Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Bath: Los Baños-Bayan, Laguna

* one graffiti that has some sense in it

* the entrance to City of Springs Resort and Hotel

* one of the few quaint houses found in Los Baños Bayan

* old indeed but the details are still attractive

* view of the town hall

* Trailer Pransis posing at the town hall’s short flight of stairs

The ‘old’ town proper of Los Baños (commonly called ‘Bayan’) has always been a place for gathering peace-of-mind. Its overall tranquil atmosphere induces one to reflect and relax. Who says we need some expensive escape when we can readily have it for free, right beside the overwhelming Laguna de Bay (Ba’i)?

Besides the university library and the series of picnic tables at the SU lobby, Los Baños Bayan has always been my choice of place for rest and reflection. Lovers and love lives came and went, but my love for the view of the lake has never waned. I used to imagine those final scenes in ‘Noli Me Tangere’ unfolding right before my eyes - the pursuit for Elias and Ibarra, the shots fired after Elias. This must have been the lake where Jose Rizal imagined most of the scenes in his first novel. And this is one of the few connections I can have with him. One must not also forget a chapter in ‘El Filibuterismo’, devoted and named after this town of Los Baños.

Los Baños initially started as part of the then larger town of Ba’i and was then called ‘Mainit’. The presence of many hot springs prompted this name. This has caught public attraction and by 1589, public baths were already constructed by a certain Padre Pedro Bautista who also gave the name Los Baños. September 17, 1615 is a date to remember as this marked the separation of Los Baños from Ba’i under the administration of the Franciscans.

* the old public market which has remarkably clean surroundings

* one of the big houses that still carry that ‘Spanish-look’ details; too bad I can no longer adjust the brightness that obscured the details on the second floor, the ventanillas can still be seen at least

* curious designs outside a house/pool resort(?)

* although predominantly concrete, one can still discern the use of old materials in this house/pool resort(?)

* a view of one of the town’s streets

* Immaculate Concepcion Church: the original one was constructed in 1671 but burned down by fire in 1727, the present one is a ‘descendant’ of the church built in 1851

* a view of the inside of the church

* the mighty riles ng tren; view from a bridge

* a marker commemorating the first class held by the then UP College of Agriculture, now University of the Philippines – Los Baños

Although modernization has certainly crept in this town proper, the remaining old houses still carry traces of the town’s former grandeur. Some of these old houses are still occupied, as evidenced by the barking dogs that will greet you as if saying, ‘What are looking at?’, testing if one is an intruder or not. The narrow streets are also attractive and if only the houses of the past survived, it could have been a very pleasant walk. Its proximity to the shores probably made the town an important place for business, and perhaps politics: there was the old pantalan where Yangco boats used to take shelter and a curious site of the remains of summer-house of some sort of a high-ranking Spanish official. Too bad I was not able to enter the premises as it seemed a private property already.

I still carry this childish dream of buying a lot in Los Baños Bayan and constructing on it a replica of any old house that once stood on this beautiful town.

[UPLB Origins info: These are found on the marker on the site where UPCA class was first held. The first faculty members were – Edwin Bingham Copeland, Harold Cuzner, Edgar Ledyard, Caroline Ledyard, and Sam Durham. The first twelve students, on the other hand, were: Vicente Allarey, Silvestre Asuncion, Florencio Bagui, Felipe Cevallos, Amando Lapahan, Antonio Lejano, Andres Navarro, Eladio Sablan, Clodualdo Temponga, Baldomero Velasquez, Valente Villegas, and Jose Zamora.]

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