Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014
The century-old Don Sixto Nuyda Mansion

W H E N   I N


When in Albay, Camalig is where the locals will point you to for a taste of the delicious delicacy called pinangat, a succulent local vegetable dish. The neighboring town of Legazpi City is rightfully called as such because tucked in this Southern portion of Mount Mayon are century-old Spanish houses where Franciscan missionaries were known to have first settled in the province. More houses would rise during the time of the American occupation of the Philippines. 

Special Pinangat

The side of the Mayon Volcano where the vegetable gabi is grown in abundance is where Camalig is. My visit of the town’s famous Let’s Pinangat, a decent-looking eatery that’s easy on the eyes sells pinangat as its best-selling dish over other traditional Filipino viands. It was convenient to assume its popularity because people in the area also eat it for brunch, merienda, and midnight snack. This was the 2nd day of my "I Love Albay!" Blog Series Tour.

Correspondent Photographer Josua got surprised by the sili bits

Proud of her town’s version, the eatery vendor shared that their pinangat and the ones being sold along the highway are made of gabi that thrived in flowing water. The big difference lies in whether the taro root or tuber plant used was sustained by stagnant water or not. She opined that other provinces also serve the same delicacy but they don’t have the generous Mount Mayon to design for them the natural art of growing delicious vegetable for it. Some hands are really made limited enough for mother nature to provide what is enough and remarkable.

A Bicolano friend of mine drove me and my correspondent photographer to Camalig after a hefty lunch in Daraga’s Balay Cena Una. I felt I needed something for a light snack to keep me alert on my walk tour of the town’s century-old houses. I was told by the eatery vendor that they segregate the regular flavoured pinangat from the spicy ones by means of a dangling tied knot. I opted for the regular flavoured one.

Me before tasting the cold treat
Pili Nut and Hand-woven Products

My friend informed me that the Pinangat Festival had just ended and most people in the town was on rest mode, including my Local Government Unit (LGU) contact person who was sleeping at the time of my arrival. Before he dropped us off at the town proper, we parked at a nondescript gate where my friend effortlessly grabbed a snack bar of sorts from a hand that reached out of it. Curious as to what the snack was, I cajoled him into letting me taste chocolate thinking that it was one of those pili nut chocolate bars that’s famous in Albay.

It turned out that it was another pili product called marzipan de pili which locals consider as a rewarding confection for productive days. There was not a shortage of pili nut bags for any visitor. The highway alone was dotted with stores selling them. A soft and chewy treat, it was too much for my taste as I preferred the mini-ball version sold at another venue in the town called R.A.I.N.S., where world-class handicrafts are also sold. Its hand-woven footwear, basket displays, hats and bags are the same ones showcased in SM's Kultura shops.

The Nuyda Mansion

The Sili Iced Buko

I aimlessly walked the residential area of Camalig with my correspondent photographer hoping to easily spot old houses. Before we even got to our first stop, we got lured by a topless local to try out his neighbor's sili iced buko. I did not need much convincing because the giant buko display oddly stood out of from the street corner where old houses served as eerie backdrop. Next thing I knew, I was coughing from too much foolishness. I was deceived into believing that it was just a normal cold treat. With pun intended, how silly of me! The spicy flavor, I was informed by the local, was because of real sili bits used unlike in sili-flavored ice cream where sili powder was the choice mix. I remember posting a photo of the snack on Facebook as having a taste of good and evil.

Hand-woven footwear at R.A.I.N.S.
The Nuyda Mansion and Other Old Houses

As I finished my snack, the accidental topless tour guide pointed to a white-painted house that, according to him, serves as a residence for distant relatives of singer-actor Gary Valenciano. He then lured us to view another ancestral house, an older one, which locals call the old Don Sixto Napay Mansion where I learned a descendant of the clan is buried. It was badly affected by 2006's Typhoon Reming which unfortunately left 66 people dead in the province. 

I learned that the old Napay folks, Eustaquio and Cenona only had one son by the name of Justino Napay Nuyda who became congressman from 1935 to1941. Fondly called Lolo Tinong, he was also a great Bicolano writer of sarsuwela (a lyric-dramatic entertainment genre of Spanish origin). He married Purificacion Avecilla Nuyda with whom he had 11 children. After his wife died, he remarried and had 11 more children with a certain Lola Pising. The house is actually a legacy of three generations. The Nuyda sisters still live in the upper floor of the mansion as the ground floor had been boarded up. 

Tasty Malunggay Pandesal

It was the late afternoon already and our guide discouraged us from visiting the Japanese tunnel that's still a walking distance from the area. He said that the way was a bit muddy and steep and it was drizzling that day.

Before we took a bus ride back to Legazpi City, we dropped by Emong Pandesal and had a bag of its famous malunggay treat for merienda. Interestingly, it tasted delicious and filling even without any sweet fruit preserves or jam. 

Truly, the town is home to lasting memories. Like what it means in Tagalog as a storehouse of valuables, Camalig is one interesting place to visit in Albay.

Photography By Josua Chan and Karl Ace

Special thanks to the unnamed topless Bicolano guide of Camalig.

More Photos Below:

Malunggay Pandesal
Marzipan Ball
Kids of Camalig at play
Marzipan De Pili


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