Tag Archive: Laguna



Turumba or Tarumba? When you get to Pakil, Laguna either in search of Lanzones or woodcraft or Jose Luciano Dans’ century-old paintings, you can’t miss Pakil Church — official residence of the Virgen de Turumba. But what is Turumba? That was the first question we asked Brother Erning, the Church Marshall.

 

 

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Nuestra Senora de los Dolores or Virgen de Turumba

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Interior Shot. Altar with 14 icons behind in separate niches, veiled in purple satin this Lenten Season.

 

 

It was Lent that Friday we visited. All 14 icons in separate intricately carved niches behind the main altar, veiled in purple satin. Brother Erning drilled us on the Turumba or Tarumba Legend and toured us around the majestic San Pedro de Alcantara Church, sometimes referred to as the Church of the Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores or Virgen de Turumba. Built in 1767, the Virgen has been enshrined here since 1788 when it was fished out of Laguna de Bay. The legend goes that no one could lift the image till the parish priest came to bring it to this Church followed by locals singing and dancing in glee. The trance-like dance was called Turumba. Or Tarumba — literally meaning “natumba sa laki ng tuwa” or “tremble in great joy”. It is also the sound of drumbeats during the processions marking the feast of Turumba culminating sometime in September of each year.

 

 

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Chapel of the Virgen de Turumba

 

 

I’ve done my research before coming here. But Brother Erning’s version is soooo much better. He regaled us with stories about the Virgin and brought us to this tiny, lovely Chapel where the image is enshrined. He reminded us to ask permission from the Virgin before taking any photos. Then he proceeded to tell us how a magical cloud floated over the 18th century church as US bombing squads hovered above during the Second World War. How many believed the Virgin saved the town with this miracle which inspired many to dress the Virgin’s image in intricately beaded gowns. The count to date per Brother Erning is 50,000 gowns donated by the faithful! (My earlier research pegged it at only 700) The Virgin changes gowns every 2 weeks, and each worn gown is cut up in small patches and distributed to the faithful. We were fortunate to go home with patches of these embroidered and beaded gowns.

 

 

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The Corridor Leading to the Collection of Gowns Donated By the Faithful

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50,000 Gowns! Only to be cut up in small patches after they’re worn.

 

 

Brother Erning is a legend himself. His love for the Virgin, this Church and his hometown is legendary. But he’s got a couple of stories which floored me. The first was how Pakil was spared from Japanese invaders who occupied neighboring towns. His story goes that the Japanese Army was not drawn to this town because of fear of being attacked by ants. Say that again? A.N.T.S. as in Lanzones ants! The other story has to do with Jose Luciano Dans’ 200 year-old painting of “Langit, Purgatoryo (or Lupa?) at Impyerno“. Heaven, Purgatory and Hell. When I asked Brother Erning why the painting depicted ONLY WOMEN in hell, his candid answer was to point out that the figures included both men and women except ……. that Dans didn’t want to be irreverent by painting men with their “hanging ornaments”. How’s that? Plausible, yes, but nevertheless a rib tickler. 🙂

 

 

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Inspired by Dante’s Inferno? This is Luciano Dans’ Langit, Lupa (or Purgatoryo) at Impyerno. Read below for a most interesting story. 🙂

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Brother Erning, the Church Marshall.

 

 

Before we left, Brother Erning brought us up the choir loft and bell tower. This time, he got us listening to some recent happenings in this church. The hit and ongoing TV series or teleserye “Juan Dela Cruz” shoots all its church and plaza scenes here. In fact, Brother Erning stars in some episodes! He reminded us to watch the next few episodes where he’s featured before we climbed down and marched out of the Church. In particular, he mentioned the scene where Juan dela Cruz battles the vampires! Really, we just love these stories and we love Brother Erning even more!

 

 

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Check out that Pieta painting. Looks so much like the famous and treasured Michelangelo’s sculpture, right?

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One last look at Pakil Church. Location shoot for the hit teleserye “Juan de la Cruz”.

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The rural town of Pakil, Laguna. 4th stop after Calamba, Pila and Paete in a roadtrip around Laguna de Bay. Try it! Very doable for a day trip south of Manila.


We should have started earlier. But NOT on empty stomachs. We had our fill by the time we left our meeting place in Don Bosco Pugad’s Coffee and Saints. It was also mid morning by the time we hit the road to visit the lake towns of Laguna around the Bay. You may consider it a Visita Iglesia, if you like. Three churches and a few other sites. Started with Pila, Laguna. Now off to Paete, the woodcarving capital of the country. (Chisel is “Paet” or “Ukit” in Tagalog) Lanzones Country. And birthplace of the yoyo.

 

 

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Taka or Papier Mache. Just like in Angono, Rizal.

 

 

The art of TAKA (paper mâché) seems big in this town. Much like what I saw in Angono, Rizal — another town rich in art, history and culture. It also happens to be the political campaign season so there were TAKAs around and along the main road leading to the beautiful church. Men and women figures sculpted out of paper peeking out from windows and balconies. By themselves, they looked interesting. But what really got our interest was the Paete Church with its lovely baroque architecture with floral bas reliefs.

 

 

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Saint James Church in Paete, Laguna

 

 

The Paeteños have preserved their centuries-old tradition of woodcarving. Inside the Church honoring Saint James, you’d find religious icons and centuries-old paintings by Paeteño artists including those by Jose Luciano Dans. It is said that this art flourished long ago that one shouldn’t be surprised to find locally-crafted masterpieces in churches, palaces and museums in other parts of the world. Besides, the same craftsmanship is displayed on buffet tables on many cruise ships as descendants of these Paeteño woodcarvers found another niche in ice sculpting! Can you beat that? Wood or Ice, there is no shortage of carving skills from this community.

 

 

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There is no record of it but Paeteños believe that the yo-yo which is a Philippine invention actually began in Paete. I wouldn’t be surprised. The art galleries cum dining places we wanted to visit along Quesada Street were both closed, but we’ve seen enough woodcarved religious and not-so-religious icons to conclude that the art continues to flourish here.

 

 

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And then there are the 200 year old paintings of Jose Luciano Dans. This Paeteño was commissioned by the Spanish friars to paint St. Christopher. Dans’ rendition of a St. Christopher with Oriental features didn’t meet with the friars’ approval and so the mural was replaced by another painting of the same saint with European features. The 2nd painting was on wood and installed over the mural. The discovery of the original mural was fairly recent when restoration work had to be done on the “European” saint. As it turned out, the mural was better-preserved.

 

 

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The original Dans painting of Saint Christopher with Oriental features.

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The 2nd Dans painting of Saint Christopher with European features.
Sourced from the Net.

 

 

We actually failed to see the 2nd painting since it was taken down for restoration works. We also failed to buy any Lanzones. Worse, the 2 art galleries cum dining areas along Quesada Street where we intended to have lunch were both closed. Hungry past noon, we ended up in Bengas, a local eatery serving home-cooked food. No pretensions, no frills. Just simple meals like lumpia and Pancit ulam. The latter is a very Pinoy thing. Like noodles are everywhere in Asia, but methinks only Filipinos eat noodles with rice. So it’s not surprising why Paeteños came up with Pancit Ulam.

 

 

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Cape Quesada

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Pancit Ulam from Bengas. Yes, you eat the pancit with rice.

 

 

While in Paete, we hardly met any other tourists. Foreign or Local…… Zilch! A pity. No wonder the local carvers are seeking better pastures carving ice instead. Mind you, ice carving is actually more demanding. Unfortunately, each creation melts into insignificance unlike woodcarvings. Sigh. 😦


It’s another heritage town just a couple of hour’s drive south from Manila. Easily, a day trip that’s easily combined with neighboring towns in Laguna just as equally rich in art, culture and history. Many pre-Hispanic treasures enshrined in the Pila Museum attest to Pila being one of the earlier settlements in the country.

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Municipio

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17th century Pila Church

 

 

We were surprised to find this little-known Plaza Mayor in this old town. The colonial influence is evident here where a 200 year-old church, a Municipio (Town Hall), and several ancestral, heirloom houses and old trees line the Plaza. The National Historical Commission has declared Pila as a historical landmark in the league of Vigan (Ilocos Sur), Silay (Negros Occidental) and Taal (Batangas). It’s a wonder very little is known of the place and that this historic town is not top of mind among local tourists.

 

 

 

 

Mercifully, Pila was spared from the bombing raids run by US troops back in 1945 to flush out the Japanese Army. The Church, the Convent, and many of the old buildings and houses of illustrados and prominent families clustered around the Plaza remain standing to this day.

 

 

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Who Knows Tomas Pinpin?

 

If you ask me, I only know it as a street in Binondo where a favorite and oldest restaurant is located. Yes, I’m talking of Toho Antigua Panciteria. (Another restaurant, Ambos Mundos, claims to be the oldest restaurant, but this is another story) I bet I’m not the only one in this sorry predicament.

 

So, who is Tomas Pinpin? This eminent Filipino is responsible for the country’s very first Tagalog dictionary. He ran a printing press in Pila, Laguna which printed the first local dictionary as early as 1613. Of interest is the fact that this printed material pre-dates the very first printed book in America. Truly, Pila has so much to be proud of!

 

 

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From History Lessons To Amazing Race To Teleserye

 

 

Several scenes from the Amazing Race were shot here. Of late, the teleserye “Be Careful With My Heart” likewise shoots scenes here for this big TV series hit. In particular, the “San Nicolas” hometown of the leading character “Maya” is actually this quaint town of Pila, Laguna. Just off a corner from the Plaza is “Pards Chibugan” — the local eatery business ran by Maya’s family. For sure, these put Pila back on the map as many locals visit the place for its TV or teleserye value. 

 

 

Quite a sudden takeoff from all that history bit. 😉

 

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From “lola” mode during a long weekend in Baguio City with the grandchildren,  and sensing every rise in the summery temperature of Metro Manila, it was a no brainer to decide to join my old friends for a night in Makiling.

 

Fishpens @Laguna de Bay

 

As our van climbed its way towards our accommodations for the night on a promontory overlooking Laguna de Bay,  we couldn’t help but appreciate the tranquility  offered by this mystical place in Laguna.   No wonder they chose this place as an Arts Center.  In the middle of a lush forest , we find ourselves in this one-storey structure with all of 9 spacious rooms, each with a balcony with a view.  Laid out like a square with a swimming pool  in the middle,  the old sala sets can be found at almost every corner of this bungalow.   We chatted nearly every step of the way, from one end to the next, till we all ended up in the huge living and dining room attached to a similarly-sized kitchen.   We had the place all to ourselves.  Just 5 of us.  And all of 9 rooms.   While 2 of my friends busied themselves in the kitchen for our dinner of mache and arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, paired with a huge slab of t-bone steak for the carnivores (4 of us) and a fish dish for the lone meatless diner,   I took off to claim a space in the balcony overlooking the bay.   This is where I waited for sunset , and stayed on till twilight.    Lights flickered from the distance.  Fishpens grew in obscurity as the sun set,  with dear old me growing frustrated over my lack of photography skills.   A better camera and an expert photographer would have loved the display of colors bursting from the skies.   No DLSR for me.  No tripod.  Just my dependable Point & Shoot kept me company all that time.  Shaky hands.  More so, after a couple of glasses of wine.  Can you blame me?  It was my favorite Pinot Noir. 😉

 

 

The book I brought with me remained unread.   Sleep came easy.  What with the breeze, the peace and quiet.  The wind makes some sounds as it blows through the screened windows and lets the curtains rise and fall in rhythm with the resident “tuko”  making its presence felt.   The lone moth trapped in the dining area brushes the ceiling light every now and then, just as the crickets organize themselves into a choir.   What bliss.

 

 

In the morning, we woke up to a simple breakfast of pandesal and kesong puti.   The leftover arugula and mache were not wasted as they made good beddings for the local mozarrella and feta cheese.  The Deliz ricotta and goat cheese we bought on our way to Makiling have such a subtle taste that in no time,  we were eating the day-old turnovers and oven-burnt croissant with the local cheese.  C’est la vie.  Life is good.  Especially when your taste buds remind you that.

 

Pook ni Maria Makiling Park

 

Pretty soon, we were making our way to Maria Makiling Park.  The Olympic-size swimming pool is still there, but the cage housings are unoccupied.  No birds, no parrots, or whatever was there before.   There was a pair of lonesome ducks too eager to follow us around.  They probably don’t get too many visitors these days.   The cottages have had their heyday, but now look quite dilapidated that  I chose to take photos from a distance , if only to make them look good.   Up close, the eaves, roofing, window frames, etc. have all seen better days.

 

The van weaved around bends till we found ourselves inside the U.P. Los Banos Campus.    It is still a lovely, lively campus. We were tempted to take our lunch here with the students but the summer heat was quite unbearable even in those open-air eateries.   At the Dairy,  we made our purchases of kesong puti, pastillas from carabao milk, yogurt (yum!).   There were no cara-beef  cervelat and schublig ( the restos must have cornered them!) available for sale.  I should remember to do my shopping earlier next time.

 

UP Los Banos' Animal Husbandry Dept

I'm no big fan of Imelda, but I thank her for this Center. 😉

 

And so we bid adieu to Makiling.  Bags packed, shopping done, minds emptied, muscles relaxed,  we brace ourselves for the chaos of Manila.  No big fans of Imelda here,  but she had it right building the Arts Center here.