I find myself in Pasig on a weekend. And it’s because I don’t want to leave yet following a foray into Kapitolyo that goes futile after the restaurant I’m supposed to visit turns out to be closed on Sundays. But I’ve been to Kapitolyo a few times before and now I’m ready to pull away from this popular barangay, so I head east of the Marikina River to a neighbood where the historical heart of the city is located.
There’s a small town vibe especially in Plaza Rizal at the western end of Caruncho Avenue. Vendors fill the narrow sidewalks going to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, or more popularly known as Pasig Cathedral, with jeepneys and tricycles whizzing past by. A man in his sixties sits on a bench looking longingly at the Pasig Museum, a former mansion that now houses exhibits detailing the city’s history. A couple of young girls run across the plaza to look into the towering statue of Rizal, whose right arm points towards the cathedral across the street. The city’s rich history is evident here, and artifacts of what once were are visible wherever you turn your head.
Pasig was once a rural settlement inhabited by Muslim communities before it was founded as a municipality by Spaniards in 1573. The town saw the construction of churches and houses, a few of which still stand today, and became witness to various historical events, such as several meetings and revolutions of the Katipunan. The town was then incorporated into the newly formed province of Rizal at the turn of the 20th century becoming the provincial capital. Pasig eventually became part of Metro Manila as part of the Metro Manila Commission created in 1975 by former President Ferdinand Marcos.
The city is now commercial, with the emergence of the Ortigas Center, but it remains mainly residential and industrial, with many neighborhoods housing quaint restaurants and shops. In a park behind the city hall, time seems to slow down.
The sun is lighting up the sky, casting an ethereal gold onto the grass and the trees. I spot a family taking shade under a tree, indifferent to the harsh rays of the early afternoon sun, refusing to leave the tranquility of the area. Here is a Pasig I’ve never seen before, far different from its business districts and malls. Sometimes the places we go to truly hold surprises, which they reveal only to those who dare look for them.