Quezon City: History and Art along Katipunan Avenue

00 1890s Katipuneros
1890s Katipuneros

My previous articles have revolved around the Ateneo de Manila University, which can be found along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. Presently it has been renamed as the C. P. Garcia Avenue, after the 8th President of the Philippine Republic (Carlos Polestico Garcia 1896-1971); however everyone still refers to the road as “Katipunan”. The road was named after the revolutionary group, the Kataas-taasang, Kagalang-galang na Katipunan ng mga Anakng Bayan or Katipunan (KKK), that was formed by Andres Bonifacio in 1892, who declared independence from Spanish rule over the Philippines. The history of the road stretches all the way back to the Spanish Occupation (1523-1898), at the latter part of the 19th century when the Katipunan rebels would traverse the forested area to get to such historically significant places such as Banlat, Balintawak and Pugad Lawin. The Katipunan Road was later developed along with the formation of Quezon City, and the subsequent transfer of the Ateneo de Manila, from its Padre Faura campus in the late 1940s.

Katipunan Avenue stretches around 7 kilometers from Temple Drive in the south, to Tandang Sora Avenue in the North. The southern point of Katipunan Avenue is Manila Philippines Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was constructed between 1981 and 1984, being the first temple of the Mormons in the Philippines.

Just a few meters from the Manila Philippines Temple, along Temple Drive, is the Usong Norte Community Center. t was built in 2015, and at the courtyard stands the monument to the 12th Mayor of Quezon City, Ismael A. “Mel” Mathay Jr. (1932-2013), by the Marikina based sculptor, Jonas Roces.

The southern portion of Katipunan Avenue runs through a shaded strip, which is pocked with residential subdivisions with names such a Loyola Heights, Blue Ridge, Xavierville and White Plains; which were developed by Ateneo alumni who wanted to live closer to their alma mater. On the western side of that route is the wall of the Logistics Command of the military base, Camp Aguinaldo, named after General Emilio Aguinaldo (1869-1964), the 1st President of the Philippines. Along that wall, there are many gardening shops and restaurants that have opened, which cater to the nearby subdivisions. Some of these gardening shops even sell concrete casts of saints and angels, which were probably taken from molds of works by famous sculptors such as Anastacio Caedo and IsabeloTampinco.

The Katipunan Avenue cuts through the middle of the Barangay Escopa area, and continued with a bridge over Aurora Boulevard. At the crossroad of Katipunan and Aurora stands the Monasterio de Santa Clara. The monastery was established in 1621, in Intramuros, Manila. It was later moved to Katipunan Avenue in 1950. Many devotees bring eggs as a sign of devotion, and in hopes of clear weather on a special day of choice, such as a wedding.

01 1949 Blue Eagle Gym, Ateneo De Manila 2
1949 Blue Eagle Gym, Ateneo De Manila

Moving north and crossing past Aurora Boulevard, the first thing once would notice is the Blue Eagle Gym, of the Ateneo de Manila; which was built in 1949. The Ateneo de Manila University campus is a complex of educational and cultural structures, which include the Ateneo Grade School (AGS), the Ateneo High School (AHS), Ateneo Colleges and dormitories, the Manila Observatory, the Church of the Gesù, the San Jose Seminary and Loyola House of Studies, and the Ateneo Art Gallery, just to name a few. There is a great collection of artworks throughout the campus, including many public sculptures by Anastacio Tanchauco Caedo (1907-1990) and Juan Sajid de Leon Imao (born 1971).

05 2015 12 Uchi no Neko, Cat Cafe
Uchi no Neko, Cat Cafe

While the east side of Katipunan Avenue is dominated by the academic institutions of the Ateneo de Manila and Miriam College, the opposite side is filled with many business establishments and restaurants, which cater to the local residents and the student population of the many schools found nearby. One interesting place was the Uchi no Neko or Cat Café, which had closed down recently.

Other business establishments were once homes, which were converted to restaurants that catered to the growing student population in the area. Aside from the main road of Katipunan Avenue, the residents of the nearby streets have also converted their homes into business into cafes, restaurants, laundromats, dormitories, mini-marts, and other business. At the corner of Senator Esteban Abada  (1896-154) and Bienvenido M. Gonzalez (1893-1953) streets is an interesting sculpture of the Bulul rice god, of the Ifugao people, smoking a cigar.

1996 Center for Culinary Arts (1988 Cravings Bakeshop)
1996 Center for Culinary Arts (1988 Cravings Bakeshop)

Another long time establishment is the Center for Culinary Arts (established in 1996), which had grown from the humble Cravings Bakeshop (established in 1988). Now-a-days, the Cravings Group of Companies has opened restaurants all over the city and in a few provinces, and the Center for Culinary Arts stands as one of the first major culinary schools in the country, with a several branches in Metro Manila.

At the nearby Varsity Hills subdivision, the Our Lady of the Pentecost Parish stands as a secret gem in the Katipunan area. Designed by Arch. Vincent Martin VeepeeBondoc Pinpin (born 1967) in 2003, the church is a quite respite from the chaotic traffic of Katipunan Avenue. Inside the parish are sculptures by Juan Sajid Imao (born 1971) and the National Artist, Napoleón IsabeloBillyVeloso Abueva (1930-2018).

After the Ateneo grounds stands the Miriam College campus. Established in 1926 when the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic of Ossning developed a teacher-training program for women in the Malabon Normal School. Some sisters joined the exodus to Quezon City, and in 1952 the Maryknoll College was formed. With the subsequent turnover of ownership and management to lay administrators, and the exit of the Maryknoll sisters, the school changed its name to Miriam College in 1989.

Further north and right after Miriam College is the La Vista Subdivision, which was developed in the late 1940s and 1950s. It is home to many prominent people in Philippine business, entertainment and politics.

Across the La Vista Subdivision and hidden under thick vegetation is the U.P. Parish of the Holy Cross, which was erected in 1961. It is a non-Catholic church that is connected with Iglesia Filipina Independiente or better known as the Aglipayan Church. Most Ateneans and Maryknollers are unaware of the existence of this church, because of its unassuming architecture, which is further hidden by a thick grove of trees.

Immediately after the La Vista Subdivision is the Sta. Maria della Strada Parish, which is a Catholic Church that was erected in 1981. One of the interesting features of this modern church is the marble altar table that used by Pope John Paul II during the beatification of San Lorenzo Ruiz.

10 2013 U.P. Town Center
2013 Benoy Architects – U.P. Town Center

Moving northward is the U.P. Town Center, a commercial shopping center which was designed and opened by Benoy Architects in 2013. This is a project of the Ayala Land Corporation in conjunction with the University of Philippines (UP), which owns the land. The area used to be occupied by the U.P. Integrated School, and is now on least for a 25 year period.

At the north end of Katipunan Avenue is Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) complex, which is comprised of the Balara Filters Park and the MWSS Administration Building complex. The Balara Filters Park was originally the Balara Filtration Plant, which was first constructed in 1938. The MWSS Administration Building was built in 1980, and was designed by Arch. Gabriel Papa Formoso (1915-1998). Inside MWSS complex is a great collection of sculptures and paintings, which started during the 1950s when Fermin Yadao Gomez (1918-1984) was commissioned to create sculptures for the nearby Balara Filters Park and MWSS office in Manila, and accumulated with the first lady, Imelda Romuáldez Marcos (born 1929) commissioning many artists to create works for the new MWSS complex in 1981.

In front of the MWSS Administration Building is a replica of the Carriedo Fountain, which was created by the National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva, in the 1990s. The Carriedo Fountain was created in 1882, to commemorate the work of Don Francisco Carriedo y Peredo (1690-1743), who conceived and raised funds to develop the water system of Manila. The fountain was originally located at the intersection of what are Legarda, Lacson and Magsaysay street in Sampaloc, Manila. However the fountain was transferred to the MWSS Administration Building plaza in the 1970s, to coincide with the construction of the building. In the 1990s, the mayor of Manila, Alfredo Lim (1992-1998 term), requested that the Carriedo Fountain be returned to the city. The MWSS administration agreed to the request, and commissioned Abueva to create the replica to replace the original fountain. Presently, the original fountain is now located at the Sta. Cruz Plaza, in Manila.

April 2017, Alvin Montano Exhibit, Galeria Alvero
April 2017, Alvin Montano Exhibit, Galeria Alvero

Aside from the art collections housed at the Ateneo de Manila Art Gallery, the Miriam College’s Gallery of Women’s Art (GAWA), and the MWSS Administrative Building, there are many art galleries along Katipunan Avenue, for visitors to keep abreast with what is happening in the Philippine art scene.  Art patrons can ttravel the road to visit the 888 Art Gallery, the Blanc Gallery (founded 2006, and opened in 2013), the Crimson Art Gallery, the Galeria Alvero (opened 2017), and the Vongarde Art Gallery (opened 2016). In this photograph, I am posing with the artist, Alvin Montano, during his solo exhibition at Galeria Alvero, we are hold up a magazine with National Artist Jose Joya on the cover, as I was his student assistant, while Mr. Montano was a student in the same class.

Katipunan Avenue has been a home to many people over the decades, yet many of the new and old-time residents seem oblivious to the artistic wealth found within the various institutions along the road, and even more unaware of the richness of the history of this street and the establishments that dot its expanse. Yet time will tell, if people will discover these treasures, and celebrate the shared heritage of the Katipunan Avenue communities.

Katipunan Avenue

 

 

 

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