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.
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 areas was once called “Lata” (tin can), but was changed into 1SCOPA (or 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.
Soon other Christian denominations opened their own churches in Project 4, such as the Capitol City Foursquare Church on General Francisco del Castillo Street, Family Gospel Christian Church on Major José Torres Gonzales Bugallón Street, Iglesia ni Cristo along J. P. Rizal Street, the two temples of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints on Doña Aurora Antonia Molina Aragón Quezón Boulevard and Dr. José Protasio Alonso Realonda Rizál Mercado Street (J.P. Rizal), and along Justice Pedro Tiangco Tuazon Boulevard 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 Agustin de Legazpi and Casimiro “El Tulisan” 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 Rajah Lakadula, Rajah Salalila, and Major General Vito Loyola 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 (est. 1958) on Colonel Venancio “Bonny” Merioles Serrano Avenue, the Teodora Alonzo Elementary School (established 1970 as the Libis Elementary School, Escopa Annex) on Legazpi Street, the Belarmino Elementary School (closed 2008) on Belarmino Street, the Kalantiyaw Elementary School on General Miguel Carpio Malvar Street, the Abba’s Orchard Erdkinder Montessori School (established 2006) on Katipunan Avenue, the Technological Institute of the Philippines (opened in QC in 1983), the National College of Business and Arts and Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA, established 1963) along Aurora Boulevard, the Temple Hill International School (est. 2001) on J.P. Rizal Street.
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.
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.