In January 2022, my family moved to Marikina. Prior to this, we stayed in a two-bedroom condo unit in the bustling urban district of Novaliches. It was conveniently situated directly across a giant SM Hypermarket, and next to numerous strip malls along Quirino Highway. But our living space per se was cramped and tiny, and we didn’t have much privacy. Thankfully, the building compound had a basketball court and a small “field” where residents could take strolls or bring their kids out to play.
Our current home is situated in a quiet village in Marikina Heights, along the mountainous border between Marikina and Antipolo. It’s a fifteen-minute walk away from the nearest commercial center, and there are only a couple of sari-sari stores within the village. We’re surrounded by trees, plants, and some vacant lots that could pass for banana plantations.
I missed the accessibility of our condo in Novaliches (we were just one jeepney ride away from either SM North or SM Novaliches). But as an introvert, I didn’t mind trading that for the calmness of our new place. Since moving here, I feel that my anxiety levels have decreased (though of course, my mental health is still a work in progress).
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with our new place. Here are five reasons why:
It’s a Small Town Near the Big City
Marikina has that small-town feel I love, with an abundance of green spaces, relatively wide roads (compared to other Metro Manila cities), and no tall buildings blocking the sun’s rays. At the same time, it isn’t too far from the big malls, government offices, and other major establishments.
Now, I haven’t tried commuting in Marikina yet because we were able to use our car again when we moved. I do know that there are jeepneys going to Marikina from the Cubao area (and vice versa). Big malls like Ayala Malls Feliz, SM Marikina, and SM Masinag are just a twenty-minute drive away. And for those who wish to make a quick getaway to the province, the mountains of Rizal are so close by! One time, we swung by Montalban with our daughter just to pick up hamster goods!
One of the first things I did upon moving to our new home was to buy a mountain bike. Back when I lived in my in-laws’ place in Project 4 (just before we moved to Novaliches), I already owned a folding bike, which I eventually traded for a trike for my daughter and a BMX bike for myself. However, I realized that the terrain of Marikina Heights was too varied, with several steep rises and dips. I would have a hard time pedaling a single-speed BMX bike up and down the mountains.
I’m not a seasoned cyclist just yet. I’m not even confident to raise my saddle to the correct seat height for fear of falling over! But so far, I’ve already managed to bike along the busier streets of Marikina and get to the Montalban side. The next step for me would be to conquer Sumulong Highway, then Marcos Highway. I’m not there yet — but maybe a few more bike commutes to nearby places will help me build my confidence.
Small Businesses Keep the Commercial Scene Vibrant
As a small business owner, I couldn’t help but notice that SMEs (small and medium enterprises) reign supreme over chain businesses — at least in the residential parts of Marikina. For our more immediate needs, we prefer to shop in the local shopping center instead of going to a mall. To save money, we grab fresh produce from the nearby Cupang market and get packaged goods once or twice a month from the local Robinson’s Easymart or Puregold.
Whenever we feel like eating out, we hit up the local food businesses. One can never run out of food choices in Marikina, as there are plenty of local restaurants along Lilac St. (Marikina’s version of Maginhawa), General Ordoñez Ave., and Mayor Gil Fernando Ave. One of our everyday favorites is Pan de Amerikana, which serves as our pan de sal source. It’s also a fantastic location for photoshoots with its vintage theme and quirky interior decorations. I personally like having coffee at Cafe Kalinaw and BLAC (Bad Latte Art Coffee). And as I write this, I’m sitting in Relax and Brew Spa + Cafè, which is located along Katipunan. It’s two things that I love in one cozy, work-friendly place!
It’s Full of Culture
Marikina is known as the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, and its shoemaking heritage is showcased through the Marikina Shoe Museum and the Kapitan Moy heritage site, which was the residence of the Marikina shoe industry’s founding father. Various shoe-shaped sculptures can also be found in different parts of the city. (Fun fact: some of the traffic lights even display the shape of a shoe, instead of the typical round light!)
Along the Liwasang Kalayaan Circle Park, one may find sculptures celebrating the typical Filipino worker. It’s an interesting sight to ponder on whenever I bike there for errands.
Bonus: It’s PINK in 2022!
Yep, speaks for itself. ?
Moving to Marikina came as a surprise for us, but it turned out to be a great thing for our family.
Unfortunately, Marikina has a rather bad rap due to its history of terrible flooding during the rainy season. This is true for the lower parts of the city. We haven’t been here long enough to experience any typhoons, but we hope that when this happens, being in a higher part of the city will keep our family safe.
Are you from Marikina? What else do you love about this city?