San Juan is the youngest and second smallest city to comprise the conurbation of Metro Manila, the Philippine’s National Capital Region. Its land area of 5.94 sq kms comprises less than 1% of Metro Manila’s total land area. Due to its small area, the city is typically described as a congested city, allowing for little space for expansion. Much of the area is residential districts, and other scattered areas for industries and commerce.
It is located just about at the center of the metropolis, bounded by the cities of Manila to the west, Mandaluyong to the east, and Quezon to the north and east. Many of its major roadways, such as Aurora Boulevard, Araneta Avenue, N. Domingo Street, and the Pinaglabanan/Santolan route, link San Juan directly with Quezon City. The Ortigas Avenue links the city to Quezon City and Pasig City. The primary public transportation systems available in the city are jeepneys, taxis, and tricycles, which can travel on major and minor roadways. The busses and LRT2 that pass through the city travel on most of its major roads.
The city used to be a little barrio of Santa Ana de Sapa, sovereign area of King Lacantagean and his wife Bouan, during the pre-Spanish era. Officially called San Juan Del Monte, it derived its name from its patron saint San Juan de Bautista (St. John the Baptist), and “Del Monte” because of the hilly terrain of the area. It is no little wonder then, that the locals celebrate their patron’s feast day by dousing the streets, including passers-by and vehicles, with water just as in a baptism.
In spite of its small size, San Juan’s historical significance cannot be belittled. It was the site of the first revolt of the Katipunan, the Filipino revolutionary organization, against the Spanish rule on August 30, 1896. The war was ignited when Supremo Andres Bonifacio and his Katipuneros invaded the Almacen de Polvora, where the San Juan Elementary School stands today. This battle is commemorated by the Pinaglabanan shrine. It was also in San Juan that the Filipino-American War was ignited, when Private Willie Grayson of the US Nebraska Volunteer Regiment fired the first shot at an incident in San Juan Bridge and killed two Filipinos.
In contemporary politics, San Juan also played a somewhat minor role. Interestingly, four Philippine presidents have resided in the city. They are Diosdado Macapagal Sr (1961-1965(, Ferdinand Marccos (1965-1986), Joseph Estrada (1998-2001(, and the incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-2010). This remarkable detail simply reaffirms San Juan’s appeal as one of the metro’s most enticing area for residence.
Residential Places in San Juan
Most certainly, the city’s premiere residential area is the Greenhills Subdivisions, where the four Philippine presidents had resided. Developed in the 1970’s, the subdivision is divided into the north and west sides. It features all the common amenities in an exclusive gated community, such as guarded gates, limited access, a clubhouse, and a homeowners’ association. Condominiums and townhouses also abound in this area.
Another prominent residential area in the city is the Barangay of Little Baguio. Erected along its streets are numerous ancestral homes and mansions of the city’s elite.
Hospitals and Universities of San Juan
San Juan has three tertiary care hospitals that service it. The first of these is the Cardinal Santos Medical Center located on Wilson Street in the upscale Greenhills area. It is one of metro Manila’s most prominent privately owned hospitals, often the medical center of choice by the former president Joseph Estrada and his family. The hospital has a wide range of clinical departments and specialties, including Cardiology, Endocrinology, Neurology, Gastroenterology, Oncology, Hematology, Pulmonary & Respirology, surgery and its sub-specialties, obstetrics and gynecology, Pediatrics, ophthalmology, and dental medicine.
The two other hospitals in San Juan are St. Martin De Porres Charity Hospital at A. Bonifacio Street and San Juan Medical Center on N. Domingo Street. Although the latter is a government hospital, is it is equipped with most modern medical facilities to add to the institution’s competency and reliability. It is also a preferred hospital by the city’s most prominent family, the Ejercito-Estrada’s.
Many of Metro Manila’s most prominent private primary and secondary schools are located in the city. Among these are the La Salle Greenhills and Xavier School, which are both exclusively for boys. In addition to these, the city alos has Immaculate Conception Academy which is exclusively for girls, OB Montessori Center, Montessori De San Juan, Aquinas School, Dominican College, St. John’s Academy, and Fountain International Academy.
There are quite a few colleges found in the city. Many of the aforementioned schools have college and graduate school departments, such as the OB Montessori Center, Dominican College, and La Salle Greenhills. Because of San Juan’s close proximity to Manila, Makati, and Quezon Cities, many college students simply choose to travel to study in their colleges and universities.
The lone institution found in the city that is solely dedicated for higher education is the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication located at the Annapolis Willshire Plaza on Annapolis Street in Greenhills. It is one of the Philippine’s foremost graduate schools in communication studies by offering competitive graduate programs in journalism and communication management, on-line courses, and professional development programs.
Commercial Places in San Juan
San Juan and Metro Manila’s most prominent retail center is the Greenhills Shopping Center (GSC) which sits along Ortigas Avenue in Greenhills. It is dubbed as a shopping mecca because of its indoor bazaar, numerous shops, and five shopping malls interconnected within the complex. The indoor bizarre is located at the middle of the GSC, where in this myriad of tiangge shops, vendors hawk their merchandise ranging from clothes, footwear, bags, toys, antiques, and other home furnishings. Also found in GSC are various cellphone stalls, located at the Bridgeway Shops that connects the center with Connecticut Carpark, and jewelry shops, which are all grouped together at a vaulted hallway aptly called The Jewelry. In addition to these are other local and foreign clothing boutiques, several food stalls and restaurants, and the Unimart supermarket.
One of the other shopping malls found in the complex is the V Mall, formerly called Virra Mall. It was one of the first structures erected in the complex and had undergone a tremendous renovation to rid itself of illegal pirated CD’s to retain its reputation as one of the metro’s premiere shopping destinations. Nestled among its various shops and boutiques are numerous computer shops, which had been the old mall’s main attraction. Another old retail center in the complex is the Shoppesville Arcade, which also houses clothing boutiques, shoe stores, and computer shops.
A hit and a favorite destination among young people are the Theater Mall and the Promenade. Although the former carries more clothing shops and boutiques, both malls feature state-of-the-art cinemas, fine dining restaurants, and coffeehouses.
Unsurprisingly, the city’s prime night out district is found at the Greenhills Shopping Center and the areas surrounding it. Housed within the complex are several prominent bars and restaurants, such as the Grilla Bar & Grill, Gerry’s Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, and Cibo at the Promenade;, Kookabar & Grill, La Dulcinea Restaurant, and Pociana’s Kitchen at the Theater Mall; Sun Moon Garden and Maxim’s Tea House at the Shoppesville Arcade; Federal Seafood Restaurant and Shin Hao Restaurant at the Crossroad Arcade; Luk Yuen and Saisaki Japanese Restaurant at the Unimart; and Pick and Mix at the Bridgeway Shops.
Some notable bars and restaurants located along GSC’s surrounding streets are Shooters Music and Bar and Tortilla Fusion on Annapolis Street, Dencio’s Bar and Grill at the corner of Missouri and Connecticut Streets, Chili’s Grill and Bar at the corner of Missouri and Nevada Streets, Behrouz Persian Cuisine at Wilson Street, and the dance club Manila DJ Club at the corner of Ortigas Avenue and Wilson Street.
Service Establishments of San Juan
Supplying the city’s electric power is the Manila Electric Company or MERALCO. Formerly known as the Manila Electric Rail and Light Company, it is the sole electric power distributor of 22 cities and 89 municipalities in the island of Luzon–including the areas of Metro and Mega Manila. Its San Juan extension office is located at 35 F Blumentrit Street, where customers can make their applications, complaints, and bill payments.
The Philippine Long distance Telephone Company (PLDT) is the major fixed line and internet service provider in San Juan. Bill payments and applications for its products and services may be done at its Greenhills branch at the Shopsville Arcade in Greenhills.
All the major cellular network providers in the Philippines have service coverage in San Juan. They are Smart Communications, globe Telecom, and Sun Cellular. All three companies offer prepaid and postpaid subscriptions.
The San Juan Police Station is the Philippine National Police Eastern District’s fourth station. Under it are several substations that functions as community police and precincts. Below is a table detailing its location and contact information:
San Juan Police
Police Station Location Telephone
San Juan Santolan Road 744-2480 / 724-3744
PCP* 1 Greenhills Commercial Center 722-2316
PCP 2 Wilson Street 0918-8473523
PCP 3 Blumenttrit Street 0919-8473525
PCP 4 Paterno Street 0921-5170921
PCP 5 N Domingo Street 0917-4147798
PCP 6 Aurora Boulevard 726-9614
PCP 7 1st West Crame 744-3918
*PCP-Police Community Precinct
Embassies in San Juan
There are no consulates and embassies located in San Juan. The bulk of these diplomatic missions are found in the neighboring cities of Makati and Manila.