Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday, January 09, 2015
Old Malogonlong Bridge

Tayabas Basilica

















Q U E Z O N

P R O V I N C E

G E T A W A Y










Tayabas is one tough city. Recently caught in a legal tussle over its cityhood more than once, it's finally ripe to weave its rich past with a promising future. More than its sweet treats of budin (cassava cake) and yema cake, the former Spanish stronghold is also about crumbling mansions and eco-tourism. The relevance of its colonial charm did not instantly appeal to me when I made a scheduled visit last December.


"A Taste of Tayabas" Blog Series Tour

Getting off a Lucban-bound jeepney from the city proper of Lucena, I got the cold treatment. The literal kind. I did not anticipate the place to be as breezy as Tagaytay or Baguio City but it felt like it. Seeing rice fields and ancestral houses also reminded me of visiting the Batangas town of Taal and Ilocos Sur's Vigan. Checked-in at the sprawling 11-hectare development called Graceland Estates and Country Club for three days, I was set to experience the city.

Graceland Estates and Country Club
The view of the city proper from Mi Casa En Tayabas
The lobby of Mi Casa En Tayabas




I was clad in sweater most of the time while touring the city proper as the chilling embrace of Mount Banahaw was quite palpable. A tricycle ride is enough to quickly cover distant destinations within the almost 90 square miles terrain. To head out of the city, a jeepney ride to the Lucena Grand Central Terminal will suffice. From there, you can choose to board bus rides bound for other locations as I did.

Here are a few attractions to experience in tenacious Tayabas:

Old Malagonlong Bridge

Also known as Puente de Malagonlong, the old Malagonlong Bridge is just one of 11 stone bridges in the city that were built by the Spaniards. At the helm of its construction was parochial priest Father Antonio Mateos. It took a decade to complete the 445-foot long stone-arched gem because it was constructed at the deep abyss of the raging Dumaca-a River. Declared by the National Historical Institute as a site that needs to be preserved for its historical relevance, the bridge is now parallel to its modern counterpart of concrete.

The facade of Mi Casa En Tayabas
I arrived with fellow travel blogger, Dennis Dolojan, at the site in the afternoon just before sunset when everything was high key and looked damp. We crossed the grassy-topped structure that spans the banks of the river. A good 3 to 4 minute stroll was all it took but I had to linger in the middle to decipher a Spanish inscription that I would learn back home to state a declaration of its inauguration to be under the term of one Don Julian S. Francisco (a governor).

A descent from the modern bridge next to it allowed me to see the old bridge from a perspective where locals are known to do fishing. It looked massive from that vantage point with its buttresses and stubborn against the strong flow of the river.

From a distance, I saw a young lady clad in a silver gown that I earlier spotted at the rice field next to the river. It turned out that she was in a school photo shoot project and she had to descend onto one of the bridge's buttresses on bare foot for a quick pose. I snapped away a photo myself and imagined how the old residents of Tayabas also spent early mornings and late afternoons in the area. The same spot could have been a venue for risque activities that showed off their tenacity against the colonizing culture.

Tayabas Basilica
(left) Pancit Chami; (right) Budin or cassava cake
Tayabas Basilica




Tayabas Basilica

A tricycle ride from Malagonlong Bridge brought me and my companion next to the city's minor basilica. With the misty silhouette of Mount Banahaw from a distance, the church quietly stood in baroque splendor as grade school pupils walked back and forth in front of it as if oblivious of its magnificence. Inside, its ceiling paintings evoked of grandeur and pseudo-lighting as patches of white cleverly dot the expanse of art as if they were portals from heaven. The result is an optical illusion of natural light.

I would learn from a local devotee who just stepped out of the church that its belfry still carries its original wooden frame that holds the old bell. The manual contraptions that operate it are still in place. Reading from various source materials, I also learned that a couple of friars established the church in the old town as a result of their unyielding faith against the attacks of the moro (muslims) inhabitants in nearby Unisan, another town in Quezon Province. Such display of tenacity seems to trickle down the legacy of Catholicism among 90% of Tayabas City's population.

Old Malagonlong Bridge
Casa Comunidad de Tayabas

After the church visit, we walked for a few minutes searching for the famous cassava cake of the city for a light merienda or snack. When we got lost in a few narrow streets, we ended up walking inside Casa Comunidad de Tayabas, the city's famous stone house, the biggest that had been restored by the National Historical Institute.

On our way to the upper floor to see the empty future office of the currently suspended (as of this writing) mayor, we spotted a lovely courtyard with a newly-painted fountain area as center-piece. It's surrounded by the municipal library and the public museum.

Checked-in at Mi Casa En Tayabas for a stopover
Tayabas Basilica
Casa Comunidad de Tayabas



Calle Budin

It was almost 6:00pm and we were starving for the famous cassava cake. Called budin by locals, the sweet treat is said to be sold aplenty at Calle Budin, a street where both sidewalks are lined up with stores offering it in numerous formats -- in a llanera or tossed inside a plastic bag -- and for various pricing. I learned from the local vendor that, unlike cassava cakes sold in Metro Manila supermarkets, budin in Tayabas are made from real cassava and not cassava flour. The result is a sticky but light consistency.

We chose the llanera format but preferred it scraped off to be tossed inside a plastic bag for easy consumption as we walked further to have a sampling of the sweet and spicy Pancit Chami at a local restaurant. The native noodle delicacy went down well as it was a plate of rambunctiousness to begin with. A fork of it would entail tearing into a generous serving of onions, sayote and carrot strips, sweet peas, chopped cabbage, chicken strips, peeled shrimp and crunchy chicharon (fried pork rinds).

Old Malagonlong Bridge
Graceland Estates and Country Club

For our stay at the 11-hectare development of Graceland Estates and Country Club, click here.

Mi Casa En Tayabas

My travel companion had to cut short his immersion in Tayabas for Manila work, so I had the chance to explore the city more on my third day.

After a few stroll, I ended up checking-in for a few hours at a cozy boutique hotel called Mi Casa En Tayabas. The six-storey establishment offered me a fantastic view of the city proper from its uppermost floor. I was told by the caretaker of Casa Comunidad de Tayabas that it is owned by the city mayor and that the dentist-politician Faustino Silang decided to do the whole interior design himself. The result is an eclectic surprise from floor to floor of fancy knick knacks and religious ornaments set against bold colors of wall paint and flamboyant ceiling fixtures. The most stunning part of the hotel is probably the dimly lit lobby where a wall and corner are highlighted by natural light from a nearby window. The space features an old wooden plow that gives guest a glimpse of the farming town of Tayabas.

Mi Casa En Tayabas
Graceland Estates and Country Club





I would have stayed longer at the boutique hotel and spent more time at my booked fan room with access to a bathtub because the accommodation was quite affordable for a little more than P1,000. Since I had to finish a work task back in Manila, an evening bus was my ride out of Quezon Province.

I noticed that the weather in Tayabas City could be sunny one moment and chilly the next. In between would be breezy bouts with drifted foliage. However, looking at the carefree faces of locals, it was only me who was moved to be pensive especially on the last day of my immersion. I guess I'm not used to such tumultuousness. I've been exposed to beach weather one too many times in the past months that I was not ready for such localized weather. It drove me to a level of melancholy that I couldn't explain. I was so in a hurry checking out of Mi Casa En Tayabas that I forgot three pairs of branded shorts inside its antique cabinet. The loss may be something for me to use as an excuse for a revisit soon.



Check out my other Quezon Province-related blog posts:
Infanta, Balagbag Falls, and Nonok Falls
General Nakar and Agos River
Cagbalete Island getaway
Attractions in Mauban
Real's Tignoan Beach
Graceland Estate and Country Club of Tabayas





More Photos Below:

Mi Casa En Tayabas
Old Malagonlong Bridge
Graceland Estates and Country Club
Mi Casa En Tayabas
Rice field next to Dumaca-a River

Mi Casa En Tayabas

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