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The Big, Small City of San Juan

The Big, Small City of San Juan

Posh subdivision, thriving businesses, top schools—all these have been accomplished in the smallest city in Metro Manila, San Juan. Its land area of 5.94 square kilometers hardly makes up one percent of the region. Though hemmed in by neighboring cities all around so that no further expansion is possible, this “David” of a city manages to squeeze in more progress to face up against many giants of challenges. It is surrounded by giant cities like Manila, Quezon City, and Mandaluyong. Actually, this historical city has been facing giants since its humble beginnings in history.

A mere village or barrio in 1590, this smallest city in the metropolis was put in the limelight when the Katipunan first faced the gargantuan Spanish army in 1896. The first fight venue was here, and so in the Philippine American War in the late1800s and early 1900s. San Juan started getting reputation as a spot where freedom was fought for. Thus, the naming of a bridge “Pinaglabanan Bridge” or “fought for” bridge in his historical city.

San Juan has also raised up four giants in the history of the Philippine presidency. First, Diosdado Macapagal, Sr. (1961), and then Ferdinand Marcos (1965), then Joseph Estrada (1998), and last but not least, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2001). They were resident of this smallest city, San Juan, prior to being president. Elpidio Quirino (1948) chose this historical city as his retirement residence. Thus, San Juan, the smallest city in Metro Manila, has been cradling political giants since early times.

Flourishing business establishments and schools are among this city’s pride. Greenhills Shopping Center, Xavier School, Immaculate Concepcion Academy, and Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication are among San Juan’s pride. There are numerous classy townhouses and condo sites, and restaurants like the historic Club Filipino which has been a witness of countless major historic events, most recent of which was the establishment of the revolutionary government of the Aquino Administration in 1986. The historical city of San Juan also boasts of old churches like Pinaglabanan Church and Sanctuario Church which capture golden memories of its past.

This smallest city among giants has bravely initiated and preserved precious components of Philippine heritage for generations. Aside from beating the odds, this historical city of San Juan has even raised up political giants to make this smallest city the big, small city of San Juan. Thus, the people of San Juan themselves have come to be known as a brave people always facing up to any challenge and coming out stronger and better.


  1. Jim Musacchio

    I am lookinf for a friend who’s name is Mario DeLeon. We were in the US Navy together.back in 1966. I was discharged in August of ’66 and Mario later voluntered for duty in Vietnam. We coresponded for a time and then my letters were returned as being “unable to deliver”. I do not know if he was KIA and have never been able to find out what happened to him. He was from the town of San Juan. If anyone has any information or knows of his family please contact me. Thanks, Jim Musacchio

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