Tandâng Sora Avenue, in Quezon City is a mixed use thoroughfare that runs from the intersection of northern end of Katipunan Avenue and Ramon Magsaysay Avenue in the Diliman district, and stretches for around 9 kilometers at the intersection of Elpidio Qurino Highway and Tullahan Road in northwestern Novaliches district. In its long and winding stretch, Tandâng Sora Avenue crosses four major roads: Mindanao Avenue, Visayas Avenue, Congressional Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue. Both Katipunan and Tandâng Sora Avenues are steeped in history, spanning to the latter part of the Spanish Occupation of the Philippines in the late 1900s. Before Quezon City was established in 1938, these areas were part of the Marikina and Caloocan proper, and there were many small barrios established throughout the region. These areas were also notable traveling routes of the Katipunan Revolutionaries (1896-1898), who were avoiding the Spanish authorities.
Tandâng Sora Avenue was named after the revolutionary Melchora Aquino de Ramos (1812-1919), with Sora as a nickname for Melchora and Tandâng meaning old. Aquino had been helping the Katipunan Revolution against Spanish colonization of the Philippines at the age of 84. She first started as a trusted adviser of the Katipunan founder, Andrés Bonifacio (1863-1897), and helped organize meetings at her home, in Barrio Banlat. When the Spanish authorities discovered the Katipunan, Bonifacio declared war, and Tandâng Sora used her home as a refuge for fleeing and wounded Katipuneros. Aquino was later discovered and arrested by the Gurdia Civil, when she refused to speak during the interrogations, the Spanish authorities decided to exile her with other Katipuneros in Guam. When the Americans took the Philippines from Spain in 1898, they allowed Aquino to return to the Philippines in 1903 after the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) had been declared officially over. Back home, she still supported the fight for independence, while other Katipuneros were continuing to wage war against the Americans. But Aquino was too old to participate in the any clandestine operations, as the Americans may have also been watching her. She died at her daughter’s home at the age of 107, and was subsequently buried at the mausoleum of the Panteón de los Veteranos de la Revolución in the Manila North Cemetery, designed by fellow revolutionary Arch. Arcadio de Guzmán Arellano (1872-1920).
In 1971, the Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Park opened in Barangay Banlat, a few hundred meters way from the site of Tandâng Sora’s old house. The owners of the park asked the surviving family members of Melchora Aquino, if they could exhume her bodies from the Manila North Cemetery, and bury her in a new mausoleum dedicated to her. And in 1972, Melchora Aquino was honored in her new mausoleum, flanked by sculptures by Florante “Boy” Beltran Caedo (1939-2004). The Himlayang Pilipino is also home to sculptures and architecture that commemorate Filipino heroes and culture by Arch. Eliseo Tenza Jr. (born 1942), Francisco Bulaong (1930s-2013), Juan Culala Flores (1900-1992), Renato Rocha (1937-2001), Victor Tabernilla, and Francisco Maravilla Verano (born 1938).
Although the Himlayang Pilipino is a beautiful place to visit and event pay homage to our national heroes, it is situated 1.3 kilometers away from Tandâng Sora Avenue, and is only accessible through a winding and underdeveloped road. The government of Quezon City asked that the remains of Melchora Aquino be once more exhumed and transferred to a newly developed shrine, which is located at the exact area where house she was born once stood. The new shrine was designed and sculpted by Abdulmari “Toym” de Leon Imao, Jr. (born 1968) and opened in 2008. The Tandâng Sora Shrine is located 1.3 kilometers from Tandâng Sora Avenue, along Banlat Road. The shrine is marked by a monumental sculpt on top of Aquino’s mausoleum, along with standing relief sculptures depicting events in her life, flags of the Philippine Revolution, as well as a museum of her belongings, photographs and other memorabilia.
In the past, there were debates where Tandâng Sora Avenue ended and Katipunan Avenue started, as there was no delineation to borders of both roads. Some thought that Tandâng Sora Avenue started at the intersection of Carlos P. Garcia Avenue. Edging on that intersection is the Ayala Land’s UP Town Center Mall and the Sta. Maria della Strada Parish, of Barangay Pansol. Constructed in 1983, the church is an open-aired modernist building, designed by Arch. Marcos de Guzman.
There are many other places of worship along Tandang Sora Avenue, such as the Parroquia De La Nuestra Señora De la Paz Y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage), at the corner of Capitol Hills Drive and Tandâng Sora Avenue. This was once a nearby chapel that had to be bulldozed for the ongoing road widening. When it was transferred to its new location in 2013, the chapel was then declared as a local parish.
Other Catholic structures are the Daughters of Mary, Mother of the Church in Doña Faustina Village I (established in 1966), the Missionary Sisters of the Queen of the Apostles in Tierra Verde 1 Homes (established in 1983), the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church along Phinland Drive (established in 1987), the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in Tierra Verde 1 Homes (established in 1987), the Santuario de San Vicente de Paul Parish at the corner of Saint Martin Street and Tandang Sora Avenue (established in 2003), and the Our Lady of Fatima Chapel in Hilda Village.
One notable church is that of the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in Tierra Verde 1 Homes, Barangay Culiat, is noted for its extensive collection of sculptures by the Nation Artist, Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (1930-2018), whose house and studio is right beside the church. The church is named after Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637), the first Philippine Catholic saint, a lay missionary who was martyred in Japan by the tsurushi method.
Another noteworthy church is the Santuario de San Vicente de Paul Parish for its beautiful artchitecture by Arch. Froilan L. Hong (born 1939), the sculpted brass doors by Michael Reyes Cacnio (born 1969), the altar and lectern by Daniel dela Cruz (born 1966), adoration chapel altarpiece by Wilfredo Tadeo Layug (born 1959), and crucifix by Jordan Mendoza.
There are also many non-Catholic places of worship along Tandang Sora Avenue. Near the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue is the Iglesia Ni Cristo’s New Era General Hospital & Recreation Center and 5 kilometers away is the Iglesia ni Cristo-Tandang Sora temple. There is also the Our Lord’s Temple Pentecostal Church, Project 8 Bible Baptist Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church of Praise Assembly of God, Tandang Sora Baptist Church , Agape Community Christian Fellowship (2011), Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines (IEMELIF), IRM Evangelical Church near the San Juan River, Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas, and the Jesus is Lord Church (1997). Inside the Moslem neighborhood of the Salam Compound in Barangay Culiat, there are the Al-Abrar, Iranun, Muhammadiya, Rahma, and Salam mosques.
From the southwestern end of Tandang Sora Avenue and moving northbound, at the left side of Katipunan and Tandang Sora Avenue is the University of the Philippines (U.P.) and its National Science Complex (NSC) of the Department of Science and Technology and the U.P. College of Science (CS). Established in 2012, the roots of NSC started long before with UPCS erecting buildings for the National Institute of Geological Sciences, Marine Science Institute and CS Library and Administrative Building in the 1980s.
To the right, close to the intersection of Ramon Magsaysay Avenue is the entrance to the Balará Filters Park, of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). Established in 1938, the 60 hectare park is part of the La Mesa Water Shed and Reservoir system. The park was once open to the public, with an amphitheater for concerts and swimming pools. All around the park are sculptures by Fermin Yadao Gomez (1918-1984), which celebrate the Filipino spirit or play around the theme of water. Aside from the sculptures, there are notable buildings by Arch. Gabriel Papa Formoso (1915-1998) and Arch. Francisco “Bobby” Tronqued Mañosa (1931).
Right after the Balará Filters Park is the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrative Complex. The main building was also designed and completed in 1980 by Arch. Gabriel Formoso, while the interiors are a cornucopia of artworks by Antonio Abaya, Fred Alcantara, Hermes Alegre, Angelito Antonio, Ros Arcilla, Angelito Balagtas, Manuel Baldemor, Lito Barcelona, Norma Belleza, Victorio A. Bumanglag Jr, Norberto Carating, Roderico Jose Daroy, Rolando Delos Santos, Trias Diano, Jun Dibdib, Demetrio Diego, Jeff Dizon, Fermin Gomez, Roger Gutierrez, Edgar Doctor, Raul Isidro, Prudencio Lamarroza, Raul Lebajo, Alfredo Liongoren, Nemesio R. Miranda Jr., Edsel Hermoso Moscoso, Mario Munar, Justin Nuyda, Romulo Olazo, Danny Pangan, Mario Parial, Al Perez, Raul Piedra, Loreto T. Racuya, Rodolfo Ragodon, Pat Reyes, Cenon M. Rivera, Manuel Antonio Rodriguez Sr., Juvenal Gerrit Sanso, Mauro Malang Santos, Rolando Santos, Fernando Sena, Jun Tiongco, Carlos Valino Jr., Luisito Villanueva, Jose Pempe Ybañez, and Hugo C. Yonzon Jr. Aside from these modernist painters, there are also works by the National Artists for Visual Art: Napoleon Abueva, Ang Kuikok, Jose Joya, and Hernando R. Ocampo.
Aside from government buildings and compounds, there are also recreational facilities along or nearby Tandâng Sora Avenue, such as the Power UP climbing facility and the Capitol Hills Golf and Country Club. The Capitol Hills Golf and Country Club was opened in 1960, which was soon followed by a string of middle class residential subdivisions, with many celebrities moved to the area to get away from the hubbub of the city. Soon the radio, television and film studio called Broadcast City opened nearby in 1978. After the 1986 EDSA Revolution, the government television company, Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), took over Broadcast City, and remains there to this day. To capitalize on this wealthy and famous market, the Celebrity Sports Plaza opened in 1979, with a swimming pool, billiards, tennis court, a restaurant and a bar to cater to the rich and famous.
Although Tandang Sora Avenue is a mixed used road, there are many residential areas along the street and nearby, including residential subdivisions. Because of this, there are many schools that cater to the educational needs of the neighborhood; and these are the Pasong Tamo Elementary School (established in 1926), the Balara Elementary School (established in 1948) and Balara High School (established in 1952) in Barangay Pansol, the Balara Academy of Quezon City (established in 1964), the St. James School of Quezon City (established in 1971), the Culiat Elementary School (established in 1974) and the Culiat High School (established in 1971), the Tandang Sora Elementary School (established in 1974), New Era Elementary School (established in 1981) and the New Era High School (established in 1982) in the Iglesia Ni Cristo compound, the Dr. Carlos S. Lanting College (established in 1984), the St. Vincent School of Theology (established in 1985), the Old Balara Christian Community School (established in 1987), the Asia School of Arts and Sciences (established in 1996), the Claretian’s Institute For Consecrated Life In Asia (established in 1997), the Carmel Child Development & Learning Center in the Carmel III Subdivision (established in 1999), the San Isidro Labrador Catholic School (established in 2001), the St. Martin Bright Kids School (established in 2011), and the IRM Bible Colleges Foundation Inc. of the Evangelical Church.
Aside from the host of great artworks in noted buildings and the historical shrines of Tandang Sora Avenue, part of the area’s wealth is its people. There are some notable artists who reside near or along Tandang Sora Avenue, such as National Artist Napoleon Abueva, whose studio is found at Tierra Verde 1 Homes. Inside his family compound is a Neo-Gothic Temple with sculptures of Bible scenes jutting out of the walls and columns, and a 4 ton swinging house. Then there is the Godfather of Philippine Art Workshops, Fernando “Nading” Belen Sena (born 1948), who put up his Buenas Artes Art Facility in the Windsor Villas at the corner of Congressional and Tandang Sora avenues. And finally there is the home studio of noted musician Joey Ayala.
Traveling from end-to-end along Tandang Sora isn’t an easy route, because traffic, changing width of the snaking road, and no throughways at the major intersections. Despite these obstacles, the exploration of Tandang Sora Avenue is still an experience of art and history, that visitors and residents should never take for granted.