To the northwest of Commonwealth Avenue, in Quezon City, is the Batasan Hills District. The area was once part of the Old Balara, until it was established as a barangay (the smallest local government unit) in 1983. The vicinity was named after the Batasan Pambansa (National Parliament) Complex, which was constructed in the area in 1977, and now is the home of the Philippine Congress.
The barangay was once called Constitution Hill, when Quezon City was declared as the new capital city of the Philippines, in 1948. And the cornerstone of the capitol building was laid in the Batasan Pambansa site, in 1949.
The first major structures of Batasan Hills are the St. Peter Parish: Shrine of Leaders (completed in 1999), Sandiganbayan Centennial Building (completed in 1999) and the Commission on Audit Complex (completed in 1976), which are along Commonwealth Avenue. The Sandiganbayan (people’s advocate) is a special appellate collegial court, where as the Commission on Audit (COA) is the government agency tasked to examine, audit and settle all accounts and expenditures of the funds and properties of the Philippine Government.
From Commonwealth Avenue, one enters the center of Batasan Hills by turning right at Batasan Road, and on the eastbound lane there is the Batasan Road Tunnel, which allows a quick exit of the congressmen from the Session Hall to Commonwealth Avenue. This exit tunnel was constructed hastily in 2008, after the chaos that ensued after the 2007 bombing at the congress’ south wing, which lead to the death of 6 people and the injuries of 4 more, among them were 3 congressmen.
Below the pedestrian over pass, of the Batasan Road Tunnel, there is an inoperative fountain, with three muses, whom I assume represent Truth, Justice and Liberty. This was installed long after the tunnel was constructed, and now is hidden from sight by a large mobile traffic aide station of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
At the southern point of the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Batasan Road, there is a public market, a health center, and the transport terminal of Batasan Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (BATODA). The tricycles are all lined up, waiting to whisk passengers to any nearby destination, for a fair price. Aside from transporting employees to the various business and government agencies in the area, the tricycles also bring residents to the many communities that surround the vicinity, including subdivisions such as Filinvest I & II, and Luzviminda Village.
Moving further inward Batasan Road, there is the Quezon City Polytechnic University (QCPU), which was established between 2009 and 2010. On the opposite side of the road is the Pres. Corazon C. Aquino Elementary School, which was formerly called the Batasan Hills Elementary School, before the name was changed in 2010. Aside from these two schools, there are many other educational centers in the Batasan Hills, such as the Foothills Christian School, Anima Christi Academy, Young Scholars Academy, Caroline Learning Center, Hills National High School, Benz-On School, San Diego Elementary School, Diliman Preparatory School, Capitol Hills Christian School, Our Lady of Mercy School, Our Lord Saviour Academy, Academia de Sta. Faustina, Mary the Queen Academy, Sto.Nino Institute of Science and Technology, Fairhope Academy, Paul Christian Academy, Batasan Chunan Christian School, and the Royal Kids Academy of Arts.
At the end of the Batasan Road is the Civil Service Commission Complex (constructed in 1987) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development Complex (built in 1978). The Civil Service Commission (CSC) is the government agency that oversees overseeing the integrity of government actions and processes, whereas the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is the executive office that is responsible for the social welfare rights of Filipinos and to promote social development.
On the opposite side of the street is the heavily gated Batasan Pambansa Complex, home of the Lower House of Representatives. Completed in 1978, as the house of the Philippine Parliament, under the President Ferdinand Marcos, the government system changed after Marcos was ousted in 1986, and the 1987 Constitution was put into effect.
Visiting the various government offices in Batasan Hills, I have discovered so many artworks and wonderful structures in these buildings. Yet amidst all that beauty and wealth, I wonder at the glaring poverty that are all around these government agencies, and much worse the nearby 13 hectare Payatas Landfill, where most of Metro Manila’s garbage is hauled and dumped. I have hopes that these government agencies will band together in earnest action, to uplift the lives of their very own neighbors, and this will be a sign of a true change in our country.