Valenzuela City Museum ((Metro Manila)

The first half of this museum tour features the Pre-Colonial Period (when a group of settlers lived within the city’s modern boundaries which was then surrounded by bodies of water, hence the name Pulo, meaning “island,”later to be called Polo), the Spanish Period (when Spanish authorities founded the town of Polo in 1623, then constructed a church from 1627-1632), the Philippine Revolution (where  Dr. Pio played a key part by publishing Kalayaan, the Katipunan’s newspaper, with the help of residents), the Philippine-American War (where Polo became the headquarters of Gen. Antonio Luna and where the March 26, 1899 Battle of Malinta took place, resulting in the death of U.S. Col. Harry ClayEgbert), the American Period (when Dr. Pio became Polo’s president municipal and the MacArthur Highway was constructed in 1928, allowing enterprising Americans to buy swathes of land, including the over 3,000 hectare Malinta Estate in 1904, which were turned into sites for subdivisions and factories such as the Balintawak Beer Brewery, which opened in 1938, eventually becoming San Miguel Brewery after the war) and World War II (when residents, including incumbent presidente municipal Feliciano Ponciano, formed a guerilla group, under Lt.-Col. Edwin Ramsey, to combat the Japanese invaders).

The Pre-Colonial Period
The Philippine-American War
The Spanish Period

Midway through the exhibit are life-size statues of 3 homegrown heroes of the Philippine Revolution and Philippine-American War: Delfin Vellila (who fought the Spanish during the March 30, 1897 battle at Pasong Balite and died fighting the Americans in Guiguinto, Bulacan, in 1899), Dr. Pio Valenzuela (with his walking stick on his right hand and doctor’s bag on his left) and Gen. Tiburcio de Leon (known for his role in the Battle of Tullahan River which enabled the forces of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo to flee to Northern Luzon).

Life-size statues of Vellila, Valenzuela and De Leon

Interesting text and photo panels include an 1865 description of Polo by Fr. Felix de Huertagobernadorcillos(“little governors”) of Polo during the Spanish Period; a list of 55 World War II heroes (Barrion’s Division); and a list of 22 revolutionaries from Polo.  There’s also  beautiful, backlighted stained glass panels depicting San Diego Alcala (the city’s patron saint) and San Roque, flanked by texts of the hymn to the former and prayer to the latter.

San Diego and San Roque in stained glass

Another interesting panel is dedicated to the city as home to 2 movie companies (Premiere Productions and Larry Santiago Productions) and location site of movies (Asiong SalongaMinsa’y May Isang GamugamuDarnaMga Mata ni AngelitaLo Waist Gang, etc.); the local delicacy putong Polo (Polo rice cakes), with an actual gilingan bato (stone mill) on display; as well as to Stone Age (Pre-Neolithic Period), flaked tektites (rocks believed to have fallen from the sky) and obsidians (natural volcanic glass formed by the rapid cooling of magma) unearthed in 1933 at the barrios of Pugad Baboy (now Brgy. Gen. T. de Leon) and Maysan by Prof. H. Otley Beyer.

Tektites and obsidians
Putong Polo and a stone mill
Valenzuela in Movies

The second half of our museum tour, which began as soon as we entered the replica of Arkong Bato (built in 1910, it marked the boundary of Rizal, where Malabon formerly belonged, and Bulacan, where Polo formerly belonged), brought us to the city’s present, as an industrial hub. A prominent section, called “Made in Valenzuela,” features products made by factories based in the city – roasted peanuts (Grower’s), processed food (CDO), beauty and skin-care products (Splash), beer (San Miguel Beer), mattresses (Uratex), steel pipes (Mayer), water tanks (Bestank) and water pumps.

“Made in Valenzuela” Exhibit

The final part of the museum shows facilities and services (health care, education, etc.) offered by the current city government, photos of past and present mayors and congressmen of the city, and awards garnered by the city and modern-day Valenzuelanos (Marc Logan, Rowell Santiago, Fe Evangelista Padrinao, Irene S. De Castro, Isidro Arenas, Fernando S. Lumacad, etc.) deemed as role models for the current generation.

Photos of past and present mayors and congressmen
Modern Day Valenzuelanos

Valenzuela City Museum: G/F, City Hall, MacArthur Highway, Valenzuela City, Metro Manila.  Open from Mondays to Fridays, 8 AM-5 PM. Admission: free.

The Andres Bonifacio Monument (Caloocan City)

A few days ago, I again got an invitation from Valenzuela City historian and museum curator Mr. Jonathan C. Balsamo, this time to attend the opening of the Valenzuela City Museum, the city’s second (after Museo Valenzuela). To get there, I took the LRT (Light Rail Transit) from the Gil Puyat Station (near which I parked my car), along Taft Ave., all the way to its terminus at at the Andres Bonifacio Monument.  At its end is the beginning of the MacArthur Highway (or Manila North Rd.), where I was to take a Malanday or Malinta-bound jeepney to Valenzuela City Hall.  West of the monument is Samson Rd..  As I still had time on my hands, I decided to view the monument up close.
The Andres Bonifacio Monument
Popularly called Monumento, the monument, dedicated to the lifework of Katipunan founder (July 7, 1892) Andres Bonifacio (the “Great Plebeian”), is also the terminal point of bus and jeepney routes.  The move to build it came from former Katipuneros, particularly Bonifacio friend Guillermo Masangkay.  On February 23, 1918, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 2760, approving the erection of a national monument in memory of Bonifacio. Eight years later, on August 29, 1930, a jury, headed by Arch. Andres Luna de San Pedro (the son of Spoliarium painter Juan Luna) and composed of sculptor Vicente Francisco and Arch. Tomas B. Mapua, was created and convened to select the best design for the monument.
Andres Bonifacio
The design chosen was from sculptor (and later National Artist for the Visual Arts in 1973) Guillermo E. Tolentino. On November 30, 1929,  its cornerstone was laid by First Lady Doña Aurora A. Quezon and was started in 1931 with the help of sculptor Anastacio T. Caedo.  It was inaugurated on November 30, 1933.  On August 17, 2002, it was declared as a National Monument, by the National Historical Institute, and a National Cultural Treasure, by the National Museum, on November 30, 2009. 
The ravages of Spanish colonial rule
The execution of Frs. Gomez, Burgos and Zamora
The monument, Caloocan City’s most famous landmark, is said to face Tondo (Manila), Bonfacio’s birthplace.  This sculptural masterpiece has 23 bronze figures surrounding a four-sided, 40-ft. high marble pylon that rises from a 4-sided marble base and is topped by the winged figure of victory.   At its base is a platform-like structure with figures symbolizing the causes of the Philippine Revolution.
NHI plaque
The pylon has 5 parts, each representing the 5 aspects of the Katipunan. The monument stands on a base in the shape of an octagon whose 8 sides symbolize the first 8 key provinces (Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Tarlac) placed under martial law for revolting against Spain and the 8 rays in the Philippine flag. The 3 steps leading up to the monument represent the 3 centuries (333 years to be exact) of Spanish rule.
Winged Victory
Bonifacio Monument: intersection of EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Ave.), MacArthur Highway, Samson Rd. and Rizal Ave. Ext. (Avenida), Caloocan City, Metro Manila