Tuesday, November 3, 2015

San Pablo City’s 75th Anniversary Commemorative Stamps

Just this May, coinciding with the founding anniversary of the city of San Pablo on the 7th, two commemorative stamps were launched and officially released during a ceremony in front of the old city hall (see the PhilPost article about the event here).

Featured on the stamps are the city’s old city hall which now houses Museo de San Pablo and the famous Sampaloc Lake which both cost 10 pesos. There is also an official first day cover which you can obtain from the city’s postmaster Ms. Meanne Parfan for a minimal cost.

Through commemorations like this one, the city is introduced and re-introduced to its people. Tedious as it may seem to some people, I hope that stamp collecting would get wider attention in our city especially the younger ones.

2015 in Photos: Independence Day Celebrations

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Tours Continue Here in Back Trails


What’s good about this existence is that you get to have second chances and most often more than that. Not that I am tolerating stalling but I am just expressing my gladness in seeing myself again in front of my laptop with the MS Word on screen and seeing the word ‘backtrails’.

Yes, Back Trails is back in the business again.

Back in the business of writing about my not-so-very-far travels. Back in the business of sharing notes related to Philippine and our local history gathered from tours to towns and cities. Back in the business of conversing with people online anything and everything about history, culture, or traveling.

During the five-month hiatus on blogging, I was able to check myself how far I would want to see Back Trails go, how far I want to improve on my amateur photography skills, and how far I want to bring my passion for writing and history. This is endeavor is quite far from the degree I got from college but the problem of making a career out of it is something I have to deal with at another time. This is my love, this is my passion, and I want to mark the return of Back Trails by reaffirming this interest that was born way back in my elementary days.

It would still be a long way to establish Back Trails as a historical and cultural information source, however naive this vision might seem. It would take even a longer way to fully devote my time and source to this. But time fortunately is still on my side and there will be opportunities to refurbish Back Trails, not to impress other people but primarily to bring it to another level that would attract readers from different backgrounds and even nationalities and get them involved in discussions on history.

And so the tours, the travels, continue here in Back Trails!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Gratiae Dei: A Benefit Concert for San Pablo Cathedral Restoration

You can start your weekend with music in your ears, dear reader. With the renovation of the San Pablo Cathedral still underway, additional resources are more than welcome for its continued refurbishment.

For that reason the Cathedral Parish of Saint Paul the First Hermit organized the activity entitled Gratiae Dei (God’s Grace): A Benefit Chorale Concert for the Restoration of the Cathedral to be held on May 22, 2015, 7:00 pm at the Cathedral of Saint Paul the First Hermit. The concert will feature the University of Santo Tomas Singers, 1995 and 2010 ‘Choir of the World’. The group’s conductor will be Prof. Fidel G. Calalang Jr.

For inquiries on ticket you can visit now the Cathedral office.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Visit to 14th Gat Tayaw Tsinelas Festival 2015 of Liliw, Laguna


All roads lead this long weekend to the town of Liliw in the province of Laguna as it celebrates one of the frequented festivals around. Already on its 14th edition, the Gat Tayaw Festival is a celebration in honor of its forefather as well as its prime product: tsinelas. For me the equivalent term ‘slippers’ does not capture enough the connotations of the word Tsinelas. Tsinelas is Liliw, and Liliw is tsinelas.

This year’s festival is a five-day fete which started on April 29 and will end on May 3. The long weekend helped bring in more people to Liliw to see the events and buy their tsinelas. Our past visits to the festival were usually on weekends but the volume of the people on those times was nothing compared today.
The activities for this year were as follows:

Day 1 – April 29
08:00 am – Mass
09:00 am – Flag Ceremony/Flower Offering
10:00 am – Opening Ceremony/Motorcade
01:00 pm – 05:00pm – Painting Workshop / Bingo Social
07:00 pm – Barangay Night

Day 2 – April 30
04:00 am – 08:00 am – Media Coverage/Indak Turismo
08:00 am – Painting Workshop
01:00 pm – 05:00 pm – Cocktail Mixing/Cooking Contest
07:00 pm – DepEd Night / Philippine Festivals

Day 3 – May 1
08:00 am – 12:00 nn – Tourist On-the-Spot Challenge
02:00 pm – 05:00 pm – Grand Parade Bailete / Tsinelas Queen / Photo Contest / Disenyo
07:00 pm – Tsinelas on the Ramp / LTC in Concert / Street Party

Day 4 – May 2
08:00 am – Tourist On-the-Spot Challenge
03:00 pm – Zumba Marathon
08:00 pm – Street Party / SanMig Night / Fireworks Display

Day 5- May 3
08:00 am – Exhibit’s Display
01:00 pm – 03:00 pm – Lukayuan
07:00 pm – Mutya ng Liliw Coronation Night

What made the festival for this year different is its street décor. Those different colored umbrellasput one’s visit to the main street, Gat Tayaw, in a new level. The umbrellas are a symbol for the sultry season and for the merry atmosphere of the festival. The person or group behind the idea of using umbrellas should be given a bonus of some sort. It may not have equaled the usual banderitas in the ability to provide shade but they nevertheless provided a nice backdrop for those who are quite addicted to selfies and photos.


The Still Elusive Arabella

Food stalls and ambulant vendors selling different native and branded food are found along Gat Tayaw Street for the visitors to indulge into. However, my constant target is Arabella. But again, we had to wait for our turn to eat inside. The queue proved to be too long for us so we decided to visit instead Chef Mau Restaurant for our meal (see my post “Food for the Trails: Chef Mau Restaurant in Liliw, Laguna”). Not bad, considering that we had the place to us together with a group having their reunion. But I still desire to experience the food in Arabella.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Food for the Trails: Café Antigua in Lucena City, Quezon

* Café Antigua

Looking for a place to eat while in downtown Lucena? Then this place is for you, dear reader. Nestled amidst the mixture of old and new structures and the general ‘busy-ness’ of the city streets is this gray stone structure, reminiscent of the old time movie houses. A word in curving lines is put up on its wall: Antigua. At first glance it looks like a typical building in a business area of the city. But never judge a book by its cover, right? In this case, never judge a building by its façade. For it took a random internet search to find that much more is in stored within this structure.

And thus the ‘discovery’ of Café Antigua happened.
* view of Café Antigua’s interior

The interior of the café/restaurant evokes an atmosphere of Binondo. And why not? The food being offered in this place has traces of the Chinese – pancit and its varieties, siopao, among others. It is also good to note that Café Antigua is open for visitors even in the morning. You may choose to have your breakfast or lunch there. In our case we opted to have a heavy snack (which could already be considered a lunch). You can order the usual pancit guisado, chami, or lomi. One interesting meal was the one with red misua. Then there are the rice meals partnered with different soups. You also have a choice of different desserts ranging from halo-halo to leche flan
The place is wide enough (you can eat even if you’re a big group of at least 10) and comfortable enough (it’s air-conditioned!) that your stay will definitely be worth it. I just don’t know if giving tip is allowed (our change was given to us even if we were already at the door on the way out). An ideal budget here would be at least 500 pesos to 1,000 pesos.

So next time you’re in Lucena City, either because you are going to its two major malls or just passing by the time in preparation to trips to the nearby towns of Quezon, do visit Café Antigua and replenish yourself with the food they offer.
* a view of Café Antigua’s building back in 2010

[How to go to Café Antigua, Lucena City, Quezon: Coming from Manila in a bus, drop off at ‘Diversion’ in Brgy. Gulang-gulang where jeepneys and tricycles and their drivers are stationed. You may choose to ride on a jeepney as it is cheaper. Just say ‘Bayan’ to the driver. Café Antigua will be on the left of the street as you head towards the Provincial Capitol. An easy marker would the church. Once you pass by the San Fernando Parish Church you can ask the driver to drop you off.]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

San Pablo Cathedral Renovation: Update 3 (Beauty vs. Security)

The most important thing perhaps that the renovation of the San Pablo City Cathedral façade has allowed us to experience is the ‘re-discovery’ of the façade’s beauty. I have said this several times already but who would have thought that those red brick artworks are just behind the indifferent cement plaster? But now that the renovation is halfway through, perhaps more than the halfway mark of the time frame, the possible point of question now is the re-plastering of the façade using lime.

In Regalado Trota Jose’s book ‘Simbahan’ he mentioned that paletada was used to avert erosion and wearing because of the elements. Lime was, and still is, a major ingredient for it among other materials. But by the look of it, with the paletada being placed now on the façade, the red brick ‘version’ is the one more pleasing to the eyes.

I wish I would be able to consult again the foreman on this part of the refurbishment. Or perhaps even better, an architect or an engineer trained on conservation. Or to dig even deeper to the past, and I too have been wondering about this: was it possible that when the cathedral was built, the red bricks used for the façade without any coverings?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 “La Noche de los Libros” at Institute Cervantes Manila

A different kind of International Book Day (Día Internacional del Libro) is being prepared now at Instituto Cervantes Manila. This year, it will be La Noche de los Libros or The Night of Books. The usual activities such as the book sale and the traditional rose giving will still be there but with new added features. For more details you may visit Instituto’s website here: http://manila.cervantes.es. Mark the date: April 23, 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, at 855 Teodoro M. (T.M.) Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila

Photo credit: Instituo Cervantes Manila website

Visit to Nagcarlan’s 2015 Ana Kalang Festival

The months of April and May in the Philippines are filled with festivals to celebrate nature and the bountiful harvest usually associated with summer (although technically we do not have a summer season). Here in Laguna, Nagcarlan has its own Ana Kalang Festival to be proud of. The background of this town’s annual fest is best summarized in a poster they put up on the grounds of its town hall. To quote:
* the figure behind the festival:
Ana Kalang decorated with everlastings
“Noong taong[sic] 2009, sinimulan ang pagbibigay sa bawa’t kalahok na kalang-kalang ng sinaunang pangalang pambabae. Ang hakbang na ito ay may magandang layunin – upang hindi mawala sa isipan ng mga Nagcarlangin ang mga pangalang tinaglay ng kanilang mga ninuno at sa kalasalukuyan ay iniiwasan nang ibinyag ng mga magulang sa kanilang mga anak. 

“Mula sa ganitong konsepto ng kalang-kalang, dalawang paligsahan pa ang isinilang na ngayon ay kapwa[sic] mahahalagang bahagi ng Ana Kalang Festival. Ang una ay sinimulan noong taong[sic] 2008, ay ito ay ang tinatawag na Bihis Kalang-Kalang, isang patimpalak para sa mga mag-aaral sa paaralang sekundarya na ang tuon ay sa pagbibihis ng mga manikang may taas na dalawang talampakan gamit din ang mga likas at katutubong sangkap mula sa kapaligiran ng Nagcarlan.
* Nagcarlan’s famous water fountain; behind is the town’s hall or presidencia

“Ang ikalawa naman ay ang Bihis Ana Kalang, na sinimulan noong taong[sic] 2009. Isang paligsahan sa pagdidisenyo at pagyari ng mga kasuotang pambabae gamit ang mga likas at katutubong sangkap, pinalutang nito ang mga Nagcarlanging may angking husay sa pagdidibuho. Ang mga likha nilang kasuotan ay itinatanghal sa isang fashion show kung saan pinipili ang pinakamahuhusay na disenyo.”

More than Life-size Kalang-Kalang

Found installed on different parts of the town hall (or more commonly called presidencia) grounds are these huge images of kalang-kalang tagged with different names and clothed in costumes made of natural materials. It gives a different look at these images derived from local folklore figure especially on the way the details of the designs are made and presented.

* striking a pose!

Presidencia Models

Also part of the Ana Kalang Festival is the competition on making models of the town presidencia, an imposing structure that traces its origin to the Spanish era. These models are a great attraction to both children and children-at-heart for they provide nice backdrops for photographs and of course, selfies (ano pa nga ba?).
  * contestant for the Ginoong Nagcarlan 2015 

* busy streets filled with food and stuff for sale

2nd Tatak Nagcarlangin Awards (TANAW)

Besides the staple events such as the yearly pageant, this budding activity for the festival really stood out the night we visited Nagcarlan. Dubbed TANAW (short for Tatak Nagcarlangin Awards), it is a competition but a healthy one among slected student of the town, showcasing their talents, advocacy, among others for the town of Nagcarlan. I may be wrong on this one but I think it was mentioned that awards forms part of the activity for the Gawad Laguna (then Gawad Felicisimo T. San Luis Para sa Namumukod-Tanging Kabataan ng Laguna). Perhaps the representatives are chosen from this? I have to check. What I was certain was that the emcees were part of the Gawad San Luis before.

  * the 2nd Tatak Nagcarlangin Awards (TANAW) underway

A day still remains for the festival as I write this and so I invite you dear reader to this Nagcarlan festivity and if it is not possible, then to the other fiestas and festivals that we are yet to witness this year. I believe it does not matter what your religious background is; your participation to such merriment is a statement of pride to our rich culture and tradition.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ana Kalang Festival 2015 Starts on April 15

* photo from the Nagcarlan/Ana Kalang Festival Facebook page

A celebration of and for nature! A reliving of a local legend. Come and visit the town of Nagcarlan in Laguna for this year’s Ana Kalang Festival! The fest will start on April 15 and will end on April 19. For more details you can call this number: (049) 563-1202.

2015 Araw ng Kagitingan Commemoration in San Pablo City, Laguna

Araw ng Kagitingan (or Day of Valor) is celebrated annually in the Philippines to commemorate the surrender of the combined Filipino and American forces to the Japanese forces. The transfer of these prisoners of war led to the now infamous Death March. Many years after the events of the Second World War, people are now celebrating the heroism of the Filipino war veterans, giving them the biggest salute for fighting to save the country’s democracy (and to a larger context, world peace).
I like the fact that the monument in honor of the Bataan defenders from San Pablo City is found on Doña Leonila Park because many are able to see a marker for our local heroes. They are also reminded (I do hope so) that our freedom was hard fought by Filipinos many years ago, however indirectly. I remember that we used to play around this particular monument when we were still kids, looking out for our surnames and thinking that the names we found with our surnames were relatives.
But it turned out that the fight of the San Pableño did not begin and end in the Bataan peninsula. Stories from lolos and lolas abound on how they tried to subvert the power being exercised by the Japanese forces in the city during the War. And guerillas? We have a lot of them. Although the EDSA People Power of 1986 is far more recent, I see the World War II and its many Filipino heroes, particularly the living war veterans and guerillas, as the closest I could be in this particular period of our history. It’s like to jumping into the pages of the history book and seeing your heroes come alive. A la Bayani (the TV program).

It is my hope that commemorations for the deceased veterans will not end and heroes and continued recognition is given to those who are still living. I have interview some of them and it is very enriching, in fact humbling, to realize that regardless of social and educational background, they were well aware of the need to defend the country that is ours.

Sa mga betrano, gerilya, pumanaw man o nabubuhay pa, saludo po kami sa inyo, mga bayani!