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.]

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