Mandaluyong City lies at center of a heart-shaped triangle of Manila, Makati and Quezon cities. Called the “New Tiger”, her ideal location southeast of Manila, west of Pasig, proximity to Makati, San Juan, and with her own structural quantum leap to progress, makes this prime area, a leading business and industrial mecca of the region. Previously, an old stagnating,
swampy town of a few people, her postwar rapid growth makes her, today, a booming city, a haven of industrial giants, businesses and investments. Foreign and local investors found in her, a conducive ambience for capital growth, where deluxe hotels, commercial centers, high-rise buildings, residential condos, newer homes, etched a taller skyline with vibrant economic activities. Mandaluyong has birthed heroes during 1896 revolution, remembered in Tatlong Bayani monument at Bonifacio st., while a liberation marker or Liwasang Katubusan at Kalentong st. salutes WWII war dead.
A larger-than-life monument of the Blessed Mother, sculptured by lady artist Anita Magsaysay Ho, stands tall along EDSA, infront of Robinson Galleria, to mark 1986 people power revolt. The elegant Abbey at Shaw blvd. is residence of Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila. The Correctional Institute for Women, old buildings of the Mental Health hospital, caring for psychiatric patients for the whole country, are located on lush greenery. Cultural galleries as Laban ng Hiyas, Galleria Duemila,
Contreras Sculpture, Final Art File, showcase old, historical, modern furniture, arts, relics, and Churches as old San Felipe Neri, along Boni ave., site of bloody battles between Filipino rebels and Spanish soldiers, are all points of historic and aesthetic interests. Don Bosco, formerly a seminary and Japanese army headquarters, is now a leading vocational school. Wack Wack golf and a country club, atop a hill, recently renovated, is a premier golf course, a landscaped oasis in the city, where many business deals are sealed between games. Beautiful old and new homes gild the course. SM Megamall, spread out in 2, 4-level buildings with parking garage, is the country’s premier air-conditioned shopping haven where tourist, shoppers and gawkers, flock to shop, relax, escape the summer heat, sit on corridor benches, amid colorful tiled floors, perhaps wondering at times, how the great Henry Sy, one of nation’s great building heroes, put it all together. Other giant shopping centers, are EDSA Central, Manuela 3 complex, The Market Place, Shangri-La hotel and plaza, Crossing, Rustan’s dept. and other posh stores. Emerging skyline of Mandaluyong is richer with EDSA Shangri-La, Byron EDSA, St. Francis square, offers fine eating places, as Mario’s, Barrio Fiesta, Kamayan, Annabels, and Saisaki., where fine cuisine maybe enjoyed. World-class theaters abound, as in SM mall with 12 cinemas, Manuela, and Amor cinemas. United laboratories, along Pioneer st., Abbott, other drug firms, Puyat steel and other factories, are based here. Boni ave., Kalentong, and Shaw blvd., lined by many stores and offices, are major arteries that cut and wind through the city. LRT elevated stations, tracks, and flyovers at Shaw blvd. at EDSA, fill up with people and cars everyday.
Pasig, capital of Rizal province, is a city of over 3,000 hectares, spread along banks of Marikina and Pasig rivers that meet and cross here. Legend of Pasig relates that during the Spanish era, Virgilio, a Spanish mestizo, and his beauteous Filipina sweetheart, Paz, went boating one evening, as they often did, when their boat capsized. The young lad, unable to swim, and being pulled away by a strong current, desperately kept afloat, but failed. As he was drowning, he cried out to his sweetheart, “Paz, sigui mi!” or “Paz, come with me. . .!” Alas, fate was less than kind and he was drawn further out into the river. Historians had traced the name of Pasig to the sanskrit word “passis” or sand, referring to sandy river banks. Other word is “mapaksik” used by Chinese, to mean “mabagsik” or strong and cruel, as the river current was. Common belief is that the name was derived from “pasigan” , or river bank. A linguist and a professor once wrote that Pasig derives from sanskrit word that means a river flowing from an open body of water to another, as Pasig river flowing from Laguna de bay to Manila bay or vice-versa. Spanish designed Bahay na Tisa, venue for art and cultural pageants, attract tourists. Church of Immaculate Conception elegantly sits on plaza square, and the Concepcion multi-story mansion, used by Japanese and American armies during WWII, was converted to a public library and museum. At the electric company’s landmark building on Ortigas ave., Meralco theater, presents shows, plays and seminars. At the ULTRA gym, foreign and local artists perform, and sports events as basketball, are played. Assemblea Magna, a marker of Phil. revolution, stands at Univ. of Life campus. Doña Geronima’s cave, along banks of Pasig, is rich with folklores. Excellent lodges, hotels, inns, fastfoods and diners, make easy eating for tourists on the go. Dev. Academy of the Phil., consular offices, San Miguel garden pyramid offices, Renaissance Towers, tall bank buildings, new skyscrapers, form newer skyline of the region, visible from a distance. New garden subdivisions as Kapitolyo, Valle Verde 1 to 6, Corinthian, Green Meadows, country and sports clubs, churches, new hospitals grace the city. Ortigas ave., C-5, Marcos highways, vibrant with shops, are busy thoroughfares. Many industries, as Mariwasa tiles and warehouses, are located here.
Las Piñas, one of earlier towns proclaimed in 1700’s by Spanish gov’t, was once a fishing village, a historic battleground of the 1896 revolution. During American occupation, Las Piñas formally gained her status as part of Metro Manila. From the early 70’s, she blossomed as one of progressive cities of the region. Bounded by Parañaque, Cavite towns of Imus and Bacoor, and by Manila bay, half of her land was developed for residential homes, the other half for commerce and industries. Salt-making was once a major industry when salt beds lined her shores, but the newly built Coastal road, extension of Roxas blvd., and projects that reclaimed valuable real estate out of Manila bay, cut down salt beds to only a handful. Nature Church with a perpetual Adoration Chapel at the back, is built on a 4,000-sq meter mango orchard along an old road. New schools as the Tamayos’ Perpetual Help Univ. enliven the town with youth. St. Joseph’s church preserves for posterity, world-famous Bamboo Organ, the only one of its kind, known for its rare and melodious tones. Every year, a Bamboo Organ festival is held where visitors from far and near and schoolchildren take part to appreciate it. Sarao, an old jeepneymaker, help make Las Piñas, production center of the colorful jeepney. Entertainment, shopping at modern malls, as SM, Uniwide, Manuela, Gotesco, RFC, Coastal road, and convention centers, are many. For a highly urbanized city, aura of quaint, refreshing rural charm, fresh air and breeze from the bay, underline the treasure of life in Las Piñas. Scenic views of the bay and horizons at a distance, colorful rooftops of old homes, apartments, condos, inns, dotted with palms and trees, make cruising along the coastal road and flyovers, pleasant and enjoyable.
(Eds note: Writer is author of 2 best sellers: “Embraced by Sun” and “In the beginning: A Nation. A President.”)
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