I’ve been writing so much about the places I’ve been to, the foods that delighted my appetite, different cultures that amazed me and a lot of things that my wanderlust brought me to but I’ve never written anything about this brilliant place that’s close to my heart. Earlier tonight, as I was watching an event in our town plaza, I just decided that I am writing about a little town where my young dreams and aspirations flourished.
For everyone’s information, the voice behind this blog is from Paete, Laguna. It is a town entrenched in the foot of Sierra Madre mountain ranges. A home to sweet lanzones fruits and considered as the Carving Capital of the Philippines. I am from a town rich in historical memoirs, creative abstractions, religious beliefs and cultural velleity.
I am from Paete. Life in this town is simple. I grew up with no near malls, no cabs, pollution-free and is surrounded by lush green forests. I grew up with a neighborhood that’s literally close to each other. Sometimes, I’d even think that the wall of our house is also the wall of our neighbor’s house but it’s no issue. I like it that way.
What do I love about my town aside from food, of course? It’s the culture that I’ve opened my eyes to. It’s the vibrancy of yesteryear that continues to radiate until today.
If you ask me about the places you can visit in Paete, I can only name a few but to tell you, these few places are nothing compared to the many warm welcomes you will receive and be treated with specially if you are a tourist. You may want to take a walk in Quesada Street, it’s actually a street full of wood and handicrafts store where you can witness the immensity of Paetenian artistry as seen on every detail of wood carvings you can eye on. As you walk nearing the town plaza, you will be approaching the St. James the Apostle Church, the facade of the church will show you a hundred accounts of history. We have sets of “pu-on” inside, these are images of saints that shows the devotion of Paetenians in their Catholic faith (nope, not Catholic here but c’mon! Religion is just religion). There’s Wawa Park and Tatlong Krus.
Tatlong Krus is located in Mt. Humarap, if you’re in Paete for the Holy Week (or not), this hike pilgrimage is one of the most popular activities in town. In the same mountain lies Matabunca Falls. Give yourself a splash of refreshingly cold water when you pass by it!
Food? We have “Minanok” that contains no chicken and “Minani” that’s a cubed version of fries. Yes, be intrigued with it! You must put this town in your next vacation trip list! It’s not too far from Manila, anyway.
Culture? We still use po and opo, if that counts. We smile at everyone. We are warm and hospitable. We like to socialize, we talk a lot, we’re fun.
How to get here?
From Manila, you can take any bus going to Santa Cruz, Laguna that’s about a 140 PHP and then get off at the bus terminal. From there, your 25PHP ride in a Siniloan jeepney will get you to Paete. Just tell the driver where you’re heading. You may contact the tourism department of the town for further inquiries.
Carving more than wood, fruits and ice, Paete has carved my creative intuition. My creativity has roots, and I can be the carver of my own future. One day I’ll look back, look back at all the heart aches and joys that Paete have shared with me and I can smile. Smile because I know, no matter where I’ll be in the next years of my life, in this little-not-so-famous town, I will always have a home.
Photos c/o Hiyas Bagabaldo, Mayor Mutuk Bagabaldo, RJay Mendoza
Featured Image c/0 Larawan at Kape