Project 4 on Foot

Project 4 is one of my favorite spots in Quezon City. There isn’t anything much I know about its origins, except that it’s part of eight ‘project’ subdivisions in the city, and thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that these residential areas were built by three Philippine presidents.

What I like about Project 4 is its cozy neighborhood. The streets are lined with modest-looking houses that do not have the air of excessive opulence found in exclusive subdivisions. Children, often chased by a mischievous puppy or two, skip and play outside their homes. Every afternoon, vendors roam to sell Filipino meryenda (snacks) identified by the vendor’s distinct call or the way he rings a bell. Almost every corner tosses up the ubiquitous sari-sari (retail) store, turo-turo (‘point-point’ eatery), bakeshop, buy-one-take-one burger, and turon (banana fritter) and other Filipino meryenda sold by residents outside their gates.

I’ve walked the streets of Project 4 countless times, but it’s only the other day that I remembered to bring my camera. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what route I took; I just let my feet take me wherever they felt like going.

The first place they took me was to this new, cheerful-looking building being constructed near a school. I thought it was for office spaces, but the sign revealed otherwise.

It sure didn’t look like a sports complex, where, in my inexpert opinion, wide spaces would be necessary to play, well, sports and games. It turns out the facility has a troubled past. An ABS-CBN article reported that parents and students protested its construction as it meant shutting down Belarmino Elementary School. Obviously, the city government won, but with less of that ‘tiwala ng mamamayan‘ (people’s faith) advertised on the billboard.

And politicians are just great at advertising their so-called achievements. They can’t seem to stop themselves from slapping their names onto roads, buildings, streetlights, basketball courts, or walls.

They’re getting creative, too. In Kalantiaw Street, this waiting shed caught my eye. I thought it was an ad for construction tools or a repair center.

It’s actually a Councilor telling Project 4 residents, “Look here, I had this made!” In case they forget, the foundations were stamped with his slogan, too.

I passed by Pura Kalaw Elementary School, where the City Mayor wanted the Belarmino students relocated to for the sports complex construction. There, I came upon another sign, which I thought at first was an ad for a fastfood chain’s community program.

Of course, the banner contained another politician’s name. But the classes seemed like a good idea, especially when one considers the things students are writing of these days.

Maybe elementary students do need ‘English reinforcement classes’ (and something else, something having to do with vandalizing property). Maybe they need to know which English (and Spanish?) words are cool and not cool to say, and maybe, which names and slogans of shops contain accurate English, lest they get confused and imitate those written on signboards.

Laundry shop signboard

Nothing wrong on the English part of this sign, but would you eat at this lugaw (rice porridge) and bulalo (beef soup) place in J.P. Rizal Street?

I wouldn’t be enticed to eat here. The term ‘bulalugaw‘ conjures up the image of a bugaw (pimp). I would steer clear of this place; I’m not really a fan of lugaw or bulalo anyway.

Bakeries, now those I am a fan of. Among the numerous bakeshops in Project 4, this one has the most catchy name.

Seeing them still in operation was a pleasant surprise. Their original location in Kalantiaw Street now contains a different bakery, one that has a boring name. It took them months to put up their sign, but I was glad they hadn’t changed it to the owner’s name, or to another celebrity’s.

If American English, or a twist to an American actor’s name, doesn’t work, how about shifting to British English?

OR, we can just eat local ice cream. Walking farther up P. Tuazon Street, I came across a favorite spot in Project 4.

The Ice Cream Store sells delicious Primrose ice cream at dirt cheap prices, starting at P10, like this mango-and-ube cup.

I didn’t try one, though, during this walk. I was still full from the Spanish bread I ate from the bakery.

After two hours, I walked back to my nice little hole in the city, to that street where the vendor calls out “Puuutooo!” every afternoon.

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