Rizal Province: More About Morong
Before Rizal Province was named after the National Hero, Morong was a huge territory that once included, the nation’s capital, Manila, the business district of Makati, Rizal Province’s former capital, Pasig, and all the towns currently in the province’s jurisdiction. In the Philippine flag, the eight rays of the sun symbolizes the eight freedom-fighting provinces of the Philippine’s revolt against the Spanish rule – one of them was Manila, which was formerly Morong. The name bears significant historical events the town witnessed in the warring periods. Today let us visit the municipality of the present day Morong, Rizal.
Morong’s mornings are not as quiet as any small provincial town may seem, especially Baranggay San Juan which is the hub of trade and commerce in town. However, as I walked beyond the outskirts of the busy baranggay, one can sense the placid side of town where I’m bound to grab a house specialty for breakfast.
Warek warek and garlic rice for breakfast in Era Plaza.
Era Plaza’s Warek-warek, good for 3 persons. P140.00
Only a few meters passed the historic Old Municipal Office of Morong was the former site of ERA School in the 1920’s, presently the location of ERA Plaza Restaurant. Running for almost 2 decades, ERA Plaza made itself a Morong landmark which boasts of a house specialty known as “Warek Warek”, an Ilokano dish of deep-fried crispy pig’s ear, garnished with onions and green chilli, mixed in mayonnaise. Eat it with rice, match it with cold beers, or do both, diners will be delighted with a single plate of the must-try Warek Warek.
Facade of Saint Jerome Church in Morong, Rizal.
Window illuminates the choir loft made of wooden planks barricaded by balustrades.
Muslims once prevailed the town of Morong during the Pre-Hispanic days of the country. Thus, the name Morong came from the word, Moro, a term used by Spanish invaders to describe Muslim natives in the Philippines. Today, the former Muslim-dominated town attracts many Catholics by the Iglesia de San Geronimo, or St. Jerome’s Church, not only as a tourist destination, but a pilgrimage site for Visita Iglesia practitioners.
Inside St. Jerome’s Church.
Chinese craftsmen built the intricately-designed St. Jerome’s Church with a unique bell tower-shaped edifice wherein the facade was finely detailed with fanciful balusters, large pillars, and stone-carved ornaments. No wonder the baroque architecture of this 15th century church is a favorite subject for photographers, and a lovely backdrop for events like weddings and baptisms.
Detailed facade of the church.
Notable among the residents of Morong is the famous artist, Rafael Pacheco, utilizing his own hands and fingers as medium to his paintings, thus, being dubbed as the “Father of Finger & Palm Painting of the Philippines”. The world-renown artist conducts workshops in Baranggay Bumbongan’s U-ugong Park where art practitioners are inspired by luscious greens sprawling in the mountains, and cascading waterfalls. The orchestra of roaring rapids echoing in the gorge branded the park’s name, “u-ugong”, a Tagalog term which means “echoing”.
Dead Falls of U-ugong Park
A face carved from a large tree bark. The whole figure resembles a lady of the woods.
Instead of taking a tricycle, walking about 2 kilometers from U-ugong Park back to the main highway will give me more opportunities to see the rural life in the outskirts of town proper.Shades of green painted the vast rice field where the local farmers of Morong harvested their crops portion by portion. It was scorching hot, it was midday, but not one hesitated to give the camera a cheerful smile. There were no traces of weariness and exhaustion but merely the love of the livelihood brought the purest smiles from proud and hardworking farmers. They are the unsung heroes of today’s Filipino society.
Morong has drastically changed – as time progresses, so is the town. Urbanization is knocking on the doors of, not only Morong, but many towns in Rizal Province as well. Amidst developments, the historical town of Morong still practices the ways of the past whilst adding a twist of the present. Morong is a clear evidence that proves that old and the new could co-exist in perfect harmony.
Here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. Morong could be reach via Manila East Road passing by the towns of Taytay, Angono, Binangonan, and Cardona or via the Antipolo route passing by Taytay, Antipolo and Teresa.
2. Jeeps bound for Tanay pass by Morong but do not enter town proper. You have to take a tricycle from the main road. Fortunately, there are jeeps bound directly to Morong town proper.
3. ERA Plaza Restaurant is open as early as 8:30AM. It’s near the basketball court in front of the Old Municipal Hall.
4. St. Jerome Church is open only on certain hours for security purposes maybe since an artifact was stolen sometime in the last decade.
5. There is no entrance fee in U-ugong Park. However, a dog showing his sharp teeth maybe a big obstacle. As much as I want to roam around and explore (the place is huge by the way), this dog seemed to hinder me from my endeavor.
6. U-ugong Park seemed to be in bad shape. Hopefully, the government could extend an extra effort for restoring the old place. I see tons of tourism potential in U-ugong Park and it would be waste to leave it in its condition. I don’t know if it’s a government or private property, but efforts from both sides would probably boost tourism in Morong when it comes to nature and art.
7. More destinations in Rizal Province.
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10. Happy travels.
Morong farmers know how to pose for a camera.