Roaming Malabon, Part 4: to the city center

As our day was winding down, our food tripping entourage headed south to Malabon’s city center, or what some may call the poblacion. But we had to make a stopover at yet another of Malabon’s landmark restaurants: the restaurant called Jamicos or what was known before as Judy Ann, which some locals still call it to this day.


So what makes this restaurant special, you might ask? The signage says it all: their special crispy pata all-looking so juicy and its enticing aroma. Some say it’s the best crispy pata experience found in the metropolis.


We then headed to Malabon’s city center, or what some oldtimers would call the poblacion of Malabon, dominated by the towering presence of the shiny new skyscraper that is actually the Malabon City Hall.


But the real landmark in this area is actually the church nearby: the San Bartolome Church with its Greco-Roman inspired architecture with all its Ionic columns, making it look like a number of our civic buildings here.


The parish of San Bartolome in Malabon was first established in 1614 but the present church itself was somewhat younger. The structure we see was completed in 1854, with the columns and the twin bell towers added to it 7 years later. The sight of the church’s unique architecture would make this a familiar and beloved iconic structure for many who were born and have lived in Malabon over the years.


Currently, San Bartolome Church is undergoing a “renovation” of sorts as flourishings are being added to its exterior. It’s a move highly criticized by a number of Malabon folks, particularly heritage advocates as they greatly ruined the church’s old simple yet dignified exterior and removing traces of its old self, so to speak.

“renovation” in progress: a before and after look of the church walls; the old walls at the top and their new look at the lower part
the “renovated” church dome of San Bartolome which I assume is not what it looked like previously
San Bartolome (St. Bartholomew) the saint after whom the church is named

Right next door to the church is the San Bartolome Cemetery which is also undergoing renovations. To those who are interested in old tombstones, things don’t look good if you plan to visit that cemetery one of these days.

at the farther center of the photo is possibly the remains of a wall or little fortress the old San Bartolome Cemetery

Outside the church grounds is a scene of much activity, as expected being the area as the center of Malabon. While there are a number of commercial structures in place there, one particular establishment prides itself as yet another beloved Malabon icon: Betsy’s Cake Center located right across San Bartolome Church.


First opened in 1962, Betsy’s predated the arrival of the more prominent bakeshops like Goldilocks and Red Ribbon. Even with the prominence of commercial bakeries and bread shops in recent years, many folks, especially the Malabon folk, still patronize this little bakeshop not just because of its Malabon roots but its baked products that have enthralled sweet tooths over the years, particularly its legendary broas.


And its other baked products are very good as well.


As our team began to wrap up our little Malabon tour, my knowledge and appreciation of this diverse and interesting metropolis has grown more. It was yet another successful adventure of this urban roamer as I personally got to experience the overlooked beauty of this little gem of a place that is Malabon. With all its faults, Malabon is one of those places in the metropolis with a “culture” of its own, something that is becoming rare these days in places as highly urbanized as Metropolitan Manila. I hope the people of Malabon and others who have come to love this city be steadfast in preserving and promoting Malabon’s legacy and for others to try experience Malabon yourselves. It’s an adventure that changes perceptions.


Click here for the links to the first, second, and third parts of this series.


To those who are interested to know more about Malabon, again I recommend MyMalabon website which has more in-depth content about this city.

Again my thanks to the food tour group I was part in for organizing this trip. If you are interested in doing a little Malabon food tour yourselves and may need a guide, I believe there is a Facebook page for Malabon Food where you can get some help.

© The Urban Roamer


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