Malabon Zoo

As a child, what comes to my mind when asked about Malabon is the perennial flooding and the famous city landmark –Malabon Zoo. This private zoo within the city has been a favorite destination during grade school field trips.

The zoo is located along Gov. W. Pascual Street just behind the public schoolhouse, 30 yards away from the bustling commercial district in Monumento (Bonifacio Monument). From within its walls, one can hear the calls of raucous birds and animal cries resounding from deep within Barrio Potrero.

The idea of putting up a zoo in the heart of Malabon was inspired on how smog-filled and factory-ridden now industrial city was once a wilderness teeming with flora and fauna. Owner and visionary Manny Tongco realized that at the rate lands are being developed into commercial and residential areas, there would soon be no habitat left for animals except zoos.

While the mission of Malabon Zoo is to educate the Filipino children about wildlife so that they will be aware of its important role in their lives, thereby assuring the long-term security of the forest and the animals that live in it, Manny and his team of caretakers devote themselves educating the public, especially the young, on the importance of conserving wildlife.

At the well-maintained grounds of the Malabon Zoo, it is not unusual to see a caretaker taking a tiger cub for a leisure stroll or an orangutan in diapers cuddled by children. On a busy day, the bear cat perches on the shoulder on another caretaker. At times, the heavy python is carried around a caretaker’s neck or twines a small snake around his forearm.

While children and adults alike peered at the lions and tigers lazing in cages a mere two feet away and waited transfixed for the 12-foot Indian python to swallow its dinner of a whole chicken, placards and friendly signs near the animal cages speak of the beauty of nature and the need to preserve its balance.

Of course, there are regular monkeys and crocodiles, iguana, wild boars and birds of various plumage.   Also from the dwindling herds from Palawan is a herd of Philippine deer.

From India are the Royal Bengal Tigers and Indian pythons, from Africa a lion and smart orangutan from Borneo. Within the depths of a six-foot-deep murky pond swim South American arapaima, the largest of all freshwater fishes.

Many of the animals at Malabon Zoo have now bred young ones in captivity.

Published in: on August 29, 2008 at 8:00 am  Comments (75)  
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An Unexpected Meeting with Monchet Lucas of Malabon


After almost two hours of walking through the town center of Malabon, I was so parched that I’ve decided to drop by Pescadores along Letre Road. Upon entering the restaurant compound, I first noticed that there were two function halls. An event was taking place at the one farther from the entrance, so I opted to go inside the first hall to the left of the gate. 



The the walls of the hall are lined with huge picture windows providing the restaurant with abundant natural lighting and a view of what appears to be a raft over a pond which I believe provides guests an al fresco dining experience.  



From the far side of the spacious hall, I saw a man who immediately stood up when I asked for the menu. The man was refined in action and has a mild-mannered disposition when he handed over the menu. I asked myself, could this be the owner? I made an unsolicited introduction and I was surprised when he replied that Architect Richard Tuason-Bautista forwarded my email to him when I inquired about the Malabon tour a year ago. 



This confirmed my hunch. I was meeting Mochet Lucas of Pescadores Restaurant who belongs to the family that owns the Malabon-fame Rufina Patis and one of the prime-movers of Lusong Malabon, an advocacy-tour promoting Malabon as a heritage and cultural center which he and architect Bautista initiated.  



What followed in this serendipitous meeting was Mochet helping me identify the old houses I have captured in my camera. I’ve observed that he knows these houses by heart. Even the details which I showed to him like an art nouveau carving on a house’s façade that he immediately identified as the Luna House located along C. Arellano Street. 



Perhaps he noticed my interest to know more about these houses in Malabon that he pulled out the research work of Architect Bautista which I think they also use as visual aid for travelers like me. The research work presents images of the house (some with old photographs), brief description of the houses including architectural features, the current and previous owners, the historical relevance such as the year when they were built, and the present condition. What I find outstanding in the research work is the part where it provides recommendations for the heritage structures. 



Monchet explained to me that renovating and preserving the integrity of these old structures are costly on the part of the owners. He noted that unless we present ways on how the owners of the antique houses can get income from it, the heritage houses of Malabon will end up in second class lumber shops where old scrap wood are being sold at exorbitant prices. But the monetary value of these house are really nothing compared to the cultural legacy and historical significance they can provide particularly for the next generation. 



Monchet noted that one of the major problems that needs to be solved in Malabon is the perennial flooding that perils the old structures. However, the solution is not to raise the elevation of the roads (as how it is being done today) since it destroys the heritage landscape of the town because it makes the old houses seemed buried half-way to the ground.   


After going through the research work and having an enriching discussion with Monchet, I realized that I have missed a lot from the D-I-Y tour. There is more to Malabon that is worth discovering.


Pescadores is open from Mondays to Saturdays

 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Telephone numbers: 288. 77. 20 and 288. 62. 96


This is the fifth of a six part article. Click here for part 1. Click here for the next post.


Malabon Heritage Houses


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.

The charming façade of the Luna House is apparently well-maintained. Built in the 1910s, it was formerly owned by the Lao-Luna that was later sold to the Teodoros.

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. 

This the fourth of a five part article. Click here for part 1. Click here to advance to the next post.


Information source:

Angels in Stone by Father Pedro Galende, OSA

Research work by Richard Tuason-Bautista and Monchet Lucas


Historic Old Malabon



Tambobong was the old name of Malabon. It lies among several esteros crisscrossing around islets which winds up in the large Dagatdagatan Lake. Malabon was founded as visita of Tondo on May 21, 1599. It became an independent parish 1641 with San Bartolome Apostol as patron saint.



Church of San Bartolome Apostol



It was in the year 1621 when the first stone church was built in Malabon. The transept, two lateral aisle and the media naranjan dome were added in the later years. Well-known architect, Luciano Oliver directed the construction of the Parthenon-like column on the façade as well as the twin towers. 





The church was heavily damaged during the Japanese occupation. It has remained untouched for almost 20 years. In 1951, the façade was restored by Fr. Trinidad. The dome, transept, main altar, and bell tower were repaired in 1958 by Fr. Reyes.





The church measures 70.14 meters long, 20.05 meters wide. It has a central nave, two lateral aisles, a transept and a barrel vault dome topped by a campanile.



Outside the church is a cemetery that was established in 1835. It has an arched gateway, a tower monument located at the center. To its rear side is a mortuary chapel which is now in ruins.




Asilo de Huerfanos


On the way to the town center, I noticed a structure from the bridge which I first saw in Tutubi’s blog. This structure was known as the Asilo de HuerfanosThe orphanage began in 1887 after the Augustinians approved a plan to build a new house in Malabon to lodge the orphans of the plague in 1882 which were until then was housed in Madaluyong. 



According to Father Pedro Galende, the orphanage was provided with a printing press, lithography and binding room, spacious halls for shops and laboratories, sewing ans embroidery for girls, and a library. By 1893, the asilo housed 74 orphans and 11 persons in charge of the shops and 12 servants. All were attended by four religious.


When the revolution broke out, the forces of General Emilio Aguinaldo seized the building. The first issues of the La Independencia, the official publication of the revolutionary government, were printed there. In 1899, the building was razed by fire during the Filipino-American War.


Architect Richard Tuason-Bautista, another prime mover in the promotion of Malabon heritage, recommends the Asilo de Huerfanos to be declared a historic site and that the preservation of the structure must be sought. Since at this time the compound is being used as a machine shop, it could peril the structure. It is suggested the possible reuse of the structure to a more similar function as to the original purpose.


This is the third of a six part article. Click here for part 1. Click here to advance to the next post. 


Information source: 

Angels in Stone by Fr. Pedro Galende

San Bartolome Apostol and National Heroes Day



National Artist Nick Joaquin said that the knife is the tool of August and its apostle is San Bartolome Apostol, whose feast is celebrated on the 24th of the month. Unlike the image of St. Bartolomew in Nagcarlan Laguna that show the saint holding a chain restraining Satan, in Malabon the saint  is depicted wearing red and wielding a bolo making him the patron saint of cutlery.  



During the novena to San Bartolome, the main street of Malabon becomes a double row of feria stalls. It was in those olden days where one can buy all kinds of blade: balisong and kitchen knife and butcher’s cleaver, as well as the long bolo known as the sangbartolome, which is believed to be the weapon of the Katipunan. 



It is interesting to learn how our history and folk culture are wedded in the association of Saint Bartolomew the red saint and wields a bolo with the Katipuneros, which also wore red and wielded the bolo.  



The exodus of the Katipunan in Manila began when the secret society was betrayed on August 19, 1896. One account of the Revolution says that when Andres Bonifacio summoned the Katipuneros in Balintawak, they managed to get passed the Spanish police and military checkpoints by pretending to be pilgrims of San Bartolome on their way to attend the town fiesta in Malabon. 



From Balintawak, the Katipuneros moved to Pugad Lawin where the Cry of Bonifacio that strove to whip up spirits of the Katipuneros to the point they would spontaneously declare themselves ready to fight. What followed was the symbolic gesture of Bonifacio leading the tearing up the cedulas. But the tearing of cedulas in Pugad Lawin still did not commit the Katipuneros completely since the declaration was done in the secluded woods of Pugad Lawin. 



Bonifacio led his men back to Balintawak to raised the cry to revolt, where they could exposed themselves and be heard by the Spanish authorities. It was August 23, the eve of the feast day of Saint Bartolomew. The Cry of Bonifacio was heard as intended. The very next day the Guardia Civil attacked, but found only stagglers in Pasong Tamo, where the first skirmishes of the Revolution occurred. Bonifacio already move to San Juan for the Battle of Pinaglabanan 



Although the dates and even the location of the Cry of Bonifacio are in question, the National Heroes Day, which is celebrated today, was intended to commemorate the events during last days in August of 1896. 


This is the second of a six part article. Click here for the part 1. Click here to advance to the next post. 

Information source: Almanac for Manileños by Nick Joaquin