Pasig City was always in the news a couple of months ago because of the efficient and effective way Mayor Vico Sotto has been handling the city’s COVID-19 concerns. Online, many expressed their desire to move to Pasig because of this. But if you ask me why I love Pasig, its because of its numerous old houses.
My personal favorite is the Bahay na Tisa. Built in 1846 by Don Cecilio Tech y Cabrera, it is the oldest existing house in the city and Don Cecilio’s direct descendants still live in the house. The Bahay na Tisa is home to the Santo Niño de Pasion. On Sundays after Easter, those who are sick gather inside the house to receive the Holy Communion and the benediction of the Parish Priest (Viatico Publico). The Bahay na Tisa was also called the Freedom House during Martial Law because both pro and anti-Marcos groups could use the house as a venue for meetings. It also served as the San José Barangay Headquarters at one time.
But what makes Bahay na Tisa familiar to most people is that it is an often used location for TV and movie productions. In fact, one of the movie projects I worked on, Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay, was shot in this house. We used it as the residence cum funeral parlor of Kathryn Bernardo's character. I remember exchanging stories with the director, writer, actors and crew about eerie moments they experienced while shooting in the house. Which made me love the house more. I would even spend my breaks at the azotea where the breeze was cooler. One of our crew members told me there used to be snakes living underneath the azotea. Well, I never got to see one while we were shooting there.
In 2009, the local government of Pasig City conferred the “Dangal ng Lahi” award to Bahay na Tisa for its cultural contributions to the city. One hundred fifty four years after the house was built, Bahay na Tisa was declared by the National Museum as an Important Cultural Property.
The Bahay na Tisa was not the only house that caught my attention when I recently went on a morning stroll around Pasig. Beside the Plaza Rizal is the Concepción Mansion, which is now the Pasig City Museum. It was built in 1937 by Don Fortunato Concepción, a former mayor of the city. During the Second World War, the Japanese used it as their headquarters and detention center.
On another side of Plaza Rizal is the Raymundo House, which has capiz windows on its two sides that face the streets. According to Tutay Raymundo, this was her family's ancestral house. Her great-grandfather, Julio Raymundo, was the first Mayor of Pasig. Julio's son, Cipriano, also served as a mayor. A lady named Liz Selavan Odnumyar recalls that the house used to have a bakery, Panaderia El Pasig, on the ground floor. The bakery was said to have been founded in 1913. Interestingly, Baltazar Raymundo, who founded the Panaderia El Pasig, was the brother of Teresa Raymundo, whose daughter, Felisa Santos, owned Panaderia Dimas-Alang (more on this later). Rolando Magallon, a former baker of Panaderia El Pasig, said that the bakery closed down in the 1990s. The Raymundos of Pasig are related to the Raymundos of Pateros.
A little bit further from the Plaza Rizal is the Guanio House, which served as the Cuartel del Guardia Civil in 1894. It was built in 1881 by Don Apolonio Santiago y Domingo, a former gobernadorcillo of Pasig. When the revolution against Spain broke out, suspected Katipuneros were said to have been brought to the house where they were imprisoned and tortured.
Along Mabini Street is Pasig's oldest existing bakery, the Panaderia Dimas-Alang. Famous for its pan de sal, the bakery has been selling bread and other pastries since 1919. I read in an interview with the current owner, Manolo Lozada, that the bakery started much earlier as Panaderia Dos Hermanos. It was only in 1919 when it was renamed Panaderia Dimas-Alang after the pen name of Dr. José Rizal. The bakery was actually destroyed during World War II. Manolo's parents, Felisa Santos and Lucio Lozada, rebuilt it after the war.
There are other interesting houses near the city center. The Santa Ana House looks similar to the Concepción Mansion. It has a relief of Dr. José Rizal with the motto, "Aut Vincere Aut Mori (Either to conquer or to die)". My favorite house is the Alba-Javier House, an early 20th century house with steps on the side leading to the second floor. It is not in the best condition currently as the house has been repurposed as a car wash shop. I just hope the owners of these old but beautiful houses would continue taking care of these prized structures.
The actual oldest structure in Pasig City is its church, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. The Augustinians built a church in Pinagbuhatan in 1572, but frequent flooding forced them to move to Malinao (the current site) in 1573 where they built another church. The first stone church was built in 1575. It was initially consecrated to the Visitation of Our Lady, but it was changed to the Immaculate Conception (the patroness of Augustinians during that time) in 1587.
According to the 1937 Historical Research and Markers Committee marker installed on the church, this religious structure was used by the British during their occupation of Manila as part of their defense system against the Spanish and Filipino forces. In 2003, the church became a cathedral with the establishment of the Diocese of Pasig.
The cathedral was under renovation when I visited, so I was not able to see much around. Its museum was also closed at that time. After this community quarantine, I will definitely return to Pasig to visit the cathedral again.
Near the church is the Colegio del Buen Consejo, which is under the administration of the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation. (My aunt, Sr. Petronila Egalin, OSA, never told me about this.) One of the oldest private schools in Pasig, the Colegio del Buen Consejo was built on the site where the former Beaterio de Santa Rita de Pasig stood. In 1740, Fr. Félix Trillo, OSA, founded the Colegio de Madres Agustinas, a school for girls, with the assistance of Pedro and Rita Quijano.
According to the Historical Research and Markers Committee installed in 1937, the British occupied the building along with the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and other public buildings in the 1760s. An 1880 earthquake greatly damaged the building. Mo. Consuelo Barcelo, OSA established the Colegio del Buen Consejo in 1909, with a Filipino sister, Sr. Térésa de Jésus Andrada, OSA heading it. During the Second World War, the residents of Pasig sought refuge in this school. It was bombed to the ground during the Battle of Manila. In 1948, the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation rebuilt the school.
Here are a couple more beautiful things about Pasig City: aside from its cathedral and old houses, it has two well-maintained open spaces—the Plaza Rizal and Plaza Bonifacio. The former was said to have been called Plaza de la Paz, while the latter seems to have been moved to its current site (behind the Concepción Mansion) quite recently because most photos show it at the junction of Mabini Street and Antonio Avenue.
In front of the Plaza Bonifacio is the Bitukang Manok or Pariancillo River, now an almost dried-up creek. It used to link Pasig with Antipolo for the transport of goods and people. This creek, though, played an important role in the revolution against Spain. A popular story says that the Asamblea Magna, a gathering of hundreds of Katipuneros, happened on this waterway with the Katipuneros aboard bancas. The more plausible version of the story is that Andrés Bonifacio and his men secretly entered Pasig through the creek, and the Asamblea Magna was held at the house of Valentin Cruz in San Nicolás.
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That meeting led to the attack of the Katipuneros against the Spanish detachment in Pasig, which allowed them to capture the Tribunal and the headquarters of the Guardia Civil. This happened on August 29, 1896, a Saturday. Thus, Pasigueños remember that historic event as "Nagsabado sa Pasig.”
At the point where the Pasig River meets the Marikina River, one will see the ruins of the old Rizal Provincial Capitol. Built in 1910, the original Capitol was designed by William Parsons. It was the country's first reinforced concrete government office. At that time, the Capitol could be reached through the Pasig River or through the Meralco electric train line. Damaged during the Second World War, it was never fully rebuilt as the new capitol was built at the Kapitolyo rotunda along Shaw Boulevard in 1962.
Beside the ruins of the old capitol is a large warehouse that looks like a hangar or quonset hut. This area was called AMPARTS because the American Machinery Parts company had its operations in that area.
Here’s hoping Pasig City or Rizal Province has plans to restore the old capitol and use it for something that would benefit the residents of Pasig.
Photographs by JP ABELLERA. Follow The Time Trekker on Facebook.