by Julia Escano
It’s far, and it floods. This is usually the extent of most Manileños’ knowledge of Marikina City. In spite of its proximity to Quezon City and Pasig, Marikina never quite enjoyed (or suffered from, depending on who you ask) an influx of people going in and out of its borders every day. Thanks to staying undisrupted by the mad corporate and commercial rush, this city at the eastern edge of NCR was able to develop into something quite unlike the rest of the busy metro.
The next time you need a break from the endless malls, or if you just want to get away from it all without actually having to leave, you may just find the answer in Marikina City. If you’re not quite sure what there is to see, here are 8 things that show how progressive the small city is and why it deserves a spot on your list of must-see places in Manila.
It has a river park
The Marikina River Park is a long expanse stretching from SM Marikina to the centre of town several kilometres away. During holidays, it holds a riverside bazaar for bargain-hunters and a small carnival for kids. On regular days, however, it’s a quiet area ideal for picnics or walks. It’s also a great spot for biking since it connects to several bike lanes across the city.
It has lush parks all over
Marikina City residents love their greens. This is evidenced by several other small parks all over the city such as the IVC Park, Marikina-Yeongdo Friendship Park, Marikina-Brampton Friendship Park, and Marikina Chinese Temple River Park. The great thing about these parks is that they’re public, but they hold none of the threats like other parks in the metro. School kids often frequent them and couples looking for a quiet, cosy spot to eat ice cream or play guitar.
It has extensive bike lanes
Marikina’s bike lanes cover the whole city, from main roads to small alleyways to obscure nooks. When the bike lanes were constructed decades ago, it won the city international praise. To this day the roads are being regularly maintained, making them even more usable and friendly to bikers. They also provide an excellent way to make new discoveries while getting a solid workout.
Apart from the metro’s CBD’s, no other area in Manila can boast of a comprehensive sidewalk system. Apart from being uniformly elevated, coloured, and paved, they are also spacious and clean since vendors are not allowed blocking or selling on them. This is an excellent alternative for non-bikers to get lost and explore the city’s back roads while also getting some exercise done. In 2014, Marikina City also made headlines for being the first city to install braille on the sidewalks to better assist persons with disability.
It has the Marikina Sports Center
The Marikina Sports Center is the city’s fitness hub and is one of the most popular destinations for visitors. With its tartan running tracks, Olympic-sized swimming pool, football field, and various ball courts for a starting rate of P10, it’s a pretty great deal. It’s also open from 6am to 12am daily, making it available for fitness buffs before and after work.
It has an organized public transport system
Marikina City’s public utility vehicles are all color-coded. Different tricycle associations have differently-colored trikes and drivers’ uniforms. They’re also neatly lined up in their terminals. Meanwhile, jeeps’ destinations are identifiable based on the colors of their side streamers. If you’re up for an adventure and feel like tackling public transport, Marikina is a great place to do it without inducing too much stress. Just this year, the city also introduced its first PWD-friendly tricycle, which can fit two people plus an individual in a wheelchair.
It’s a foodie’s paradise
Lilac Street is steadily growing in fame and has become the object of many Marikina food trips. But what many may not know is there are other blocks and streets all over the city that’s just like Lilac. From the C&B strip of restaurants featuring Filipino, Korean, Japanese, and Indian cuisines, to Gil Fernando Avenue’s rib shacks and grills, there’s something for every palate. Look out, though. Some of the city’s best gems are hidden in more remote areas, like Rustic Mornings, Patio Vera, and Café Lidia.
It’s laid-back and unpretentious
Locals understand the value of being lazy after a long week at work. That’s why at home, Marikeños like to relax and loosen up in their shorts and flip flops. This is also very evident when they go out to the city to eat or stroll. Everywhere they go, they have an extension of their backyards; therefore, there’s no need to impress anyone by getting all dolled up. It’s a great atmosphere for those who just want to chill and breathe.
When you’re ready to experience Marikina City, just get on C-5 and take it all the way to the end. Once you make a right at Bonny Serrano, it’s only a matter of seconds before the city’s clean river and green trees welcome you. Roll your windows down, maybe even close your eyes (unless you’re driving), and breathe in some fresh air right in Metro Manila.