Nadia Cruz

Cheers to remembering.   

After I left the university in 2018, I dove straight into working at a corporate setting. The fast pace of the working environment in BGC, the excruciating 4-year long pandemic, and how basically life had just flashed before my eyes are some of the things that made me forget that I spent my wonderful years at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).! The thing is, I found myself again in that same spot near the PUP Obelisk–-giggling with friends and it seemed that I never left. After all these years, somehow it didn’t feel strange and Sintang Lakbay taught me to remember. 

Over 30+ cyclists jumped start the second Sintang Lakbay at the university’s  catwalk. PHOTO / LEO M. SABANGAN II


Our organization, 350 Pilipinas along with the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) and The Constantino Foundation have set the second ride for Sintang Lakbay. This time the route is longer–covering an estimate of 15 kilometers and included 12 historic stops. We came together to celebrate some of the city’s often overlooked landmarks, all while commemorating the 120th founding anniversary of the university. 

Walter, a cyclist dressed as a Katipunero biker during the bike ride. Katipuneros were once cited to use bicycles as a means of transportation to recruit its members to fight against the Spanish colonization. Photo: Leo Sabangan II


There are multiple notable stops, but it was also worth mentioning that on the first Sintang Lakbay, the last stop was near Stop-n-Shop, where it was reportedly known to be an outpost for the Katipuneros. I remember it so vividly because it was very near the infamous bakery where “the butcher” General Jovito Palparan, the person who had committed several human rights violations against activists, was found and arrested. The then Himpilan ng mga Katipuneros is now a gasoline station where most SSS-Parang Jeeps get their fuel. 

Reflecting on that moment, it felt like every turn of our wheels was a small revolution of its own. We rode to honor the past and its lessons for addressing contemporary issues like the energy, transportation, gender, and climate crisis. As Ara Alejo from 350 Pilipinas put it, “Understanding our history can make future actions more effective in promoting people-centered alternatives.”

Sta Mesa was once known to be surrounded with YlangYlang trees. Currently there is only 1 tree left within the university. PUP’s biology department also emphasized ylang-ylang’s medicinal and herbal properties. Photo: Leo Sabangan II


The second Sintang Lakbay opened with a brief history of the Ylang-Ylang, on how the fragrant plant was used to be found all over Sta. Mesa and San Juan. It was revealed that ylang-ylang growers had joined with the workers and farmers that tore cedulas after surcharges on planting trees including the ylang-ylang were imposed by the hacienderos. When I think of ylang-ylang before, I just smell hints of bananas but as the scent triggers newfound old memories, the next time I smell ylang-ylang I will think about how solidarity from ylang-ylang farmers played a part in the revolution. The university also houses endemic plants, which was a spontaneous stop! It is where we found out that the university takes care of three Bagras trees and a rainbow eucalyptus tree (my pride heart is happy! <3). 

A bunch of ylang-ylang flowers. Photo: Leo Sabangan II


 The university also houses endemic plants, which was a spontaneous stop! It is where we found out that the university takes care of three Bagras trees. A rainbow eucalyptus tree that was native in Mindanao (my pride heart is happy! <3). 

Bagras trees. The Mindanao Gum tree has, orange-tinted bark that sheds in strips, revealing streaks of pale green, red, orange, grey, and purplish brown. The more it ages the more it produces vibrant colors in its trunk. Photo: Nadia Cruz

One of the stopovers is the historic intersection of Sociego and Silencio Streets, which are ironically named as calm and silence, respectively. This spot is significant because it was here that the first hostilities between the Philippine revolutionary government and the U.S. troops erupted. We also gathered at Maria Clara Parish Church in Santa Cruz, Manila where we were warmly welcomed by Bishop Gregorio delos Reyes, the grandson of revolutionary leader Isabelo delos Reyes. Jojo from 350 Pilipinas, shared how Don Belong established the first Philippine labor union, the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina. 


Bishop Gregorio delos Reyes. Photo: Leo Sabangan II


Labor unions played an important role in history in forwarding adequate wages and improved working conditions, including the struggle to fight against oppression and dictatorship.  In honor of the hero Don Belong, we laid a sampaguita and ylang-ylang necklace on his tombstone–Isang pagpupugay sa ama ng kilusang paggawa sa Pilipinas.

Jojo, a climate and worker’s rights advocate offered Sampaguita flowers to the tombstone of Isabelo delos Reyes. Photo: Leo Sabangan II


Shortly after the visit to the Church, we rested a bit and had some sugar rush to continue the ride. We had a tub of leche flan to eat with our buddies. Oh sweet Leche flan, who would have thought that one of the sweetest desserts (that I know of) has an interesting bitter history.


Then we went to the interior of Manila City Jail, also known as Old Bilibid. This site holds a significant place in our history as the place where many historical figures were incarcerated, including Philippine-American War hero Gen. Macario Sakay.

The correctional facility’s museum. Photo: Leo Sabangan II

 The jail warden welcomed and informed us about the current situation of the facility. We learned that terms like “inmate” and “preso” are not used anymore to refer to the people that were housed in the facility. They are now referred to as “Persons Deprived of Liberty” or “PDL.” They also gave us a sneak peek of the correctional facility’s museum, which included a replica of a “bartolina.”

The warden explains that some gang members hide their logos and symbols through tattoos. Every PDL with tattoos are searched and examined as some symbols may be hidden and not visible. Photo: Leo Sabangan II


Visiting the historic Manila Grand Opera Hotel was particularly special. This site was not only the location of the Philippine Assembly and bodabil performances but also the country’s first cycling racetrack.

We stopped at the Manila Grand Opera Hotel. It was once known to be bicycle velodrome in 1892. Photo: Leo M. Sabangan II

Our ride vividly illustrated how intertwined Philippine history is with current issues such as climate change and mobility. It was fitting to stand on the site of the first Philippine power station on Hidalgo Street, knowing that coal, its primary fuel, is something we hope to make a thing of the past. As Red Constantino of the Constantino Foundation noted, we need history that is relevant and usable for today’s challenges.

Developments were ongoing on the site where La Electricista used to stand. Photo: Leo M. Sabangan II


We passed through streets like M. dela Fuente, where the names reflect virtues such as Pureza, Honradez, and Sobriedad. Our ride concluded under the Nagtahan bridge, where the Carriedo water fountain, named after Don Francisco Carriedo, was originally located.

To keep on remembering, a passport was once again given to all the participants. Each stop has its own stamp and QR codes to revisit. The passport was a symbol of our collective journey through history and our commitment to shaping a better future.

Sintang Lakbay is more than just a bike ride; it’s a series of PUP-led history tours that promote inclusive mobility and engage with urban landscapes to reimagine the past, understand contemporary issues, and shape future actions. 

Riding with the past, we aim to forge a future that is safe, meaningful, and filled with hope. 

Maybe, in several years, I may forget some of these things, but history will always be embedded to our daily lives. And it would always be remembered. 

Sintang Lakbay is a historical walk and bike ride to promote inclusive mobility by facilitating active interaction with urban landscapes, restoring working-class memory in national history, and mobilizing public contributions to remembering through art and research. It is a collaborative project by The Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 350 Pilipinas, and the Constantino Foundation