would spell out traffic which could mean staying on the road for hours. This is a reality that we now have to deal with here in Metro Manila. We hate it but we can only wait until a concrete solution is developed and implemented.
But Metro Manila has a softer side and the idea to discover these spots was the main objective when I conceptualized project “Explore Manila!” The project gathered a number of Instagrammers and we “walked” the streets of Metro Manila. We wanted to discover what the metro has to offer and we wanted to share what our eyes saw that paints a different picture of Metro Manila.
Quezon City is a large city. It is so large that we had to allot 2 half-days for us to cover most of its interesting sites and still we have a couple of areas that we still need to cover to complete Quezon City. I had to do my own short trips to some of its tourist spots so that I can cover it here in my blog.
Named after the second President of the country, Quezon City is the most populous city in the Philippines with a population that is close to 3 million over a land area of 172 square kilometres. It is the largest city in Metro Manila.
Under the leadership of the former President Manuel Quezon, the city was developed and would later become the capital of the Philippines from 1948 to 1976. It was during this time that the government established offices in the area, some of which remain to still be in use today.
The Quezon City Memorial Circle is the icon of the city. The city has remained in the center of attention of Metro Manila in both politics, commerce, religion, and culture as envisioned by the man who happens to be buried at the center of QC’s iconic structure. Welcome to Explore Kyusi!
Araneta Center is Quezon City’s entertainment center. The 35-hectare commercial area, owned by the Araneta, is undergoing a major facelift over the past years and it gave birth to a more upbeat atmosphere on this part of the city. As the cityscape slowly changes, the iconic Araneta Coliseum remains to be its main attraction. It opened its doors in 1960 and has an audience capacity of 25, 000, one of the largest in Asia.
Adjacent to the SMART Araneta Center is Gateway Mall. The mall is relatively new mall and it houses a wide array of brands that caters to different shoppers. One thing that is unique to this mall is the art exhibit hall on its fifth level. Currently, the art hall houses the creative art works of Filipino artists illustrating the significant historical events of the country. It is a great way to spend an afternoon family time by browsing through history that make us proud as Filipinos.
Quezon City Hall
One of the buildings that commands attention along the Quezon City Elliptical Road is the Quezon City Hall. It is the center of governance for Quezon City. It is the government center that houses the offices of agencies that deliver the basic services to the city’s constituents.
Originally, the city hall was located where the Ramon Magsaysay High School is currently standing along EDSA corner Aurora Boulevard. It was in 1954 when a mandate was given for the transfer of the city hall to its current location. The transfer was delayed due to budgetary constraints and it was only in 1962 when the current city hall was inaugurated and became fully operational.
Quezon City Memorial Circle
The Quezon Memorial Circle is probably the icon that Quezon City is known for. The national park is bounded by the elliptical road and surrounding the park are a number of government offices. The circle was initially intended to be the site of a capitol and later became a park where the Quezon Memorial Monument became its centerpiece.
Within the park are gardens, playgrounds, restaurants, and even a mini-theme park. The park comes alive during the weekends because of the outdoor activities that it offers – Zumba classes and fitness activities are very common in its open spaces while families get to enjoy the park with its playgrounds and its theme parks that offers kiddie rides. Bazaars also attract shoppers to the area. The efforts to make the park accessible through its underground pedestrian lanes and making the park attractive because of the numerous activities are now paying off with the influx of visitors to this national park.
Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife
Adjacent to the Quezon Memorial Circle is the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife – a 64-hectare botanical and zoological park in the middle of the city. The park has a number of wildlife under its care as it also serves as a DENR refuge for confiscated and abandoned wildlife. The park also has picnic grounds and a playground that makes it a good place to spend with the family.
The main highlight of the park is the huge lagoon inside the park. It completes the park atmosphere. The lagoon is surrounded by a driveway which makes it ideal for an afternoon stroll or run.
The park is a great quick escape in the middle of the city if you are looking for some peace and quiet even for just an hour or two.
Santo Domingo Church
The Santo Doming Church is one of the biggest churches in Metro Manila. You will be amazed as to how grand the church is when you step inside it. The simple exterior of the church is a complete contrast to its beauty once inside the church.
Relocated along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, the church was once located inside the walls of Intramuros. It was one of the 7 churches of Intramuros and was the first to be damaged during the World War 2. The post-war rehabilitation saw the church moving to its current location and inaugurated in October 12, 1954. The church is the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila and was also included as a National Cultural Treasure in 2012.
The interiors of the church is highlighted by 8 murals by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco. The murals depict the life of Santo Domingo de Guzman, the founder of the Dominican Order. The stained glass windows is also not to be missed as it also depicts the image of the oldest Marian image of the country.
A museum is also located within the compound of the church. The Santo Domingo Museum houses antique religious artefact like crucifixes, rosaries, and a tabernacle that dates back to the earlier times of Santo Domingo in Intramuros. All of which were spared from the wrath of World War 2.
San Pedro Bautista Church
Tucked within the cityscape of Quezon City is one of the oldest churches in the country, the San Pedro Bautista Church which was founded in 1590. The church was named after the Spanish missionary, Father Pedro Bautista, who was martyred in Japan in 1597. The place served as a missionary house and was also a mute witness to the birth of the country as a nation.
Unknown to us, the unassuming façade of the church actually holds a lot of wonders behind its walls. Behind the church’s frontage is the convent and its courtyard, a peaceful refuge. I did not expect that a huge courtyard exists in the complex. Images of Saint Francis of Assisi are the highlights of its garden and courtyard. The adobe stones of the courtyard will remind visitors of the age of the sanctuary.
Another attraction of the church is the “cave”. The Holy Cave of Saint Pedro Bautista is found underneath the original altar of the church. This is where missionaries pray and contemplate prior to them being sent to their missions. Presently, the image of San Pedro Bautista was installed inside the cave. It also has a series of tableau that outlines the martyrdom of San Pedro Bautista. One can also pray and contemplate inside the cave.
Too bad though that the actual church was undergoing renovations during the visit that did not allow us to appreciate the interiors of the church.
University of the Philippines
The University of the Philippines is the premiere state university of the country and its main campus sits in a sprawling 493-hectare land in Quezon City. Established in 1908, the campus was originally situated in Manila. The post-World War 2 rehabilitation had the administration moving into the Quezon City campus. The symbolic transfer of the UP Oblation from Manila to Diliman on February 12, 1949 marked the development of the campus.
The Diliman Campus is more than just an educational institution but has also been a tourist spot of its own. It has its own share of history etched in its Diliman Campus with most of the historic action during the Martial Law years.
The most iconic symbol of the University of the Philippines is a naked man with outstretched arms. The UP Oblation stands as a symbolic image of offering oneself to the country.
Visitors and guests are welcomed by the Oblation as it stands at the other end of the University Avenue, right at the front of the Admin Building. However, the Oblation that greets us is just a replica. The original Oblation is actually housed on the third floor of the Main Library in campus.
UP Administration Building / Quezon Hall
Completed in 1950, Quezon Hall is the seat of power of UP. This is where the administration offices are located. One of the distinct features of the Quezon Hall is the open space architecture. It looks like a gateway to the campus.
Behind the building is a sprawling lawn that come alive during graduation as it becomes a venue for its commencement exercises. On regular days, the lawn is a huge playground for both young and old. It is also a nice spot to watch the sunset or to just spend an afternoon of contemplation.
Behind the Quezon Hall and Amphitheater is the UP Lagoon. It is an area of dense foliage and has a body of water as its main centrepiece. Although, I would not dare dip my feet on its waters as its water source is waste water. It is a peaceful place to soul search and, at times, it is also a great dating place.
The 4-kilometer stretch that go around the university is a familiar road among runners. The oval is a favorite running spot as the stretch is lined with decade-old trees making running an activity that can be done at any time of the day in campus. It is also a refreshing activity to do because of the cool weather.
The oval has evolved through the years that a lane has already been allotted for runners and cyclist, keeping them safe from traffic.
The Vargas Museum was inaugurated in 1987 by former President Corazon Aquino and it is the home of Jorge Vargas’ collection of artworks and memorabilias. It includes collection of personal papers, stamps, coins, and artworks of the first Executive Secretary of the country.
The first floor of Vargas Museum is used as a gallery for temporary exhibits and for museum events.
The second floor houses the art collections of the Vargas and you will be surprised with his wide collection of artworks from famous Filipino artists.
The topmost floor houses the library and the archives. Another wing is used for photography exhibits.
Every UP student will remember Palma Hall as AS Building, short for Arts and Sciences. This is where students take most of their General Education class. This building is also the venue of the annual Oblation Run where you get to see college frat men run around – Oblation style.
At times, it also serves as venue for art exhibits and student activism movement.
Benitez Hall (College of Education)
The College of Education is one of the oldest buildings in UP Diliman. It was in 1949 when the College of Education was transferred from the Manila campus to its present site in UP Diliman.
Vinzon’s Hall and Bonifacio Monument
Vinzon’s Hall is the university’s student center as it houses the offices of the University Student Council and The Collegian – two of the influential student bodies in the university. It is also two of the student organizations at the forefront of student activism.
Incidentally, a Bonifacio Monument stands at the front of Vinzon’s Hall. The monument bears a historical marker. The monument was originally located at the Cloverleaf along North Luzon Expressway in honor of the heroes of the Philippine Revolution.
Malcolm Hall (College of Law)
Malcom Hall is also one of the oldest buildings in the university having been built during the post-war years. The building was named after Associate Justice George Malcolm, the first permanent dean of the college. The UP Law Library, the largest academic Law library in the country, is also located here.
One of the popular spots in the university is the Sunken Garden. This natural depression, fronting the College of Education, Vinzon’s Hall, College of Business Administration, School of Economics, and College of Law, is a popular venue for afternoon sports and the annual UP Fair. A usual afternoon scene in Sunken Garden involves UP students watching the afternoon pass by while enjoying a conversation over a snack or kids running around the grounds.
A lot of theories have come up to explain the depression but one thing is for sure – that one can enjoy a lazy afternoon while lying down on the greens at UP’s Sunken Garden.
Bahay ng Alumni
The Bahay ng Alumni is one of the convention venues in UP Diliman. One thing that stands out with this structure is its grand design. Our group enjoyed taking snapshots of its façade and its interiors that is highlighted by its stained glass.
Interestingly, the Bahay ng Alumni is also the home of several cafes that are a must try.
Towering at 130 feet, the UP Carillon is the only carillon in South East Asia that is manually played. It was rehabilitated just a couple of years back through the collective efforts of UP Alumni after years of having been silent. Its bells started tolling again in 2007 during the annual Lantern Parade.
A small amphitheatre was also built to give visitors a better view of the Carillon.
Beside the UP Carillon is the UP Theater – the biggest theatre venue in UP Diliman. It has been a venue for various cultural and artistic performances. It has also served as a venue for the annual welcome program for freshmen.
On a regular day, the theater’s front is used as a meeting place for fitness enthusiasts and students.
Post Explore Notes:
I have to admit that Quezon City is a large area to explore and it would take days to explore every corner. In any case, our “Kyusi” exploration has given us a brief on the different facets of the city as a center for commerce, politics, economic activity, and education. It is also important to note that the city government is starting to see the tourist potential of the city with the developments and its beautification efforts.
Now, if they could just put a pedestrian link between QC Memorial Circle and the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife then that would be awesome.
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Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.