What to Do in Caloocan (17 Unique Things)
Philippines is one of the must-visit Southeast Asian countries for a good reason.
In the national capital region alone, you can discover and explore numerous cities with their own bragging rights. One of these cities is none other than Caloocan.
An Overview of Caloocan
Caloocan is one of the first-class urbanized cities in Metro Manila, Philippines and it takes the fourth spot as the most populous city with a population of more than 1 million people.
The city has a total land area of about 500,000 hectares, making it the second biggest city in Metro Manila.
It was in 1815 when the city was founded. Originally, this low land area didn’t get much attention.
But not long after, Caloocan evolved to become one of Metro Manila’s most advanced and developed cities. This has been divided into two non-contagious lands called northern Caloocan and southern Caloocan. The city is also divided into188 zone system or barangays.
To get around the city, you can travel through the highways and freeways on buses, jeepneys, taxis, or motorcycles although you can expect to get stuck in traffic if you go this route.
There are also railway systems that are considered as a more convenient means of transportation among the locals.
But, beyond the crowded neighborhoods, sky rise buildings and traffic jams in the city of Caloocan, the place actually abounds with cultural gems of all sorts that are just waiting to be unearthed and unraveled to the rest of the world.
To give you a heads up on how to navigate this concrete jungle, here are 17 unique things you can do in Caloocan:
1. Learn about the City’s Rich History and Interesting Origin of Its Name
Caloocan is plays an important historical and cultural role in the history of the country.
If you will care to check the history books, Caloocan, which was written as Kalookan in the country’s national language, was where the secret military started and held their clandestine meetings during the times of war when the Spaniards conquered the Philippines.
Other people claimed that the name of the city came from the Tagalog “lo-ok” or bay since this is near Manila Bay. Some people, on the other hand, insist that its name was inspired by “sulok,” a Tagalog term that means corner because back in the days, the place was nestled at a corner where the old towns of Malabon and Tondo met.
Thus, the name of the city is the combination of the term “kasuluk-sulokan” or innermost area in English.
Caloocan is also called the Makaysayang Lungsod or Historic City.
There is a solid basis for the claim of Caloocan being a historic city. As mentioned earlier, it was the place of the secret militant society, the Katipunan, formed during the country’s Spanish colonization.
The place used to be their primary meeting spot and according to history, it was also the place where the Katipuneros, the members of Katipunan, made the historic “Unang Sigaw” that marked the beginning when the Filipinos started to fight their oppressors.
2. Take a Refreshing Dip in Gubat sa Ciudad Resort
If you are visiting Caloocan with your family or friends, it would be a great idea to stay at a resort complete with all the amenities and facilities you can ask for.
Aside from the standard pavilion spaces and air conditioned rooms, Gubat sa Ciudad Resort offers its guests with plenty of entertainment opportunities.
There are seven different pools to choose from with different depths perfect for all levels of swimmers.
All pools feature fountains and water slides and are large enough that you don’t have to worry about swimming beside random strangers.
You will also find a play area and tree houses for the kids and volleyball and basketball courts for a fun competition among family and friends.
3. Be in Awe of the Bonifacio Circle Monumento
The 1933 Philippine Revolution all started in Caloocan and to commemorate this, the Bonifacio Circle Monumento was made.
The sculpture of the Bonifacio Circle Monumento is the work of art of Guillermo Tolentino, a National Artist revered and respected in the country both as an artist and as a progressive voice worth listening to.
The sculpture depicts several Filipino soldiers who point their swords fiercely to their opponents and wave a flag in the air.
The monument serves as a solid reminder that Filipinos didn’t back down during the times when the country was in turmoil. The piece provokes thoughts and emotions in anyone who sees it in person.
4. Say a Little Prayer in San Roque Cathedral
No tour in Caloocan will ever be complete without dropping by at San Roque Cathedral, the city’s first Catholic Church.
Pope John Paul II himself blessed the church that brought great delight to the Philippines.
Apparently, the pope granted the cathedral to attain the dignity and level of a Cathedral Church. And just as expected, this made the church the true joy and pride of Caloocan.
Every Sunday, a grand mass is held with locals filling the pews to worship.
You don’t need to be a catholic yourself to come and witness such cultural practice. The church itself is already a sight to behold with its intricate statues and grand ceiling.
5. Go for a Quick Escape in La Mesa Watershed
La Mesa Watershed is found on the borders of the city limits. This is composed of 2,659 hectares of protected wetlands and the main water source of Metro Manila.
Visitors can tour the park paths and watch the fishermen throw their polls in the water. The park paths run for 50 miles in the watershed that are perfect for exploration even with just your slippers.
The forest of 4,400 acres serves as the home for exquisite wildlife. A true heaven for bird watchers, the La Mesa Watershed is where you can see birds of all colors and sizes.
6. Awaken Your Love for Culture at University Of Santo Tomas Museum
The public can access the University of Santo Tomas Museum, a great way of promoting the heritage and culture of the country. The pieces found in the museum educate the general public and are used as learning tools for the students enrolled in the university.
The collection of gabinete de fisica is the main exhibit of the museum or what they call the “nucleus.” This is the collection of natural specimen such as plants, vegetables, minerals, and animals used by the students of medicine and pharmacy programs.
The exhibits displayed are always varied and changing. Once you are done exploring the museum, you can also take a stroll around the stunning university campus.
7. Pay Tribute to the Departed at La Loma Cemetery
This particular plot of land in the city was allotted to be used as a cemetery as far back as the year 1884.
Today, it now spans 130 acres with ancient tombstones. Since the times of the Spanish occupation, La Loma Cemetery has been serving as the holy ground for burials of Catholic believers.
Even though the 1946 Battle of Manila left most parts of the city either compromised or destroyed, La Loma Cemetery was among those few places that evaded the warpath.
This is what sets the cemetery apart from most of the city as it continues to retain some of the area’s oldest artifacts and heritage for the native residents in Caloocan.
If you are up for it, you can explore the cemetery and read the tombstones, some of which date as far back as the early 1800s.
The experience may be a bit spooky but it is also quite fascinating.
8. Entertainment at Its Finest in SM Center Sangandaan
All big cities need a mall and as far as Caloocan is concerned, the city’s large size is easily matched by this super big mall with three levels.
SM Center Sangandaan got all the things you can ever expect to find in any western mall and even goes beyond that.
For your ultimate entertainment experience, you can watch movies at the IMAX theater, let the kids ride the motorized mini cars or meet and greet cartoon characters on scheduled days.
You will also find numerous grocery stores and clothing shops as well as the American label Ace Hardware Store.
You can also choose from different food options complete with decent parking. SM Center Sangandaan is also accessible through public transport.
9. Shop at Gotesco Grand Central Shopping Mall
Despite the smaller number of shopping malls in Caloocan compared to other cities, shopaholics can still get their fill here.
Gotesco Gran Central Shopping Mall is the multipurpose complex found near the major station of LRT in Monumento Circle.
It features a range of grocery stores, bookstores, cinemas, coffee shops, and bistros for both day and night dining.
10. Find More Spooky Things in The Chinese Cemetery
With the Spaniards declaring the La Loma Cemetery as a holy ground suitable for Catholic burials alone, the Chinese weren’t allowed to rest in the rest there so a separate plot of land was allotted.
The Chinese Cemetery is similar to what you will see in Mainland China where you will be greeted by a red brick archway and Chong Hock Tong Temple, the spectacular Buddhist temple.
You can pay respects to Buddha inside the temple or you can just marvel at its beauty from the outside.
Memorials and monuments are found on the site paying tribute to Chinese Martyrs who fought during Second World War.
There is also the Ruby Tower Memorial built to commemorate Chinese Filipinos who lost their lives during the 1968 earthquake.
11. Join the Festivities at the Sto. Niño De Pajotan Festival
Sto. Niño De Pajotan Festival is a religious festival where people get together and celebrate all the good graces that Jesus Christ, their savior, bestowed on them. This festival is filled with fun, food, and even fireworks.
Attendees prepare large batches of the traditional Filipino food to share with the entire community. This festival is held during the last weekend of the month of January.
12. Unleash Your Sporty Side at Green Paddle
Green Paddle is the top-tier facility for table tennis that is popular among experts and professionals who want to brush up their skills or take them to the next level.
You could go for one on one training sessions with your own table tennis coach. Of course, this is also a great place where you can just have fun with your family and friends.
This is the best place to be to experience for yourself what it is like to play table tennis with the use of some of the best and most state of the art equipment you can ever find.
Green Paddle also serves as your one-stop shop if you are looking for high quality supplies for table tennis.
Their store on the site is always fully stocked so you can get your hands on what you need right away.
13. Go for a Quick Swim at Luzviminda Resort
Luzviminda Resort is a quirky and fun resort in Caloocan that will make you think of the circus because of the colorful décor, balloon paintings found everywhere you look, and castle towers that are lit up when nighttime comes.
If you want your vacation to be a little bit different, this is just the perfect place for you to stay.
There is no question that you will be spending most of your time at the resort in the pool.
You can play under the colorful fountains that resemble mushrooms, climb on the rocky waterfalls, or go on afternoon picnic in the gazebo.
The waterslides are also long enough that give adults the chance to be like little children all over again. Luzviminda Resort is well maintained, with a decoration that you shouldn’t miss at all.
14. See the Masterpiece of Taoist Temple
A Taoist Temple is located near the LRT station in 5th Ave that is said to be already more than 100 years of age.
However, this is not just like your ordinary Taoist temple, though. The architects who built the temple really went all out and gave their best in creating this masterpiece of 3 storeys.
The place served as a place of worship for both the Chinese-Filipino and Chinese residents of the city for about a century.
It isn’t easy to see how the temple has seen the best of times as its paint has started to wear off, with the cement walls already needing a good power wash. But, this slight dilapidation further contributes the mystery and intrigue of this ancient building.
15. Indulge in More Fun at Villa Celedonia Valley Resort
The Villa Celedonia Valley Resort is another notable resort in the area where you can find more exciting activities waiting for you.
Aside from the usual swimming pools, there is also a basketball court, a tennis court, and a children’s park.
The best thing here is that you don’t only get exciting offers because you can have all the fun with no need to use up your entire budget. Guests can enjoy both day and night swimming at the resort.
16. Fill Up Your Tummy at Mister Kabab
If you already got tired of the usual Filipino cuisine found everywhere in the city and you wish to try something different and new, then, Mister Kabab should definitely be in your list of must-visit dining joints.
The restaurant is popular for their Middle Eastern cuisines that are a true treat for the palate. The food and the ambience here perfectly replicate the culture in the Middle East. The place also boasts of exquisite quality décor.
The place is furnished with white wooden tables that blend well with the ambience of the place.
The texture of the rich cumin brown accents and turmeric yellow color can also be seen all over the house that brings the place to life. If you are a fan of Middle Eastern dishes and nice interiors, you should definitely come to Mister Kabab.
Aside from the kebabs, shawarma and jasmine rice served here are all on point and hit the right spot.
17. Visit Asia’s Oldest Leprosarium: Tala Leprosarium
Tala Leprosarium founded in 1940 is regarded as the oldest leprosarium in Asia that accepted patients in the entire Luzon that suffer from Hansen’s disease.
Now named Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (DJNRMH), the hospital started treating more general medical cases in 1970 aside from Hansen’s disease.
This was after the first Hansen patients had high success rates of treatment as the result of the advancement and research of the procedures done in the existing medical practice.
The notable drop of patients of the disease made the hospital consider the admission of more general cases.
If you are in the process of planning your next getaway, make sure that you include these places in your itinerary for touring Caloocan. Experience the city’s rich cultural vibe and discover new things during your stay in this gem.