Long before Fort Bonafacio was transformed from a military facitlity to a bustling commercial and business district, it was the area of Tipas that long served as the “claim to fame” for the then-quiet suburban town of Taguig. After all, it was home for that famous, homegrown recipe of hopia, the mung-filled flaky pastry introduced by Chinese immigrants from Fujian.
But Tipas has some things more to offer than its tasty hopias. We’ll get to those in a bit, but first some history.
A once massive barrio
One source says that Tipas was one of the original barrios that made up the town of Taguig when it was established during the Spanish colonial period. in 1573. However, another source says it was originally part of Pasig and was eventually transferred to Taguig arount the 1800s.
While the Tagalog dictionary defines “tipas” as a “diversion” or “escape”, Tipas actually got its name from the word “tinagpas” or “tiga-gapas”, meaning to cut or break, which illustrated that most of the people there before were farmers, who would cut through their rice crops in harvest.
The old Tipas was a huge barrio, so huge that in the 1920s, its residents petitioned to have the barrio become a separate town from Taguig, a request eventually refused by the authorities. However, in 1974, Tipas was split into the four barangays that we know today: Ibayo-Tipas, Ligid-Tipas, Palingon, and Calzada. We have actually talked a bit about Calzada before as it is where Iglesia Ni Cristo founder Felix Manalo was born. And two of these barangays are considered today as the main centers of interest in the old barrio.
Ligid Tipas: the old barrio proper
In the context of the old barrio, Ligid Tipas was where the center of the old Tipas was located. Even today, one can sense that it is a center of commerce of this part of Taguig at least, with a number of commercial and religious establishments found here.
One renowned religious building found here is the Catholic church of St. John the Baptist, better known by its other name: “Dambanang Kawayan” or “bamboo shrine”. Built in 1969, yes, the church was built out of bamboo and bamboo-inspired elements, providing a mix of native and modern art beautifully blended into one.
Right across the church is the plaza which was dedicated to the revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio, whose Katipunan movement counted a considerable number of men hailing from Tipas. It was also a site of a gruesome event on December 1, 1944. On that day, 300 men were rounded up by Japanese forces in the plaza and were taken to the prisons of Fort Santiago, many of them never to be seen alive by their loved ones again. A memorial marker was placed in the plaza as a memorial.
Ibayo Tipas: the hopia epicenter
If Ligid is the center of commerce, Ibayo is the center of industry because this is where the renowned Tipas hopias are made.
The hopia industry in the area is a fairly recent one, having begun in the late 1980s thanks to the efforts of Belen Flores, the proprietor of Tipas Bakery. She began making hopias in 1988, as a way to compete with the established hopia-makers based in Manila Chinatown while making them affordable for the common folk. The people loved it and many began to flock to her bakery. It also spurred neighbors to manufacture their own hopia. And thus an industry was born.
Still a prominent area
While the area of old Tipas has found its importance dwindled somewhat thanks to political subdivision and the emergence of Fort Bonifacio, it still remains an area that has helped shape Taguig to what it is today. One can bet that the continuing story and legacy of the old barrio will still linger on this emerging city for years to come.
Acknowledgements to the Taguig Heritage Society for their time and help in taking me and fellow volunteers and members of my organization through a Taguig immersion tour held last February