A FAMILY FAVORITE. It is early afternoon at Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City. Traffic is light at this hour. Although some coffee shops and eateries are open, most of the highly respected restaurants that sound like a group of old friends: Annabel’s, Mario’s and Alfredo’s are preparing for their dinner patrons.
This street is a family favorite. My father frequently hanged out at Mario’s at the time when Levi Celerio plays old time Filipino music in its grand piano. My mother would bring a friend at Annabel’s for a sumptuous lunch or dinner. I remember that as child, the entire family would dine in at Alfredo’s after hearing Sunday mass.
SAMPALOC AVENUE. This busy street in Quezon City had always been there though with another name. I’ve learned from my father that Tomas Morato Avenue was a wilderness of tamarind (sampaloc) trees and lush vegetation some sixty years ago. Flowers bloomed in beds planted at the center of the sidewalk, the very same sidewalk that pedestrians still use to this day. It was known as Sampaloc Avenue then.
DON TOMAS MORATO. In 1939, President Manuel Luis Quezon, planted the first of the Sampaloc trees together with Don Alejandro Roces and Don Tomas Morato. Quezon appointed Don Tomas Morato to be the first mayor of Quezon City.
Don Tomas Bernabeau Morato was born of Spanish parents in the picturesque seaport of Alicante on the Mediterranean coast of Spain on July 4, 1887. He was brought to the Philippines by his father who was a ship captain sailing from Spain to Caluang, Quezon.
He and Quezon became good friends in school. Tomas finished his engineering course and entered the lumber business where he became successful. After the Philippines gained independence from Spain, Morato became a Filipino citizen by virtue of a proviso in the Treaty of Paris which granted Filipino Citizenship to all Spaniards who had decided to stay in this country.
TOMAS MORATO MONUMENT. In 1965, Congress passed a law changing the name from Sampaloc Avenue to Tomas Morato Avenue. It was a fitting tribute to the very first mayor of Quezon City, who had his city officials transfer their residences to this street where he himself lived.
The city council then passed a resolution to erect a monument to Morato in Barangay Obrero at the intersection of Timog Avenue and Tomas Morato Avenue.
SCOUT AREA LANDMARK. This Quezon City landmark is also a memorial to remember the 24 Boy Scouts who were killed in the tragic plane crash on their way to Greece for the 11th World Scout Jamboree.
The streets surrounding Tomas Morato Avenue in South Triangle, Barangays Obrero, Laging Handa and Paligsahan were renamed in honor the Philippine Scouts and Scouters, which our generation also refer to as the Scout Area.