14 Reasons to Visit Malabon This Long Weekend

Experience the culture, history, and food this vibrant city has to offer

Original Article: Katherine Lopez Photography: Ocs Alvarez

The city of Malabon has a rich and colourful history. Located north of Manila and traversed by the Tullahan, Tinajeros, and Malabon rivers, it was originally a visita or parish of Tondo and known by the name Tambobong, after the tambo trees that thrive there. Because of its status as a visita, friars would regularly come to Tambobong. It was during this time when the name Malabon was coined, with “mala” referring to the mud that dirtied the friar’s robes and shoes, and “bon” to the fresh air and sumptuous dishes they enjoyed.

Since then, Tambobong thrived, thanks in large part to its proximity to the Manila Bay, which connected it to the Galleon Trade. After the 1898 Revolution, Malabon became a town under the province of Rizal, and in 2001, it was declared a city.

Even now, one can say that Malabon looks much like the way it used to before. Huge churches abound in the city, and old Spanish-style houses dating back to the 1800s dot the street of C. Arellano, thanks to the people’s practice of not selling houses they inherited from their ancestors. Here we see a bit of the distinct culture that makes the people of Malabon stand out.

But Malabon is more than just a city that is rich in history. There are many places to visit and things to experience in this vibrant place. Here are some things that you should do to make the most of your visit to Malabon:

Check out the ancestral houses on C. Arellano Street

These houses come from all the way back to the Spanish colonial era, and have been conserved by the various generations of families who live there. Experience our country’s history by visiting these beautiful properties.

Eat the original pancit Malabon at Rosy’s (located at C. Arellano cor. Bonifacio streets)


Who could possibly not be aware of this classic dish? Pancit Malabon is one of the city’s most famous dishes and is also considered one of the most flavorful noodle dishes in the country, and your visit will be incomplete without it.

Visit the Malabon Zoo (located at Gen. McArthur Highway, Potrero)

Another well-known tourist spot in Malabon, this zoo allows guests to interact directly with its vast conservatory of both endemic and exotic animals. It will prove to be highly enjoyable for nature lovers, with its focus on the preservation of forests and wildlife.

Make visita Iglesia to the San Bartolome, San Antonio de Padua, and Concepcion churches

These three churches are only some of the many still standing in the city of Malabon, and will not only provide the opportunity to spend some quiet and reflective moments by oneself, but also to learn about the role of Malabon in Philippine history.

Drop by the Malabon-Navotas shipyards

No out-of-town trip is complete without mini shoots to get photos for your Instagram feed. The Malabon-Navotas shipyards will give you a new and interesting backdrop for photos that will guarantee you those likes.

View generations of artworks at Angel Cacnio’s residence-gallery (located at 62 Don B. Bautista Boulevard)

This gallery contains collections of paintings and sculptures created by artists who are members of the Sining Tambobong Foundation. The artworks have been exhibited both locally and abroad, and will help you appreciate the talent of the Filipino.

Buy retro-inspired Japanese bikes at the many surplus bicycle stores in the area

Not only will you get yourself a cute new item, but this may also be a good opportunity to exercise while freely exploring the city!

Ride on a quaint, intricately detailed stainless pedicab

When you get too tired to walk, get yourself in one of these pedicabs and appreciate the view from inside, and maybe strike up a conversation with the pedicab driver and get to know a local.


Try out patis from Rufina (located at 290-C C. Arellano Street)

You also have to try patis (fish sauce) created by Mrs. Rufina Lucas many years ago. Discover just why this patis is still so popular even now, both in the country and worldwide!

Bring home some pichi-pichi from Arny-Dading’s Peachy-Peachy (located at Gov. Pascual Ave., Brgy. Concepcion)

Aside from pancit Malabon and patis, local pichi-pichi is also a must-try at Malabon, particularly from Arny-Dading’s Peachy-Peachy. They also offer condiments like bagoong and atchara, as well as frozen fish, longganisa, and embutido, among others.

Have a meal at Balsa sa Niugan (located in Tonsuya, Malabon)

You are guaranteed to have a pleasant time at Balsa sa Niugan, a floating restaurant located at the heart of Malabon City. The restaurant also boasts of a fishing garden and a flourishing natural landscape.

Take a break at Malabon’s People’s Park (located at Kalahkang Maynila, Catmon, Malabon)

If you’re in the mood to just sit and rest, Malabon’s People’s Park is the place to go. The park has several amenities, including badminton and tennis courts, a children’s playground, and stone benches. The Malabon City Main Library is also situated near the park.

Join the festivities during the Pagoda-Caracol

Every 8th of December, Malabon hosts the Pagoda-Caracol, or the Feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion. The festivities include a fluvial procession of the venerated image of the Virgin Mary along the Malabon-Navotas River, as well as vibrant and colorful street dancing. Who wouldn’t want to join this fantastic celebration?

Take part in “Bulungan” at Tanong Fish Market

Another distinct part of the culture of the people of Malabon is their practice of “Bulungan,” a bidding practice they use when purchasing native fish at the Tanong Fish Market. In Bulungan, buyers whisper the price that they are willing to pay for the fish they want to buy, after which the highest bidder will be determined. This fascinating practice has been used since the Spanish colonial era and passed down through the generations.


Part of this article originally appeared in "Hidden Gem" in the March 2013 issue of Real Living magazine.

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