Antipolo is located in Rizal Province, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) east of Manila. It is the largest city in the calabarzon Region. It is also the seventh most populated city in the country with a population of 677,741 in 2010.
It was converted from a municipality into a component city of Rizal Province on April 4, 1998, under Republic Act No. 8508. A new provincial capitol building was inaugurated in the city in March 2009 to replace the old capitol in Pasig which has long been outside the jurisdiction of Rizal Province; after Pasig was included in Metro Manila in 1975. With the transfer of the provincial government to Antipolo, it is highly favored to be officially designated as the new capital of the province. On March 14, 2011, Antipolo was declared a “highly-urbanized city” by President Benigno Aquino; such proclamation however still needs to be ratified in a plebiscite.
The city is popular for being a pilgrimage site. It prides itself as the “Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines.” The Marian image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage or the Virgin of Antipolo, which was brought in from Mexico in 1626, and enshrined in the Antipolo Cathedral has a continuous following among Filipino Catholics since the Spanish era. A popular custom of pilgrims to the Virgin of Antipolo is the trek going to its shrine on the eves of Good Friday and May 1, from various locations in Rizal Province and Metro Manila. Some pilgrims would begin the trek from Quiapo Church in Downtown Manila following the procession of the image. There is also an existing custom to have new cars blessed at the church in the belief that this will ensure the safety of the car and its passengers.
Its higher elevation than that of Metro Manila affords it a scenic view of the metropolis, especially at night. Its locally grown mangoes and cashews are popular among tourists, as well as suman – a local delicacy made out of glutinous rice. The Hinulugang Taktak National Park, which was once a popular summer get-away is being restored to become again one of the city’s primary attractions.
Antipolo is known as the City on the mountain ridges east of Manila where the sun begins to shine. The City whose name was derived from the Tipolo trees growing indigenously on its land…trees with broad leaves that provide shade while gently fanning in the soothing breeze. Antipolo, the City of pilgrims and contemplatives, tourists and traders, artists and artisans.
Rich in cultural and historical heritage, Antipolo’s history dates way before the first Franciscan Missionary recorded its work in 1578. The land was home to indigenous tribes as the Dumagats, Tagals, Indians and Aetas. Its virgin forests of varied tropical trees were also nests to a diverse wildlife. Its rich water tables gushed forth as springs and waterfalls.
As the missionaries relentlessly pursued their ‘Christianization’ campaign, some natives of this town desiring to keep their own way of life moved into the hinterlands of neighboring mountains. Aside from the Franciscans, the Jesuits and the Recollects also came to evangelize. These religious congregations followed the natives in the forested mountains. Later on, the missionaries were able to establish their church and grew to the proportions it is today. More so, the famed image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, sculpted from a dark hardwood of Mexico, was permanently enshrined in Antipolo.
They built a chapel in Sitio Sta. Cruz for Blessed Virgin Mary to allow the followers to show their adoration. As more pilgrims came to this town, more were encouraged to live in this town.
In 1850, the town was part of the Province of Tondo. By 1853, Antipolo was formally placed under the district then known as Los Montes de San Mateo, and later named as District of Morong in 1857.
It was during those years that the Virgin Mary of Antipolo gained thousands of devotees. Devotees from Manila and nearby towns and provinces flocked to Antipolo on foot along mountain trails and springs. Most of them were fair-skinned (the Tagalogs). Some frequent visitors moved to Antipolo. Among the devotees were young Jose Rizal and his mother.
Two months after Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite, Antipolo formally joined the revolutionary government and was made the capital of Morong. But when the country was colonized by the Americans on June 4, 1899, the revolutionary government was transferred to the town of Tanay.
After the civil government was restored in 1901, Valentin Sumulong became the first Presidente (Alkalde) of the town. The province of Morong was renamed Rizal Province and some towns near Manila were made part of the said province.
The first town hall was built in 1925 during the administration of Mayor Jose Carigma.
In 1929, German San Jose (Gerry Brandy) of Malate, Manila composed the song “Antipolo” (TayonasaAntipolo) which immediately became popular.
During the Second World War (1941-1945) many men from Antipolo joined the Philippine Scout and the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and fought in the bloody battle of Bataan. On February 17, 1945, Antipolo was heavily bombarded by American planes. Due to widespread conflagration and heavy civilian casualties, the people of Antipolo evacuated to SitioKulaike and to Angono, Santolan and Marikina. The bombings from March 6 to 7, 1945 destroyed the Antipolo church. After twelve days of battle, the American 43rd Infantry Division liberated the town on March 12, 1945. In 1960, the Poblacion was expanded. The Sumulong Highway was constructed and the people from outlying towns migrated and occupied the hills and mountain sides.
In the 1970s, the Marikina-Infanta Road better known as the Marcos Highway was constructed traversing the mountains of Antipolo. Cogeo Village was also constructed and a large portion of the town was proposed for LungsodSilangan. The barrios, then known only as Uno, Dos, Tres and Cuatro, were renamed Barangay San Roque, San Jose, San Isidro and Dela Paz.