Enriching its historical roots on the road to establishing a livable and sustainable city, the City of Valenzuela inaugurates the newly-constructed Arkong Bato Linear Park; opening one of its flagship projects to the public at Marcelo H. del Pilar Street, Barangay Arkong Bato, March 19, 2023.
The Arkong Bato Linear Park is one of the “3-in-1” project launched in Barangay Arkong Bato, spearheaded by the former city mayor and now DSWD Secretary REX Gatchalian last July 12, 2021, which aims to restore the beauty of the historical landmark and reinstate its significance to the identity of Valenzuela City. Other project components were the restoration of the stone arch, and the rise of the fourth public housing program, the Disiplina Village Arkong Bato. Within two (2) years in the making, the recreational park is finally open to the public.
The noteworthy inauguration of the park began with a ribbon-cutting led by DSWD Secretary REX Gatchalian alongside Vice Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja, the City Councilors, Arkong Bato Punong Barangay and Council. The unveiling of the restored monument of Kapitan Delfin Velilla at the center of the park also succeeded in the formal opening.
In his message, DSWD Secretary REX Gatchalian expressed his gratitude toward the officials who made the rehabilitation of the Arkong Bato possible, and promoted the “Multi-Year Program” that Valenzuelanos should look forward to. He said that all projects that he initiated when he was a congressman then shall materialize in the upcoming years in cooperation with Congressman Mark Enverga. “Hindi man ako ang congressman niyo ngayon, pero ‘yung [legislative] caretaker natin [Congressman Mark Enverga], susundan niya ang mapa na itinalaga natin.” [I may not be your congressman today, however, our legislative caretaker shall take charge of the plans we initiated.] The Multi-Year Program consisted of the following projects: Tagalag Road and Boardwalk Extension, Lawang Bato Park and Indoor Sports Center, and Polo Riverside Park.
The Barangay Arkong Bato, which settled on the passageway of Marcelo H. del Pilar Street, was named after the symbolic welcome arch. Dating back, the historical 19th-century stone arch—most commonly known as “Arkong Bato”—was built during the Spanish era and was used as a demarcating boundary between the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal; which the cities of Valenzuela and Malabon were once included in. According to historical accounts, the stone arch was structured by the American Colonial Government in 1910 that served as a division between the two then provinces apart and a guide for the people passing through the towns.
However, in an interview with Architect Gerard Lico, the architect in charge of Arkong Bato’s restoration, his assessment suggested that the stone arch was most likely structured around 1858—earlier than its recorded year—due to the quality of the material which is pure adobe stone. They also found that the structural system used in the original arch was “unreinforced masonry”, a commonly employed system in earlier churches. The rich history behind Arkong Bato was primarily conserved during the process of its renovation.
The Arkong Bato Linear Park was constructed as a place where Valenzuelanos not only behold the history-bound arch but also spend their leisure time in the green and breathable spaces the park provides. The 3,481 square-meter park that served as a viewing platform for the stone arch also features a main fountain, greenery expanses, bicycle racks, and the restored monument of Kapitan Delfin Velilla, a war hero in Katipunan from the town of Polo.
Additionally, the land where the park stands was part of the 22,800 square-meter lot acquired by the City Government of Valenzuela. The remaining 19,319 square meters of the land encompass the construction site for the new Disiplina Village Arkong Bato which shall serve as a residential area for 720 families.
Also present at the inauguration were Vice Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja, National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chairman Emmanuel Calairo, Councilors Cris Feliciano-Tan, Ricar Enriquez, Niña Lopez, Chiqui Carreon, Louie Nolasco, Ghogo Deato-Lee, Marlon Alejandrino, SK Federation President, Councilor Goyong Serrano, Liga ng mga Barangay President, Councilor Jonjon Bartolome, Education 360 Action Officer, Rovin Feliciano, former Councilor Charee Pineda, and several Punong Barangays.
Considering its cultural significance, Arkong Bato not only marked a boundary between two cities—it also signified the identity and individuality of the city. For that reason, it was dubbed the symbol of Valenzuela. Once a dilapidated artifact, the rebirth of the arch shall also bring the Valenzuelanos closer to their heritage; commemorating who they once were and how the city progressed over the years. As the City Government places great importance on its rich culture and history, the remarkable sites found in Valenzuela are continuously preserved to last for future generations.
Valenzuelanos can now visit the Arkong Bato Linear Park located at Marcelo H. del Pilar Street, Barangay Arkong Bato; open for the public daily from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.