Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Year That Was 2013: Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepcion in Los Baños, Laguna

Another long-conceived plan that was finally realized last year was to be (at least) present in the annual feast of the Immaculate Concepcion in the town of Los Baños in Laguna. There have been instances in the past that I was able to pass through the town on a feast day and I’ve seen the festive mood of the people there. 

We saw a traditional parade complete with a full marching band. There was also the usual cidera where all sorts of stuff were being sold, from religious items to native food products to plastic slippers. The area for perya was not that big though. What really makes a short stay in Los Baños Bayan quite worthwhile is seeing those people there just having fun in the Paciano Rizal Park near the Laguna Lake. Sundays are always a reason to them to be carefree. Cool winds. Soothing views. That’s Los Baños Bayan.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Year That Was 2013: Und(r)as

In a family set up where there are no prominent adherence to traditions – religious in this case – it is quite good to explore things on one’s own. This has been an unspoken activity every time such occasions come. All Saints Day and All Souls Day are definitely part of that.

For last year, a brief visit to the cemetery reminded me of my childhood, when we would go this area for two things: actual grave visit and the ever-present carnival or perya. Gone are the wooden carabaos or paper-mache horses to be replaced by all-plastic toys and ukay-ukay. But the Ferris wheel still towers over the dead and living during these times. 

Perhaps more than remembering the saints and the dead, food figures more to give color to this tradition. For last year, we attempted to make suman again and it turned out delicious, at least based
on our palates.

(It has been two years now since I first planned to post something about this famous suman, specifically on how to make it. But I decided it would be more apt by October/November later this year.)   

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 Coco Festival of San Pablo City, Laguna

* an old tradition: nightly processions leading to the Feast of Saint Paul the First Hermit

Allow me to skip briefly my recollection of the events of 2013 and share with you dear reader this recent occasion in our city of San Pablo, Laguna.

* Coco Trade Fair 2014!

This city, whose patron saint is Saint Paul the First Hermit (San Pablo ang Unang Ermitanyo) has just celebrated its annual feast. But as years passed, this celebration has now evolved to include a celebration of life and the kind of living in San Pablo. Perhaps one of the city’s most prominent features is its abundance of coconut trees. Thus, we have the annual Coco Festival to introduce the main products of this so-called tree of life not just materially but perhaps more importantly, culturally.

* one big buco pie!

Just like with the previous Coco Fest (shortened name for the festival), we had the nightly beer plaza as they call it (something that has been criticized a number of times already), band presentations, pageants (such as the Muting Lakan at Mutya, Lakan at Mutya, and this year a gay pageant), showbiz personality visits, among others. This year, the fest commenced on January 7 and ended on the actual feast of Saint Paul the First Hermit, January 15. Beyond the alcohol scent and smoke that rises each night, what I like the most on these nightly festivities is the intermingling of food, local/native products, and commercial products. Add to that the main spectacle of each night: the fireworks display. But then issues of too much spending come to mind as well.

 * La Suerte Department Store and Mailing Center on its last stand on San Pablo City Plaza

 * Mardi Gras!

This year’s coco trade fair featured local products from as far as Northern Luzon (empanada!). A fun run that was organized was also a first in the annual festival. And who would not have been amazed by that giant buco pie made by Collete’s Buco Pie? It was even featured in the morning TV program, Unang Hirit. I was not able to take note of the details about it actual preparation (such as the number of eggs used, among others) but it was fun to see San Pableños gathering around this big pie for a big eat. We were able to eat a few slices and to bring some home to be tasted again.


 * float Procession during the annual Mardi Gras

The highlight of the annual fest, the Mardi Gras, happened on a rainy afternoon. It is basically a competition on dance and costume using the different parts of coconut. Contestants usually come from the elementary, high school, and even college levels. Immediate after the line up of dancers was the procession of floats from the different institutions in the city. Civic groups, fraternities, banks, schools, NGOs, commercial establishments, all of these gathered in the city proper to show off vehicles covered in different decorations, again made out of the different parts of the coconut tree. The rain shower did not hinder the young ones to gyrate on Rizal Avenue and to shout “Viva San Pablo, Coco Festival!”

Probably the song that will play in your head during the festivities: “Mabuhay ang San Pablo, mabuhay ang San Pablo!”

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Year That Was 2013: The Furies of San Marcelino, Street, Ermita, Manila

The Furies in impending transit. 

This was the situation of the famed Furies on the façade of the old MERALCO Building along San Marcelino Street in Ermita, Manila, just a short walk away from Adamson University. This artwork, made by the Italian sculptor Francesco Monti, was set to be removed because of the planned new established on the place where it is found. It was said that it was a big residence project plus a famous fast food chain.

The problem lies of course in the fact that it is already part of our cultural heritage as Filipinos but it is “…sad that not everybody sees it that way,” said Tats Manahan, president of the Heritage Conservation Society or HCS. True enough.

As a consolation, a replica has been attempted to be made but at some point the process damaged part of this big work of art. There was also an conveyed desire of the Adamson University to adopt the sculpture but I don’t know if it pushed through already or not.

As a worker who sees a part of Manila each working day, it is quite alarming indeed to see high rise condominiums sprouting like mushroom in almost every other block leaving some of the structures of the past unnoticed, unrecognized. Compared to a tower of cement and glass, those old houses from decades ago, although influenced by foreign artistry, are far more endearing to marvel at.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Year That Was 2013: A Taste of Local Flavors at Café de Lipa

Home of Filipino Coffee.

True enough. With the ambience and taste you will be truly at home at Café de Lipa. An occasional detour to Lipa City, Batangas eventually led us to several coffee shops in the city. But in terms of local taste and price, Café de Lipa is the place to be. Found adjacent to the main entrance of SM Lipa, it gives a relaxing view of a wide expanse of Lipa skies. Couple your brief respite with either a hot cold coffee plus their wide selection of cookies and de leches.

Syempre, hindi mawawala ang kapeng barako (brewed coffee)!

Do not ask the coffee or cookie names, dear reader; they all got lost with the cell phone that broke down a few months back. Although found on a popular mall, I think there is still another shop of the same name found a short walk away from the Lipa City bus terminal. Do try Lipa coffee!

The Back Trailing Continues

Every start of a new year comes with the thoughts of new things, new resolves, new life. With the past year characterized by total breakdown of devices – laptop, cell phone, camera – one could not help but feel dejected.

 But from of the ashes of despair Back Trails rises to continue.

The surrounding, this country, is a too compelling life and story rolled into one to be missed. So the back-trailing continues on its fourth year (which, unfortunately, passed unnoticed on the thirteenth of the previous month).

But then, it is necessary to wrap up the previous years’ occasional tours so I must start by recalling them first here. Cheers to life, travel, and history!