Pasig: Near the Riverbanks

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.

The Pasig City Hall, left, stands at the eastern end of Caruncho Avenue. Right, pedestrians walk in the City Hall Pedestrian Bridge, which extends from the city hall compounds to the Caruncho Avenue overpass.
Formerly the Pasig City Convention Center, the Tanghalang Pasigueño is a large auditorium that functions as an arts and culture center.
The Pasig City Central Park & Garden behind the City Hall provides a lush recreational venue for locals.
With the sun searing down on a weekend afternoon, locals enjoy the shade at the Pasig City Central Park & Garden

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 belfry of the Pasig Cathedral peeks through as seen from Plaza Rizal.
Left, Dr. Jose Rizal’s statue stands at the center of the park bearing his name. Right, a jeepney waits for passengers at the loading area beside the park.
The Pasig City Museum, which is currently closed for exhibit set-up, was a former mansion used as a headquarters of the Japanese during World War II.
Left, the Pasig Cathedral, which was first built in 1575, is one of the oldest structures in the city, and is considered the first Marian parish in the Philippines. Right, the Bahay na Tisa, which was built in the 1850s, is the oldest stone house in Pasig. It was nicknamed Freedom House due to it being used as a meeting place during the Martial Law years.

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.

2 thoughts on “Pasig: Near the Riverbanks

  1. I missed that place, especially the Tanghalan. The last time I reached that area was 2011, when I attended a cosplay competition incidentally sponsored and organized by the Pasig City government. 😦

    1. I see why this place is easy to miss. I wasn’t able to enter the Tanghalan, though. There seemed to be some event and I didn’t want to risk the guards shooing me off, especially since I was carrying a DSLR and I didn’t have any business being there. Hahaha.

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