Affectionately referred to as the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, Marikina is also quite well-known for being one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the country. Regardless of the misfortunes they continually face during the monsoon season, the people of Marikina continue to smile in the face of tragedies. Unknown to many, Marikina holds quite a few gems in terms of historic destinations and noteworthy dining establishments.
Visiting Marikina on a regular weekend becomes quite a revelation of sights, sounds and tastes.
Marikina is bordered on the west by Quezon City; on the south by Pasig and Cainta; on the east by Antipolo and on the north by San Mateo. To get to Marikina from Quezon City, the major routh is via Aurora Blvd. From Cubao, there are jeepneys going to Marikina plying the SSS Village, Calumpang or Parang route. Jeeps going to Montalban also pass by Marikina. FX AUVs also have various end destinations within Marikina. The LRT Line 2 has a terminal in Santolan which has a walkway to Calumpang and SM Marikina.
2pm. Marikina Hotel and Convention Center is a government-owned hotel nestled within the SSS Village. Their 75 bedrooms may be simple and basic, but spacious. This budget-friendly hotel offers rooms for as low as PHP1,857.00 for a standard twin-sharing room. During promo season, it could go lower. Their in-house restaurant, Café Flora, is also acclaimed for its generous buffet at only PHP165! (Pio Del Pilar St cor Tangerine St, Brgy Concepcion II, Marikina; +63 2 2340540, +63 2 3840867, +63 918 6112736, look for Abie). To get to Marikina Hotel, ride a jeep or FX going to SSS Village. You can drop off at the junction of Molave and Katipunan Streets (also called Bay-Tree for a grocery store which was located at the site of the current Puregold Supermarket). From there, ride a tricycle and direct the driver to take you to the hotel.
3pm. Start off your exploration of Marikina with a very surprising find that is the Marikina Book Museum and Ethnology Museum. Book lovers will definitely find this place a heaven on earth. The Book Museum is home to the personal collection of Atty Dominador Buhain, chairman and president of Rex Publishing House. The collection includes some of the rarest books ever printed and also the smallest! The Ethnology Museum (127 Dao Street, Marikina Heights, Marikina City; +63 2 5704449, email@example.com; Tue-Sun 9am-noon, 1-6pm; PHP100 with discounts for groups of 10 and Marikina residents) owns a collection of artifacts from various ethnic groups in the Philippines such as the Ifugao and Maranao. Call because they limit the number of people at any given time to 5-10 persons
6pm. Once you’re tired of browsing through hundreds of books and artifacts, it’s time for dinner at the very famous Pan de Amerikana (92 Ordoñez Street, Concepcion Dos, Marikina; +63 2 4752398). This rustic restaurant just recently became a popular tourist destination in Marikina. From the giant windmill façade, to the rain forest ambiance replete with Greek colonnades and giant chess pieces, visitors are all at once taken aback and captivated. Because of the design aesthetic, Pan de Amerikana is not only a favorite resto but a favorite photo shoot location as well. And there menu doesn’t disappoint either. Aside from their widely famous giant-sized pandesal namesake, other must-try dishes are their takes on uniquely Marikina’s waknatoy (PHP60) and everlasting (PHP160).
8am. To prepare yourself for a day of sightseeing, begin with a leisurely breakfast at Rustic Mornings (11 Isabelo Mendoza St, San Roque, Marikina; +63 2 5106914, +63 2 6812461, +63 917 7005810). Its shabby chic/country kitchen interiors have charmed many but people keep coming back for the food. Well-loved dishes include their omelets served with ciabatta bread, herb butter and jam (PHP150-PHP240), beef tapa served with two eggs cooked to your liking, garlic parsley rice, and tomato wansoy salad (PHP235), and a side order of hash browns (PHP80). For drinks, their Americano coffee (PHP) comes with a free refill, or you can go healthy with their selection of fruit shakes (PHP110-140). Being a new foodies’ favorite, diners come in droves on the weekends so it’s best to reserve a table the day before.
10am. After filling up, it’s time to start the big tour of Marikina’s sights. Just a few meters from Rustic Mornings is the Our Lady of the Abandoned Church (JP Rizal cor V Gomez Sts, Brgy Sta Elena, Marikina) better known as OLA. It is the second oldest parish in the country, built in the late 1600s by the Augustinian friars and originally called Nuestra Sra. Delos Desamparados. Here you will find the miraculous image of the Our Lady of the Abandoned, Marikina’s patroness.
Right across the street is the Marikina Shoe Museum (JP Rizal St, Brgy Sta Elena, Marikina; Mon-Sun 8am-5pm. PHP50), the one place in Marikina that you should not fail to visit, for what is Marikina without shoes? See some 749 pairs of the much talked-about shoe collection of the former First Lady Imelda Marcos. But not to be outshone by a First Lady, each president of the country also has a pair of shoes on exhibit.
Cross the street again to Kapitan Moy (JP Rizal Street, Sta Elena, Marikina), former home of Don Laureano “Kapitan Moy” Guevara, father of the shoe industry of Marikina. It was in this home that the first pair of Marikina-made shoes was developed. Now it is the center for culture and arts of the city and it also contains a doll museum and a historical and cultural diorama of Marikina’s main events.
Grab lunch at the Café Kapitan and Piano Bar which specializes in Spanish cuisine with authentic Spanish style interiors. If you wish to try their special paella (PHP575-PHP775), you need to call in your order an hour in advance. Other dishes to try are lengua con cetas (PHP179+), crispy fried chicken (PHP189+) and pancit canton (PHP135+).
2pm. After seeing Marikina’s city center, take a leisurely stroll towards the Marikina River Park in Brgy Sta Elena, where you can while the afternoon away by biking, skating or just sitting around. Rent a bike for PHP50. You can also opt to just see the sights such as the Roman Garden, and Chinese Pagoda.
Of course, the weekend won’t be complete without any shopping. Visit the EDA Bag Factory (JP Rizal St, Brgy Sta Elena) located behind the Chinese Pagoda for quality bags at really good prices. Then start walking back along J.P. Rizal Street to Patio del Zapatero where you will find a wide array of Marikina-made shoes renowned for their quality and value for money.
6pm. Hungry after all the biking and shopping? Tuck into exceptionally authentic Thai cuisine at Krung Thai, located in the Marikina Public Market. Open until 9pm, Krung Thai dishes out popular Thai food such as tom yam (PHP299 good for 5), pad thai (PHP199), bagoong fried rice (PHP298 good for 3-4), green mango salad. Of course, you just have to fill yourself up with a refreshing glass of Thai iced tea.
Cap off the evening with a few drinks and some live acoustic music at one of the many bars/clubs in the Marikina Entertainment District along A. Tuazon Avenue.
10am. Don’t leave Marikina without taking home some of Mylene’s Ensaymada and Banana Cake (51 Ipil St, Marikina Heights, Marikina or Ruby’s Building, 36 Lilac St, Marikina; +63 2 9409604, +63 2 9662303). Choose among their many flavors of ensaymada: classic (PHP30/piece or PHP300/box of 12), ube, chocolate, yema, blueberry, Bavarian, and dulce de leche (PHP40/piece or PHP420/box of 12).
If you haven’t had enough of the Marikina River, head on over to The Riverbanks Center for more R&R, aka shopping.
Before heading for home, have some lunch at Café Lidia (64 Calderon Street, Calumpang, Marikina; +63 2 6477606) for their popular buffalo wings (PHP170), thin crust pizza (PHP210-PHP255) and unforgettable cakes or at Mama Chit’s Coffee House (234 JP Rizal St, San Roque, Marikina) for their famous burgers (PHP99 single, PHP600 good for 6).