Streets Of Unsung Revolutionary Heroes

Today is National Heroes Day. Normally, we take this opportunity to remember the prominent figures in our history. We usually commemorate the heroism of Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, Jacinto, Tandang Sora, Plaridel, General Luna, among others and their contributions to our history.

Then there are the heroes who were not as fortunate to be as honored as the aforementioned figures. The closest to an honor they would get is a street named after name, as well as a monument if they are more fortunate. Even so, because no one has bothered to educate the people with regards to the identities of the people behind these street names and their contributions to the country, such honors would be in vain as people never get to know to appreciate their role in shaping our country’s history. Sadly, this is the case of many of the streets named after famous and less famous figures in our history.

This National Heroes Day, the Urban Roamer pays tribute to the unsung heroes immortalized in our streets with this humble tribute as we remember the heroism of some of these unsung heroes in the struggle for freedom during the Philippine Revolution. Continue reading


Mabini150: The Mabini Shrine and Museum

Today marks the commemoration itself of Apolinario Mabini’s 150th birth anniversary. What better way to close off this special than a feature on the house that has long been talked about: Mabini’s Nagtahan house now known as the Mabini Shrine in its new and permanent “home” right at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ (PUP) main campus, which is also known as the Mabini Campus.  (even before the move of the shrine) While it may seem odd to find such a house looking out of place in the middle of a busy campus, it does seem to complement the campus in a way, serving as a sort of a quiet spot that is insulated from all the activity going on around it.

Its transfer in 2009 was made possible thanks in part to the efforts of the PUP President at that time, Dr. Dante Guevarra. For the move, the house was actually taken apart and put back piece by piece in such a way that it remained faithful to the original house’s design. In 2010, it was decreed that the PUP site would be the permanent home of the shrine, thus ensuring its legacy from any possible future movements. Continue reading


Mabini150: Mabini and Nagtahan

If there is one place in the metropolis that has a solid association with Apolinario Mabini, it would be the road and the neighborhood called Nagtahan which straddles between the present-day districts of San Miguel and Santa Mesa in the City of Manila.

flyover at Nagtahan, 2014

Nagtahan got its name from a word in Tagalog which means to stop or end. It was named so because in the olden days, Calle Nagtahan was a dead end, ending a few meters before the bank of the Pasig River. Despite that, it grew as a rural suburb of Manila during the late Spanish colonial period as some decided to take residence in the area. One of them happened to be Apolinario Mabini’s brother, Agapito, who married a woman belonging to a somewhat landed family, the Del Rosarios.

Continue reading


Manila’s first flyover

It is said that during the late 1930’s, at a time when Manuel Quezon served as President of the self-governing Philippine Commonwealth, he was keeping a mistress who lived in what was then the affluent district of Santa Mesa. So he would pay her a visit from time to time on a strict timeframe, something which was of convenience as well since he also maintained a residence in the area. (as well as some other prominent Filipinos during the prewar period)

One day however, in one of those visits, Quezon and his entourage was stopped by a passing train along the railroad tracks that intersected Santa Mesa Boulevard. Being in a hurry and his strict timeframe cut short, Quezon was fuming mad at that incident that he ordered the Public Works office to have an overhead bridge constructed along the boulevard, built over the railroad tracks, for the benefit of the passing vehicles. Continue reading


Some quick love in the city: Santa Mesa’s “motel row”

Disclaimer: the following contents of this entry may contain some “inappropriate” ideas or language, in which the urban roamer apologizes for but deems them necessary for the entry. Be guided accordingly. Thank you!

If you’re a first-time visitor to this part of Manila, to this part of Santa Mesa in particular, you might be surprised to see a row of establishments offering budget accommodations, considering this particular area is not really much of a tourist destination but more of a commercial/residential/education zone of sorts. The area that is come to be known as the “motel row” of Santa Mesa, which, for good or ill, what makes this district stand out from the rest of the city apart from the PUP Campus which incidentally is located nearby.

Santa Mesa’s motel row: along V. Mapa, Old Sta. Mesa, Valenzuela and Reposo Sts.

So why the curious presence of these establishments? You will find out a bit later. First things first though, I have to note there is some sort of a misnomer to the term “motel row” given to this area.


Town and Country: one of the more “established” names in the motel row

You see if we go with the actual definition of a motel being a “hotel for motorists” (thus the word “motel”) then some of the establishments here do not fit the motel category but more of the “budget hotel” type, with some parking space instead of garages for vehicles to park.


this particular establishment in motel row does not offer a garage like a regular motel

But here in the country, or in the metropolis to be exact, the definition of a “motel” means something else in connotation. Here, the “motel” has become synonymous to a place where couples (doesn’t matter if they’re in a relationship or just some fling) spend a little for privacy and intimacy, you know those things your morally-conscious mother or your church will not approve of.


Truth be told, almost all of these establishments on the Santa Mesa motel row are in the business of primarily catering to, or taking advantage of the need of these people to satiate these desires. Some of them have been there for a long while since the 1980’s. And with all the promotions they’ve set up along the way, and in big bold letters too, it seems these businesses are doing pretty good.


Pinoy Pamilya Club Hotel: the only establishment in the area that does not offer “short time” rates. formerly an Anito Motel

Of course moralists can only be frustrated at all this. Not to mention other people who are genuinely concerned about their proximity to PUP and other schools nearby. In fact they have tried to put a stop to these “short-time stay” offers of these establishments, only to be stopped by the Supreme Court because it is “unconstitutional.”


As ambiguous and debatable as to how the motel in the Philippine setting has affected our culture in any way, there’s no doubt that the “motel culture” here as it’s called has become part of our unique overall Filipino culture. While not as much evident as other aspects of Filipino society,  it will be a long shot to get rid of this culture. As for Santa Mesa’s “motel row,” there’s little doubt they will be still be there for a foreseeable future, fulfilling those “special needs” of “intimacy” and “privacy” for some people in the midst of a chaotically colorful city and enriching our city’s unique culture, for good or bad.


a motel named Ligaya or “happiness” in Filipino. you might have some ideas as to what kind of happiness is being experienced here often

© The Urban Roamer