Monday, July 4, 2011

Dagupan City Walking Tour

Dagupan City is replete with events of historical significance and rich cultural heritage making the city a topnotch destination for that glimpse of the illustrious past and a look back into Dagupan’s history.

Gabaldon Building

Every town in the country that existed as of 1889 has a schoolhouse known as Gabaldon building, named  after Isauro Gabaldon, an assemblyman who authored Act No. 1801 or Gabaldon Act which appropriated Php 1 million between the years 1907 to 1915 for the "construction of schoolhouses of strong materials in barrios with guaranteed daily attendance of not less than sixty pupils.”

The Gabaldon building which is the central edifice of the West Central Elementary School is now 102 years old. Constructed in 1909, it is the oldest school house in the city. It also has a historical significance as it served as the Provincial Capitol of Pangasinan from 1942 up to 1945. It was here where the war time governor, Santiago V. Estrada, Sr. and his provincial board members, held office for the duration of the Pacific war.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Headquarters

The Gabaldon building also became the headquarters of the United States of America’s South Pacific Area Command during the end of the Second World War. North to the main Gabaldon building of the West Central Elementary School is the Home Economics building which served as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Headquarters. It is where the general put up the Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ) shortly after the first combat troops of the sixth army of the United States of America under his command landed on January 9, 1945 in Bonuan Blue Beach (the biggest MacArthur Landing Site Marker was erected and eventually unveiled in January 23, 1984 to mark the landing site).

The general’s bath tub can still be found in the building which served as the general’s headquarters. A marker in front of the building states: “On this site, the West Central Elementary School I, Home Economics Building, Dagupan City was used by Gen. Douglas MacArthur as his official headquarters after his landing in Lingayen beach on 9 January 1945 to liberate the island of Luzon thus fulfilling his promise to the Filipino people “I Shall Return.”

City Plaza

At the east of the school is the City Plaza. In the 1990s, the plaza also served as the market at the same time. It is where Dagupan’s first election via viva voce was conducted with Juan Villamil becoming the first elective municipal president during the American regime. He served for two terms from 1902 to 1905. He is famous for the Pangasinan translation of Jose Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios which was inscribed in bronze and now on display at the Rizal monument in Luneta. The plaza became a temporary market site again after the July 16, 1990 earthquake. Remnants of the original City Plaza gate can still be seen at the western side.

Today, the City Plaza houses the City Museum, the Children’s Park, the Senior Citizens’ Park and the amphitheater. The City Plaza is an ideal venue for various events, cultural shows and gatherings. The amphitheater ground is a 200-capacity car park, events venue, skating rink, biking ground rolled into one. Its stage is a large mural by local artist F.M. Baniqued depicting the Dagupan City of yesteryears.  

It is in the Senior Citizen’s Park which is on its left side of the plaza where the Jose Rizal monument can be found. The Children’s Park located at the right side of the plaza, features slides and swings for the children. It is also the site of the monument of Andres Bonifacio and other national heroes.

Ferrocarrile de Manila – Dagupan Train No. 17

You can see in the City Plaza one of the oldest trains which traversed the 195-kilometer long railroad track from Manila to Dagupan City. The locomotive engine Number 17 was believed to be the safest mode of transportation during the late 1800s. According to some old folks of the community, this was also the same train used by Dr. Jose P. Rizal during his visit to Leonor Rivera here in Dagupan City. The Ferrocarrile de Manila – Dagupan opened its services on November 24, 1892 and was latterly known as the Manila Railway Company or MRC.

Museo na Dagupan

Capturing Dagupan's colorful heritage is the Museo na Dagupan (City Museum), which shelters old photographs, artifacts and antique household items originally owned by famed Dagupeno clans. In the Edades Hall, paintings of native contemporary artists and the masterpieces of National Artist Victorio Edades are showcased. Dagupan City is one of the few places to have two national artists. The other DagupeƱo national artist is Salvador Bernal (for theatrical design).

Old Dagupan City Cathedral

In Zamora Street, south of the City Plaza you will see a majestic restoration of the Old Dagupan City Cathedral. The restoration was spearheaded by Most Reverend Oscar V. Cruz, D.D., J.C.D., former Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan with the help of several civic-religious groups and local and foreign philanthropists of Dagupan City. The architectural design of the confessional box, the 14 Stations of the Cross and the main altar in the Old Dagupan City Cathedral will surely fascinate you. The intricate wood carvings of the altar, the four Evangelists which serve as the foundation of the altar, are sights to behold. Its architecture, furniture and landscaping truly encourages parishioners as well as local and foreign guests to an ambiance full of religion and history.

The Old Cathedral takes us back during the Spanish era. During the Andres Malong uprising in 1660, the rebels razed Dagupan after it refused to join the rebellion. The church, one of the finest administered by the Dominicans in the province, was not spared. According to the Dominican chronicler Fr. Valentin Marin y Morales, another stone church was built on the same spot in 1816. However, an earlier account by Fr. Manuel Mora, who visited Dagupan in 1804, cites an old stone structure. Fr. Pablo Fernandez, O.P. (1958) believes that the 19th century structure must have been built on the frame of the 17th century building destroyed during the rebellion. This theory was reinforced by the discovery of ashes and burnt lumber during an excavation in the church site in 1995. During the great earthquake of 1892, the church collapsed, later to be replaced with another edifice by Fr. Vicente Iztegui in 1895.

Towards the close of the Katipunan revolution, the Spanish authorities of Pangasinan abandoned Lingayen and moved to Dagupan. The provincial government was housed at the Dagupan convent. All the Spanish friars in Pangasinan abandoned their posts in the various towns and sought the safety of the Dagupan convent. The old cathedral was the site were Katipuneros won the final battle against the Spaniards within the church grounds on July 21, 1898. With the Spanish surrender, Spanish rule in Pangasinan ended once and for all. Meanwhile, the church’s bell tower was reconstructed intermittently from 1903 to 1914.

It is also before the cathedral’s altar that the legendary Leonor Rivera, Dr. Jose Rizal's lost love, tied the knot with Henry Kipping, a British engineer who set up the first railway system from Manila to Dagupan- the Ferrocarrile de Manila – Dagupan. It’s been said that this broke our national hero’s heart. The marriage artifact can still be found at the Archbishop’s Palace archives.

St. John the Evangelist Metropolitan Cathedral

In the afternoon of May 31, 1964, the corner stone of the future Saint John Metropolitan Cathedral was laid on a spot at the back of the old church of Dagupan. The hewn stone contained in its recesses a small metal box chronicling major events that had transpired that day - a compilation of testimonials written by religious and civil authorities of the city, a piece of parchment on which were etched the names of sponsors of the cornerstone-laying, a copy of a local newspaper, official diocesan and parish documentation of the event, and Philippine coins marked "1964." The cornerstone was laid in simple rites presided over by Archbishop Mariano Madriaga and assisted by Monsignor Evaristo Soriano, curate of the Parish of Saint John, Dagupan City.

The church was meant to replace the old church which had been damaged by past earthquakes. Construction ceased in 1966 because of lack of funds. This resumed three years later as new contributions poured in due to the efforts of the project's chief architect and most ardent implementor, Archbishop Madriaga, as well as that of Msgr. Soriano and his successor, Msgr. Leon Bitanga. Archbishop Federico G. Limon took up the endeavor with the same enthusiasm in 1972 until the church was finally inaugurated on the feast of Saint John in 1974.

Today, the restored church is called the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan while the new church beside it is known as the Saint John the Evangelist Metropolitan Cathedral (formerly known as St. John the Evangelist Parish Church) which recently was renovated by new Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

Dagupan City Hall

The City Hall was once known as the Presidencia building or municipal building. It was built during the term of Guillermo De Venecia who was on his second term as Municipal President (equivalent to Mayor). It was inaugurated in 1926, and today it still serves as the city hall. The full membership of the municipal board, which assisted him in building the presidencia included: Felix Calimlim, Numeriano Tanopo, Jose Penoy, Teofilo P. Guadiz, Lamberto Siquion-Reyna, Gualberto de Venecia, Pascual Lozano, Toribio Guardiana, Roman Villamil, Jose Jovellanos, Procesco Bautista, Martin Mejia, Felipe Bravo, Santiago Pastoral, with Federico Estrada as municipal board secretary. Guillermo De Venecia is the grandfather of former Congressman Jose de Venecia, Jr. Today, the City Hall Complex houses various departments of the city government.  

Old Water Tower

Remnants of the past can still be found in the heart of the city. Such is the Water Tower at the back of the City Hall which once provided the city’s water needs. As municipal president from 1931-1934, Jose Fernandez Llamas left as a memorial of his administration, the water tank behind the city hall building. He also constructed the original kiosk in the plaza which has been demolished in later years to give way to improvements.


  1. so happy to hear we have old relics and infrastructure like that. as Dagupenos, we have the responsibility to take care of them and restore them for the next generations of Dagupenos. :)

  2. would be great if you could have this as a guided walking tour. the city would truly benefit from such an effort.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely walk and shoot places in Dagupan :)and learn Dagupan history :)



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