The Iconic Stores of Pasig
From the Desk
Pasig City was recently listed as the fourth richest city in the Philippines with Makati as the first followed by Quezon City and Manila. Undoubtedly, this can be attributed to the fact that the majority area of the Ortigas Center falls within the jurisdiction of the city. As a result, Pasig became a new metropolis, a new melting pot and center at the east side of the National Capital Region. Besides the famed Ortigas Center, Pasig is also home to one of the region's largest Public Market. This resulted with the market being flocked not only by Pasiguenos but also outsiders who enjoy buying in bulk fresh and dry goods in the huge expanse of the Pasig Palengke. These are institutions that made Pasig, the capital of the old Rizal and eventually a city on its own. Lest we forget that in between the rise of buildings and changing of landscapes there are of course some stores that carved its own history in the Old Pasig. Some may have permanently closed its doors but their memories linger the way they sold their goods in the years gone by.
The American Machinery & Parts Mfg., Inc.
If you happen to pass by the ruins of the once great capitol of Rizal, you would see a large Quonset hut structure beside it. That used to be the American Machinery & Parts Mfg., Inc. or colloquially, The Amparts. After the Second World War, the Rizal Province decided to relocated its official address to a higher and more prominent area. Thanks to the generosity of the Ortigas Company, the New Rizal Capitol positioned itself at middle of the bustling Shaw Boulevard Kapitolyo - the present day Capitol Commons. The Amparts acquired the 76,000 Square Meter old Rizal Capitol site on September 8, 1955 for 395,000.00 Php and subsequently bought an additional 7,838 square meters of unregistered land at the amount of 39,190.00 Php. This additional lot is where the Quonset hut presently stands.
But what is the Amparts and what are they manufacturing? We can all trace the beginnings of the Amparts in Oregon, USA when in 1954 the Philippine American Machinery and Equipment Corporation (PAMEC) was forced to relocate its factory by the High Way Commission. Dr. Victor Buencamino in Manila expressed his desire to build the same plant in the Philippines hence PAMEC's Elton Chase agreed to send all his materials and machineries in the Philippines while Dr. Buencamino procured a lot where they can start a new business venture of what is now the Amparts. The main interest of the Amparts is on building and repair of tractors and specialized machines used by different industries and manufacturers. In a time of massive industrialization and rise of factories, the Amparts provided them with the machines and tractors needed for them to function. The Quonset hut aside from being a storage facility also acted as hangar for small planes. The company also made use of the river for most of the materials are delivered through cargo boats and ships.
The last years of the Amparts' existence was shrouded with controversies and lawsuits as the company itself owed money from the Province of Rizal. Lucio Tan's Asia Brewery finally bought the whole area including the structures. The lot became a storage area once again and by the 90's the old structures became a film set favorite for scenes relating to kidnappers and anti-heroes.
The Panaderia Dimas-Alang
Who would ever forget the iconic, Diko Akalin and the Bonete? A bakery that dictated old Pasig's taste buds for more than a century. Dimas-Alang is not only a bakery but a time capsule that preserved the old town's grandeur and peoples. Founded in 1919 and named after Dr. Jose Rizal's nom de guerre, the bakery is owned by the Lozadas of Kapasigan, the same family that produced the town's most celebrated violinist, Carmencita Lozada. Now managed by Carmencita's brother, the equally talented tenor, Manolo Lozada, the Dimas-Alang never showed signs of stopping its ovens as it continued to serve the Pasig Community even during the darkest moments of the Covid19 Pandemic.
The history of Dimas-Alang is a story of tradition saved by grace. Manolo inherited the business of running the bakery in 1980 when his beloved mother passed on. According to him, Dimas-Alang evolved to an older bakery named Dos Hermanos but during those times, it was just a small and simple bakeshop. More than a hundred years later, Dimas-Alang still kept its tradition intact. The way they bake bread is something they are truly proud off. One of their regular customers is the Barangay of San Nicolas who orders hundreds of traditional Panocitos - small biscuits with the icon of San Nicolas de Tolentino every year during the Barangay Fiesta. Despite the rise of technology, the bakery is run manually with only one computer in its office. They believe that baking something both as business and hobby is already enough for them to survive and celebrate their success.
For a typical Pasigueno, waking up early in the morning smelling Dimas-Alang's baked goodies gives you a feeling of home and community. Almost every home in Pasig have a special story about Dimas-Alang. The bakery can be likened to an old friend who witnessed almost every special moment in your life. It could be that your first birthday cake came from Dimass-Alang, so is your wedding cake, your mirienda/comfort food and your daily pandesal packed with mantikilya and completely served with coffee. With that, it is no wonder that every bite on any bread by this bakery brings you to your past, how your mother, your father or even yourself would fall in line in its antiquated glass cabinets and order your slice of Dimas-Alang.
The Hardwares of Pasig
Post-war Pasig paved the way for an influx in construction. Rebuilding of public offices and houses gave the people a sense of hope that after the destruction brought by the war there is something to look forward to. As a result, hardwares sprouted in downtown Pasig to cater a people ready to rise from the ashes of desolation. One hardware located at the foot of Vargas Bridge is the Rizal Lumber owned by the Dee Family. Theirs is a business of building and construction. They built a plant near the banks of the winding Marikina River which still stands even to this day. Despite the Dee Family's investment in other lucrative businesses including the Deecon Builders, they still managed to keep their plant as it is, a testament to their industry and passion for building. Another hardware located in Kapasigan in the present-day RCBC Bank is the Luzon Lumber - another store owned by a Chinese Pasigueno. Unlike the Rizal Lumber, the Luzon Lumber changes names and store areas but their industry remained as they saw the entrance of new hardwares in Kapasigan like TTH and Marixson.
Who would ever forget or fail to admire the large colonial inspired house along MH del Pilar? A house with the immortal signs, "SPS". SPS is an acronym of the house' grand matriarch, Soledad P. Santos the founder of once upon a time one of Pasig's successful ventures on textiles. SPS became a great business empire that it was known even outside of Pasig. They provided shirts and raw materials to practically almost all stores in the town and even exported their products elsewhere. They are one of the businesses that wholly benefited in a time when the Philippines was a giant exporter of textiles way before our neighboring China became an industrial giant and leader.
Perhaps one of the most memorable contributions of SPS to Pasig society is that they play host to the town's most colorful Santa Cruzan - the legendary Santa Cruzan of Barrio San Nicolas spearheaded by Pasig's foremost philatelic artist, Nemesio Dimanlig. Several of the nation's celebrated women of beauty came to the house to prepare for the Santa Cruzan. One of which was former DOT Secretary Gemma Guerrero-Cruz Araneta who became the first Filipina Miss International in 1964. She came to the SPS House designed by Felizardo Dimanlig and most probably prepared and dined together with the Santos Family's large and stately dinning room.
Many of these of stores have come and went and left us something very important and that is their memory - something we always look back and reminisce with a smile.