Pateros, Mas na Mas

tag: pateros, san roque pateros, cancio house pateros, santa marta pateros

I was searching for a former colleague’s contact in my address book a few weeks ago when I noticed that I don’t have anyone under Pateros. Well, I know the comic Jimmy Santos’ from Pateros but he’s not on my address book nor is he a friend. Worst is that I’ve never been to Pateros!

Yesterday, I thought it a good idea to brush up on my history. The sun is up and I have a day to spare—so, I headed straight to the smallest town in metro Manila.

Casa Cansio in Calle Almeda

I grew up in Makati. The city that dwarfs Pateros from its west. I now work in Taguig which is in the south, up north is Pasig. Pateros is like Israel, surrounded by giants. Taguig, during the time of Marcos, took chunks of Pateros making it even smaller. Makati, too, grabbed the area near Fort Bonifacio. I wonder if the duck town had the economic resources back then, maybe they could have prevented their neighbors expansion at their expense.

The last municipality in metro Manila is known for its balut industry. I grew up eating these aborted eggs  and wearing, albeit for a brief period of time, those comfy sandals called alfombras, another traditional industry in town. The town is literally a jeep ride away from where I grew up and for some strange reason I never even passed this place.

What they lack in land mass they compensate with their rich heritage. Compare, say, to their neighbor Taguig, Pateros have a distinctive historical identity that sets them apart. While neighbor Taguig’s only historical heritage is a graveyard called heritage (well, there’s the Libingan and the American cemetery). Mention Pateros and people would speak of its balut, kakanin (like inutak), their Santa Marta and the iconic alfombra.

I did an ocular inspection of the remaining Antillean houses in the area and was saddened that there’s not a lot of them left. The pressure to develop land is strong in Pateros because there’s not a lot of space for building.

The Concio house along Almeda Street is the oldest in town. Along with some other houses along Almeda, is what remains of the old houses that once dotted the main streets leading to the church. An older house, built by the steadfast church patron Don Marcelo de Borja was demolished in the early 2000’s. How it happened and why is a question that we, the present Filipinos, must explain to the forthcoming generations.

The Church of San Roque where the venerated Santa Marta is enshrined. The red bricked edifice is the Catholic school of Pateros

I found out that one of the descendant of Maestrang Tayang, the Concio matriarch, is an architect of excellent repute—Cesar H. Concio Sr.

While I have not met the descendants of this standout Pateros family I get this feeling that they have a great appreciation of the historical value of their grandparents house. I’m glad they’re  unlike other owners that sells their heritage with the alibi that they could no longer handle the expenditure to maintain them. You see, its easier to sell these houses as most of them sits on prime lot. But for some reason, maybe sentimental or historical awareness, the Concio’s and families like them, repels lucrative money-spinning offers. And this resistance is very Filipino, very noble and very honorable!

What many of us forget is that these heritage houses are not only owned by the families nor the local governments, they are national patrimony, we own these wonderful remnants of our past. They’re the fruit of our historical evolution. Take them away and we’re left with no memory of what our towns used to look like. Places of amnesia, as one heritage architect calls it.

Remnants of old town Pateros which would most likely be gone in the years to come.

There are still extant post and prewar houses near the church. But I don’t think they would be around for long. In New York, heritage conservationist are trying to fend of the “gentrification” of what was once working class suburbs. Shops are being turned into uppity commercial spaces while entire neighborhoods are made into high class living spaces. Our case is unique. The old gentry houses are being overly gentrified! Old houses of the rich folks are made into new up class developments which are becoming rampant making our heritage laws appear like tits on a bull—useless.

There were also these small bronze markers installed in the houses once owned by local chiefs. Like that of Mayor Almeda in, well, Almeda Street. Such steps in protecting structures linked to the town’s history is worthy of our commendation. I checked NHI’s “Historical Markers” published in 1999 and found no markers installed in town. How could these be even possible? Well, the book I have is outdated but even the centuries old church of the town does not have one.

To Pateros! Mas na Mas! Viva Pateros!

We better start asking our local leaders to have our historical sites to have historical markers — this is one step in assuring that they would have some protection against senseless over development. The province of Bohol realized this decades ago. This explains the increase in numbers of Boholano churches having markers from our National Historic Commission. Sadly, some of the churches that was granted with markers were damaged during the recent earthquake in that region.

Mas na Mas is the official motto of Pateros.


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