City of Manila

The heritage of Pandacan (Part 3 of the Pandacan series)

For a district with a 300-year old history as Pandacan, it should come as no surprise to see Pandacan figure prominently in our history in one way or another or to see fragments of its old history surviving in the midst of the many changes this place has faced.

If there’s one foremost claim Pandacan can make in our history, it would most likely being the birthplace and hometown of one of the champions of the Filipino secularization movement in the Catholic Church and eventual martyr, Father Jacinto Zamora. Not only was he honored by having not just one street after him, a park was also built on the approximate site where he was born.

the site of Fr. Zamora’s birthplace is now a park-playground

Another Pandacan pride is Maria Paz Mendoza-Guanzon, a medical doctor, feminist, philantrophist, and writer who happens to be the first Filipina to graduate in the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1912. She also holds the distinction of being the first female member of the UP Board of Regents, not to mention the first to write about her autopsy findings on “bangungot” or nightmares. In her honor, a major thoroughfare in the district which used to be known (and still is to oldtimers) as Otis St. (named after the former American military governor of the Philippines Elwell Otis) as renamed in her honor. In addition, there is a park set up Plaza Azul in the middle of Quirino Avenue that was set up in her memory.

this monolith sculpture in the middle of the island park along Quirino Avenue is dedicated to the memory of Paz Mendoza-Guanzon

Another piece of Pandacan heritage can be found just right across the Pandacan Church. This happens to be not just any preserved old house, but rather the ancestral house itself of the famed Romualdez clan. Yes, the same Romualdez clan that is known today as Leyte’s prominent political family and also the family that gave the “Imeldific” former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos herself. It is said the Romualdez clan were originally an illustrious clan based in Pandacan before they relocated to Leyte. In fact, the Romualdezes used to own a large sprawling garden by the Pasig River before it was given to the government and converting it into what we now know as the “Malacañang Garden.”

It should also be no surprise to see Pandacan having a character that is proudly unique to this part of the city. One aspect of a unique Pandacan culture of sorts is the Buling-Buling, (which I have written before) the dance dedicated to the district’s patron the Santo Niño or the Holy Child that they dance to every year during its feast day. But perhaps the most visible example of Pandacan’s unique character would be the presence of the non-air conditioned buses rather than a jeepney that would serve as the prime means of public transportation to and from the city center and downtown area.

© The Urban Roamer


  • Tricia Bergman

    I am interested in finding out more about the original owner of what has been known as the ancestral home of the Romauldez clan. I am the great grand daughter of the original owner who was Mr de Jesus. There have been a few different versions of how this property came about to belong to the Romauldez family as I have been told over the years. This side of our family history seem to be a dead end. I have lived overseas my whole life and now would love to know more about our family history. If there is anyone out there who may be able to enlighten me with any information about Mr de Jesus and this house it would be very appreciated.

    • j.a. de jesus

      hi tricia. My mother ‘s maiden name is de jesus and grew up in jesus st pandacan manila. Growing up I heard stories from my grandmother how our ancestor,a de jesus was once very rich but because of gambling debt have to sell the big house to the romualdezes.

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