Friday, January 28, 2011

Land of the Carved 3: The Paintings Inside Paete Church

Besides the intricately designed retablos and religious items within the Paete church, the paintings hanged on its walls prove to be interesting. Why? Because they are direct relics from Paete’s distant past. I have been to a number of museums before showcasing many precious paintings by eminent Filipino painters but one cannot get near enough to them. But here in Paete you can actually see and touch them for yourself, as if they really are part of the Paeteños’ daily lives.And perhaps that is the problem with these paintings. They are too susceptible for public viewing and abuse that they are threatened by further vandalism. Now what are these paintings I am talking about?

San Cristobal

The first one is entitled San Cristobal (or Saint Christopher). It is a painting done on a 3.5 meter x 5 meter maulawin wood plank by Jose Luciano Dans in 1850. It’s huge already, almost reaching the church’s ceiling. A “curiouser” painting is found just beside this one which is also depiction of San Cristonal. This one has that native look in it: upper torso bared, a bolo (or a kris?), and a tree that looked like a coconut. It is reputed that this was the original San Cristobal painting. But the patrons, probably the church officials, did not like the look and so commissioned a second painting, one which was ‘tamer’ and pleasing to the (conservative) eyes. [I suggest that you read, dear chance reader, stories about St. Christopher. They are quite entertaining.]

Juicio Final

Another one is called Juicio Final done from 1717 to 1720. This one depicts St. Francis and the Salvation of the Soul. The painting must have been of fiery red when it was finished. But time has worn down the colors used for this art work.

Langit, Lupa at Impiyerno

Another Jose Luciano Dans piece. This is quite interesting and close to my heart. The painting is in essence divided into three. The upper part depicts the heaven, with the crucifixion of Christ at the center of attention, moist likely leading the viewer to the thought that he is a ‘God’ who sacrificed himself for the world below.
And this world is given emphasis by two figures in the center of the painting: Adam and Eve standing below the Tree of Knowledge. Right below is hell, easily identified by the suffering faces of the humans painted there. It is good to note that here we can see the sensitivity of the people at that time about the religious teachings. Different punishments were given to the sinners with different transgressions, ones which were probably done during their mortal experience. I have tried to show these ‘specific’ punishments here by taking close-up shots of them.

On Maintaining the Paete Church Paintings

One needs not another earthquake to devastate the church and the treasures inside it. The visible vandalisms on the paintings inside should prompt the church caretakers to make the necessary steps to ensure the safety of these works. A glass protection should do temporarily, if they cannot provide for a more permanent and hassle-free way to preserve them. I admit myself being a historical relic collector but being one would not be good for these paintings. These ones are in the danger of becoming mere souvenirs. You just have to see the San Cristobal and Langit, Lipa at Impyerno paintings to realize how they are being neglected. Again I say they are treasures and we are fortunate enough that we have seen them in our generation. Let us bequeath them for the coming generations.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Land of the Carved 2: The Paete Church

* the façade of the church of Paete

* the church’s belfry

* side entrance to the church

* view of the pews and aisle

* the church’s dome from the inside

* the church’s main retablo

* Trailer Pransis taking on a serious pose

A visit to Paete would be incomplete without visiting the church of Paete. Besides, it is one structure that stands out in the midst oft this town.

The Church Origins

It is likely that the construction of the first church in town was administered by the Franciscan missionaries. The first church, along with the convent, was erected on 1646. But this was destroyed by 1717, prompting Rev. Francisco de la Fuente to construct stronger one in the same year. But this one was destroyed too by the earthquake of 1880. Another one was built in 1884 by Rev. Pedro Galiano O.F.M. but this one was once again destroyed by an earthquake in August 20, 1937.

Those details are from the then Philippine Historical Committee. But inside the church, posted on one of its walls, is a note by a certain E. C. Quesada (probably related to the owners of the Kape Kesasa Art Gallery and Café found in Paete?). It was stated that in 1840, Fr. Luis de Nambroca remodeled and reconstructed the façade, giving it a “modern” look.

* another retablo

* and another, this one with Christ as the centerpiece

* the Christmas decoration inside the church

* a statue of the Sto. Niño lavishly decorated in this one

* a carving of a saint (help me identify it, chance reader) on a rostrum

* a pulpit seemingly out of place; I wonder if it has entrance for the preacher

The Paete Grounds

I shall try to look at this short history of Paete church from a scientific viewpoint. Perhaps the place in which the church is located is really prone to earthquakes?

This question led me to rummage through my files again and see a map published by NAMRIA. The cropped photo you see above is from a Ground Shaking Hazard Map of Laguna published by NAMRIA. The hazard data was from PHIVOLCS. There are no active faults within Paete or its surrounding areas but the red color in the map signifies susceptibility to PEIS (PHIVOLCS Earthquake intensity scale) Intensity VIII and above.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Land of the Carved: Paete, Laguna 1

* view of Laguna de Bay as one travels towards the town of Paete

* a Paeteño working on a piece of wood

* a carving to be used on a Pieta?

* torsos and limbs

The ascent to the town of Paete gives the visitor an idea of the origins of the craft in which the town became famous for. The proximity of the mountains naturally gave the townsfolk the livelihood that obviously got integrated into their lives and culture. Paete, wood carvings, paet, ukit. These things are almost synonymous among each other.

One thing that you would first notice (except of course the shops found on almost everywhere) is the narrowness of the streets. Most likely the street lay-out still traces its roots to the Spanish period.

The town was founded in 1580 by Rev. Juan de Plasencia, two years after he ministered to the town of Lumban. The Spanish missionaries must have been trailblazing the eastern side of Laguna. I am now excited to visit the towns beyond Paete. It is possible to trace a pattern here on how the missionaries established Catholic strongholds in the province.

* view of a shop in Paete

* bust of the town hero: Mariano Madriñan

* memorial for the WWII veterans

* view of the part of the Sierra Madre mountains as seen from the town plaza

Indeed, the town’s prominence went a long way that even Jose Rizal mentioned it in his novel Noli Me Tangere (Chapter 6). But there seems to be two differing interpretations of his reference to this town. I suggest that you just read this part of the novel for yourself.

Another salient feature of Paete is its town hero. Not a warrior, not a combatant, not a politician. He was in fact a woodcarver. Mariano B. Madriñan (born September 25, 1858, died January 7, 1939) won a gold medal in the 1883 Amsterdam International Exposition. The award was given by the then King of Spain King Alfonso XII. Here we see a different outlook on what a hero means. Perhaps it was because he championed the town’s craft. Perhaps that’s the concept of heroism for them: rising to the pedestal something that is close to the hearts of the people.

[How to go to Paete, Laguna: From Manila, one can board a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna. These buses are found near the Gil Puyat LRT Station. Drop off at Brgy. Biñan, Pagsanjan where most of the bus terminals are found. Board a jeep bound for Siniloan and ask the driver to drop you off at Paete town proper.]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lakbay sa Lumban, Laguna: The Lumban Houses

* ruins of what must have been a big house

It is quite disappointing to realize that we have lost many photos from Lumban, no thanks to a defective memory card. But then, I am quite thankful that few survived the memory card breakdown and I desire to share them here, at least to spark the interest of a chance reader to visit the town.

* shot against the sunlight

* a pozo found along a Lumban street

* the Lumban Academy, founded in 1949

* wood and capiz: lovely!

* I think it is good to just lounge by those windows in the afternoon (with a cup of coffee)

The town still has the general lay-out of Spanish origins. Streets were lined up which basically lead up to the town church. The proximity of the river to the church also invokes a serene atmosphere (I imagine small boats being rowed to Laguna de Bay during the Spanish times). Some of the houses there are made into shops for embroidered products. I think you can just walk into one of those shops and transact for your clothes needs. But reading through experiences posted by others online, they do not come cheap. Indeed, quality products have to be equaled by substantial amount. Well if you’re into clothes dear chance reader, you can visit and roam the town of Lumban for yourself.

As for me, it would be good to come back again to do just the same thing: obtain a Lumban product. Perhaps a barong for special occasions?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lakbay sa Lumban, Laguna

* gown for the bride? I wonder

* silhouette of the bridge in Lumban

* the municipal building of Lumban

The town of Lumban lies at the foot of the mountain ranges that stretch on the eastern side of Laguna. Lumban derives its name from a tree called lumbang. But I am yet to see for myself a tree called by that name.

Lumban also experienced division into different towns we now know as Sta. Cruz, Cavinti, and Pagsanjan. If you decide to continue traveling to the neighboring town of Paete, you’ll notice that a large part of Lumban is still open land for planting. Online reading informed me that two barangays – Kulyon and Binayuyo – are uninhabited. I wonder what can be found in these parts.

The town is also famous for its embroidered products primarily jusi and piña. To showcase the town’s prime products, they are holding an annual activity called Burdang Festival. They have rightfully earned the title Embroidery Capital of the Philippines.

* the church of Lumban

* the church’s interior

* Doric columns(?) found outside the church

Lumban Church

Lumban was once the heart of all missionary activities of the friars in the province. In 1578 Reverend Juan de Plasencia O.F.M. ministered in the town. The first church built there was only thatched and wooden. It was later destroyed by fire. Reconstruction of the town church marked the construction of the first stone church to be built in Laguna in 1600. On October 9, 1600 a Eucharistic procession was held. But earthquakes during the year 1880 brought much damage to the church.

From 1606 to 1618 a rest house was kept there to house the sick Franciscan missionaries. Also in 1606, a regional school for boys was put up by Reverend Juan de Santa Maria. About 400 boys were taught there liturgical hymns as w
ell as use of several musical instruments.

* tower for a cross?

* an unlikely feature in the church’s vicinity: a tennis court!

Places Yet to be Visited

Lake Caliraya, for one. I was earlier confused about this lake for I thought it is found in Cavinti, Laguna. I have once visited the Japanese Garden there and I hope to share it here next time. There is also the Talahib Falls although I am yet to find out how to get there.

I'm a C- Traveler!

Recently gave in to this online feature assessing you as a traveler. Looking at it at the bright side, it’s exciting to know that I still have a large portion of the Philippines to visit and discover (well, sort of).