“All roads lead to Antipolo” is a saying that is especially true for devotees to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage for whom the shrine in Antipolo is dedicated. Indeed, major transport routes lead to Antipolo City and signboards on jeepneys (and buses of old) state “Antipolo Simbahan” as their destination. In much older days, the Manila Railroad Company used to have trains directly serving this route. The remnants of its right-of-way is still there but in the form of roads. These are the Daang Bakal, which stretches from Valley Golf in Cainta, Rizal until its junction with Taktak Road and Ninoy Aquino Blvd., where it becomes the Lorenzo Sumulong Memorial Circle, Antipolo’s circumferential road. A trace of this old railway line may be found in this previous post.
From J.P. Rizal Street, which extends from Sumulong Highway, one turns left to head straight towards the Antipolo church along P. Oliveros Street. The street is a two-lane, one-way road that has been widened at some sections. The shoulders, however, are mostly used for parking as shown in the photo.
The dome of the church becomes visible to the traveler as one comes closer. P. Oliveros St. is closed to traffic during the feast day in May. It is usually open during Lent even during the Holy Week when there are lots of people coming to Antipolo for the Visita Iglesia. Traffic during those times can be quite slow because there are also lots of people walking along the streets, many of whom are devotees who are namamanata, or have promises of sacrifice and prayers to the patron of the shrine.Similar to other poblacions around the country, commerce surrounds the church. Antipolo receives thousands of visitors daily and its being a natural traffic generator provides opportunities for businesses to thrive around it. Establishments around the church are proof of this and one will find most major fast food chains within a stone’s throw away from the shrine. In the photo are major chains Jollibee, Mang Inasal, Greenwich along the right and Mercury Drug(not fast food but the largest drug store chain in the Philippines) and McDonald’s on the left. There are more including banks and food stalls along M.L. Quezon Street, which is the main street of the poblacion.
M.L. Quezon Street in front of the shrine and the main street of the poblacion, is also a two-lane, one-way street (southbound flow). There are many one-way streets here as it is no longer possible to widen streets. One side of M.L. Quezon is used for parking and a short walk from the church is Antipolo City Hall, which is the red building barely visible (obscured by the tree on the left) downstream in the photo.
There is a proliferation of tricycles operating in the poblacion. I don’t know how many there are but they seem to be from different tricycle operators and drivers associations (TODA) that all converge at the shrine. This overlap of service areas (tricycles do not have fixed routes) suggest everyone is taking advantage of the shrine and city hall being major traffic generators. The problem is that the city has not been able to control their numbers and regulation is probably limited to registration, which brings some revenues to the city. This is certainly not sustainable from the perspective of transport
It would be nice to see the poblacion re-planned, designed and managed so that walking may be given primacy over other modes, particularly motorized ones. Antipolo should be walkable and it was in the past considering there were no tricycles and automobiles during the Spanish and early American periods. One took an animal-drawn vehicle, road a horse, or walked even when there was a train service in the early part of the last century. If parking is an issue, then perhaps the city, with the cooperation of the private sector, could find ways of building multi-storey parking facilities in the periphery and within comfortable walking distance from the shrine and city hall. There’s much potential here that is steadily being wasted due to traffic and with no design theme even for buildings surrounding the shrine. The shrine represents heritage and to preserve and enhance it, Antipolo City should find ways to introduce sustainable transport as well as applying architectural principles for the poblacion.