The Southeastern area of Quezon City is the district encircled by Governor Epifanio Cristóbal de los Santos Avenue (EDSA for short), Colonel Venancio “Bonny” Merioles Serrano Avenue, Don Francisco “Paco” Barcinas Ortigas Sr. Avenue, and the Marikina River. This area is known for its posh residential villages and commercial establishments; such as the Corinthian Gardens, Greenmeadows, White Plains, Valle Verde, Queensville Court, Saint Ignatius, Acropolis Greek, and Corinthian Hills subdivisions, as well as the upscale commercial and business hub, the Eastwood City.
The Southeastern District of Quezon City lies at the border of the cities of Pasig and Marikina, with all these developments starting in the 1970s. Comprised of the barangays of Bagumbayan, Camp Aguinaldo, Libis, Saint Ignatius, Ugong North, and White Plains; the history of the district starts in American Occupation (1898-1946) of the 1930s. The area was still part of both the municipalities of Marikina and Pasig, with small farming communities along the Mariquina River, and its tributary the Libis Creek.
By 1901, the Libis Creek became the site of the Carriedo Water System (now the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System) Mariquina River Pumping Station, with the Carretera de Santolan (Santolan Road) built to connect the station to the El Deposito water reservoir, in the municipality of San Juan del Monte. The Santolan Road that was named after the many Santol Trees (Cotton Tree, Sandoricum koetjape) growing along the path was later renamed as Col. Bonny Serrano Avenue by the 1990s, while neighborhood of Libis would become a barangay by 1975.
The area had two geographical types, the lowland valley surrounding the Mariquina River and the high mesa created by the Marikina Fault Line. The part of high mesa was first called Ugong Batuhan (Noisy Rocky Land), due to the loud drunken merry making of the residents on the rocky plateau or the gnashing sound of the movement of the Marikina Fault Line. The place would be called Barrio Ugong Norte by 1962, as this was once the northwestern-most territory of the Municipality of Pasig that was seceded to Quezon City. And in 1935, the Commonwealth government began constructed the Philippine Army’s Camp William Francis Brennan Murphy on the Diliman side of the plateau, along with the Major Porfirio E. Zablan Airfield of the Philippine Constabulary Air Corps (PCAC). The Zabalan Airfield is now the southernmost part of Katipunan Avenue, Camp Murphy is now the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Camp Emilio Famy Aguinaldo, and Barrio Ugong Norte was formalized into a barangay in 1986.
By the late 1940s, families from the cities that were devastated by World War II (1939-1945) started migrating to Quezon City. Some families who were not relocated by the government’s People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC) decided to “squat” in Barrio Longos (named after a type of plant) at the western side of the Marikina River, and call their new home “Bagumbayan” (New Town). However, the whole area was owned by the family of Francisco “Don Paco” Ortigas (1875-1935), who had wanted to convert the land into an industrial sector. After a long legal battle, the PHHC (now the National Housing Authority) purchased the land from the Ortigas family, and awarded the lots to the residents, and in 1963 Barangay Bagumbayan was established.
In the late 1950s, Colonel Rafael Reynado E. Estrada (1920-2016) developed the residential subdivisions of Blue Ridge A and Blue Ridge B along Katipunan Avenue, for World War II veterans. This residential boom was continued in the late 1960s by alumni from the nearby Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) started building residential subdivisions along the southernmost route of Katipunan Avenue. This was started with the White Plains Village by the Quezon City Development & Financing Corporation (QCDFC)., and followed shortly by the Saint Ignatius Village in the late 1970s. In 1978, the family of Senator Vicente María Epifanio Madrigal-López y Pardo de Tavera (1880-1972) completes the 80 hectare Corinthian Gardens Village along EDSA and White Plains Avenue, and the Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership completed the 72-hectare Green Meadows Village. Other subdivisions that followed from the 1990s the 2000s are the Acropolis, Corinthian Hills, Queensville Court, The Enclave villages. In 1970, White Plains was established as a barangay, and Saint Ignatius followed in 1988.
By 1960 the circumferential road, E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue begins construction. Named after Congressman Eulogio Santiago Rodriguez Jr. of the 1st District of Rizal Province, who had died the year earlier, the 6.7 kilometer road connected Quezon City to Pasig City. By 1986, the E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue is linked to the 5th Circumferential Road (C5), which would link the cities of Parañaque, Taguig, Makati, Pasig, Marikina, and Quezon City with 32 kilometers of roadway. And in 1996, the total expanse of C5 is renamed as C. P. Garcia Avenue, after President Carlos Polestico Garcia (1896-1971).
The farming community of Barrio Longos (now Bagumbayan) was first a part of the municipality of Pasig, and its first school was erected in 1939 along with is cessation to the newly formed Quezon City. This school would eventually become the Bagumbayan Elementary School, on a lot along San Roque Street that was donated by the Ortigas family. The next public school to open was the Libis Elementary School along Santolan Road in 1958, and the San José High School on San Jose Street in 1993.
As for the education of the children residents of the posh villages of Greenmeadows, Saint Ignatius, Valle Verde, and White Plains; they first opted to send their children to the Ateneo de Manila University and Maryknoll College (est. 1954, now Miriam College) on Katipunan Avenue, the La Salle Greenhills School (est. 1959) along Ortigas Avenue in Mandaluyong City, and the Saint Paul College Pasig (SPCP, est. 1970) on Saint Paul Drive in Pasig City. However, the distance of these schools from the villages was becoming a problem for the residents, especially for their pre-school children. So in 1975, the Holy Angels Montessori School Annex opened on Santolan Road, followed by the 1983 launching of the Childstart International School on Yellowstone Street in White Plains, and the Center for Childhood Education (est. 1985) on Madrigal Avenue in Corinthian Gardens. This was later followed by the Creative Beginners: Center for Learning and Development (est. 1995), the LEAP School for Young Children (est. 1997), and the Raya Beginnings School (est. 2018), which are all located along Greenmeadows Avenue. As for the elementary and high school education of the neighboring children, the Thames International Entrepreneurs School of Asia opened in 1999 on Obrero Street, the Britesparks International School opened in 2000 on Metropoli Drive, and the Philippine Montessori Center opened on Queensville Circle all in Barangay Bagumbayan.
The oldest private school in the southeastern area of Quezon City is the all-girls Saint Pedro Poveda College, with its location along EDSA at the very border of Mandaluyong, Pasig and Quezon City. The school was established in 1960, as the Institucion Teresiana, by the Teresian Association of Lay Missionaries. However in 1974, the school changed its name to the Poveda Learning Centre, after Saint Pedro José Luis Francisco Javier Poveda Castroverde (1874-1936), the founder of Teresian Association of Lay Missionaries in 1911. In 2005, the school once again changed its name to the Saint Pedro Poveda College, two years after Saint Pedro Poveda was canonized.
For the spiritual needs of the Catholic residents, small chapels were erected in Bagumbayan and White Plains, with the masses administered by priests from the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish (OLPH) in Cubao, and later the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Parish in Project 4. In 1979, the Christ the King Church was established along Greenmeadows Avenue, becoming the first parish in the whole community. This was followed by the 1997 establishment of the San Roque Parish in Bagumbayan, the 2012 Saint John Paul II Parish along Orchard Road in the Eastwood City, and the Saint Joseph the Worker Convent on Roseville Street in White Plains.
The next major Catholic institution is the 1989 Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace: Our Lady of EDSA, which was erected as a monument to the peaceful 1986 People Power Revolution that saw the ouster of President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. (1917-1989), and his exile to Honolulu, Hawaii. Without any life spent, this “miracle” is highlighted by the gigantic bronze sculpture of Our Lady of EDSA, by Virginia Ty-Navarro (1924-1996). Built at the southeast corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue, the land for the shrine was donated by the real estate tycoon John Lim Gokongwei Jr. (born 1926), from the parcel of land he bought from the Philippine Social Security System (SSS), and was building his commercial center, the Robinsons Galleria (opened 1990). The church was designed by the National Artist for Architecture, Arch. Francisco “Bobby” Tronqued Mañosa (1931-2019), while the San Lorenzo Ruiz Chapel Baptistery was designed Arch. Dominic Galicia. Throughout the shrine are artworks by National Artist Napoleón Isabelo “Billy” Veloso Abueva (1930-2018), Eduardo De Los Santos Castrillo (1942-2016), Ramon Gahol Orlina (born 1944), Manuel Casal, Benjamin Pagsisihan Alano (1920-1991), and Nemesio “Nemi” R. Miranda Jr. (born 1949).
The most recent major Catholic institution in the area is the Shrine of Saint Pio de Pietrelcina, which was opened in 2007 on E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue. The shrine is dedicated to Padre Pio (born Francesco Forgione, 1887-1968), the controversial Italian Capuchin priest, who is known throughout the world for his stigmata (wounds that appear similar to the injuries sustained by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion). The chapel shrine contains relic of Padre Pio, specifically his bloodied gloves worn to hide his stigmata. The chapel is designed to look like the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo, in Italy, where stayed from 1916 to his death in 1968.
Aside from Catholic churches and convents, the other Christian denominations attend masses at the Episcopal Church inside Camp Aguinaldo. Then in 1984, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) opened their Manila Philippines Temple along Zebra Drive (now Temple Drive) in Barangay Ugong Norte. This temple was the first for the LDS, since their first attempts in evangelization in 1898. With the official recognition by the Philippine government in 1961, the LDS missions would only officially start in 1967, thus taking it twelve more years before building their temple. The LDS Temple was designed by Arch. Felipe Marcelo Mendoza (1917-2000), who was also instrumental in the development of the Greenmeadows Subdivision.
In 1997, the Megaworld Corporation opened the 18.5 hectare residential, commercial, business and entertainment complex of Eastwood City in Barangay Bagumbayan; making it the Philippines’ first first-ever integrated township project and IT Park (Information Technology), and thus granting it as a special economic zone by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
Inside Eastwood City at two sculptures by Seb Chua that reflect the community that had developed within this mix of residential and commercial project. In 2009, Chua unveiled the “Silent Companion” for the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), to celebrate the relationship between the residents and their pets. And in 2011, Chua presented his “Without Borders” that feature three figures that represented Philippine BPO industry (Business Process Outsourcing) and the area as an IT Park, which was launched at the Eastwood City.
However, the Eastwood City is not the first mixed-use commercial center in southeastern Quezon City. In the 1980s real estate tycoon John Lim Gokongwei Jr. (born 1926) was in the middle of building his shopping mall, the Robinsons Galleria at the corner of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA, when he donated part of the land for the development of the Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace: Our Lady of EDSA. The 216,000 m2 Robinsons Galleria was designed by Arch. William Vargas Coscolluela (born 1933), and completed in 1990 with the 29-storey Galleria Corporate Center. This would be the first of Gokongwei’s many malls named Robinsons Galleria around the country with Arch. Coscolluela and his sons designing most of them. Over the years, more buildings were added to the Robinsons Ortigas complex, starting with the 175 meter tall Robinsons PCI Bank Tower (now the Robinsons Equitable Tower) in 1997, by Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum and Arch. Coscolluela. This was followed by the opening of the residential Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, the 109.30 meter Holiday Inn Manila Galleria, and the Galleria Regency in 2004.
Just north of Eastwood City and at the border of Quezon City’s Bonny Serrano Avenue and Marikina’s President Fidel Valdez Ramos Road, the AFP’s Camp General Rigoberto Atienza is a remnant of the larger area of Camp Murphy from 1935. The camp was called the Santolan Barracks from 1935 to 1979, and was headquarters to the Philippine Army’s 51st Engineering Brigade. The camp was renamed after General Rigoberto Joaquin Atienza (1911-1966), the first Engineer Officer to serve as AFP Chief of Staff from 1965 to 1966, as he was destined at the Santolan Barracks when he was still a lieutenant. General Atienza is also the second member of the UP Vanguard to rise to that position.
At the southern end of Temple Drive is the Ugong Norte Barangay Hall and Community Center, which was opened in 2015. At the plaza of the community center is a statue of the 1992-2001 Quezon City Mayor Ismael “Mel” Austria Mathay Jr. (1932-2013), by the Marikina-based artist, Jonas Roces. Since his election as vice-mayor of Quezon City in 1967, Mathay has worked for the development of the barangays of Bagumbayan, Camp Aguinaldo, Libis, Saint Ignatius, Ugong North, and White Plains; since he was a resident of the area. Through this monument, the spirit of Mayor Mathay will remain watching Southeastern Quezon City as it continues to evolve with each generation.