By Severino C. Samonte

Dizzying transformation of Novaliches from a barrio to a diocese

A diocese within two dioceses.

This best describes the present and unique situation of the former town of Novaliches, now divided between the two neighboring cities of Quezon and Caloocan in northern Metro Manila.

History shows that Novaliches was among the hundreds of municipalities created in Luzon during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898.

Named after Spanish Governor-General Manuel Pavia Lacy y Marques de Novaliches, the town was carved out of the former municipality of Polo, Bulacan on Sept. 22, 1855, according to the book "Ang Kasaysayan ng Novaliches" (History of Novaliches) published in 1997. The book was written by historians Dr. Rosalina M. Franco-Calairo and her son, Dr. Emmanuel F. Calairo, who is now the chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NCHP).

On Nov. 26, 1858, Novaliches was transferred to the newly created province of Manila which replaced the old province of Tondo. As such, the town played a vital role both in the 1896-1898 Filipino revolution against Spanish rule and in the succeeding Filipino-American War that broke out on Feb. 4, 1899.

Being one of the immediate gateways or towns to reach Central and Northern Luzon from Manila at that time, Novaliches, along with the neighboring Caloocan, suffered heavily from armed attacks by the colonizing Spanish and American forces.

When the province of Rizal was created in 1901 under the Philippine Commission Act No. 137, Novaliches was made part of it along with 31 other towns from Morong and Manila provinces, namely: Antipolo, Boso-Boso, Teresa, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Marikina, Morong, Binangonan, Baras, Cardona, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Pasay, Malibay, Pasig, Pateros, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Pililia, Quisao, Jala-Jala, San Mateo, Montalban, San Pedro Macati, San Felipe Neri, San Juan del Monte, Tanay, Taytay, Cainta and Angono.

However, when the first official census in the Philippines was conducted in March 1903, it was found that Novaliches had only 1,556 people after the war in 1902. As a result, it was abolished, reduced to a barrio and incorporated with the neighboring Caloocan town.

Under the Philippine Commission Act No. 942, issued on Oct. 12, 1903, the 32 municipalities of Rizal were reduced to 15, combining smaller towns with their larger neighboring towns. This was considered the beginning of misfortunes of the historic Novaliches town.

The surviving 15 Rizal municipalities and the merged towns (in parentheses except stated otherwise) under Act No. 942 were: 1. Antipolo, (Boso-Boso, Teresa); 2. Caloocan (Novaliches); 3. Malabon (Navotas); 4. Marikina (same status); 5. Morong (Binangonan, Baras Cardona); 6. Parañaque (Las Piñas); 7. Pasay (Malibay); 8. Pasig (same status); 9. Pateros (Taguig, Muntinlupa); 10. Pililla (,Quisao, Jala-Jala); 11. San Mateo (Montalban); 12. San Pedro Macati (Same status) 13. San Felipe Neri or Mandaluyong (San Juan del Monte); 14. Tanay (Same status); 15. Taytay (Cainta, Agono).

After several years, majority of the abolished towns, except Novaliches, Malibay, Quisao and Boso-Boso, were restored to their original status.

Novaliches suffered another misfortune after it was divided between Caloocan and Quezon City in 1948 when the then infant Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act No. 333 declaring Quezon City as the new capital of the country in place of Manila.

Despite the loss of its town status and its divisive state at present, Novaliches has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of population and economic status and other social aspects since the 1946 Philippine Independence from the United States.

At present, the population of the former Novaliches town culled from both Quezon City and Caloocan City statistics is placed at more than 2.8 million.

In economic status, it is estimated that the Novaliches portion belonging to Quezon City alone is contributing at least 20 percent of the current income of the QC government. According to the QC Treasurer's Office, the city government's annual income from businesses, realty taxes and other sources topped the PHP22.9-billion mark as of 2021.

The tremendous increase in the population of the Novaliches area has been attributed to the development of almost all open spaces there into subdivisions, factories, shopping malls and other commercial uses in the past 70 years.

As a result, in 2002, the Vatican, through then Manila Archbishop Jaime L. Cardinal Sin (RIP), decided to create Novaliches as a diocese, which also covers the Novaliches area of North Caloocan City.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Novaliches (RCDN) is separate and distinct from the two neighboring dioceses or bishoprics of Cubao (Quezon City) and of Caloocan City.

Earlier, the people of the divided former town moved several times for the restoration of the area into a separate local government unit (LGU) of Metropolitan Manila, but they have always been unsuccessful due to too much politics.

In the concern of protecting its ever-burgeoning population, the QC Police District has created an additional 10 police stations across the city which comprises one-fourth of Metro Manila.

According to the QCPD website, there are now 16 police stations throughout the city. Seven of these can be described as "daughters" of the former QC Police Precinct 6 based in Novaliches. These are: QCPD Station 3 in Barangay Talipapa; Station 4 in Novaliches Proper or Poblacion; Station 5 in Fairview, Station 6 in Batasan Hills, Station 13 in Payatas-Bagong Silangan, Station 14 in Holy Spirit, and Station 16 in Pasong Putik.

Those situated in the other QC areas are: Station 1 in La Loma, Station 2 in Masambong, Station 7 in Cubao, Station 8 in Project 4, Station 9 in Anonas, Station 10 in Kamuning, Station 11 in Galas, and Station 12 in Eastwood City in Barangay Bagumbayan abutting with Pasig City.

The QCPD headquarters is situated at Camp Karingal in Quezon City.


About the Columnist

Image of Severino C. Samonte

He began his journalistic career by contributing to the Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines in the 1960’s. He was the night editor of the Philippine News Service when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. When the Philippine News Agency was organized in March 1973, he was named national news editor because of his news wire service experience.

He retired as executive news editor in 2003. He also served as executive editor of the Malacanang-based Presidential News Desk from 1993 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2008.