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!

A Note on San Pablo Cathedral Renovation

The coming of the Easter Sunday was, as expected, a very festive one. The church ground in San Pablo looked more like a fiesta than a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. But after all people or the Filipinos at least have their own ways of commemorating this religion-related event. (I’ll exclude discussing and observing the Easter egg hunting for as I see it as something detached from our culture.)

* a view of the San Pablo Cathedral; note this seeming addition to its top portion

* a small resolution-photo of the San Pablo Cathedral taken by the Ayala Museum Research Team way back in 1971; from the files of Retrato: The Photo Archive of the Filipinas Heritage Library

What caught my attention on that Easter Sunday morning was the top portion of the San Pablo Cathedral. We were just crossing Rizal Avenue (the main street in the city proper) when that seeming addition to the façade made me stop, as in literally. Why have I not noticed that before!? I asked myself. Upon closer examination, it indeed looked like a later attachment to the top of the church façade. Cement, most likely, but I am not that sure. When I imagined it removed, the church façade looked simpler (but not less grand as far as I see it) and shorter. That made wonder if the bell has any additions to it as well.

* my very novice rendering of the San Pablo cathedral façade without that topmost decoration

So I tried to look for old photos of the cathedral that might show its old look. The one I got was from the online files in Retrato: The Photo Archive of the Filipinas Heritage Library. This site (see it here) allows you to have a preview of the photo and even ordering a copy for yourself. The photo dates back to 1971 taken Ayala Museum Research Team and this addition was already there.
* the church façade in Liliw

Without that part the façade looked more like the church in Liliw (see photo above). But upon consulting my notes, Liliw was under the ecclesiastical administration of Nagcarlan until 1605. Prior to that period, the church in Nagcarlan was already built under the supervision of Reverend Tomas de Miranda, a Franciscan. It might have been possible that the Franciscans took over the construction of the church in Liliw. But the historical marker does not say that. The Liliw and San Pablo church facades look very much alike. The problem is the Augustinians first took over this seven-lake town many, many years ago.

The connection could possibly be found on the pages of the city’s written local history, as passed on to us by Juan B. Hernandez, a San Pableño historian.

In the year 1794, a Franciscan by the name of Father Andres Cabrera took over the administration of the local church. He was followed by another Franciscan in 1839 by the name of Father Peligrin Prosper. (But note there another priest who came between them, Father Tomas Torres. But his stay in San Pablo is a totally different story.) And Father Prosper will probably be remembered for the refurbishment of the town church.

To quote a part concerning the façade:

“He [Father Peligrin Prosper] started with the façade and the campanile that they might serve as a showpiece for the parishioners to delight over with. Among other things, he caused the addition of such classicizing elements as pedimental décor atop every window which was flanked by two histories columns. Then he caused the insertion of the sculptured image of an Augustinian missionary at one side of the portal, and that of a Franciscan at the other side. Father Prosper also caused the addition of a balustrade atop the bell tower, then had it surmounted with an elegant-looking steeple topped by a tall spire to convey the impression of soaring towards the heaven.”*

Now that is very description. Notice his tandem of the Franciscan and the Augustinian images. No mention though of that addition to the top. But still, it would be interesting to know exactly when it was added and why.

As the renovation of the cathedral façade continues, it would be good (at least for those historically inclined) to know more about its past and where it would be headed after all the makeovers.

* Reference: Hernandez, Juan B. “San Pablo de los Montes: Preshistoric Times to the End of Spanish Rule.: Quezon City: National Printing Company Inc., 1980.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2015 Turumba sa Birhen Piyestang Lupi Schedule of Activities

Obtained these details from a poster inside the San Pablo Cathedral. Retyping the details here for your reference, dear reader.

“Ang Simbahan ng San Pedro Garavito ng Alcantara na siya ring Pang-Diyosesis na Dambana ng Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba ay pinagkalooban ng natatanging pakiki-relasyon ng Papal Basilica ng Santa Maria Maggiore sa Roma.

Ang “Special Spiritual Bond of Affinity” na kung saan ang sino mang mananampalataya ay tatanggap ng plenary indulhensya sa tuwing dadalo kayo sa Kapistahan ng Birhen o pagpunta ng maramihang pilgrimage na ang layunin ay pagdedebosyon. Pinagkaloob ito sa Roma noong ika-18 ng Hunyo 2014.

Sa tuwing araw ng Biyernes sa buong isang taon ay mayroong banal na misa sa ganap ng ika-6:30 ng umaga kasunod ang pagpapahid ng banal na langis ng Mahal na Birhen ng Turumba.

Taon-taon ay ginugunita sa Pakil ang mahimalang pagkakatagpo sa nakakwadrong larawan ng Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba noong ika-15 ng Setyembre, 1788 sa Lawa ng Laguna.

Ang Eukaristiya ay buhay, lakas, at gabay ng pamilya kasam ang Birheng Maria.

Rev. Fr. Mario P. Rivera”


Unang Lupi | Biyernes de Dolores (Marso 27)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 8 am / 9:30 am / procession

Ikalawang Lupi | Piyestang Martes (Abril 7)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 8 am / 9:30 am / procession

Ante-Bisperas (Abril 13)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 5:30 pm

Bisperas (April 14)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 4 pm / 5:30 pm

Ikatlong Lupi | Miyerkules Piyestang Biatiko (Abril 15)
Oras ng misa: 4 am / 5 am / 6 am / 7 am / 8 am / 9 am / 10 am procession

Ikaapat na Lupi | Piyestang Biyernes (Abril 24)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 8 am / 9:30 am / procession

Ikalimang Lupi | Piyestang Linggo (Mayo 3)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 8 am / 9:30 am / procession

Natatanging Lupi Fiesta Pakileña (Mayo 12)
Oras ng misa: 8:30 am / procession

Ikaanim na Lupi | Piyestang Pag-akyat (Mayo 15)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 8 am / 9:30 am / procession

IkapitongLupi | Piyestang Pagpanaog (Mayo 24)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 8 am / procession / 4 pm

Ahunan sa Ping-as (Mayo 30)
Oras ng misa: 10 am

Piyestang Inang Matulungin (Hunyo 20)
Oras ng misa: 7:30 am / 9 am / procession

Piyesta Laguenyos (Hulyo 11)
Oras ng misa: 7:30 am / 9 am / procession

Piyestang Pag-akyat sa Langit kay Maria (Agosto 5)
Oras ng misa: 7:30 am / 9 am / procession

Piyestang Domingo de Dolor (Setyembre 15)
Oras ng misa: 6:30 am / 8:30 am / 9:30 am / procession / 4 pm

2015 Black Saturday in San Pablo City, Laguna

I still recall the general atmosphere of Black Saturday during my childhood: the morning abuzz with the preparations for the young male kids for circumcision day while the rest of the Saturday was spent on practically anything except watching TV for there were not much stuff to watch (unlike today where ads and air times still matter). 
A night walk proved therapeutic for us who performed domestic chores the whole day of this Black Saturday. The walk practically means visiting the city cathedral to see any activities. The bells have just ringed to signal the mass of the Easter vigil. However, the main difference with last year’s mass is that today the whole cathedral interior is blazing with lights. I liked more the dark atmosphere of last year’s mass for it plays with the name of the day which is black. No loiterers on the patio, surprisingly enough (except perhaps for us who kept taking shot with a digital camera). 

The Holy Week shall end on a happy note (much like the Palm Sunday which marked the start the week-long activities) with the commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the heavily western influence Easter egg hunting activities.

(After all the reflections, many will head back to work.)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

2015 Good Friday Procession in San Pablo City, Laguna

The afternoon of Good Friday in San Pablo City, Laguna is a magnet for the devout, religious, tourists, plain spectators, practically everyone regardless of background. This is because of the city’s annual procession of carrozas detailing the life of Jesus Christ. These larger than life statues provide a vivid image and source of imagination for those who would want to recall the life of Christ and for those who only want to get a feel of being in the midst of a prusisyon

After waiting for the scorching April heat to subside, we trooped to the patio of the San Pablo Cathedral (Saint Paul the First Hermit Cathedral Parish) where a makeshift stage was erected already for the commencement of the Good Friday program. It surprised me that we were able to witness the opening ceremonies: from the installation of this year’s hermano mayor, hermana mayor, and grand marshall, to the short message given by Don Conrado ‘Ado’ Escudero (of the Villa Escudero fame).

Don Ado’s message definitely was a sobering one. He started by saying that he is already 82 years old and this annual activity has already come a long way. He recalled that after World War II they would search for whatever remained of the images on the carrozas (they call them ‘poon’), piece them together, and assist the families in getting them back to life. Wisdom is indeed earned and learned in time for he relayed to the waiting people how organized it was during his time when people would not fight their way to the carrozas just to get a piece of the flowers decorating them. He asked for the cooperation of the people for a peaceful activity to occur.

As if in recognition of that plea, the organizers reminded everyone that each passing carroza will only be given the incense and not the blessing of the holy water yet so that the procession could proceed smoothly. However, we were amused to find people in jeepneys with flowers in hand. They obviously got a hold of them during the procession proper, not knowing that they were not yet blessed, something that is of a great deal at least from the Catholics’ viewpoint.

This religious activity, a comparatively solemn one, gives one a view of the need to look into one’s self and reflect. The images and all the prusisyon can be a catalyst of some sort, but searching to your own self is a personal activity, something that you must do on your own. 

2015 Palm Sunday Celebration in San Pablo City, Laguna


The start of the Holy Week was on a festive note as the palm leaves served to welcome this high holiday for Roman Catholics and other related Christian denominations. These leaves are blessed during key times on Palm Sunday in commemoration of the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem, just a few days before his Crucifixion. As is tradition, these same leaves shall be burned and shall be used for the Ash Wednesday of next year. This may have its own religious symbolism or meaning but somehow it will remind you of the cycle related to man: from dust he came, to dust he’ll come back. 

San Pablo Cathedral Renovation: Update 2

It’s patching up time! From a spectator’s viewpoint, the parts of the San Pablo Cathedral (Saint Paul the First Hermit Cathedral Parish) facade that were found to be broken or those that had to be removed are now being filled in. Although the patches are of different color from the red bricks, it is very likely that the whole façade will be covered soon by the protective lime mixture. Can’t wait for the transformation, at least  aesthetically.

Doña Leonila Park in San Pablo City, Laguna To Undergo ‘Redevelopment’

A major facelift is in store for the famous Doña Leonila Park in San Pablo City. This so-called ‘redevelopment’ plan shall be overseen by the United Architects of the Philippines San Pablo Chapter and the local government. Let us see what will happen to the park after several months.