- Dec. 17, 2021, Friday.
- The only things I'd only ever known about Metro Manila's San Juan City were Greenhills Shopping Center, and the existence of a few reputable schools in the vicinity. Although I was sure that San Juan was more than these, I also didn't think too much about exploring more of Metro Manila mainly because of the worsening traffic in the recent pre-pandemic years. (It was way easier moving around abroad than here in my own backyard!) However, the recent opening of the El Deposito Underwater Reservoir made me decide to check out the historical past of San Juan City.
- My first stop was at the El Deposito Museum, built above the El Deposito Underwater Reservoir. The museum showed pictures and artefacts about the early water system of Metro Manila. Entrance to the museum is free but make sure to reserve your slot beforehand. Please check for details and announcements in the El Deposito Facebook page (click here). Your slot is good for the El Deposito Museum as well as the Museo ng Katipunan beside it.
|Left: A reproduction of a water hydrant in Paco, Manila. Right: An original hydrant from Carriedo.|
|A diorama of the Pinaglabanan Shrine and surrounding buildings.|
|An American WW2 helmet found while excavating the water reservoir.|
|An old Pepsi bottle, also found while excavating the the El Deposito Water Reservoir.|
- While the El Deposito Museum was opened in 2019, the main reservoir from where the museum was named after was opened just this 2021. The reservoir was built in 1880 to supply water to the whole of (Metro) Manila. It was used for other purposes during the American and Japanese colonial periods, but was abandoned until 2016 when the National Historical Commission of the Philippines started restoring the reservoir for tourism purposes. As excited as I was, the museum unfortunately announced the night before my visit that visitors were temporarily off limits to the main reservoir due to a pipe repair. I had the option of rebooking my visit but I decided to just go anyway since I don't always have a lot of leisure time. I could just visit again once they announce that the pipe has been fixed.
|The water reservior.|
|One day I shall visit without the stanchions and the papers on the floor. The papers have "under maintenance" printed on them.|
|My friends from Katipunan. (By the way, I work at a university along Katipunan Avenue, which makes this a well-intended pun.)|
- After visiting the the water reservoir, I went to the Museo ng Katipunan which is right beside the El Deposito Museum. This museum opened in 1996 but went through a series of expansions and renovations; the current incarnation of the museum was opened in 2013.
- The museum dedicated to the Katipunan is located in this spot because the area where it is located was where the Katipuneros fought against the Spanish as part of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Thus, the area is called "Pinaglabanan," which means "battleground." Those who have read something about Philippine history will know that the Katipunan, led by Andres Bonifacio, was a group that wanted to gain Philippine independence from the Spanish through armed resistance. This was a contrast to the Ilustrados, with members such as Jose Rizal, who fought using the pen.
|Prominent members of the Katipunan. The photo at the right is Andres Bonifacio.|
|Blood compact, as a sign of brotherhood.|
|Weapons used by the Katipuneros.|
|Dioramas depicting revolts by the Katipuneros.|
|The iconic tearing of the cedula.|
|Other Katipunan-related documents and relics.|
- A few steps away the two museums is the main square or plaza of San Juan, and the centerpiece of the Pinaglabanan Shrine. The statue at the center of the plaza is called "The Spirit of Pinaglabanan," dedicated to the Katipuneros who fought against the Spanish. It was made by lauded sculptor Eduardo Castrillo in 1974.
|With The Spirit of Pinaglabanan.|
|It's made of brass.|
|The flame monument is also a memorial to the struggles of the Katipunan.|
|The City of San Juan, within the Pinaglabanan Shrine.|
- Around the corner from the Pinaglabanan Shrine is the Pinaglabanan Church, or more formally known as the Saint John the Baptist Parish. The City of San Juan, formerly known as San Juan del Monte, was named after Saint John ("San Juan" in Spanish.) He is the patron saint of the city. The church was built in 1894, and experience numerous renovations and expansions throughout its existence. If you have been reading my blogs, this church might ring a bell because its facade was the inspiration of the chapel in Las Casas de Acuzar Quezon City - which I visited last month (click here to see.)
|Church interior....and look at that giant fan!! The fan reminds me of a huntsman spider.|
- My final agenda for my San Juan trip was a little bit south from the Pinaglabanan Shrine. I decided to take a tricycle from the shrine since it would be faster. Equally historical ast he Pinaglabanan Shrine is the older Santuario del Santo Cristo, also known as the San Juan del Monte Church. It was built by the Dominicans in the 1600s, and was a victim of various wars and conflicts throughout the colonial years. It is also tied to the Katipuneros' history at some point as the Katipuneros sought refuge in the church during the Philippine Revolution.
|Santuario del Santo Cristo.|
|I am proud of this shot because my whole body covered a not-so-nice-looking guard house. Haha.|
- I didn't spend too much time in San Juan as I had a lunch appointment that day. I just thought that it was a perfect time to go to San Juan not only because of El Deposito, but because it was halfway between my house and my lunch appointment. However, I was really glad that I finally got to visit some of the most crucial historical monuments within Metro Manila! I'm hoping to see more in the near future!!