What made Pasig thrive in the olden days was the bustling commerce especially along the riverbanks. Apart from the presence of the Pasig and Marikina rivers, a number of tributaries also contributed to Pasig’s growth. One of those tributaries would be the river flowing across the town center, the one locals call the “Bitukang Manok” or “chicken’s intestines” due to the river’s wormlike shape.
It was also known as the Pariancillo River, and in its heyday, the river served not only as a center for trade but also an important transport route as it served to link the town to Antipolo. Bitukang Manok would more importantly play a role in history when it was chosen as the site of the Asemblea Magna, (the great assembly) a large gathering of 17 bancas boarding the hundreds of members of the Katipunan movement called upon during the first week of May, 1896 by the Supremo Andres Bonifacio and a Cavite leader named Emilio Aguinaldo. (yes, they were chummy back in those days) What made this gathering significant was that it formalized the intent of the movement to wage an armed struggle against the Spaniards for Philippine independence.
Three months later, the armed struggle was to begin in full swing, and the area around the river would again play an important role. It would be from this point that Pasig Katipuneros would launch an attack on the Guardia Civil barracks which was located near the present-day plaza on a Saturday, August 29, 1896. With meager weapons and courage in their hearts, they managed to successfully overwhelm the Guardia Civil forces and get some of their weapons too in the process. These Katipuneros would later march to fight with Bonifacio in what would become the Battle of San Juan the next day. For the meantime, the historic event would become known as the “Nagsabado sa Pasig,” (Sabado here is Saturday) immortalized in a memorial across the plaza.
Unfortunately, the Bitukang Manok has not fared well in recent history due to the commercialism and changing topography as it reduced the once historic river into a shallow creek, though there have been recent attempts to revitalize it by cleaning it up and setting up walkways on both sides of the river/creek.
Across the plaza and the Nagsabado memorial is one of the most popular landmarks of the town center, which should probably not come as a surprise. This would be the Catholic Pasig Cathedral or the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. This would happen to be the first Catholic parish dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which was founded in 1573. The present church we see was built between 1722-1760 and is the oldest stone structure in Pasig. Apart from its usual role in Catholic exercises, the church would also serve as a strategic military facility by the British when they occupied Manila from 1762-64, as well as the site when the Second Philippine Commission would meet on June 5, 1901 to discuss the organization of a civil government in the country and pave way for the establishment of Rizal province as well.
Across the church at the south of Plaza Rizal was the site of the first beaterio or religious congregation founded outside Manila, the Beaterio de Sta. Rita de Pasig in 1740. The beaterio was destroyed during World War II and reconstructed thereafter to be the site of what is now the Catholic Colegio de Buen Consejo.
to be continued…
© the Urban Roamer