Taguig of today has this weird dual identity. On one hand, there is the Taguig that we know of, teeming with skyscrapers and bustling business and commercial activity. On the other hand, there is the quaint, if busy, old town feels at the heart of the city, remnants of its pre-BGC past as a farmer and fisherfolk community, as well as other homegrown industries like hopia-making.
Given its meteoric growth as a city, it’s hard to reconcile both aspects of Taguig. But not for Taguig itself as it embraced these at times conflicting identities with a monicker it has given itself: the “probinsyudad”, a portmanteau of the Hispano-Tagalog words “probinsya” or province which denotes rural environment and “siyudad” or city, denoting the urban environment.
But being more familiar with the city side of Taguig, what does the “provincial” side of Taguig like? For that, we go to Barangay Santa Ana, the old Taguig proper.
The “”probinsya” of the “probinsyudad”
Firstly, I would be tempted to say that one should not confuse Santa Ana in Taguig with the district in the City of Manila that bears its name. But the truth is, both places have some other striking similarities. Both were named after the mother of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who herself is venerated as a saint in the Catholic faith. Also, both places are situated near the river. In Santa Ana, Taguig’s case, that river is the Taguig River, which has become part of the lives of the people not only in day-to-day activities but also during festivities.
One can tell this part of Taguig feels quite “rural” with the narrow roads and sidewalks there. Unfortunately, the roads have been expanded as much as they could so vehicles would have to navigate the mostly two-lane roads.
As with many communities in the country, the centerpiece of this place is the Catholic church, the Taguig Church, or officially the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Anne. It is the site where Taguig was born in 1587 when the Augustinians established the parish dedicated to the aforementioned St. Anne. The one we see today is church number three, a Baroque-inspired structure built around 1883 after the previous two were heavily damaged by earthquakes in 1645 and 1882.
Right across the church at the right is Plaza Quezon. While there are other structures spaces in the country named after the Commonwealth era President Manuel Quezon, what makes this public space unique is that it was given that name in 1937 while Quezon was alive and president. Reportedly, Quezon did not really want to have his name on the plaza, but at the behest of the people, he accepted it eventually.
There are some old houses still standing in the area, though many of them have suffered from neglect and some in danger of being demolished.
Some structures have managed to withstand the changes in the area, especially with the creeping urbanization happening around it. One example is the Gabaldon building of Taguig Integrated School, which has remained standing since it was constructed from 1917-1928. It now serves as the school’s museum where various artifacts from the school’s history are displayed and preserved.
The future of the “probinsyudad”
As was touched upon earlier, Taguig is intent not only in marketing itself with having the best of both worlds as a “probinsyudad” but also in ensuring that both aspects are preserved as a way to honor its past and embracing the future at the same time.
That being said, the reality is achieving such a balance is a constantly difficult struggle to address, especially for a city that has grown so fast as Taguig. In fact, it has been facing the problems typical of places in the midst of urbanization. Big commercial developments are beginning to sprout around it, like a mall which is just meters behind the old cemetery and its famed “simboryo“, traffic becoming heavier which is not helped by the narrow roads, the threat facing a number of old structures as was mentioned previously.
One can only hope that Taguig can succeed in preserving its unique “probinsyudad” character, while being able to address the growing needs of such a city in boom. Such an overlooked character of a bustling city at that deserves to be preserved for the appreciation and inspiration of future generations, especially those living in the midst of the busy, chaotic metropolis.