Situated along the banks of the rivers Pasig and San Juan, quite removed from the busy and traffic-laden streets of Manila’s Santa Mesa district is a community (more like a subdistrict or a sitio of sorts) known as Bacood. Bacood’s name comes from the Tagalog word “bakood” which would mean either an elevated area or a cane plantation. It has been said that the area back then served as a plantation for various crops. But in the early days, Bacood was known as Cordeleria, a Spanish term for a shop that sells ropes. This was because the place back then was the center of rope-making and selling activity in Manila and in surrounding suburbs. One of those people who owned such a business was a Katipunero named Sancho Valenzuela, who would soon lead a failed assault against the Spaniards at the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution in 1896 and became one of the first martyrs of the Revolution. His memory now since invoked in the naming of the street that leads to Bacood.
Today, there are no traces left of the once-flourishing rope-making industry there, save for a street which is a Tagalog term which meant “a place for ropes:” Lubiran.
A railway also used to serve Bacood which once traversed to Mandaluyong. (and way before, all the way to Antipolo and Montalban) That line has been abandoned since the 1970’s, with this narrow unnamed street (pictured below) now built over the steel railways, serving as a remnant of Bacood’s railway past. Bacood of today is now is a quiet, residential enclave of sorts, mostly composed of middle class households. One can spend time here marvelling at the architecture put into place for these houses, especially the new ones. The eastern part of Bacood has most of its streets named after Tagalog/Filipino words for values like hardworking, (Masikap) strength, (Lakas) purity, (Dalisay) and honor. (Dangal) The western part of Bacood on the other hand has most of its streets here have been named after various justices (magistrados) in the Supreme Court’s history like Cayetano Arellano, (the first Chief Justice) Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo, Jose Abad Santos, Mariano Albert, Carlos Imperial, and Ignacio Villamor. Bacood boasts and rich and varied religious heritage. Apart from the Our Lady of Fatima parish which serves the predominantly Catholic population, a Philippine Independent Church parish (Good Shepherd Parish) and a Buddhist temple are also serving the area.
Bacood also serves as the home (the”Great Love Campus” as it’s called) of the Tzu Chi Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by a former Buddhist monk in Taiwan. Interestingly, this structure used to be the old Manila Boystown and Girlstown complex, which has now moved to a larger facility in Marikina City. (curiously though it is still being run by the Manila City government) Below is the Bacood Park located along Valenzuela St. The park is located in an awkwarrd place as it looks an island surrounded by roads and seas of vehicles especially during rush hour. There is also a playground, the one known before as the Paraiso ng Batang Maynila. Sure there are slides, seesaws, swings, as well as some roof-covered benches there, but the location of the park may be considered seedy for anyone who is used to the regular open space and green playgrounds. Currently, there’s an ongoing construction at the end of Lubiran St. of a bridge that would connect Bacood to Mandaluyong City, sort of a future alternate route to the traffic-laden Sevilla Bridge linking Santa Mesa to Mandaluyong. Let’s just hope this gets finished soon for the sake of commuters such as myself who have been suffering the traffic there for so long. That concludes this Urban Roamer’s Bacood adventure. I know there’s not much to see in the place, but as this post has shown, the place has a colorful history of its own that I hope present and future generations will learn to appreciate. Till the next roaming adventure. ©The Urban Roamer