The Prooph's San Juan City Walking Tour


When I got invited for a walking tour in San Juan city, I could not help but wonder what else is worth – visiting in this place other than the famous Greenhills Shopping Center. San Juan is the smallest city in Metro Manila in terms of land area and that made me very curious so I said yes. Almost every week I join a lot of familiarization tours around the metro so I have no problem walking for hours and the participants are usually near my age bracket (I’m 30 by the way ssshhh…)  This one is different though because the crowd is way younger than me. The group I was with are students from UP Diliman and Ateneo De Manila University.   The tour guides Glenn, Meggie and tour coordinator Anj are just approaching mid-twenties I believe.



Just briefly before the tour starts, we were asked to randomly pick a cardboard with a word on it and we were asked to introduce ourselves in relation to that word we have picked.
I honestly had no idea of the entire history of San Juan nor I have a copy of the itinerary so during the whole tour every moment seems a surprise because I always look forward what is the next destination. 



 We met in front of San Juan City Hall. Meggie started the ball rolling by giving an introduction of San Juan. She answered one my questions at the back of my mind which is  - of all the places in Manila, why San Juan? Yes, she was born and lived all her life here but this is not the main point. Meggie and her older sister, Fiona started a company called Prooph. They both always wanted to make something out of small and not-so-known things but having a great value or something worth sharing. With this in mind, they decided to offer tours around the metro (UP Diliman campus tour is one of those) under the branding name, Microcawesome tours  and a theme of "Finding what is awesome in the micro".




They believe that no matter how small an object or a thing is, there’s always a reason why it exists. From the smallest grain of sand in the sea to the biggest fluff of cloud above, everything has a story to tell. Like San Juan, though small geographically speaking, it has also a story worth sharing to everyone. Let me tell you why one by one.



Our first stop is at the Church of San Juan Delmonte, this is considered as the oldest structure inside San Juan built in 16th century.  It was destructed thrice by nature and man-made events, that’s why it went through a number of renovations too .What I love in this church is it is very spacious and the roof is very much elevated. The architecture also reminds me of the buttress part of those earthquake-proof UNESCO heritage site Paoay Church in  Vigan just that I was not able to take a photo of the entire church as the space that surrounds the area is very narrow.




At the back of the church, is a small and private cemetery.  In the main entrance, there’s a big signage that says only smokeless candles should be lit inside. The remains of the two of the most noted personalities in the history are the husband and wife Felipe Agoncillo (the first Filipino ambassador to the UN) and Marcela Agoncillo (she is one of the two women who wove the very first Philippine flag).  



Right side of the church is the Aquinas school, an all – boys community where actors Gabby Concepcion and Aga Muhlach spent their early childhood education. On our way to our next stop, we saw a dilapidated and abandoned factory house of biscuits. I wish I can take photos but we are riding in a jeep. I like the design where a big replica of biscuit boxes seemed half – stuck in the walls. San Juan city used to be called the biscuit capital of the Philippines because most of the known biscuit warehouses can be found there. I hope that the local government would be able to save that very old factory because it is a part of their history because I heard that there are plans to demolish the area for a newer shopping mall to open. 

We also saw the ancestral house of former President and now Manila mayor Erap Estrada and the mini – park nearby. Our second stop is the Museo ng Katipunan, a museum that showcases stories and all things that belonged to the Katipuneros or to our local heroes who found and sadly some died to gain our independence from colonizers.   



Here you will see real bolos and other weaponry used during the war. You will get to see actual anting – anting (amulets) a lot! It’s all up to you to decide whether you will believe it or not.



I would like to commend the museum’s resident tour guide facilitator Marlon for the excellent explanation of the history. Wow, I wonder how long did it took him to memorize those. He is younger than most of the seasoned tour guides and facilitators I always meet.
After an almost one hour lecture inside the museum, we had a game in the park. We were divided into two : Team Katipunero and Team Kastila. This meant a bit of running and you will get wet so I suggest you bring extra clothes. I would not divulge what the game is all about but it is enough to break the ice.




I know everyone got hungry after the game so our third stop is at Aling Bana, one of the oldest restaurants in San Juan that offers very affordable  “pang-masa” or Filipino food. As Meggie shares the story, the owner of this started from a small food stall until it became big. Must order is their mikibihon, pancit canton and palabok. Their serving is big for a plate. There are still a lot to choose, this is all about Filipino dishes.






Our fourth stop is Big Scoop ice cream store.  Who does not want an ice cream? Who does not want a dessert after eating your meal? I love their ice cream, very very much. The serving is also big. I ordered strawberry flavor and the strawberry piece is really a real one! There’s a lot of people inside. This is one of the most favorite food hangout in San Juan I am positive! They have been operating for decades already. I hope like Aling Banang they should branch out in the malls to cater more people who cannot visit San Juan at a daily basis.



Just right in front of Big Scoop is the Pinaglabanan Shrine built to commemorate the 1896 Philippine Revolution, when our local heroes known as Katipuneros lay siege to an arms storage facility, called the almacen, belonging to the Spanish Colonial Government. 




We wish to eat our ice cream inside but we are running out of time so we went to the Pinaglabanan Park for the final part of the walking tour. 




This San Juan City waking tour is just part one, and they have a part two coming. Proophinc comes from the words "Proof of  Philippine greatness".


If you want to know more about their walking tours , you can check their website at http://www.prooph.org or email them at proophinc@gmail.com. You can check their Facebook Fan Page at https://www.facebook.com/proophinc and  follow on Instagram @proophinc.

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