It was my first time travelling beyond La Trinidad Valley and into central Benguet and all the way to Mountain Province in the Cordilleras. I was excited since it is also my first time heading to Sagada, and first time travelling in one of the most scenic, highest, yet (perhaps) precarious highway in the Philippines—Halsema.
Halsema Highway, or also known as “Mountain Trail,” spans more or less 150 kilometers between Baguio City, Cordillera’s regional capital, and Bontoc, the provincial capital of Mountain Province. The highway was named after Baguio City’s mayor, James Halsema, who led the construction of the road that connects Baguio to Bontoc and was eventually opened in the 1930s.
It was nearing midnight in General Santos City. We just had some dinner and shots at Piyesta at Robinsons Place Gensan in Lagao District together with the SOX Bloggers. Avel, Marz, Marc and I were heading to Horizon Spa, just a few miles north east from the resto. While we were on our way, we passed by J Mix Bar and Pacman Sports Bar and Grill—of course owned by Gensan’s pride boxer Manny Pacquiao. At first we were like, “ah ok, kay Pacman pala yan” and carry on. However, our fellow blogger Marz noticed a black Hummer parked in front of the bar and uttered, “andyan si Manny! Andyan yung Hummer nya eh.” (Manny is there! The Hummer is there)
Sinong Pinoy ba ang di nakakikilala sa balisong? Perhaps, there is no dagger as (in)famous in Philippine pop culture as balisong. The small, light and foldable dagger is really easy for anyone to hide it in their pockets—that is why it’s a crowd favourite. Being a “star” in Gus Abelgas’s show in the crime scene, balisong’s infamous legacy has developed a stereotypical image that “if you have a balisong, you’re feared by anyone.” Wow, seems that Panday has met his match! But people still wonder where does balisong came from, and they’ll soon find out that its origins are from the Land of A’la eh!
Given the degree of the events that happened in Cotabato (Maguindanao to be exact) region, HabagatCentral.com would like to give you a bit of glimpse on the towns now mentioned in the news. Personally, I’ve been to these towns in 2005-2006 as part of my thesis and bears hold personally.
Two of Maguindanao’s towns have been mentioned in the news…and yes, these are the baluartes or strongholds of the warring political clans. These are Buluan, a southern town in Maguindanao almost sandwiched by Christian-dominated towns; and Shariff Aguak, the capital town of the province of Maguindanao.
It was my first time conquering Ilocos Sur, the land of my ancestors (mother side). My primary aim there together with my family was to have the grasp of the heritage that our Filipino ancestors left during the Spanish colonial era. Vigan City was one of them of course, but I have set my eyes towards one of the four baroque churches inscribed in the World Heritage List, the Santa Maria Church or Iglesia de Nuesta Señora de la Asuncion (Simbahan iti Asunta sa Ilokano).
As we ended our Laguna Lake Loop tour, we reached the rustic yet remarkable town of Nagcarlan. Much busier than Liliw perhaps, because it was 5PM and people are flocking the church for the afternoon mass. The air was cool and we had some sprinkles of mountain drizzle while the sun sets. The town of Nagcarlan is about 30 minutes away from San Pablo City in Laguna, the famed “City of Seven Lakes.” We visit two of its famed sites, the church and its underground cemetery.
Who would have thought that in the middle of vast coconut forest at the foothills of Mount Banahaw could you find a town full of people! Magdalena was laid back but the next town came into our surprise…it was busy and there are people everywhere. May pa-liga pa nga sa covered court nila nang dumating kami!
But anyway, this town is famed for being the footwear capital of Laguna, and perhaps can pose a challenge to Marikina’s shoe industry. However, it is the bakya and the tsinelas that made it very famous.
Liliw, like Magdalena, sits at the foothils of the ever holy Mount Banahaw. 17 kilometers from the cabisera of Laguna province which is Santa Cruz. It’s surprisingly cooler here though, thanks to the mountain. And like Magdalena, it is surrounded by verdant coconut trees and lush vegetation.
I would like to go to Laguna, the off-beaten track. Palagi na lang kasi sa highway kaya di masyadong maka-pasyal! I was thinking of going to Majayjay with its massive church…however it is very off the way and the sun is setting in few hours time. We’ve finally decided, from Pagsanjan all the way to Nagcarlan via Magdalena and Liliw then San Pablo then head home. We went far interior, into the foothils of the Holy Banahaw.
By the time we reached Magdalena, I was surprised by several billboards claiming its title: “Hollywood of the Philippines.” Really now? How come it became “Hollywood” in the middle of the coconut plantations? I was really clueless.
Yet upon arriving at the town’s church plaza and the municipal hall, I gasped and said, “Ah! Dito pala ang pinagshootingan nung mga pelikula ni FPJ at iba pa!” Indeed, it was a familiar sight and delight. No wonder this rustic town got its own exposure to stardom. At di na nya kinailangang pumasok sa “Bahay ni Kuya” o magpa-audition sa “Starstruck!” True enough, there’s a facility nearby that was donated by FPJ himself!
One of Philippine cinema’s favorite towns indeed!
My camera’s dead…malfunctioning upon the time of our arrival at Pagsanjan, Laguna. It was disheartening for my aim was to take the photos of all the towns we pass by during our road trip. Alas, felt with heavy heart. But it’s a good thing my barkada would let me borrow their cameras and photos.
Okay, enough of sentiments. Lets not spoil our trip. Hehe!
Pagsanjan is in eastern Laguna. For the heritage buff, it’s Laguna’s answer to Taal, Batangas and Vigan, Ilocos Sur. For the majority of the Filipinos, it is where that famed Pagsanjan Falls are located (yet technically, like Angono Petroglyphs, its on another town). We had our short stop and parked just in front of the church. While my companions went around the town center and plaza taking pictures of the old heritage structures, I was left at the car, pondering on my malfunctioning camera…but luckily, my companions lend me their cameras for this. …continue reading