The northernmost area of Quezon City is Novaliches. Located at the boundaries of Bulacan and Rizal provinces, Novaliches was named after Manuel Pavía y Lacy, 1st Marquis de Novaliches (1814-1896), who served as the Governor-General of the Philippines from 1852-1854, during the Spanish Colonial Era (1571-1898). Novaliches was established by Governor-general Pavía, in 1854, when he offered liberty and land to prisoners, if they would clear forests in the area. After the land was cleared, people from Polo (now Valenzuela City of Bulacan Province) and Morong town (of La Laguna Province, now Rizal Province) moved in, and called the place Hacienda Tala (Star Estate), as the new land was like a star in heaven to the migrants. Later on, the name would be changed to Parroquia de Novaliches (Parish of Novaliches).
Parroquia de Novaliches was a thriving agricultural community, until much of the town was razed to the ground during the Katipunan Revolution with the Battle of Novaliches in November 1896; which could be assumed was done the Spanish authorities to teach the people a lesson for supporting the revolutionaries. During this battle, a close aide to Andrés Bonifacio (1863-1897) the Katipunan founder, Gen. Luis Malinis was killed. After the fire, many of the residents moved on to other towns, as Novaliches would remain a small community until the rebuilding of the Our Lady of Mercy Parish, in 1928. During that time, Novaliches was once part of the Rizal Province, until it was annexed to the growing Quezon City in the 1940s.
The first church of Novaliches was established by the Augustinians in 1856, and was dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, but was quickly changed to the Nuestra Senora de la Merced (Our Lady of Mercy), with its patron saint brought to the Philippines by the first parish priest of Novaliches, Padre Andres Martin, O.S.A. When the church was reconstructed in 1928, the community began to grow once more and the new church was opened as the Our Lady of Ransom Parish, before revering back to the Our Lady of Mercy Parish. And in 2001, the church was officially renamed as the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy.
However after World War II, development in Novaliches moved slowly, as the population grew from 7000 residents in the late 1940s, to 9000 people in 1960. Treated like a far off provincial town, local public buildings and services were slowly being constructed, such as the first rural bank in 1952, the first public library in 1954, the first post office in 1955, the first cinema house (Cinema Lucy) in 1956, and the first health center and fire department in 1957.
By 1960, there were only 27 industrial and commercial establishments that catered to the needs of the locals, and while others were processing plants that were built to be far from the main city areas of Manila and Quezon City. However, a steady migration of new residents started in the late 1960s, when President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. (1917-1989), ordered the construction of Commonwealth Avenue, which was then called Don Mariano Marcos Avenue, after the president’s father.
With easier access to Novaliches through the new Don Mariano Marcos Avenue (now called Commonwealth Avenue), by the 1970s, new residential subdivisions were being erected. And with the world wide economic boom of the mid-1980s, a larger wave of new migrants came in, and by the 21st century, Novaliches was a bustling urban area. This steady development can be charted with the construction of the many churches under the Diocese of Novaliches (est. 2002):
1856 Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy
1977 Ascension of Our Lord Parish
1980 Holy Spirit Parish
1982 Holy Trinity Parish
1985 Santa Lucia Parish
1986 Ina ng Buhay Parish
1986 San Bartolome Parish
1986 The Our Father Parish
1989 Mary the Queen Parish
1990 Ina ng Lupang Pangako Parish
1991 Christ the King Parish
1991 Mother of the Divine Providence Parish
1992 Saint Francis Xavier Parish
1993 Divine Savior Parish
1993 Jesus, Lord of the Divine Mercy Parish
1993 Mabuting Pastol Parish
1994 Jesus, Lord of the Divine Mercy Parish
1997 Immaculate Conception Parish
1997 Kristong Hari Parish
1997 Holy Family Parish
1997 Sagrada Familia Parish
1999 San Isidro Labrador Parish
1999 Visitation of Our Lord Parish
2000 Saint Maximillian Kolbe Parish
2006 Saint Benedict Parish
2007 Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish
2008 Jesus of Nazareth Parish
2008 Saint Michael the Archangel Parish
2008 Sagrada Familia Parish
2010 Presentation of Our Lord Parish
2012 Corpus Christi Parish
2013 Saint Joseph Parish
2013 Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje Parish
Aside from the many churches, many Catholic orders started erecting their own seminaries and convents, as a get away from the fast paced life of the city. The oldest of these institutions is the Jesuit Sacred Heart Novitiate, which was constructed between 1932-1933. Some of the other religious formation houses in Novaliches are the Notre Dame de Vie Retreat House (1954), the Our Lady of Angels Franciscan Seminary of Franciscan friars of the Order of Friars Minor (1962), the Franciscan Sisters of Immaculatine (1982-1994), the Blessed Sacrament Sisters Convent and Chapel, the Immaculate Retreat House (1994), the Servants of the Holy Eucharist Convent, the Mater Salvatoris Convent, the Recoletos Formation Center (1985), the Saint Vincent Seminary, and the Holy Spirit Convent, to name a few.
With the many churches and religious centers in Novaliches, private schools connected to these religious institutions were also being built. Among these are the Mother of Life Center (1967), the Holy Child Academy (1976), the School of the Holy Spirit (1978), the Mercedarian School (1982), the Campus School of Saint Anthony (1982), the Sto. Niño de Novaliches School (1983), the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School (1985), the Mater Carmeli School (1986), the Blessed Sacrament Catholic School (1987), the Divine Grace School (1987), the Sister Maria Carmela Brescia School (1989), the Ina ng Buhay Catholic School (1991), the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School (1994), the Colegio de San Bartolome de Novaliches (1995), the Good Shepherd Cathedral School (1995), the St. Benedict School of Novaliches (1997), the Blessed Scalabrini Institute (1998), the Resurrection Catholic School (1998), the St. Francis de Sales Academy (2000), the Fiore Del Carmelo School (2001), the San Isidro Labrador Catholic School (2001), the Sta. Elena School of Novaliches, the St. Theresa’s School of Novaliches, the Immaculate Mother School, the Mother of Mercy Learning Center, the Our Lady of the Star Nursery, and the Sisters of Mount Carmel Catholic School.
With so many Catholic schools in the district, private and public institutions of learning also started developing alongside their religious counterparts. Some of these institutes of higher learning are the Metro Manila College (1947), the Capitol Institute (1950), the Far Eastern University – Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation (1952), the Quezon City Polytechnic University (1994), the Our Lady of Fatima University Lagro (1996), the STI College Novaliches, and the National College of Business and Arts.
One of the oldest schools in the Novaliches district is the public school of the Placido Del Mundo Elementary School, along the Quirino Highway, in Barngay Talipapa. Founded in 1922 as the Talipapa Primary School, the school would change its name to the Tandang Sora Elementary School, after the revolutionary hero Melchora Aquino (1812-1919) who was born nearby. And in 1965, the school was finally renamed after Don Placido C. Del Mundo, a local patron who worked tirelessly to establish and grow the school since 1922. Aside from the Del Mundo Elementary School, another notable public basic educations school, such as the Doña Rosa L. Susano Elementary School and High School, which started in 1923 as the Novaliches Elementary School. Doña Rosario L. Susano, wife of former Caloocan Mayor Tomas Susano, donated the land for the school, and it was subsequently named after her, years after her death.
From the center of Quezon City, the main route to get to Novaliches is Commonwealth Avenue, which connects to Novaliches’ second main artery, the President Elpidio Rivera Quirino (1890-1956) Highway, who had died at his retreat house in Novaliches. The highway was once named Don Tomas Susano Road, after the first officially recognized political leader of the district, during the American Occupation (1898-1946).
Novaliches was once a mostly agricultural and residential district, but as the population grew and traffic build up severely dampened travel from Novaliches to the central Quezon City and beyond, more and more businesses began developing in the district.
To the eastern side of Novaliches is the La Mesa Dam and Watershed Reservation, a 2,700 hectare (27 square kilometers) area that was built in 1929. The La Mesa Dam supplies most of Metro Manila’s water needs. Within the La Mesa Water Reservation is the La Mesa Eco Park, which is 33-hectare tourism spot for people to enjoy one of the last remaining rain forests within the city. Opened to the public in 2004, the La Mesa Eco Park features swimming pools, hiking trails, zip lines, picnic grounds, horseback riding and other outdoor activities. This was the thrust of the Philippine government and several private organizations to develop and stronger appreciation of nature with the public.
From the historical sites to the quite respite of a tropical forest, there is more Novaliches than its present bustling urban hub and traffic. From a quite agricultural district, Novaliches has grown exponentially, but its residents have somehow kept a steadfast hold on its history and sense of community. And any visitor will find these quite places of heritage, and take a break from the city.