Tag Archive: Taka

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.




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.




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.







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.







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.




The original Dans painting of Saint Christopher with Oriental features.


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.





Cape Quesada


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. 😦

Taka or Papier Mache Masks


It wasn’t my first time in Angono’s Balaw Balaw Restaurant.  And even before my first visit, I have heard enough about the exotic cuisine offered in this specialty restaurant cum art gallery.  Artist Perdigon Vocalan has long gone; but his wife carries on the tradition so to speak.  Angono is famous for its artists and Balaw Balaw seems to have lured many of them to this dining place for both eats and art talk. Around 100  of Perdigon Vocalan’s paintings and those of other folk artists are displayed in the 2nd floor Museum above the specialty restaurant along with various sculptures representing the rich cultural heritage and folklore of  Angono, Rizal.


Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant in Angono, Rizal

Inside Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant

Call It A Food Adventure

It was too early for the dreaded “sawa” and “bayawak” dishes.  That was some relief. 🙂  I may be adventurous with food but I will most definitely have second thoughts about putting that stuff into my mouth.  Instead, we partook of the “maruya” — fried banana cooked with some flour and smothered with sugar.  This I like.  The ginger tea that went with it was a perfect match.  Reminded me of those afternoon snacks served by my grandmother back when tea was served in a bowl rather than an earless mug or tea cup.



The place is called “Balaw Balaw” after that very Tagalog side serving cum appetizer or sauce made from “alamang” mixed with rice and some herb called “angkak” to give it a reddish coloring.  Fermented for some 3 days,  this side serving goes well wrapped in “mustasa” or mustard leaves, and eaten with anything grilled like fish or meat.  Some actually use it like one would use “patis” or fish sauce with their “sinigang” or sour broth.



Would you believe there are 12 kinds of sinigang in this food establishment?  I do remember having tried in the past this sinigang dish with fish native to Angono-Binangonan-Baras-Tanay area.  Sinigang na kanduli is good.  I also liked the grilled hito or catfish.  And the fried dalag with its yummy roe!  Although they serve it,  this place entices you to be more adventurous outside of the usual kare-kare, kaldereta, and ihaw-ihaw.  Not to forget, there is also the Fried Itik — the tagalog version of the famous Peking Duck.  And there’s Minaluto, which is really like a ‘binalot’ plus tons more.  Likewise wrapped in banana leaves,  then steamed,  this makes for a meal by itself.  So, what are you guys having?  As for me,  I’m quite content with the maruya, ginger tea, and an hour’s look-see around the 2nd floor Art Gallery and the 3rd floor craftshop for the “taka”.


The Last Supper

The Art Capital of the Philippines?


Angono boasts of 2 National Artists:  the late muralist  Botong Francisco and the musician Maestro Lucio San Pedro.  Many of the Angono artists, including Perdigon Vocalan, were influenced by the late Carlos “Botong” Francisco who died in 1968. On the other hand, the Angono National Symphonic Band exists, though not too many heard of it.  Maestro San Pedro inspired many musical talents through his guidance of this band.  His most famous musical piece is “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan”, immortalized in a woodcarving or wood sculpture to be found in this Art Gallery .   San Pedro passed away in 2002, almost on the same date as Botong Francisco.


"Sa Ugoy Ng Duyan"

Art of Taka (Papier Mache)


Soon after our mid-snack of maruya,  we sat for a few more minutes to watch how “taka” is made.  Frankly,  it is your usual papier mache but instead of vases, bowls, jars, or picture frames,  this Angono art flourished to a form that the Higantes Festival of Angono is now celebrated every November 23rd. The “Higantes” are actually giant caricatures made of papier mache.  Folklore has it that the caricatures are those of the Spanish landlord (and his family)  for lands tilled by Angono locals.   This explains the sharp features in the “higantes” masks and dolls,  and the standard hands-on-the-hips representations crafted by the Angono folks. It is said that in a way,  the art of mask-making was an expression of how locals view their “masters” or landlords.  This is the same Spanish landlord and his family who banned all fiestas in the area except for the Feast Day of San Clemente every November 23.  Folklore has it that the Spanish landlord thought too many fiestas or celebrations are wasteful.  For this reason, the natives found a way to ventilate their protest every November 23 through these taka effigies which are paraded around town, and which fiestas culminate in a fluvial procession on the waters of Laguna de Bay.


Inside Balaw Balaw Restaurant


I have never been to its fiesta , but it should be interesting to witness one this coming November 23. Amazing how local folks turned papier mache into an art in this neck of the woods.  The papier mache masks certainly bear a resemblance to long-ago mestizo landlords.   The arrogant placement of the hands on the hips is the perfect give away.


Photo Sourced From The Web


So , do we have a date this November 23rd?  Great.  And while we await that date, how about we refresh our memory of this long-ago song composed by National Artist San Pedro with lyrics from Levi Celerio? Take time to picture what was on the artists’ minds when they crafted this lovely song. 🙂


Sana’y di nagmaliw ang dati kong araw
Nang munti pang bata sa piling ni nanay
Nais kong maulit ang awit ni inang mahal
Awit ng pag-ibig habang ako’y nasa duyan

Sana’y di nagmaliw ang dati kong araw
Nang munti pang bata sa piling ni nanay
Nais kong maulit ang awit ni inang mahal
Awit ng pag-ibig habang ako’y nasa duyan

Sa aking pagtulog na labis ang himbing
Ang bantay ko’y tala, ang tanod ko’y bituin
Sa piling ni nanay, langit ay buhay
Puso kong may dusa sabik sa ugoy ng duyan

Sana’y di nagmaliw ang dati kong araw
Nang munti pang bata sa piling ni nanay
Nais kong maulit ang awit ni inang mahal
Awit ng pag-ibig habang ako’y nasa duyan

Sa aking pagtulog na labis ang himbing
Ang bantay ko’y tala, ang tanod ko’y bituin
Sa piling ni nanay, langit ay buhay
Puso kong may dusa sabik sa ugoy ng duyan

Nais kong matulog sa dating duyan ko, inay
Oh! inay