PASIG CITY: ITS HERITAGE AND RIVER

Pasig City is one of the cities in Metro Manila. Located along the eastern border of Metro Manila, Pasig is bordered on the west by Quezon City and Mandaluyong City; to the north by Marikina City; to the south by Makati City, Pateros, and Taguig City; and to the east by Antipolo City, the municipality of Cainta and Taytay in the province of Rizal.

The Pasig City skyline, with Ortigas Center.

The Pasig City skyline, with Ortigas Center.

The word “Pasig” means  “A river flowing from one body of water to another,”  which briefly describes the Pasig river because it flows from Marikina River and exits at Manila Bay. The word is believed to come from the Chinese in Binondo called, “Mapasik”. Later, it became “Pasik”until it becomes “Pasig”.

Prior to the formation of National Capital Region, Pasig was once the capital of the province of Rizal, which was created through Act No. 137 of Philippine Commission during the Philippine-American War. In 1975, the Metro Manila Commission (now Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) removed Pasig from Rizal and became a part of Metro Manila.

In 1994, President Fidel Ramos converted Pasig into a highly urbanized city through Republic Act 7829. Through the early years of the city, it was primarily a residential and industrial but the city has grown into a commercial area.

The Western part of the city is Pasig’s main economic hub, consisting of Ortigas Center and E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue. It has numerous factories, warehouses, establishments and commercial centres. Real estate and commercial developments along Mercedes Avenue and other areas near the city center are developing. The Eastern part is home to numerous residential areas but commercial establishments are also developing there.

Ortigas Center is one of the major business districts in the country. It has numerous high-rise office buildings, condominiums, commercial establishments, schools, and shopping malls. Ortigas Center’s developer, Ortigas & Co. Ltd. Partnership will develop its flagship project, One Galleon Place. It is the tallest building in the Philippines and might even surpass the iconic Empire State Building of New York.

The Calero's HIll.

The Calero’s HIll.

Real estate properties were developed in Pasig City. Notable along Ortigas Avenue and E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue (C-5) lies Frontera Verde, a newly privately owned development area which boasts restaurants, pet shops, mall, park, village, office buildings and a small zoo. The shopping complex Tiendesitas was located here, a one spot hub that can rival the world-renowned Chatuchak market of Bangkok, Thailand. El-Pueblo, a colonial-themed commercial complex in Ortigas Center, provides new concept of cafes, restaurants and bars. Metrowalk, a commercial hub along Ortigas Avenue and Meralco Avenue, was established in 2005 near Ortigas Center which comprises shops, depot warehouses, stalls, restaurants and bars.

Northwest of Ortigas Center lies the Meralco complex where numerous buildings, training center and hospital are located. Notable are the head office of Manila Electric. Located here along Ortigas Avenue is the privately owned hospital The Medical City, the business hub Rockwell Business Center, ADMU School of Medicine and Public Health and the MFI Foundation Inc.

During this time, after World War II, is when Manila grew and developed towards the east. Huge estates like that of the Tuazons developed what is now New Manila. While the Ortigas group with Madrigal started subdivisions in Mandaluyong and San Juan, while St. Louis Realty of the Bernasconi’s – developed areas of Cainta, Pasig, all the way to Antipolo.

My father and grandfather with Ortigas during a family gathering.

My father, Ramon F. Cuervo Jr. with my mother, Montse, the Calero’s and Francisco ” Paco” Ortigas Jr. during the opening of Sta. Lucia Estates, San Juan, now known as Little Baguio.

I recall my father working as salesman for Ortigas family and reporting to work at the  F.Calero Realty at T.Pinpin Street in new Escolta.  Also, I used to tag along to the Ortigas office known as Mandaluyung Development Corporation located at Shaw Blvd corner Princeton. The Ortigas office was a huge old wooden house of three or four levels and there I would see several subdivision maps and plans of residential developments as well as their industrial sector situated along Hi-way 54 (now EDSA) and Pasig river.

The city is well known as home of the Pasig River. It was once an iconic river during the Spanish times, a lifeline of Manila, center of economic activity and an important transportation hub. Some of the most prominent kingdoms in early Philippine history grew up along the banks of the river, drawing their life and source of wealth from it. When the Spanish established Manila as the capital of their colonial properties in the Far East, they built the walled city of Intramuros on the southern bank of Pasig River near its mouth.

Stretching for 25 kilometres (15.5 mi), it is lined by Metro Manila on each side. Its major arms are the Marikina River and San Juan River.

The Pasig River is technically a tidal estuary, as the flow direction depends upon the water-level difference between Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay. During the dry season, the water level in Laguna de Bay is low and the flow direction of the Pasig River depends on the tides. During the wet season, when the water level of Laguna de Bay is high, flow is normally from Laguna de Bay towards Manila Bay.

After World War 2 and due to negligence of the people and government coupled by the industrialization of the city, the river loses its pristine beauty. Informal settlers built their shanties along the banks of the river. The wastes derived from them and from factories greatly made the river as sewerage. It became much polluted and is considered a dead river by ecologists.

Pasig City: Past, Present, and Future.

Pasig City: Past, Present, and Future.

In 1989, efforts were made to revive the Pasig River with the establishment of Pasig River Rehabilitation Program, in cooperation with Danish International Development Assistance. PRRP was since renamed into Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission by President Joseph Estrada.

One of the projects initiated in the Pasig River clean up is the Estero de Paco. Before, the Paco Market was a bustling center of commerce and culture. Local fishermen catches fish from the ocean down to Pasig River and brought it to Paco Market. The clean waters of Pasig River provided livelihood to the people.

When the Pasig River began to show its pollution, the Estero de Paco became a victim of this and Paco Market was neglected for years. The vendors neglected the Estero de PAco and lived in the sides of it, causing the deterioration of the river’s water quality.

Last 2011, the Gina Lopez-led project, Kapit Bisig para sa Pasig, led the clean-up of Estero de Paco. Within 10 months, with the cooperation of local and national government agencies, various nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and private volunteers, transformed Estero de Paco into a beaitufl market and a clean tributuary flowing into Pasig River. The shore of the estero now has grasses to prevent erosion. Air is being pumped in the water to make it liveable to the fishes. All the informal settlers there were moved to Laguna. The Paco Market also sells the products of the relocated families, and thus, giving them a livelihood.

Citing the example of Estero de Paco, the relocation of the informal settlers is the key to clean up the Pasig River. Lopez, the Managing Director of ABS-CBN Foundation, hopes that the informal settlers will be relocated soon with the help of National Housing Authority, the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), Habitat for Humanity and Globe Asiatique so that the rehabilitation and revival will continue.

Ms. Gina Lopez, Managing Director of ABS-CBN Foundation, spearheaded the "Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig"project.

Ms. Gina Lopez, Managing Director of ABS-CBN Foundation, spearheaded the “Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig”project.

“Working together with the National Government, LGUs, NGOs, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and PRRC, mayors and congressmen is the whole point of Kapit Bisig Ilog Pasig. We are all working together as one,” Lopez said.

With sources from: Wikipedia and ABS-CBN News

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