Stretching east to west for 5.4 kilometers, E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard, or E. Rod for short, passes through the west end of the Cubao District of Quezon City, and ends at the east end of the Sampaloc District of Manila. The road was named after one of the longest serving Philippine senate presidents, Eulogio “Amang” Adona Rodríguez Sr. (1883-1964). Rodríguez was born impoverished in the Municipality of Montalban, which is now named after him. He moved to Manila to take his collegiate and law studies, while working as a farmer to pay for his studies. Rodríguez’s first political position was serving as the municipal president of Montalban from 1906 to 1916, then as governor of the Province of Rizal from 1916 to 1923, later as mayor of Manila in 1923-1924 and 1940-1941, followed as representative of Nueva Vizcaya District from 1924 to 1925, next was representative of Montalban in 1925-1928 and 1931-1935, then served as the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce in 1934-1935 and 1940-1941, and finally serving as senator in 1945-1947 and 1949-1964. While as senator, Rodríguez served as the senate president in 1952-1953 and 1954-1963.
The road that was to be named the E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard, may started out as a small forest road linking Manila with the friar estates, during the latter part of the Spanish Occupation (1565-1898). By the start of the 20th century, the American colonial government (1898-1946) started developing the roads outside Manila, starting with the Marikina Infanta Highway (now called Aurora Boulevard) in 1900, and followed España Boulevard in 1913 and the North–South Circumferential Road (now Epifanio Cristóbal de los Santos Avenue) in the 1930s. Further developments were made to the road, when American Episcopal missionaries were looking for a lot to erect their church outside the heat and congestion of Manila. As more and more religious, government and private institutions were constructed in the area, the road was soon expanded and laid with concrete.
The development of the E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard area started in 1902, with the United States of America Congress’ Act 1120 or “The Friar Land Act,” where the American colonial government was able to acquire 170,000 hectares of estates owned by various Catholic orders. Purchased for $7 million, the government then sold the lands to private individuals and corporations, including other Christian organizations, specifically the Episcopal Church. The new private owners of these former friar estates, either sold or donated small parcels of lands to these new settlers, including Doña Magdalena Hashim Ysmael-Hemady (1877-1955) who donated and sold some parts of her Magdalena Estates, which covers most of the central portion of the E. Rodriguez Sr. Boulevard.
Initially called the España Boulevard Extension, the first major developments on the road were the Ducth Franciscan’s St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City (est. 1932) and the SDV Christ the King Mission Seminary (1933), as well as the Philippine Tuberculosis Society’s Quezon Institute (est. 1938). As part of the expansion outside of Manila, more institutions and residents slowly moved into the area, which was first covered with many small farming communities. However, the largest development began after World War, as the 1945 Battle of Manila left the whole city in ruin.
One of the post war developments along E Rodriguez Boulevard is the Iglesia ni Cristo Lokal ng Cubao temple, which was erected in 1954. Just 300 meters westward from the east end of E. Rodriguez Boulevard, this church is one of the first designs that Arch. Carlos Antonio Santos-Viola (1912-1994) had created for the independent Christian church. Arch Santos-Viola was part of the first batch of graduates of the School of Architecture of the University of Santo Tomas in 1935, where he was taught by noted architects and engineers such as Tomas Arguelles, Tomas Mapua, Juan F. Nakpil, Fernando H. Ocampo, and Andres Luna de San Pedro. After graduating, Santos-Viola training was further enhanced by working in the office of Juan Nakpil. Although a devout Catholic, Santos-Viola is noted to have designed the primary style of the Iglesia ni Cristo’s temples, and he was the principal design for most of the churches throughout the Philippines, until his death in 1994. His designs are said to be a modernist approach to the Gothic Revival and Neo-Baroque architecture. Santos-Viola was one of the founders of the Philippine Institute of Architects in 1938.
A few hundred meters to the southwest is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao (ICCC) between Lantana and Vancouver streets. The church started as a small chapel dedicated to San Isidro Labrador in 1935, and it was established by missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD, or Societas Verbi Divini) of the nearby the Christ the King Mission Seminary. Declared as a parish in 1950, the church was now dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception. The present Neo-Romanesque designed structure was built in the 1960s, and the church was elevated to a cathedral in 2003, when the Diocese of Cubao was founded on the same year and housed at the Immaculate Conception.
Beside the Cubao Diocese’s home cathedral is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral School, which was opened in 1964 as the Immaculate Conception Parochial School. Other educational institutions along the E. Rodriguez Boulevard route are Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit’s (S.Sp.S.) Holy Spirit School High School (est. 1966) along Ilang-Ilang Street, the Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School (Santol-Galas Elementary School, est. 1930s) on Cordillera Street, the Philippine Institute of Quezon City (est. 1964) on Kintalad Street; and along E. Rodriguez Boulevard are the Franciscan St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City (est. 1932), Jubilee Christian Academy (est. 1967), the APEC Schools-New Manila (Affordable Private Education Center, est. 2016), the Trinity University of Asia (est. 1953), and the Manila Waldorf School – Kindergarten (est. 1994).
A block from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao is the Boston Gallery, at the corner of Lantana and Boston streets. Established in 1993, the Boston Gallery has been a launch pad for many influential artists of this present time. Owned the by the neurologist and former director of the Saint Luke’s Medical Center, Dr. Joven R. Cuanang, the Boston started when Dr. Cuanang started collecting artworks, especially from the young group Saling Pusa, who lived near his residence, in the far off City of Antipolo. After converting his Cubao apartment into the Boston Gallery, Dr. Cuanang’s personal collection of artworks and antiquities would grow so large that the gallery and his Antipolo home could no longer contain them. So in 2010, Dr. Cuanang converted his 1.3 hectare Antipolo residence into the seven halls Pintô Art Museum.
And further away west from the Boston Gallery is the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund) compound, which houses the Film Academy of the Philippines offices (FAP, est. 1981) and the Pambansang Museo ng Pelikula (National Film Museum, est. 2005). The Mowelfund was founded in 1974 by the actor and then San Juan City mayor, José “Joseph Estrada” Marcelo Ejército Sr. (born 1937), who was also the president of the Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association. The Mowelfund was organized to create programs and raise funds for the welfare of movie industry workers. The Mowelfund also helped reorganize the Board of Censors to become the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), organize the first Manila Film Festival in 1975, established the Film Academy of the Philippines as a local counterpart of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and conducted filmmaking workshops with the Mowelfund Film Institute (MFI) starting in 1979. The Pambansang Museo ng Pelikula takes up three floors of the FAP building, and showcases film memorabilia from the first films studios of the 1910s, all the way to the present.
Back along the westbound route of E. Rodriguez Boulevard is the House of Precast, which has stood in the same lot since 1948. The House of Precast was established by Conrado de León, a sculptor, who had learned precasting from his father and the Isabelo L. Tampinco (1850-1933) and his son Vidal (1893-1963), and apprenticed under National Artist for Sculpture, Guillermo Estrella Tolentino (1890 -1976), and Francesco Riccardo Clementi Monti (1888-1958). Although De Leon has no great artwork to his credit, he has help cast many great monuments, especially those of Tolentino and Monit. Now many religious, educational, government and private institutions have had their sculptures and architectural moldings created by the House of Precast. Presently, the House of Precast is run by De Leon’s daughter and son-in-law, Martin and Michelle Galan.
Around 1.7 kilometers west of the House of Precast is south end of Tomas Morato Avenue. Constructed in 1940, the road was originally named Sampaloc Avenue, after the many tamarind trees (Tamarindus indica) growing along the road. In 1960, the road was renamed after Tomás Eduardo Bernabéu Morató (1887-1965), the first mayor of Quezon City, who served from 1939 to 1942. Currently, Morato Avenue is one of the top entertainment areas of Quezon City, with many of restaurants, bars, spas, hotels, and karaoke bars lining the streets, and ending with the radio, television, and film studios of the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Network. The streets bisecting Tomas Morato Avenue are named in honor of the 22 boys scouts, who died in a plane crash enroute to the 11th Scout Jamboree, in 1963.
Just 300 meters west is the Christ the King Mission Seminary, at the corner E. Rodriguez Boulevard and Dona Hemady Avenue. Established in 1933 by the Dutch missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word (Societas Verbi Divini, or SVD), as a means to counteract the growing local independent Christian churches, such as the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Aglipayans. Built in 1933, the oldest building in the Christ the King Mission Seminary compound is the Buttenbruch Building, named after Fr. Theodore Buttenbruch, SVD (1886-1944), the founder of the seminary and the Divine Word College of Bangued, Abra. Other structures inside the Christ the King Mission Seminary compound is the Villa Christo Rey, the home for retired SDV priests, the Sementeryo ng Mga Relihiyoso for SDv priests who have passed away, and the Diocesan Shrine of Jesus, The Divine Word. The shrine was designed by Fr. Friedrich Linzenbach, SVD (1904-1981), with sculptures by the German artist Ewald Wilhelm Hubert Mataré (1887-1965). Around the compound are sculptures of the SDV saints and martyrs, by a certain Julian C. Sta. Maria.
The latest development in the Christ the King Mission Seminary compound is the Garden of the Divine Word. The columbarium was completed in 2008, and was designed by CRÉARIS. The Garden of the Divine Word is a multi-leveled columbary set around a sprawling garden, with the Grotto of the Lady of Annunciation as the center.
Right across the road, at the corner of E. Rodriguez Boulevard and 14th street is the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae’s Maryhill School of Theology (est. 1972). Some Catholic institutions nearby are the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit’s (S.Sp.S., est. 1945) Convent of the Holy Spirit on Poinsettia Street (est. 1945), the La Salette Missionaries’ Philippines Provincial House on Hillcrest Street (est. 1948), the Pink Sister’s St. Joseph Convent of Perpetual Adoration (Est. 1965) on Do a Hemady Avenue and 11th Street, the Holy Child of Violago Chapel (est. 1984) on Florence Street, and the Bishop Sobrepeña Memorial on La Trinidad Street. Other Christian institutions are the New Manila Baptist Church on La Florilla Street, the Society of Pius X’s Our Lady of Victories Church (est. 1993) at the corner of Cannon and Betty Go-Belmonte streets, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Rosario Drive. And for the Buddhists, there is the Nichiren Shoshu Hokaiji Temple (est. 2011) along Rosario Drive.
On Sunnyside Drive, northwest of the Christ the King Mission Seminary compound is the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA). Established in 1967 by Cecile Guidote-Alvarez (born 1947), the PETA was envisioned as theater as a means of helping Philippine society. From its founding the PETA started its performances at the Paco Park in Manila, then moved on to the Plaza Raja Sulayman, in Intramuros. The PETA was instrumental in organizing the Third World Theater Festival in 1971, in the same year it was honored as the UNESCO-International Theater Institute Center in the Philippines. In 2005, the PETA transferred to its new home in New Manila; and was later honored with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2017. One of the key elements in the new PETA building is a large mural entitled “Baraha ng Buhay Pilipino” (Cards of Philippine Life). The mural was completed in 2008, for PETA’s 40th anniversary, done in the tarot card style of Brenda V. Fajardo, with the help of Noel Soler Cuizon (born 1962), Karen Ocampo Flores (born 1966), Max Baluyut Santiago (born 1975), and Raul Ignacio “Iggy” Mallillin Rodriguez (born 1975).
Brenda Villanueva Fajardo (born 1940) originally did not plan a career in the arts, as she had graduated with a degree in agriculture for the U.P. Los Baños campus in 1959. However, her thrust into the art world was pushed when she took her master’s degree in art education at the University of Wisconsin in 1967. Fajardo started teaching art at the Ateneo de Manila and the College of Holy Spirit, while she was experimenting in her painting and printmaking. Soon she developed her Tarot themed paintings, which she is most known for. In the 1970s, Fajardo joined the Philippine Education Theater Association (PETA), and work both on stage and backstage as a set and costume designer. She completed her doctorate in Art Studies at the U.P. Diliman campus in 1997, and soon became one of the faculty. She also is noted for being one of the co-founders of the Philippine Art Educators Association (PAEA), Kababaihan sa Sining at Bagong Sibol na Kamalayan (KASIBULAN), the Baglan Art and Culture Initiatives for Community Development (BAGLAN), and the Dalubhasaan sa Sining at Kultura (DESK). Throughout her career, Fajardo has won many awards with the most notable as the Thirteen Artists Award of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1992, the Gawad Chancellor for Best Visual Art Creation by the U.P. in 1996, Philippines’ One Hundred Culture Heroes by the CCP in 1998.
Taking up most of the block between 19th Street, Sunnyside Drive (now Saint Peter Julian Eymard Drive) and E. Rodriguez Boulevard, the Quezon City Sports Club is one of the top recreational facilities in Quezon City for the more affluent members of society. Boasting modern facilities, such as ten-pin bowling alleys, swimming pools, tennis courts, squash courts, badminton courts, billiard tables, gym, dance studio and basketball courts; as well as a spa, restaurant, bar, playground, and much more. The Quezon City Sports Club is Y-shaped complex that was designed by Arch. William Vargas Coscolluela (born 1933), and completed in 1979. The Quezon City Sports Club also an art gallery, an interesting collection of cubist paintings by Oscar T. Salita (1943-2012), and a large wall installation by Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo (1942-2016) entitled “The Purification of Physical Being” (1979).
Occupying the whole compound between 19th Street, Sta. Ignacia Street and E. Rodriguez Boulevard, the St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City is the oldest institution along R. Rodriguez Boulevard. In 1932, Dutch Franciscan Sisters settled in the area, and established the Saint Joseph’s Academy on the same year. The oldest building in the St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City is the administration building and chapel. Completed in 1934, the chapel has art deco religious icons by the Dutch sculptor Gérard Francis Hubert Linssen (1858-1921), and it used to have ceiling and wall murals by the modernist masters Galo B. Ocampo (1913-1985) & Carlos “Botong” Villaluz Francisco (1914-1969).
Beside the St. Joseph’s College of Quezon City is the St. Luke’s Medical Center, which started in 1903 as Dispensary of St. Luke the Beloved Physician, along Calle Magdalena (now Bambang Street ) in Tondo, Manila. Established by the Episcopal Church, the Dispensary of St. Luke also opened the St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing a few years later. In 1961, the hospital moved to its current location and was renamed as the St. Luke’s Hospital. In 1984, the hospital was rechristened as the St. Luke’s Medical Center.
The Episcopal Church’s developments along E. Rodriguez Boulevard didn’t start with the Luke’s Medical Center. This started with the arrival of the Episcopal Mission of St. Mary the Virgin in the Philippines, in 1901. By 1903 the construction of the National Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John started on Isaac Peral Street (now United Nations Avenue) in Manila, but was moved to its present in Quezon City by 1962, after the original cathedral was destroyed during World War II. The oldest Episcopal institution along E. Rodriguez Boulevard is the St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary, which started in 1932 as a training school in Sagada, Mt. Province, before moving to its present site in 1946. The Episcopal seminary, cathedral and hospital were followed by the establishment of the Trinity College of Asia (now the Trinity University of Asia) in 1963, after the Episcopal Church purchased the old Capitol City College. And the later developments in the Episcopal compound (also called Cathedral Heights) are National Artist for Music Dr. Francisco F. Feliciano’s (1941-2014) ecumenical Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music (est. 1980), the Horeb House guest house, and the Arch. Albert Gerona designed Elysium Gardens Columbarium (established).
The next westward compound between Fairhope, Alexander, Montgomery streets and E. Rodriguez Boulevard is the Genuino Ice Company, Inc. (GICI) of one, Hector S. Genuino. Although the ice plant was established in 1980, the compound has and older history where the Ysmael Steel plant used to stand. The Ysmael Steel Corporation was owned by the family of Doña Magdalena Hashim Ysmael-Hemady, the founder of New Manila. The Ysmael Steel Corporation’s mascot was a robot, and a nearly 15 meter statue of the robot stood before the building during the 1950s to 1960s. The Ysmael Steel Corporation also had their own basketball team, the Ysmael Steel Admirals (1958-1968), who played in the now defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA).
Right across Genuino Ice Company on E. Rodriguez Boulevard is the government’s National Children’s Hospital (NCH), which started as the Indigent’s Children’s Clinic, in 1945. The Indigent’s Children’s Clinic was first located along San Rafael Street in Manila, and was formed to care for refugees, the sick and undernourished children who were affected by World War II. On December 1945, the clinic was renamed the Indigent Children’s Hospital, and later moved to the nearby Gastambide Street, in 1947. In time, the old hospital could not contain the many patients in its care, so a new plot of land was purchase from the Mori Bicycle Compound at España Extension in Quezon City, in 1952, along with the name change to the National Indigent Children’s Hospital. In 1955, construction of the new hospital begins, matched with another rechristening to the National Children’s Hospital. The first building was completed and opened in 1958, and more developments and additions have be made in the years to come, to better served the poor families from all over Metro Manila.
Just around 450 meters westward from the National Children’s Hospital is the third medical institution along E. Rodriguez Boulevard, the Delos Santos Medical Center. Established in 1973 by the Father of Philippine Orthopedics, Jose V. de los Santos Sr., the hospital started as 30-bed clinic in 1949, where Dr. De Los Santos wanted to address the polio that has stricken one of his daughters. The De Los Santos Clinic soon began to grow, and became the De Los Santos General Hospital 24 years later. The hospital opened its educational department, the De Los Santos College, in 1975, which is now the school has merged with the Systems Technological Institute (STI), to establish the De Los Santos – STI College Inc. in 2002. Inside the hospital as some artworks from the De los Santos family’s collection, including a sculpture by Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo (1942-2016), and paintings by Antonio del Monte Ko Jr. (Antonio Kua, 1956-1999), Felix “Lex” Gonzalez Jr. (born 1938), and Oscar Deveza Zalameda (1930-2010).
Traveling further westward down E. Rodriguez boulevards, one crossed the San Juan River through the Marilao Bridge, then passes Gregorio Araneta Avenue, which was named after the patriot and Katipunan Revolution supporter, Gregorio Soriano Araneta (1869-1930). Just a few meters after the E. Rodriguez and Araneta Avenue intersection is the Quezon Institute compound, home to the Philippine Tuberculosis Society Inc. Starting as the Santol Sanitarium, in 1918, the new facility was built in 1938 through the funding campaigns of President Manuel Luis Molina Quezon (1878-1944), starting while he was a senator in 1934. The building was designed by the National Artist for Architecture, Juan Felipe Nakpil (1899-1986), and was named after its benefactor. Inside the Quezon Institute are paintings by National Artist, Fernando Cueto Amorsolo (1892-1972), and Fermin Vergara Sanchez, as were a relief by Crispulo de Mendoza Zamora (1871-1922).
Less than 500 meters from the Quezon Institute is the south end of Banawe Street, also called the Autoparts Capital of the Philippines for the many car part stores and repair shops along the 3.2 kilometer road. The Banawe area was declared as China Town of Quezon City in 2013, and commemorated with two Philippine-China Friendship Arches installed at both entrances to Banawe Street from its Quezon Avenue intersection. Major landmarks along Banawe Street are the Queen of Peace Convent (est. 1947), the Manresa Retreat House (est. 1954), the Fe Del Mundo Medical Center (est. 1957), and the Philippine Orthopedic Center (est. 1963).
Around 900 meters westward from the Banawe intersection, is the end of the E. Rodriguez Boulevard with the Mabuhay Rotonda (“Long Live Rotonda”). The rotunda is the round-about intersection between E. Rodriguez Boulevard, Quezon Avenue, España Boulevard and Mayon Street. It is also the marker of the border between Quezon City and Manila. Inaugurated in 1948 as the Welcome Rotonda, the central marble monument was designed by QC City Arch. Luciano V. Aquino, who also designed the current seal of Quezon City in 1974 and the Ponciano A. Bernardo Park (1947-1949). The monument was renamed as the Mabuhay Rotonda in 1995.
There is much to explore along and around E. Rodriguez Boulevard, whether it is the social, historical, religious, medical, and educational institutions; or whether it is the many food establishments along the road. And in the next article, we will take a more in-depth look at the Angelican Episcopal Church’s heritage sites, on E. Rodriguez Boulevard.