A glimpse of Quezon's Coconut Festival

By DuNi

It was one sunny morning when I got down from the bus at Sto. Tomas Market in Batangas.  I waited for Mom for about half an hour, as the Bus Stop in Sto. Tomas was decided to be our meeting place as she is coming from our house in Talisay.  She asked to to accompany her to Lucena to meet a friend she hasn’t seen in years.  It was years since my last visit to a Quezon town, so I decided to endure those 6 long hours of travel.  I always liked Quezon, most particularly those grand old house in Sariaya and the town setting of Lucban at the foot of Mount Banahaw.  It was probably the most typical Filipino town setting I could imagine.

I left Pampanga at four o’clock in the morning, and then I transferred bus in Cubao bound for Sto. Tomas, Batangas arriving 3 hours later.  When Mom arrived we immediately boarded a Lucena bound bus.  We bought a box of buko pie for our snack at an ambulatory vendor, as both of us slightly misses the delicacy, myself having been residing in Central Luzon for years, and her just arrived a week earlier in the country for a well deserved vacation.

We arrived in Lucena an hour before noon, just enough for Mom and her friend to exchange pleasantries and a few untold stories of those years apart.  Then Mom’s friend invited us for a lunch at the town proper for a treat at Lucena’s famous Bubbles' Crispy Pata.

After the lunch at Bubbles, we strolled at the nearby Provincial Capitol Grounds which is alive with exhibits from all the town of Quezon as they are celebrating the Niyog-Niyugan or Niyogyugan (coined term for niyog and yugyugan which means "coconut" and "dance to the beat") Festival, showcasing products, delicacies, and souvenirs made from coconut.  Each of the town’s stall was designed and decorated mostly with materials made from the tree of life, from poles to roofs to floorings and even some furniture and decors.

We strolled around the festival grounds, and taking more interest from the town of Tagkawayan, where my mother and her friend proudly hail from.  I personally enjoyed what I have seen at the festival with all kinds of uses of the coconut, but what I liked so much was the suman malagkit stuffed inside with coconut jam much like the one you see inside the pan de coco.  The municipality of Jomalig was interesting with its very unique municipal logo - a logo with a face of probably somebody with  major significance to the town itself.  It was a wonderful display of coconut products though I was a little disappointed since I wasn’t able to get hold of the macapuno which I was longing for.  

Niyog-Niyugan Festival coincides with the celebration of Araw ng Quezon and the birthdate of Manuel L. Quezon, where the province was renamed after changing the name from its ancient name Tayabas.  I am not entirely sure if Festival is held annually but be sure to check out one of the Philippines’ unique festival and you’ll be amazed of the wide range of products the coconut tree can produce.  

Sa Pagtatapos ng Tag Araw

Category: , By DuNi

“Oy, kumusta ka na?”

“Okay naman ako. Ikaw?”

“Okay naman din ako. Tagal nating hindi nagkita ah!”

Sa tinagal-tagal nang hindi naming pagkikita, natameme pa rin ako at walang akong nasambit kundi kumusta. Hindi ko akalain na makikita ko pa uli siya pagkatapos ng mahigit ng dalawampung taon. Bumalik tuloy ulit ang mga katangi-tanging alaala sa buhay ko. 

Tag-araw nang magkakilala kami. Panahon ng tag-araw, syempre bakasyon para sa mga kabataan. Kung ngayon maraming gadgets at lugar na pwedeng mapaglibangan ng mga teenager, sa probinsya naman ang takbuhan ng karamihan noon, lalo na ako na hindi mabilang ang pagpipilian sa dami ng mga kamag-anak ko na nakatira sa probinsya. Sa mga kabataang kumukuha lang sa facebook ng paglilibangan, walang katapat ang mga karanasan ko noong bakasyon nung bata pa ako.

Tag-araw ulet ng maisipan kong pumasyal. Sa mahigit na dalawang dekadang itinagal, alam kong maraming nagbago. Mula sa poste, sa mga lubak ng kalsada, at maging sa mga dating bukirin na tila tinangay na rin ng agos ng kaunlaran, ramdam ko sa sarili ko ang kaunting kaba habang binabaybay ang bagong daan patungo sa nakaraan. 

Kilala pa rin niya ako sa kabila ng matagal na panahon. Hindi ko inaasahan yun. Mga bata pa kami noon, mas madalas na paglalaro ang inaatupag, at marahil iyon na rin ang dahilan kung bakit nananatili pa rin sa alaala yung masasayang oras, yung panahong nagkakasundo kayo sa mga paksang pinag-uusapan nyo, at kahit yung mga oras na nagtatalo kayo dahil sa magkaibang pananaw sa buhay.

Patapos na ang tag-araw. Unti-unting binabalot ng kulay abong ulap ang matingkad na asul na langit. Gustuhin ko man ituloy ang pagbabalik-tanaw sa masasayang alaala namin, may hangganan din ito. Katulad ng bakasyon tuwing tag-araw na natatapos sa pagsapit ng tag-ulan, ang dagliang pagpapaalam ay mukhang naulit na naman. Parang noong huli akong umalis. Biglaan. Madalian. Walang patumpik-tumpik. Wala nga yatang pormal na paalam, yung tipong basta na lang umalis para hindi maabutan ng tag-ulan. Baon ang pag-asang magbabalik muli sa susunod na tag-araw, na hindi na naulit hanggang sa lumipas ang mga taon.

Ngayon, magtatag-ulan na naman. Oras na naman para magpaalam. Paalis na lang ulit ako kaso hanggang kumusta lang ang nasabi ko. Buti na lang inabot ako ng malakas na ulan. Kahit papano hindi nya nakita ang pighati na ini-inda ko sa matagal na panahon.

Going Back Home in folding style

Category: , By DuNi
It was half an hour past four in the morning.  The alarm on my mobile phone continued to make noise, waking me up for my usual Sunday morning bike ride.  But today is a very unusual day for me.  I had earlier planned of a surprise itinerary of sorts.

Fast forward and four and a half hours later, I alighted from the bus stop in Tanauan City in Batangas for a different kind of adventure.  While curious passengers from inside the bus and on-lookers from the waiting area were watching in wonder while I unfold the (folding)bike, I mentally prepared myself for this 21 kilometers of riding back home to Talisay.

With my schedule running late I decided to bypass two significant museums since I do not have enough time to stroll around.  I went straight pedaling to the National Highway going towards Talisay.  My first and probably only stop would be a place I have always wanted to visit ever since I was a child.  The Mabini Shrine, the birthplace of Apolinario Mabini, one of our heroes and the one who drafted our first Philippine Constitution, is located in Brgy. Talaga, Tanauan, Batangas.  It is found along the highway going towards Tanauan if you are coming from Talisay or Tagaytay.   It is just a few kilometers from the town proper and STAR tollway.  We always pass by the shrine when riding a jeep going to our house in Talisay but this is the first time I’d be exploring this historical landmark. 

Unlike the Rizal Shrine and its unending arrival of visitors and students participating on their educational tours, I arrived by my lonesome and without any other visitors in site. Except for an ambulance on standby which I suspected was parked inside the premises because of some mechanical trouble, I only saw a single car, probably the service vehicles of the staffs that are maintaining the whole shrine  and a few local kids who mostly uses the vast shrine as their playground.

I was approached by the caretaker slash guide and guided me with utmost patience as I explore the shrine and museum.  I applaud in secret the National Historical Institution’s efforts in maintaining the shrine but the place becomes less significant unless visitors come and see at least some of Mabini’s contribution to our colorful history.  I was entertained though digging deep in my Filipino vocabulary as I gamely answered their evaluation questionnaire, written in Filipino language and expected to be answered in, of course, Filipino.  I wanted to dig deeper Tagalog ala Chiz Escudero but the spaces for answers are severely limited.  I took some photo opportunities, most significant are the ones beside Mabini’s small coffin inside the museum and tomb outside.

I left the shrine fulfilled and journeyed on towards home.  The pictures makes the ride looks easy but the rolling highway towards Talisay is filled with its share of ascend and descend made it difficult to arrive in a short time.  I had to stop and rest at the public market beside Taal lake for another photo opportunity and a visit to my aunt who sells there.  I arrived at home an hour and a half past noon and just in time to catch in glimpse of the Pacquiao-Rios boxing match in local television.  I went to my cousins on the lakeside to catch up for some lost time together, drank a few beers and enjoyed the sunset I missed a lot.


Category: By DuNi
I was lacking in adventure this past months.  Eddon is now in college, Amara is “wreaking havoc” in pre-school.  Summer vacation was spent wondering and thinking of future plans.  We’ve been to nearby attractions, but the fingers were too lazy to hit the keyboard, the mind was too timid of what to write.  Crater trekker has been very much stagnant, partly intentional and partly indolent.  Indolence came probably from criticisms and comments that partly affected much of my enthusiasm to write.

I am an occasional blogger, apart from mood swings and lack of concentration this past season.  And since the summer that just passed was the time I got a tan because of consistent weekend biking, my interest suddenly shifted in my new-found mode of relaxation, if you can find biking uphill relaxing.

It was when I was testing the new folding bike that I decided to ditch my usual biking route inside Clarkfield.  As I reached Mabalacat City proper from our place in Dau, I decided to head straight to Tarlac and forego biking inside the former American base.  Yes, Mabalacat is now a city by virtue of plebiscite last year, although its cityhood was the result of revenues inside the former base where, historically, seventy percent (70%) of the land area belongs to Mabalacat.  In the Philippines, you can create a city by economic investments, not from what they call effective governance.   The base was converted into an economic zone after the American Military left after the destruction caused by Mt. Pinatubo.

Passing Mabalacat “City Proper”, I pedaled towards north and reached Bamban Bridge with its famous suspension steel arch design towering in the middle of the highway.  One of the modern bridges erected in the Philippines, every traveler seems to be amazed of this kind of modernity in spite of the massive destruction from the past that surrounded it.  I stopped for a while to catch my breath.  Using the folding bike is not that easy, with its 20-inch tires more tiring than the 26-inch tires of my all-terrain bike.  I regretted not to bring a decent camera so I just took a picture from my semi-dilapidated mobile phone and strolled away for a farther destination.  

I reached Death March Memorial Shrine in Capas after an hour and decided for another quick rest stop and tour around the shrine.  It was déjà vu all over again as I remembered my first long ride was in this route around three years ago.

My indefinite itinerary was supposed to be Luisita Mall in Tarlac City but after passing Capas town proper I remembered a task at home I forgot to do.  With deep regret, I turned around and headed straight home, a little bit sad that my unplanned adventure didn’t push through completely, but with high hopes that a perfect moment will come to contemplate a continuation, perhaps even reaching as far as the nearest coast in Pangasinan.  Probably not bad for a folding bike, I’m sure.

My sense of adventure has finally awakened.  I was back for another adventure, albeit a shortened one - and I hope for more to come.

Memo to all carol singers

Category: By DuNi

To all carol singers!

Greetings of joy!

Be it known that the new guidelines about caroling or singing joyful songs at Christmas in this residence, shall be strictly followed effective immediately:

1. Carol singers are only allowed within the “official” Christmas season, starting from 6PM up to 8PM in the evening of December 16 up to the 24th of December.  Any carol singers who will try to serenade outside the prescribed time and period shall not be entertained.

2. Carol singers shall only be allowed to perform once during the prescribed period, whether individual or in group.  Any carol singer who has performed cannot join another group and perform again.  We are closely monitoring carol singers through CCTV's.  Any violator, whether individual or a group shall forfeit his/their right to perform, including the group that the offender discreetly joined.

3. The following criteria shall be followed in rewarding carol singers:

CHOICE of SONG                   10 %
MESSAGE of SONG                   20 %
QUALITY of VOICE                   20 %
CHOREOGRAPHY                   20 %
COSTUME                          10 %
AUDIENCE IMPACT                  10 %

SUB TOTAL                          100 %

The subtotal then shall be multiplied by 1.5 and divided by 2 and shall be converted into Philippine Peso.  An additional 50% from the total shall be added if the carol singer can perform any rendition of Christmas songs recorded by Mabuhay Singers in its exact tune.  The conversion rate is 1% = Php 1.00.

4. For security reasons, our dogs are allowed to wander within our yard.  May we therefore request that any carol singers should stand at a clearance of 1 meter from the fence or gate.  The dogs are well trained to attack strangers.

5. Do not try to use the doorbell.  It is disabled during from December 16 up to January 6 (Feast of the Three Kings).

Happy Caroling!

a Mother's day greetings...

Category: By DuNi

to love and to hold
to cherish and to mold
that is what you have done
from sunrise to sundown

you have shaped me in ways
to be better each day
giving all I can
to grow up a better man

everything I hoped for
you supported with splendor
fear was never in my mind
as long as I’m with you all the time

for all the things you did
it was me who reaped the benefits
and on this very special day
this poem is a small price to pay

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tagaytay Misadventures while waiting for a spectacular sunrise

Category: By DuNi

It was 12 midnight.  I just got off from the bus at Mendez crossing and hurried at the other side of the road.  Every establishment is closed except for the convenience store and a fruit stand where a few passengers were trying to catch the last bus to Nasugbu.  I was hoping to spend a little time eating congee in a lugawan or sipping hot soup in a bulalohan but the place seems deserted.  The only option was the convenience store to find something to warm me up.   I decided to pass by Tagaytay route going to Talisay.   Although I have been to the city a lot of times, it was an unfamiliar route since the usual route going to Talisay is via Tanauan City.  It was my first time to pass by Tagaytay via public travel.  Sungay road, a very steep downhill road going down to the lakeside town of Talisay is usually the route used by those with private vehicles.

Misadventure #1 – the ladies sweatshirt

I actually forgot to bring a jacket.  It was colder outside the road than inside the bus.  The cool breeze of the northeast monsoon is penetrating through my skin, and with my skinny figure it was at that moment that I was wishing I had extra fats to stay warm.  My only option was a ladies sweatshirt which was given to me to be given of course to my lady.  With no other choice, I had to wear it to avoid the chill.  I even had to change my outfit outside the road.  The sweatshirt fits exactly that I still had enough space to put back my polo and make my outfit look like a warmer.

Misadventure #2 – the hot coffee

I bought a hot coffee at the convenience store to aid my battle against Tagaytay’s cool breeze.  It was the best alternative for missing the bulalohan or lugawan.  My problem though was I forgot how hot the hot coffee is.  I burned my tongue and insides trying to drink it like cold water. 

Misadventure #3 – the wrong bus stop and the deserted road

Except for a few private vehicles from those who are spending their weekends in Tagaytay, the road was also deserted.  I was trying to catch a bus back to Tagaytay Junction.  I bypassed the Rotonda where some stores were open.  I got down at Mendez crossing and when I saw the place deserted, I realized I made a mistake.  The mistake turned into discontent as I asked some locals about busses coming and going to Manila and at 12 midnight, the hopes of catching a bus were dim.  There were two men who were also stranded and we individually decided to wait and hope for a bus to pass by.  We were lucky that after an hour and a half, there was one opportunistic bus with few passengers.  I thought I would have to stay there until four in the morning.

Misadventure #4 – fast food, fast nap

At Tagaytay junction, I found myself staying at Mcdonald’s while waiting for the sunrise.  I was trying to look for a place to stay for only three hours maximum, but decided not to incur more expenses and just stay awake wherever allowed until sunrise. Bought another cup of coffee, though.  The tongue was numb, and the whole body was a little cold so drinking another hot coffee after a burned tongue was never an issue.  Unfortunately, both coffees never helped in helping me stay awake the whole night.  It was a good thing the place didn’t have a lot of customer so I was able to take short naps at every opportunity I got during my stay.  I thank the guard for not taking notice!

Misadventure #5 – the hundred pesos short ride

At 4AM, I left Mcdo to watch out for the coming sunrise.  I was too early though so I spent warming myself inside 7/11.  The wifi at both Mcdo and 7-11 kept me busy at times.  At 6AM, I was being convinced by tricycle drivers at Tagaytay junction to bring me down to Talisay for 250 pesos, which I repeatedly declined.  I only asked to be brought to Ligaya Drive, as I was trying to catch a jeepney ride at Sungay .  The jeepney fare costs around 40 and up to 80 pesos depending on how many passengers are on board.  Since only a few commuters passes by this route, they are sometimes forced to give additional fares to compensate the lack of passengers so that the jeepney can leave even with less people.  I was approached by business-minded folks and offered a motorcycle ride for a hundred pesos.  At first I was hesitant but the notion of having the best picture-taking opportunity while riding-in-tandem got me interested.  I haggled for a lower price as a formality and we agreed on the ride that will take me down with the best back row seat.  I wasn’t really expecting to spend as much as that; I think I spent much more than the usual fares doing the regular route going to Talisay.  It was chagrin every time I reach for my pocket to pay for the additional and unexpected expenses.

The end result

I was awake at most the whole time, I was a little cold, I was a little bit hungry due to the cold breeze, I was agonizing a little from a burned tongue, the expenses from the trip costs me more, but nothing is more rewarding even with all those misadventures than getting to see what I wanted to see for a very long time.