Bring me to Kamuning!

Quezon City is too big to explore on foot,” quipped a friend. Not averse to challenges, I once did a 12-church walking Visita Iglesia and a Manila Night Walk covering four districts.

Growing up in Quezon City, I felt obliged to write about the “City of Stars.” The criteria would be the nostalgia and walkability. I chose Kamuning because of the variety of stores ranging from antique, vinyl, bakery, automotive restorer, market, a regional eatery and an artist watering hole. Tucked in between are schools, hotels, and churches all in a 1.4-kilometer stretch from EDSA to Tomas Morato.

What I didn’t know was that Kamuning was plucked out from San Juan when Quezon City was founded in 1939. The new city, which bought land from the Tuason Estate, created Project 1 which included Kamuning and six more barangays.

Classic swap meets

After World War II, a reconstruction program was started with neighbors engaging in buy and sell and barter. This gave rise to “swap meet” which exists (structure-wise) up to this day. This two-floor vintage hunting ground is a pickers’ paradise. It’s a little bit overwhelming with all the shops bunched together but it sure beats going to scattered shops all over the Metro.

Next door is a Japanese surplus shop which recently reopened. What interests me are the furniture which, I believe, are better than the brand-new ones in the malls. On K-1st you will find a vinyl shop called Northwest Estate. They have an online store but audiophiles prefer to dig in.

Going back to the main road, you will spot three more antique/vintage shops: one air-conditioned with lots of ceramics, one specializing in wooden furniture, and another one so cramped that only one person can enter.

Kamuning has a variety of stores ranging from antique, vinyl, bakery, automotive restorer, market, a regional eatery and an artist watering hole.

Eats & in-betweens

Right in the middle of Kamuning Road is the perfect place for a cool break—at King and Queen Tea Shop. It’s rather intimidating but the beautiful interiors make it a worthy stop. The buy-one-take-one promo is equally enticing.

After the cool break, you will pass by a store specializing in citronella products and a barbershop cum tattoo and piercing services. At the corner of 11th Jamboree is Angus Tapa Centrale, famous for its angus beef tapsilog. It is now closed for dine-in but open for online orders. Beside it is Bruno’s pancit batil patung. This is probably one of the few places in Manila which features Tuguegarao cuisine. I tried it and found it too heavy for a merienda. You may also buy chicharabao (carabao chicharon) and their version of garlic longanisa. It’s a hole-in-the-wall with loyal Ilocano/Ibanag-speaking customers.

Across is Alfred’s Motor Works which rents out vintage bridal cars. It has the distinction of restoring 16 vehicles in the Presidential Automotive Museum in Quezon Circle. Crossing the street to K-D, you will discover Botak Sports Wear which started with running gear and eventually other athletic wear. It is owned by ultramarathon runner Cesar Guarin whose dream is to run around the world. He is reputed to be the inspiration behind the movie Forrest Gump.

The walking tour never ends

At Sct. Ybardolaza, you will find the oldest Quezon City public secondary school which has produced a chief justice and a renowned writer. Nearby is the Sacred Heart Parish-Shrine, which was established in 1941, making it the first parish in this newly created city. It is run by the Society of the Divine Word.

On the other side of the road is the iconic Kamuning Bakery, the oldest in Quezon City. Acquired by journalist Wilson Lee Flores, it was gutted by fire in 2018 but has risen from its ashes. The bakers still use the original recipes. Another foodie favorite is Lucky 21 Food Products on K-3rd, famous for its empanaditas, pancit sotanghon and rellenong bangus.

Last but not the least is the Kamuning wet and dry market. Aside from Divisoria-priced fabric, there are also curtain makers, dress makers and tailors which are patronized by businessmen and politicians.

After hours of picking, eating, and shopping, the best way to cap off a Kamuning Walk is a steak meal at Snackaroo and ice-cold beer at Taumbayan.

Kamuning, named after the orange jasmine, may be nostalgic for those born in Delgado Hospital or for baby boomers who patronized Eloy’s used clothing, but it remains relevant to the millennial Batang Kyusi who wants to trace his roots and determine his future.

Let JP Ordona (Manilakad) bring you to Kamuning and other parts of Manila. You can find Manilakad on Facebook or contact (0916) 359-7888.