I am among the many urban denizens who have moved away in recent years from the core metropolitan Manila to a more “suburban” (if that is the right word to say) type of environment. In my case, I made that move more than 2 years ago as I relocated eastward to one of Rizal province’s bustling towns: Taytay where my home is nestled just below the hills of Antipolo and the elevated plains of Cainta-Taytay.
Taytay is one of those towns with a peculiar layout such that where I live is not actually directly connected to the town proper, at least in the commuting sense. From my place, it is actually a ride away to Antipolo’s city proper compared to 2-3 rides I would take going to Taytay town proper. Thus my familiarity with that particular part of the town is more of a casual one whenever my ride passes by that part of the town.
But as part of my work as a volunteer for Wikimedia PH’s Philippine Heritage Mapping Project, I decided to explore the Taytay town proper for the first time since I relocated. My primary objective was to check out the St. John the Baptist Church AKA Taytay Church, the site I was doing some research about. But I also took it as an opportunity to see what else is out there that may surprise me.
St. John the Baptist Church
Based on the information I have gathered, the church was originally built in 1630 but it was almost left to ruin during the Philippine-American War. In fact much of the town was burned down during that time, which might explain there is not much heritage seen in the town that dates from the Spanish colonial period.
Going back to the church, it has undergone a lot of reconstructions over the years but the lower middle portion is still that of the original structure. Other than that, much of it is modern already.
A 1930s Ancestral House
This was one of the surprises that I came across with that day. From what I’ve gathered, it was originally built in the 1930s and was used until recently as a restaurant or at the very least, used to serve Cebu lechon. Today it’s largely abandoned now though I’ve heard the owners of the house still live nearby.
The Former Municipal Hall
For a municipal hall, it sure looked different from the town halls I’ve seen in photos or in person as it looked more like a commercial building than a government building. But this was the former municipal hall of Taytay which I’ve heard was built in the 1960s.
The municipal hall was eventually moved to a building that looked like one of those government buildings in the neoclassical style near Club Manila East, though I think the mayor still holds office there from time to time. There are plans to convert into some attraction called “Taytayeños Ancestral House.” I wonder how that will turn out.
Narrow Sidewalks, Congested Streets
Going down from the hilly terrain where the church and old municipal building are located, you will be greeted with the sight of congestion at the town proper as vehicles make their way on to the narrow streets while people are walking along the narrow sidewalks. It felt as if I never the city.
Nevertheless,there is some charm to be discovered in this congested part of town, especially along the side streets and if you take time to check out the what I believe are old houses adaptively reused as commercial spaces.
A few walks ahead is Taytay’s open plaza of sorts, Kalayaan Park. Inaugurated in the 1990s, it is an elevated area and it has a stage where various events in the town are held.
I would have continued walking on but it was getting dark already so I decided to head back home with a newfound “appreciation” of my current hometown. Hopefully I could explore more of this part of Taytay. But my schedule is pressed with so many trips planned ahead, as well as some past trips which I hope to write about here.
Stay tuned and keep roaming.