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History of Caloocan City - El Pueblo de Caloocan Provincial de Manila | Metro Manila Philippines

Guillermo Tolentino’s Bonifacio Monument
Guillermo Tolentino’s Bonifacio Monument


Probably the most peculiar city in the Philippines is Caloocan City. It is the only one with an exclave - a north territory completely surrounded by other cities. Its history can be traced back in 1815. 


Dagat-dagatan Lagoon, the small bay or lo-óc which gave Caloocan its name. The lagoon is now reclaimed.
Dagat-dagatan Lagoon, the small bay or lo-óc which gave Caloocan its name. The lagoon is now reclaimed.


Caloocan came from the tagalog word Lo-óc meaning Bay. Located by the shores of the former dagat-dagatan lagoon (a small bay along the shores of Manila Bay) was the old town center of Caloocan, thus its name. For most part, it was a territory of the town of Tondo In the Spanish province of Manila. The original Caloocan was the present South Caloocan, and its former barrios, now territories of Quezon City:


Caloocan was still contiguous in 1939 when QC was created. it was divided into two, when QC was enlarged further in 1948
Caloocan was still contiguous in 1939 when QC was created. it was divided into two, when QC was enlarged further in 1948. This is the Greater Manila during the War. It was from PHIMCOS Special World War 2 Issue.


• Balintawak (approximate areas are Balong Bato, Apolonio Samson, Balingasa, Pag-ibig sa Ngayon, Damar, San Jose)

• La Loma ( approximate areas are Maharlika, N. S. Amoranto, Paang Bundok, Salvacion, San Isidro Labrador, Sta. Teresita, Lourdes) 

• Masambong ( approximate areas are Manresa, St. Peter, Siena, Masambong, Talayan, Santo Domingo) 

•Santol (approximate areas are Tatalon, Doña Josefa, Don Manuel, Doña Aurora, San Isidro, Sto. Niño, Santol, Doña Imelda) 


The original chapel was cruciform. As seen in this photo, the transepts of the original chapel were incorporated to the larger church as side apse.
The original chapel was cruciform. As seen in this photo, the transepts of the original chapel were incorporated to the larger church as side apse.

Cathedral of San Roque of Caloocan
Then-church, now the Cathedral of San Roque of Caloocan. The church began as a small chapel with a one-level facade, evident to the contrasting ionic columns at the first level and the flat pilasters of the second level. It became a cathedral in 2003.


At the time when cholera epidemic was hitting Manila in the early 19th century, the parish of Caloocan was established, effectively separating it from Tondo. The new town and parish was placed under the patronage of Saint Roche of Montpellier, patron saint against pestilence and plagues. The parish was entrusted to the Augustinian Recollects. 


Street scene in rural Caloocan being traversed by tranvia tracks
Street scene in rural Caloocan being traversed by tranvia tracks

Rural Caloocan
Rural Caloocan

Rural Caloocan
Rural Caloocan


Most of the territory of Caloocan were owned by the Tuason Family belonging to their Mayorazgo. More than half of the Tuason Hacienda de Maysilo and a portion of the Tuason Hacienda Santa Mesa sits on Caloocan. It was mostly rural blessed for its strategic location being just at the outskirts of the city.


Entrance gate of the La Loma Cemetery
Entrance gate of the La Loma Cemetery

Mortuary Chapel of La Loma Cemetery
Mortuary Chapel of La Loma Cemetery


The cemetery of La Loma was built in Caloocan in 1884 which was considered the largest and most beautiful cemetery at that time. 


Caloocan Station of the Manila-Dagupan Ferrocaril
Caloocan Station of the Manila-Dagupan Ferrocaril

Rail yard in Caloocan
Rail yard in Caloocan


When the Manila-Dagupan railroad was inaugurated in 1892, Caloocan was opened as the first station from Tutuban. Two of these Caloocan landmarks were venues of battle during the Philippine-American war. 


Golf was brought by the British men of the Manila Railroad Company. The Manila Golf Club near the rail yard became their favorite recreational facility. It’s now UE Caloocan
Golf was brought by the British men of the Manila Railroad Company. The Manila Golf Club near the rail yard became their favorite recreational facility. It’s now UE Caloocan


In 1901, the town of Caloocan was merged with the town of Novaliches (presently North Caloocan and the QC barangays of Baesa, Bahay Toro, Tandang Sora, Pasong Tamo, Fairview Lagro, Pasong Putik and the areas in between), and was incorporated to the Province of Rizal, the municipal center being in the old Caloocan town. In effect, most references pertaining to the revolution, especially the Cry of Pugad Lawin registered Caloocan, when it was in fact in Novaliches that these events happened.


Plan for the Presidencia of Caloocan
Plan for the Presidencia of Caloocan


Being close to then-rapidly growing Manila, Caloocan was among the most-favored for suburban real estate developments - Grace Park, Rizal Avenue Hills, Bagong Barrio just to name a few. Manila Golf Club first opened in Caloocan in 1901. In 1933, Guillermo Tolentino’s masterpiece, the Bonifacio Monument was unveiled at the rotunda in Caloocan, demarcating then-terminus of suburban Manila. 

Aerial view of Grace Park Airfield
Aerial view of Grace Park Airfield


Near the monument was the Grace Park Airfield, located in Barrio Matang Tubig which was aptly at the outskirts of the city. It was Manila’s first commercial airport operated by the Philippine Aerial Taxi Company and opened in 1935. 


Art-deco Ang Tibay Shoe Factory
Art-deco Ang Tibay Shoe Factory


In 1936, shoe magnate Teodoro Toribio, who himself was born in Caloocan, built his palatial Art-Deco shoe factory of Ang Tibay Shoes which easily became a landmark in then burgeoning suburb. 


Old campus of the Jesuit Colegio de San Jose. Planned as the postwar location of Ateneo de Manila but eventually acquired by Manila Central University
Old campus of the Jesuit Colegio de San Jose. Planned as the postwar location of Ateneo de Manila but eventually acquired by Manila Central University


In 1939, the territory of Caloocan was drastically cut in half when many barrios were incorporated to Quezon City. This annexation, and a further one in 1948 gave Caloocan its present form - a town with an exclave up north. In the same year, the Jesuit Colegio de San Jose moved to Caloocan in close proximity from Monumento. 


Campus of Notre Dame of Greater Manila, then an all-boys school in the north.
Campus of Notre Dame of Greater Manila, then an all-boys school in the north.


The biggest blow to Caloocan during WWII was the destruction of Grace Park Airfield, which was never rebuilt. After the war, the Jesuits considered the site of the Colegio de San Jose as the next location of Ateneo de Manila, but the property was eventually sold to Manila Central University (MCU). The Manila Golf Club eventually moved out from Caloocan, their property acquired next by University of the East (UE) 


Thai To Taoist Temple servicing a sizable Chinese population in Caloocan
Thai To Taoist Temple servicing a sizable Chinese population in Caloocan


The exponential urbanization and growth drove Caloocan to become a chartered city in 1962, effectively separating it from the Province of Rizal and including it to the Greater Manila Area. In 1963, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a congregation of French origin, opened the all-boys school Notre Dame of Greater Manila in Caloocan City. In 1975, Caloocan City was included to Metro Manila. In 2003, the old church of Caloocan was designated as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Kalookan. 



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References:

1. Website of the Caloocan City Government 

2. Quezon City: Corruption & Contradiction in Manila’s Pre-war suburbia by Michael Pante 

3. Fascinating Golf History by Philip Ella Juico (Philstar Article 23 December 2008)

4. Don Toribio Teodoro of Ang Tibay Fame by Danny Dolor (Philstar Article 12 May 2019) 

5. Official website of the Diocese of Kalookan

(C) text by Lorenzo Bukas

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