In the olden days, Malabon was not only made famous for its skillful knife makers, but also for its big tobacco factory located in barrio La Concepcion. According to Fr. Pedro Galende, the factory was built in front of the El Portillo de Embajadores. During its heyday, it employed more than 5,000 women in their 101,126 square feet workshop. It is said during work hours only the metallic monotonous sound of the scissors could be heard.
On my visit to Malabon, I went to find out about the site of the factory but no one from the town could remember the name of the factory not even that image of a girl, dressed in colorful attire, a wicker basket on her arm and a smile on her face that once became a famous character known as the La Cigarrera de Malabon.
As a traveler, serendipity has always led me to other discoveries. In Malabon I’ve met Ruben Gastor, an old timer who was once a member of a house wrecking crew. He led me to barangays Concepcion and Baritan to see the surviving period houses.
First stop was the parish church of barangay Concepcion. It was originally a visita in the 1600’s. In 1886, the existing structure was erected. The Aglipayans took possession of the church in 1904 and was returned the Roman Catholics in 1906. The church was once a vacation house of the Augustinians.
In front of Concepcion Church is the Farmacia Borja. Built in 1923 following the art nouveau fashion of the time, the house is maintained by the descendants of the Rojas-Borja Family. This house is one of the few well-maintained ancestral houses in Malabon.
Benedicto Luna House of the Santos-Luna family is a three storey house built in the 1900s. The house located at General Luna cor. Paez Sts. Baragay Conception. Unfortunately, the house is abandoned.
The 1881 Lapuz House of Lapuz-Lazaro family has a high-pitched galvanized iron roof system in wooden trusses.
Cayco House on C. Arellano St. cor. T. Santos, Barangay Baritan is a 1920s two-storey Filpino colonial period Ilustrado House. It is known to be the only one of its kind in the whole town in terms of the very unique designs and structure that is not the usual house one can see in Malabon.
In front of the Cayco house is the original century-old Rufina Patis manufacturing plant.
David Ignacio House is a 1930s two storey Filipino colonial period Ilustrado house. It is described to have an ornate carving in the interior. The front of the house is immediately along C. Arellano St. and to its rear is a river.
Next to the well-preserved Luna House is another Luna House in a desperate state. Built in the 1890s, the two storey colonial period house has traces of art nouveau elements. Some locals say that the house has rooms with ceiling paintings allegedly done by Fernando Amorsolo.
Raymundo House is the presumed as the oldest house in Malabon. Built in 1861, the two storey structure has a ground floor stone wall and 2nd floor wood and stone walls. What made this bahay-na-bato standout is its Hapsburg Eagle inscribed above the adobe gateway.
Angels in Stone by Father Pedro Galende, OSA
Research work by Richard Tuason-Bautista and Monchet Lucas