In the midst of a hot day in March, I decided to make a quick city exploration in the metro. I haven’t really done any urban hike recently and the heat of the dry season wasn’t exactly giving me the eagerness to explore. This time I had to push myself to explore the city dubbed as the “Gateway to Metro Manila”.
Pasay City was once part of a confederation known as Namayan. Its name “Pasay” was believed to be from the name of the child to whom the former ruler bequeathed the territory. The territory was renamed twice - the first was “Pineda” during the Spanish period and the second was in 1947 where it was renamed as “Rizal City”. In both cases, locals moved to revert it back to its old name.
The city blossomed from being a rustic beachside barangay to a progressive city in the metro. It is the city that welcomes you if you are arriving Manila by air. It is also home to one of the biggest malls and the biggest cultural venue in the country. It is a destination that has fused history, culture, and urban vibe in one progressive city. Join me as we go out and explore Pasay!
Sta. Clara de Montefalco de Pasay Church
Founded in 1864, the Sta. Clara de Montefalco de Pasay Church is the oldest church in Pasay City. It was dedicated to the St. Clare of Montefalco, a saint under the Augustinian order. The city’s dedication to St. Clare started as early as 1611 when Pasay was still under the jurisdiction of the parish of Malate. It was only in 1863 that the parish of Pasay became independent from Malate.
The church stands majestically sandwiched by the urban architecture of Pasay. Its facade stands out with its stained-glass windows and its three arched doors. The belfry stands adjacent on the left side of the church bearing six bells. Its interesting how the church perfectly blends with the structures around it.
The impressive doors of the church opens up to the elegant interior of the church. Its high-ceilings gives the church a fresh and peaceful vibe like a sanctuary. A crucified Christ stands as the altar’s main centerpiece and adjacent are the two saint honored by the parish. The church strictly follow health protocols. It only allows a limited number of church attendees inside the church so make sure that you come early when you plan to hear mass.
Pasay City Sports Complex / Derham Park
The Pasay City Sports Complex is a sports facility located along the FB Harrison St. The rundown facility has a swimming pool and basketball courts that locals can access. It is also home to some of the local government offices. During the pandemic, it was converted into an isolation facility for COVID patients.
At the front of the facility is the Derham Park. A monument, complete with a historical marker, honoring Manuel Colayco. He was born in Pasay, served the country during World War 2. He died after being fatally wounded during the liberation operations at UST. The monument gives honor to Pasay’s local hero.
Bulwagan ng Lungsod ng Pasay
The Bulwagan ng Lungsod ng Pasay is the center of local governance of the city. This is where the local officials hold office. The city is governed by a Mayor, with a Vice Mayor who heads the legislative council. The council is composed of 12 councilors and barangay and youth representatives.
The city hall stands along the busy FB Harrison Street and most local government offices are within the same area. The modern design of the city hall complements the urban landscape of the city. Although, do not be fooled because the city has a number of historical sites under its wing.
School for the Deaf
Tucked along the Harrison Street, the School for the Deaf is the only government institution for the deaf in the country. The idea to establish a school to cater to our visual and hearing impaired Filipinos started in 1907 by Dr. Barrows and a deaf teacher Miss Rice. It would become the pioneer in handicap education in the country and in Asia.
The present location of the school was a lot donated to the program. The school was later re-aligned as a separate school for the deaf and was renamed as the School for the Deaf. The school later evolved as a resource and research institution for the deaf.
The Henry Hotel Manila
Amidst the buzz of the city, there is a unique and serene hotel that was once a post-war mansion. The vintage hotel is popular for its vintage style houses with a touch of art-deco. The sprawling compound is a relaxing sanctuary right smack in the middle of a busy city network.
You would be surprised with how big the property is when you enter its gates. A driveway leads to the main receiving area and the first thing that caught my attention were the plants and trees that surrounded the area. The greens complemented the wooden structures and it gave that homey and peaceful vibe.
The Henry Hotel has a restaurant, a pool, and a sprawling garden that its guests can enjoy. It does not give off that hotel vibe but it seems more like a home where you can enjoy a quiet afternoon reading a book or taking a dip in the pool. I think that it is a good place to take a break and detach without living the city.
Cartimar Shopping Center
The Cartimar Shopping Center is popular among pet lovers because of its pet shop alleys. I have heard about Cartimar but it was only when I heard about a coffee shop that I got interested with checking it out. From FB Harrison, I took a trike to this old-time shopping center in Pasay.
Long before the emergence of big malls, Cartimar was the place to go in the 70’s and 80’s for PX goods and clothes. It was the go-to place of Makati residents for fresh produce. It was once home to 1000 stall tenants with some of these shops getting the lift on their start-up businesses here.
The shopping center has lost its vibe after having to compete with the emergence bigger malls in the metro. It still remains to be the preferred area to shop for pets and supplies if one is willing to travel all the way to Pasay. The stalls are still lined with different merchants offering clothes, shoes, and other merchandise. The pet stores, though, have a lot more activity. Some would probably feel nostalgic walking along its alleys but a lot needs to be done to keep Cartimar within the radar of consumers.
Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex
Initially conceived in 1966, the CCP Complex is one of the legacies left by the former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. It is an 88-hectare reclaimed land along Roxas Boulevard that was developed as a tourism and cultural hub in Metro Manila. Post-Marcos development saw its expansion linking it to the Bay City project, a 1500-hectare reclaimed land in Manila Bay.
The complex has a collection of 60’s and 70’s structures designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin. At the forefront is the Tanghalang Pambansa that houses the main offices of the CCP and three performing arts theaters - the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino, and the Tanghalang Huseng Batute. This is the most iconic among all the structures as it serves as the “face” of the CCP Complex.
At the far end of the CCP Complex is the Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas or more popularly known as the Folk Arts Theater. The theater is a covered amphitheater that can accommodate 8500 spectators. Again, it was designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin and was built in only 77 days just in time to host the Miss Universe pageant in 1974. The concert venue, since then, has hosted various events and concerts of Menudo, Janet Jackson, and local artists.
The Philippine International Convention Center or PICC is another Leandro Locsin-designed building in the complex. It was the first international convention center in Asia to be inaugurated in 1976. It has hosted both national and international business conferences, meetings, and social events.
Other pertinent structures in the area is the Manila Film Center, the Sofitel Manila, the Coconut Palace, and the metro’s amusement park Star City. The plan for the area would see the development of 6 areas/clusters that was supposed to be built by phases in 10 years. As of this writing, the project has still to be started or completed.
Mall of Asia
A trip to Pasay City is not complete without visiting the Mall of Asia. The mall is the largest in the Philippines and the third largest in the world. Located along Bay City, it is home to a total 663 tenants. It also has a sunset promenade, an amusement park, and the MOA Arena.
I am really not a fam of malls but one thing that I love about the SM MOA is its sunset promenade where you get to enjoy the breeze and the views of the famous Manila Bay sunset. The promenade is perfect to catch the sunset after a full day of going around the mall or before catching up with friends over dinner. One thing that I would like to try though is watching the sunset while aboard the MOA eye. Anyone willing to join me?
POST TRAVEL NOTES
From a seaside barangay to a progressive city, Pasay City has grown leaps and bounds through the centuries. I guess it is one of those cities who have lost its old town charm as it embraced development and progress. Don’t get me wrong, the city still has pockets of history but the vibe that managed to get fused with its development is from the 70’s and 80’s. One thing that is distinct though was how Pasay has managed to fuse history, artistry, and urban vibe in one city.
Exploring the metro has given me a glimpse of how cities embraced progress. While some managed to keep the old town charm, there are those that managed to completely embrace development that it gave the city a different personality. It’s these changes and fusion that make each destination unique and it is that unique trait that attracts more travelers to visit. What makes your place different?
Getting there: You can take the LRT 1 and go down at the Libertad Station in Pasay City.
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Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.