By Chris Salido
San Juan city is the smallest city in the Philippines in terms of land area. It was originally a part of the Rizal province until former President Ferdinand Marcos signed a presidential decree in 1975 to separate it as a municipality from Rizal. Three decades later, in 2007, San Juan became a city.
On Aug. 30, 1896, the first battle of the Philippine revolution took place in San Juan del Monte, the former name of the city. In remembrance of the Katipuneros’ courage that started the revolution against Spain, the Pinaglabanan Shrine was dedicated to them. Within the shrine are elongated figures, a sculpture called Spirit of Pinaglabanan by Eduardo Castrillo. It honors the heroism of our freedom fighters.
THE CHURCH AND THE FESTIVITY
Along Pinaglabanan Street is St. John The Baptist Church, dedicated to the saint who baptized Jesus Christ. In his honor as patron saint of San Juan, the city celebrates the Basaan Festival. Children and adults line up along the streets of the city with their dippers or buckets or water guns filled with water to douse strangers.
BRIDGE OF NO RETURN
San Juan Bridge has a pivotal place in Philippine history. It was here that the Filipino-American War started. In the 1800s, San Juan Bridge served as a gateway between San Juan and Sta. Mesa. In 1899, with tensions between Flipino and American soldiers rising, this bridge served as a boundary between Philippine and US forces. One day, a Filipino soldier crossed San Juan Bridge. He was gunned down by American troops. It was the first shot fired in the Filipino-American War.