The proximity of the MacArthur Highway and the North Luzon Expressway to Valenzuela has transformed the city from a backwater to a gateway to the historical landmarks and pilgrimage sites of Bulacan and to the highlands and Ifugao heritage of Baguio. Valenzuela’s SM Supercenter and Puregold might be no match to the bigger shopping malls in Manila and Quezon City. But besides these, Valenzuela has a few tricks up its sleeve.

Philippines’ biggest

Valenzuela is divided into three domains: industrial, residential and cultural. The residential part is mainly composed of small barangays (villages). One of those villages is Barangay Maysan, whose 3,000-sq.-meter Maysan Barangay Complex is the biggest of its kind in the country.

Cultural district

In the Philippines, the center of devotion to the Lady of Fatima is Valenzuela’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. The shrine, along with the Valenzuela City Convention Center, comprises the cultural district of Valenzuela. The convention center is the hub of concerts, exhibits, plays and seminars in the city.

Historical but mediocre

As the former home of Spanish-era maharlikas (elites), Valenzuela contains several historical, but lackluster, sites. Among them are the Museo ng Valenzuela and the Residence of Dr. Pio Valenzuela, which display the city’s collection of artifacts belonging to Dr. Pio Valenzuela, one of the triumvirates of the Katipunan. Constructed in 1910, the Arkong Bato is a stone arch built by the Americans along M.H. Del Pilar Street.

Festivals and local fare

Built in 1632, the Bell Tower is the remains of San Diego De Alcala Church, which was bombed during the Japanese period. Every November 12, locals celebrate the feast day of the church’s patron saint. As part of the feast, the residents of Barangay Polo hold the Putong Polo Festival, featuring their famous rice cake, putong Polo.

Single ladies

Every April 26, Valenzuela stages the Santacruzan, a novena procession of some of the city’s prettiest women dressed in gowns and costumes symbolizing the different personas of St. Helena. San Roque, the patron saint of singles in Valenzuela, is given tribute via the Mano Po San Roque Festival. During the fiesta, single women dance and pray in the hopes of finding their true love.

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