Quezon City: History and Hidden Treasures in Project 4

01 1945 battle for manila, from life magazine
1945 Battle for Manila, from Life Magazine

In the 15 years my family lived in Cubao, I would regularly visit the nearby Project 4, to visit friends and even hang around until the wee hours of the morning. Project 4 is a residential area part of the 1940s to 1950s government’s Homesite Program, where residents of Manila were relocated to Quezon City, during the reconstruction of Manila after the bombings of World War II, left the city in ruins. By the late 1960s to 1970s, many of the communities across Quezon City have established roots in the various projects, with the barangay system established to administer to the needs of the people, public schools, and parishes. Before the war, the area that was to become Project 4 was part of the Magdalena Estates, of Doña Magdalena Hashim Ysmael-Hemady (1877-1955), who donated a sizable portion of her property to the Philippine government in 1935. This would in turn be developed into the military base, Camp Murphy; which are now the military Camp Aguinaldo and police Camp Crame.

0 Hi-Top, Project 4, QC 1
Hi-Top, Project 4, QC

Many of the barangays of Project 4 were named after ideals that the new residents wanted to attain; such as Bagumbuhay (new life), Bayanihan (community spirit),  Masagana (bountiful), Marilag (beautiful), and Tagumpay (victory). Milagrosa (miraculous)  reflects the faith of its residents, as well as the parish church in it locale. Blue Ridge was founded on the slopes of the Quezon City Plateau and the Marikina fault line, and the residents chose the color blue, in reference to the school color of the Ateneo de Manila, where their sons studied. The Escopa area was once called “Lata” (tin can), but was changed into ISCOPA as a shorted pronunciation of the “1st Signal Corps Philippine Army,” which was billeted there. Other barangays in the district are Dioquino Zobel, Mangga, and Villa Maria Clara.

The first residents of Project 4 had attended their masses at the Monasterio de Santa Clara, which had transferred from Manila to Calle Quezón (Aurora Boulevard), in 1950. This was followed by the 1951 establishment of the Saint Joseph’s Chapel, in the Project 3 territory of Aurora Boulevard.

03 christ is the answer church
Christ is the Answer Church

Soon other Christian denominations opened their own churches in Project 4, such as the Capitol City Foursquare Church on F. Castillo Street, Family Gospel Christian Church on J. Bugallon Street, Iglesia ni Cristo along J. P. Rizal Street, the two temples of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints on Aurora Boulevard and J. P. Rizal Street, and along Justice Pedro Tiangco Tuazon Boulevard (born 1884) are the Christ is the Answer Church, the God is Our Refuge Ministry, and the Living Faith Fellowship.

With the continuously growing population, the Monasterio de Santa Clara and Saint Joseph’s Parish could not accommodate all the church goers. So in 1976, Project 4 gained it first parish church with the establishment of the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish. Starting as a small chapel in the early 1970s, the new parish was dedicated to the Medal of Our Lady of Graces, which was based on the vision of Saint Catherine Labouré (1806-1876) of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in 1830. The parish church is located at the corner of Legaspi and Camerino streets.

Although there are many businesses throughout Project 4, the area remains primarily residential. For the education of the youth, there are many schools within the boundary and nearby. One of the schools that caught my interest is the Pura V. Kalaw Elementary School between Lakadula, F. Salalilla, and Belarmino streets. Established between 1953 and 1958, the school was named after the feminist and writer, Purificacion “Pura” Villanueva Kalaw (1886-1954). She first came to prominence as the first Philippine beauty queen, capturing the title of the first Queen of the Manila Carnival, in 1908. But Pura didn’t rely on her beauty to get by, as she organized the women’s suffrage movement with the Asociacion Feminista Ilongga, two years before that at the age of 20. Pura would continue to push for reforms on various by writing for the newspaper El Tiempo. Pura has written also many books on Philippine society and culture, including one of the first Filipino cookbooks, the booklet Condimentos Indigenas, which was published in 1918. Pura would marry the scholar, legislator and historian Teodoro Maniguiat Kalaw (1884-1940), and their children were just as influential in Philippine society and politics. The lot where the school is believed to be once owned by Pura’s family, who donated it to the government to build the school, hence its dedication to Pura.

Near the Project 4 Police Station 8 and the Quezon City Public Library Project 4 Extension, the Jose P. Laurel Sr. High School was established in 1965, to accommodate the graduates of the Pura V. Kalaw Elementary School. The school was named after the educator and 3rd President of the Philippines, José Paciano Laurel y García (1891-1959). Other schools within the Project 4 territory are the Libis Elementary School, the Teodora Alonzo Elementary School (established 1970 as the Libis Elementary School, Escopa Annex), the Belarmino Elementary School, the Kalantiyaw Elementary School, the Abba’s Orchard Erdkinder Montessori School (established 2006), the Technological Institute of the Philippines (opened in QC in 1983), and the National College of Business and Arts and Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA, established 1963) along Aurora Boulevard.

1953 Quirino Memorial Medical Center
1953 Quirino Memorial Medical Center

With so much development over the years, visitors to Project 4 may not notice the historical structures within the area, as they are renovated with contemporary additions. This is most evident with the developments in the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, which was opened in 1953 between Katipunan Avenue and J. P. Rizal Street. The medical center was first called the”Labor Hospital,” as it was constructed through the fund raising efforts of the Department of Labor and the International Labor and Marine Union of the Philippines.It was later renamed after Elpidio Rivera Quirino (1890-1956), who was serving as the 6th president of the Philippines, at the time the hospital was opened.

In comparison, the Ar-Fel Apartments, which was built in the 1950s, retains its Art Deco/Googie architectural style after all these years. This old architectural style is a nostalgic look at the heyday of Project 4, when there were movie houses (Mark, Bell and Morric), a bus station (Halili Transit), a television station (Channel 11), a bowling alley (Golden Lanes), and even major industrial plants (Timex and Purefoods).

In preserving history, there is a memorial marker at the corner of J.P. Rizal Street and Tom Castro streets, dedicated to City Coucilor Tomas P. Castro (1959-1988), who was assassinated at the very same spot. The marker was put up in 2006 by Castro’s former classmates at the Ateneo de Manila University.

09 big little nazzi signs and art, diego silang street, project 4
Big Little Nazzi Signs and Art, Rajah Matanda Street, Project 4

After spending many of my teenage nights hanging around Project 4, my parents moved our family to the City of Marikina, which shares part of its southwestern border with Project 4. In 2012, I can back to Project 4, not as a visitor, but a resident. Bringing in my own family, we began discovering the history of the area as well as the many interesting business and even talents in our neighborhood. And now we are part of community, looking forward to see how this place evolves in time.

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69 thoughts on “Quezon City: History and Hidden Treasures in Project 4

    1. And before the Project 4 Police Station 8 was built , there was one time an old Market (Dimculangan Market) where many stall owners used and made this as their extended home and later become their permanent residences to which my family used to reside until such time they were foced to leaved in exchanged for the construction of a park and a police station.

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  1. My dad bought a land here whuch is now part of Proj 4 in 1955. Our nearest neighbor then was more 300m away and all grass in between. The next to our land had live fishes then. One of the most popular lang mark in Proj 4 is Bell Theater, it has been torn diwn but jeepney still call out “Bell” when youre at that place. Houses of the old project homes can still be seen with their old asbestos roofing

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    1. “Bel Theater” is a land mark in J.P. Rizal St.Bus coming back home from Manila enters F. Castillo St., when a conductress of JD Transit noticed that the bus is in Kalantiaw St.,she’ll asks the passengers when somebody is going to disembark on that area from corner of Rajah Matanda and Kalantiaw up to corner of Rajah Matanda corner J.P. Rizal.When no one is to disembark on that area of “Bel”,that bus will turn left to Rajah Matanda(shorter way going to “Labor) then left again to J.P. Rizal going back to JD Transit Terminal in Calderon St.(now Halili Compound) beside Maric(Rose)Theater.De Dios Transit garage before is now Mormon.”Recalinda Bus” has a parking in J.Bracken and “ManBusco”(Mandaluyong Bus Co.)had their garage before at P.Rizal St in front of Quezon City Bakery.Yujuico and Halili Transits was plying their route in Project 4 until in the 60’s.

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    2. Year 1951 when we move to project 4, muddy stony roads and tall grasses. It was hard for us to travel. We had to walk from our residence through kalantiaow then evangelista then pass beside peoples theater then st joseph church aurora blvd to get bus going to quiapo or hi way 54 going to baclaran or monumento. Our parents choose proj 4 because you of the view. You can see the walls of camp murphy logistic and the beautiful hilly blue ridge. With trees bamboo and caves. Down you can see marikina river and the singkamas plantation.

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  2. A lot of corrections needed. A few additions too FYI
    1. Missing barangays
    2. Tom Castro was a City councilor, not a congressman.
    3. The Mormon church was along JP Rizal St.
    4. There were 3 moviehouses in P4. Mark, Bell and Morric
    5. There was a TV studio in P4 – Channel 11
    6. There was another college – PSBA
    7. P4 had a bowling alley – Golden Lanes
    8. OLMM church was established much earlier – before martial law
    9. P4 had multiple bus depot – JD, and De Dios, Halili?
    10. P4 had a factory – Timex
    11. P4 celebrity residents included Doro, Cachupoy, Prospero Luna, Nora Aunor and Manuel Quezon Jr.
    12. Blue Ridge is not part of P4
    13. Quirino Memorial was called Labor Hospital

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    1. Thank you for the additional data. I have edited the article. I also added the Purefoods plant along P. Tuazon. However, some data states that Blue Ridge was once part of Project 4, before it was established as a separate baranagay.

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      1. You might want to mention that P4 had a DSWD center near Escopa. It also housed the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center. Growing up you may have noticed a lot of blind people in and around P4 – most of them participated in livelihood training programs there. Many of them lived in Escopa.
        Some more trivia:
        The first “super” grocery in P4 was Millionaires – cor of Aurora Blvd. and Castillo. Later Queens Supermarket was built across it.
        The first major pharmacy was Lydia’s at the foot of Tom Castro St., owned by the Castro family – its where Tom died. The building is now a Mercury drug.
        There was also a major printing press along P. Tuazon – Cintoner. They used to print stuff that is used for electioneering.
        The first wet market was the Project 4 Public market – it still stands where it was next to Pura Kalaw Elem. Most notable vendor in it was an unassuming zapatero named “Boy Negro”. If you had a broken down shoe that needed mending – he was the person to go to.
        The earlier P4 had an abundance of fruit trees -growing up, we ate fruits for free – all you need was ask permission from your neighbor to get some, so all kids knew how to climb trees. Our neighborhood had caimito, santol, mango, avocado, atis, duhat, sampaloc, macopa, chesa, aratilis, bayabas, balimbing, kamias, langka, nganga, coconut.
        Thank you for your article for taking us on a trip down memory lane.

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      2. Please also add the Holy Angels Montessori School (HAMS) located in Legaspi st cor Antonio Luna stablished 1974. Owned by the late Directress Vennie Ramirez Raro a former faculty of Stella Maris College in Aurora Blvd Cubao and Auditor July Rebanal Raro a retired employee of (GAO) Genaral Auditing Office.

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    2. “Golden Lanes Bowling Lanes and Billiard” and “Everybody’s Grocery”was not in Project 4,it was located at Santolan Road(Bonny Serrano Ave.),Guevarra’s who had a labor union owned it.Everybody’s Grocery became “Cagayano’s Beer House” in the early 70’s before martial law,Loreto “To” Rolda was shut dead by a teen ager while drinking beer.

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      1. Our Family is one of the First Family who moved in Brgy. Bayanihan in 1970. My Grandfather; Pedro C. Martinez is the first Brgy Captain and was the one who named the Brgy as Bayanihan. He was seated as the Brgy. Captain from The start until he passed on in 1980. I will find my Grandfather’s notes were the meaning behind Bayanihan. According to the former Brgy. Captain of Brgy. Villa Maria Clara, Brgy. Bayanihan is the first Brgy. in Proj. 4.
        Golden Lanes and Billiards was owned by the Manansala Family located in Santolan and is part of Brgy. Bayanihan

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    3. Lalaine Bennette was a beauty in the 60’s with Armi Kuusela.She was the first Reina Elena in Santacruzan held in Villa Maria Clara escorted by Ted Dizon,Joe Beltran was then the “Tinyente Del Baryo”.Lalaine Bennette lived before in J. Bracken St.

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    4. At the corner of Legaspi and Magat Salamat sts houses the Homesite or the community house lot developer now or during those times owned or managed by the Quiroz one son now a govt justice of local agency that I remembered 1953 our family moved along legaspi st at the corner of Nogales it was a duplex property then Now houses the Former Little Angels Nursery Sch until it was renamed Holy Angels MS in 1980’s it was the first private kindergarten school started in 1975 until now today several private school s sprouted i.e. st Therese child Jesus Chime School etc contributing to the educational growth of the community’s children’s no longer necessitated to live across the farther schools 🎖🕍🏣🏆

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      1. Not Nogales But NOVALES ST. where Holy Angels Montessori is. I still have our house at Brgy. Marilag a block away from OLMM Church in Camerino St., cor Legaspi St.

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    5. Item #9. Corrections.De Dios and Halili doesn’t have depot in the 50&60 .Ricalinda and Yujuico transit do have a depot.Thank you.

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    1. “Millionaire’s Grocery” was located before in F.Castillo cor. Aurora Blvd. opposite of Carag Lumber( Queen’s Supermarket now Hi-Top).

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  3. I would like to add that before Jose Laurel high school there was a high school called People’s high school where I graduated myself in the year 1958.Situated where Laurelhigh is now

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    1. St.Joseph High School then People’s High School owned by the Valdez was donated to Quirino High School(Project 4 Annex) that eventually became Jose P. Laurel Sr. High School in 1969.

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  4. Police Station 8 and the Marilag Fire Station was constructed in the early 90s at Plaza Magat Salamat. Plaza Magat Salamat is considered to be a place for government offices. The office of the SSDD QC (DSWD) is situated here also The newest building there is the SB building constructed in the year 2004 houses the Project 4 Public Library and at the Ground Floor is a Project 4 Mortuary which gives free service. Prior to this building is a 1 storey structure that used to be the Barangay hall of Barangay Marilag though it was said to be the office of the barangays of the district. It was the office of the Association of Barangay Councils that is why a separate Barangay Hall was built at Plaza Camerino in 1994

    — will appreciate if any corrections were made in this comment.

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  5. In the 60’s there were pugon fired bakeries along J.P. Rizal St like “Quezon City Bakery”; “Sampaguita Bakery”; Project 4 Bakery”;”Filipinas Bakery” in 20th Ave. the present site of Ar-Fel Apartment;”Banahaw Bakery” was in Legazpi coner Magat Salamat St.; “Marian Bakery” was in Aurora Blvd; “Pascual Bakery” in the 70’s was in P.Tuason St. In those times those pugon bakeries accepts lechon cooking of pig’s head only.

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  6. Correction, my grandfather; (RIP) Pedro C. Martinez was the first Brgy. Captain of Brgy. Bayanihan from 1970- 1983.
    My cousin; Marigold Haber Dunca used to be a newscaster and later on became the News Director of Channel 9.
    (RIP) Jerome Cueto was a former Basketball player in PBL who is from Pelaez St. Brgy. Villa Maria Clara
    Fr. Farraon used to leave in Brgy. Bayanihan along J.P. Rizal St

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  7. Pakisama yung barangay namin BARANGAY ESCOPA. Paki hanap na din ng details bakit tinawag na ESCOPA yunh barangay namin HAHAHAHA. TIA.

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  8. In addition we have Carling’s kambingan along P.Tuazon St. Its a resto where we can buy delicious kambing delicacies..

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  9. May isang maliit na public library dati sa Legaspi St., Brgy. Milagrosa, katapat ng #15 two storey residential house. Yung Belarmino Elementary School ay wala na, giniba yun sa utos ni Sonny Belmonte o ng DepEd para tayuan ng QC Sports Center na hanggang ngayon ay parang tambakan pa rin. Pabanggit na rin yung mga lumang bahay (bungalow; asbestos roof) na kaunti na lang ngayon

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  10. The coach Franz Pumaren lived in P4. I know this as we were classmates in grade school. I was living in P4 then so I spent some Saturdays in their house.

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  11. I grow up in Legaspi St and Camerino St. We were next to Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church. Please check and verify the dates on when this church was established. I was one of the altar boys in that church before I graduated in High School in 1973. My parents put up a sari-sari store in the late 60 knowing the construction workers would buy snacks during break. Our house still there and so as the store.

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  12. Not to forget Davidson’s Tailoring located in P. Tuazon Blvd that existed from mid60s to late 80s, the tandem of Mang Ising and Aling Viring. Also the La Pacita bakery beside it.

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