Historic Marikina, Your Best Next door Weekend Getaway
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Marikina is in a unique, sweet spot. While the city is on the verge of modernization, it still retains its rustic charm. Old houses of wood and stones dating back to the Spanish era stand side by side with newly-constructed malls of glass and steel.
Some scenes are straight out of an old postcard. At any given time of the day, some Marikiños travel in bicycles, unperturbed by the rushing cars and jeepneys, who are just too generous to share the road with them. Others can be seen sitting on benches shaded by giant trees, as still as the Marikina River, seemingly unaware of the passing time. So gentle, bucolic, very uncity-like.
The beauty of the city lies in its proximity to the highly-urbanized and crowded neighbors such as Makati, Quezon City and Manila, making Marikina an ideal next-door weekend getaway.
Come on a Saturday or Sunday and be dazzled by its multitude of offerings ranging from historical sites, recreational facilities such as the now famous Marikina River Bank, museums and its hip and vibrant food and entertainment scene, punctuated by the rise of various restaurants, bars and coffee shops offering a wide variety of dishes to satisfy one’s cravings.
What makes Marikina an ideal getaway is that it’s just an hour or two away from the cities of Quezon, Makati and Manila, making Marikina an ideal next-door weekend getaway.
Since Mayor Marcelino R. Teodoro, fondly called Mayor Marcy, was elected in May 2016, his administration has further improved the city’s attraction as a tourist destination, sprucing up parks, cleaning and clearing up streets and alleys, dredging up rivers, putting up more street lights, among other initiatives aimed at making the city safe, fun and pulsing with life.
The local government has also come up with a catchy tagline “Make it Marikina” to drum up more interest in the city.
Colorful, fun festivals
All year round, Marikina hosts some of the most colorful feasts and celebrations in the city, reflecting the Filipinos’ happy disposition and deeply religious nature. They offer a glimpse of the city’s culture and heritage that dates as far back as 1630, the year of its birth. They include the following:
Rehiyon, Rehiyon is a vibrant feast that pays tribute to the migrants who have chosen to stay in Marikina and contributed significantly to its progress. A carnival like atmosphere prevails in the air as the citizens of the city revel in street dancing and production numbers wearing costumes that also showcase the culture and heritage of the place. It highlights the local government’s celebration of Marikina’s cityhood anniversary on December 8.
Marikina-Day and Ka-Angkan Festival celebrate and value of kinship, belongingness and solidarity of the city’s multi-clan populace.
Coinciding with the city’s founding day on April 16, 1630, the festival’s main highlight is the parade of the clans, or old families, with members of each clan proudly proclaiming their “bansag” or special title through banners and costumes.
Expect a fiesta-like atmosphere with colorful and creative banners, banderitas (the staple in every Filipino fiesta celebration) and a cacophony of sounds from drums and bugles to add more life to the festive mood.
These are just some of the festivals that Marikina observes every year.
A sense of history
Mayor Marcy has placed as a priority the importance of preserving history, as gleamed from the old structures dotting the city’s landscape such as the Jesus Pena Church, which was built in 1630 by the Society of Jesus, marking the advent of Christianity in Marikina.
The city government recently forged a partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts to restore the church to its old glory.
“Mayor Marcy has a deep and profound appreciation of history,” says Ponchie Santos, the city’s historian and head of the local tourism office. “That is why history is one of the centerpieces of our tourism program.”
The Mayor wants schools in the city to revive the teaching of the history of Marikina to students in the city so that its culture and heritage won’t be forgotten for generations to come. The city government will work this out with the Department of Education.
“Mayor Marcy believes that if you understand the past and take care of the present, then the future will take care for itself,” Santos adds.
Cornucopia of food choices
Given the rising number of people with disposable incomes thanks largely to the booming Philippine economy that spilled over into cities like Marikina, the city has seen a number of restaurants, coffee shops and bars that mushroomed all over the metropolis.
Food enthusiasts have a variety of choices from the all-time favorite Filipino fares to Italian, Chinese, American, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese, just to name a few.
Among the restaurants and coffee shops worth visiting and tasting their sumptuous offerings without sinking your budgets into a deficit include:
Cafe Kapitan is housed in an Spanish style building on Number 323 J.P. Rizal Street, Sta Elena, offering Filipino and Spanish cuisines. Known as a cultural heritage in the city, the restaurant also serves Chinese dishes that taste as good as their appearance when served in generous proportions.
Industriya offers a glimpse of the old shoe factory in the city, which was turned into a cozy restaurant. Visitors laud its old-world charm as they enjoy its Filipino, American and Italian dishes. Located at Number 23 M.A. Roxas Street, Industriya is a must visit on everyone’s list.
Patio Vera is a perfect place for dating with its mood lightings and romantic garden setting. It offers Filipino and Spanish dishes and is located at Number 70 General F. Santos in Marikina.
Sites worth your while
The local tourism office offers daily tours to Marikina’s various historical sites and other interesting places that showcase the city’s rich history and culture for a minimal fee. Among the interesting places to visit are:
Shoe Museum is a fitting tribute to the city that is known as the shoe capital of the Philippines. It is famous for housing the shoe collection of former First Lady Imelda Marcos that include those that were made from Marikina. It also holds the shoes of several famous people, including a pair each from former presidents of the country arranged in chronological order, as well as those of former mayors of Marikina, celebrities, ambassadors, other politicians.
Kapitan Moy This 200-year-old building was once owned by Don Laureano “Kapitan Moy” Guevarra, the father of the shoe industry in the Philippines. The first pair of shoes produced in Marikina was designed and made here in 1887.
A must-see for everyone, particularly students and enthusiasts of history and architecture, Kapitan Moy’s ancestral house is a product of architectural evolution in the country. Its steep, hip roof, the post and lintel construction, the light and airy structure and the elevated quarters are inspired by the Philippine-style “Bahay Kubo.” Its sense of grandeur and solidity, dramatic arrangements of space, use of masonry, simple ornamental system are reminiscent of European architecture.
Marikina River Park is the focal point for community and cultural activities. It hosts the annual Mama Mary Fluvial Parade and Festival and the Marikina Christmas Festival. It has an amphitheater, floating stages for cultural events, a Roman Garden, Chinese Pagoda, a gazebo, riverboats and picnic grounds.
So next time you are craving for a quick, hassle-free, fun-filled and easy-on-the-budget weekend getaway, why not “Make it Marikina?”
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