Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lakbay Lahi sa Cavinti, Laguna 3: Roaming the Streets of Cavinti

This last entry in my Cavinti series collates the remaining observations I have noted plus a few accompanying photos. The poblacion is not the only place of interest in Cavinti. Perhaps the more popular spots are Caliraya Lake, a man-made lake found also in the mountainous area of Cavinti and Pagsanjan Falls which technically falls within the jurisdiction of the town of Cavinti. Or course I would love to visit these places and I hope I can do so in the near future.

* the tour jeepneys crowding a street of Cavinti

* façade of Cavinti municipal building
* silhouette of what could be an interpretation of “Inang Bayan”

* a simple monument commemorating the fighters,
both soldiers
and guerillas alike, who fought during World War II

The Houses in Cavinti

I was not able to find any old houses (that is, houses built around the time of the Spanish occupation in the Philippines) in streets around the town center. One might speculate that they either suffered the usual wear-and-tear or perhaps negligence or possibly destruction due to earthquakes recorded in the town’ history. Or perhaps during World War II. It was with regret that I did not look up on any information about this in the municipal library.

* some of the houses found in Cavinti

* Nakatagong Paraiso Resto-Bar;
an old woman told me th
at this bar has several stories underground;
too bad we were not able to see the interior as the bar was closed

Native Products of Cavinti

The good thing about the town of Cavinti is that it takes pride in its town-made products. At least for this one, we could commend the town’s current leadership for putting emphasis on the townsfolk’s capabilities.

A few questions about the town’s products led to a detailed discussion about the making of the town’s primary product: the sambalilo. It is a woven hat used mostly by farmer of workers in the mountains, easy to carry, and relatively cheap compared to the work hats. The material used for making the sambalilo is also found in Cavinti so there are no high costs put into the sale of the finished products.

In talking to the elders who indoctrinated me in the craft of sambalilo making, they said that the pandan leaves we usually use for our rice is not the real pandan. They call it pandan-pandanan. They say that the real pandan leaves are wider and have fine thorn-like protrusions that must be removed prior to the making of sambalilo.

The process of removing those little thorns is called “hininik” which one can easily understand given its root word. The next process would be to cut them (or baak” as they have termed it). Then the leaves must be sun dried (“bilad”) at least for a day. The next step would be to cut the leaves into four (remember that leaves are wide) or “linasin. Depending on the product in mind (banig, bag, place mat, etc.), the next step would be to put the cut leaves into the “ilohan” (the process would be called “ilohin”). The sambalilo actually has a number of parts but since I have rendered my notes on these incomprehensible due to the difficult task of understanding what was being said about the process and writing notes at the same time. Nevertheless, one thing I can share about a part of sambalilo would be the “puyo” which is the topmost part of the hat.

* Kalakal Cavinti atbp. Souvenir Shop, found in Brgy. Duhay

* some of the students who walked a good distance
just to visit Kalakal Souvenir Shop

* native products sold at Kalakal Souvenir Shop

The Town Library

Upon entering the municipal library, I felt like I was transported back into an earlier time. Posters and photos are hung up the walls: of the past town leaders, even of the past Congress of the country. There are collections of books which, however they may seem old and outdated given the rapid influx of new published materials into the academe, would definitely help any young Cavinti folk to get to know the Philippines and the world in general. I know of other libraries in other Philippine towns which are already closed or have devastatingly small collections of books. I even learned of a town which does not even have a town library! Thus I am quite happy to find the Cavinti library which still thrives despite the modernity that creeps into neighboring towns. The town may be somewhat rural in nature, but its people would not be left behind with these books. One can read books and reach places one only dreamt of in the past.

* a look inside the municipal library of Cavinti

* a giant sambalilo which won third place
during the last La Laguna Festival / Contest

* Rizal Monument found in a covered court in Cavinti, Laguna

* students polishing their write-ups after a half-day tour of Cavinti

In Summing Up

Besides the overhaul on my interview approach, our visit to Cavinti, Laguna made me realize more that the term travel as it is used these days is not only confined to visits to highly-commercialized tourist spots. Travel, as it seems to me now, is immersing into places and understanding their culture, their people, their history. After all, we go to places carrying different perspectives. This is now my disposition. Rural or urban, this is my concept of travel.


  1. That extended porch should have never been made. It altered the facade of the church. It was an ill advised addition. By the way, Francis, I'm not sure if you got my message with regards to the archivist that specializes in WWII. Email me at so I can save your address there (i'll give you his email as soon as you sent me a msg)

  2. I agree Kuya. The church administration should not have allowed its construction. But perhaps it was made to accommodate the people during mass? I have also observed that such constructions can be seen too in other churches (i.e. San Pablo, Laguna).

    Yes Kuya, I received your message. I actually replied to it via a comment too in the blog entry where you posted it. In any case, I will be sending you a message to your e-mail so you'll be able to get my e-mail address. I am quite excited about this archivist. As an update, I actually got a several documents about some guerillas in San Pablo, Laguna during World War II from the US National Archives which they sent to me free of charge. (I hope they'll be able to send more in my subsequent requests.)

  3. I hail from Cavinti but have been living abroad since 1975. My last homecoming was in 1986. During that time nothing much had really been changed in the church, but in the latest pictures that I have been seeing, I am agasht at the destruction aesthitically on the church. Instead of Restoration, reconstruction was in frenzy. People who have money (especially former residents living abroad) and those yearly Hermanos and Hermanas who campaign for cash donation for church project are so eager to put their mark on the century-old church by adding design elements that do not conform to the existing baroque architecture creating eclecticism as a result. The concrete canopy (extended porch) at the main entrance is a classic example of such design mess i.g square pillar against round columns on the facade. The old baptistry beneath the tower or belfry was removed together with the antique baptistry font to give way to a group of Hermanos/Hermanas project accodingly a "meditation chapel". Approaching the main Rizal street, one could see the imposing 400-year old church on what was originally a hill. That was before, but now, and this is based on the pictures I saw, the magnificent view of old church is obstructed by massive concrete fence, poorly design arch, and a monstrous structure right in the middle of the patio or church yard. What is lamentable is that changes are being done without Master Plan. I'm afraid that one day, the classical baroque church that I know, one of the oldest churches in Laguna and perhaps in the entire country will loss it's antiquity. I do not know if the Philippines has Heritage Law that prevents changing the design and character of old and historicalstructures e.g buildings, churches and houses.