San Juan: Museo El Deposito (Pinaglabanan’s Triple History Treat #3)
While the public is still bickering on the proposed Kaliwa Dam to solve the looming water crisis in Metro Manila especially in this El Niño period, the Spanish government a couple of hundred of years ago also struggled on how to give Manila with clean water after a deadly cholera outbreak that plagued the capital in 1843.
The idea of a Manila waterworks system was first conceived in 1733 by Don Francisco Carriedo, a Spanish native who settled in Manila. Despite donating a huge sum for the construction of such a system, it was turned down by the Spanish colonial government. It almost 150 years and many alterations before his vision became fulfilled. San Juan was chosen as the reservoir or water deposit (El Deposito) due to its elevation.
Water was sourced from what is now Marikina River, with a pumping facility at the present-day Camp Atienza at Libis, Quezon City, and pipes running from there to El Deposito, traversing in what is now Boni Serrano Avenue. Right below the San Juan hills, an additional pumping house was installed to help bring the water uphill. From El Deposito, water flows downwards to a network of pipes in Manila and to nearby places. No traces of either pumping stations nor the Boni Serrano pipelines exist today.
During the American occupation, the storage tunnels were drained of water and were converted into an underground armory. (A new water system was developed by the Americans, with the water sourcing from the Wawa Dam in Montalban [now Rodriguez], Rizal.) A tunnel leading to this underground armory was dug: this is the road that goes around what is now Katipunan Museum. The overground facilities also served as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients who required fresh air. As the Second World War comes to close, all the ground structures were razed in the battle against the Japanese occupiers. After the war, the site was put under the care of National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA), and it went into decay, becoming a temporary garbage dumping ground and became home to informal settlers.
While a park was approved to be built as early as 1957 to memorialize the heroism committed at the site, work was very slow. It was only in 1972 that a marker was installed by the National Historical Commission commemorating this event and was then converted into Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine and Park.
The building housing the Philippine waterworks history, the Museo El Deposito, was opened to the public just this year. Upon entrance, you need to deposit your large bag before going to the museum on the second floor. At the reception area is a relief map showing the Carriedo Waterworks system imposed on a modern map.
Upon entrance on the second floor, you are greeted with the waterfall wall, befitting the theme this museum intends to give.
The museum gives a detailed insight into the history of the waterworks system during the Spanish occupation, with maps and documents giving visual aids. The information details are written in both Filipino and English.
Among the items displayed here is a miniature model of the fountain dedicated to Don Francisco Carriedo for his contribution to the Manila waterworks. The original fountain was originally the centerpiece of the rotunda once intersecting A.H. Lacson, Nagtahan, Legarda and Ramon Magsaysay avenues in Sampaloc, Manila (under the present-day Nagtahan Interchange). Due to traffic concerns, the rotunda was cleared, and the fountain was moved in the 1970s to the MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) compound in Balara, Quezon City. A replica was constructed in the 1990s in Plaza Santa Cruz in Manila.
A replica of the Spanish-era hydrant and the excavated and restored original body was also on display. Also among the exhibit are the original materials used in the construction of the water storage tunnel, as well as military and civilian artifacts dug at the El Deposito tunnels. You can also immerse yourself on a five-minute virtual reality experience of the Battle of San Juan.
- Being under the care of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, both the Museo El Deposito and the Katipunan Museum are free of charge.
Opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- At Camp Crame, there are jeepneys whose route passes by the Pinaglabanan Shrine.
- RRCG buses that ply the Ortigas Avenue going to Sta. Mesa also passes by the Pinaglabanan Shrine.
From EDSA, you can take two routes:
• Take the Boni Serrano Avenue westbound (besides Camp Crame), go straight along this avenue until reaching Pinaglabanan Shrine. The shrine will be at your right-hand side.
• Take Ortigas Avenue westbound (besides POEA building), and turn left at Bonny Serrano Avenue. Go straight until reaching Pinaglaban Shrine.
From Aurora Boulevard, enter Gilmore Avenue southbound (it is one-way southbound street) and go straight until right before reaching Bonny Serrano Avenue. Turn right and go straight until reaching Pinaglabanan Shrine.
If going from Sta. Mesa, take the Araneta Avenue eastbound and turn left at N. Domingo Street. Turn right at Pinaglabanan Street: there is a monument called “Diwa ng 1896” (Spirit of 1896) at one corner. Go straight until reaching Pinaglabanan Shrine.
- El Deposito Museum Curator: Ayesha Sayseng
- Telephone Number: +632 7535439
- Email: email@example.com
Part of Pinaglabanan Triple History Treat
If you wonder why National Heroes Day was selected to be held at the last Monday of August (originally at the last Sunday of August until 2006), the date was not just randomly chosen: it was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the Cry of Pugadlawin and the start of the Philippine Revolution. This holiday is to commemorate not just the Katipuneros, but also to all the heroes who sacrificed and gave their lives for the country.
- Restrooms are available in both El Deposito and Katipunan museums.
- There are no food stalls at the Pinaglabanan Shrine. The closest commercial center is the Santolan Town Plaza a 10-minute walk away, but a number of carinderia exists at the periphery.
- A weekend market named Sabado Mercado opens at Pinaglabanan Shrine every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.