Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015
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Saint Louise of Toulouse Parish Church
A shot of chilled lambanog at Cafe San Luis













Q U E Z O N

P R O V I N C E

T O W N






I perceived my Lucban getaway as escaping the drudgery of my mundane city life. Nothing seems to be nondescript in the 32-village town of Quezon Province that sits at the foot of the mystical Mount Banahaw. From various points in the municipality, the latter can be spotted either as a faint silhouette or as an imposing backdrop to a lush green of sprawling rice fields. Although Pahiyas is only celebrated once a year every May 15, the landscape can be seen with the famous harvest festival's stellar supporting cast of kiping (the colorful leaf-shaped wafer that's made of rice paste) variants in public spaces. The countryside vibe is truly palpable anywhere here as I determined one weekend.

What To Do In Lucban?

While checked in at the newly-opened Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort, I had a whiff of the town's laid-back charm. Since it's next to a bed of farming lots, the attraction rendered me a grassroots experience of the area. Walking through tilled land suddenly brought back childhood memories of my mother's hometown in Infanta, another Quezon Province municipality.

The rice field view from Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort






My immersion in this part of Luzon got more exciting with the prospect of visiting the town's first museum that just opened early this 2015. I may not have seen the town's famous festival on schedule, but I was delighted that I was still able to tour the usual tourist attractions like the pilgrimage site called Kamay Ni Hesus, the old Saint Louis of Toulouse Parish Church, and spaces where its culinary culture of Longganisang Lucban and Pansit Habhab are sold.

Here are a few essential activities and attractions in Lucban that you will find interesting to experience for yourself when visiting this part of the province:



One side of the town's old church

Have Shots of Chilled Lambanog At Cafe San Luis

A walk tour of the town one morning prompted me and a fellow travel blogger I tagged along for the trip to have coffee at the poblacion. The most decent spot that we determined to be cozy was Cafe San Luis because of its semi-al fresco setup. Instead of having coffee though, we ended up having shots of chilled lambanog, a local wine made from coconut that has a potent flavor. Although I grew up with cousins from Infanta who drank a more intoxicating version, I did not imbibe the vice. For a revisit of the province, I reckoned that I was of age to feel spent in the most embarrassing ways I could imagine. I kept telling myself that a shot wouldn't hurt.

To compensate for the day's early schedule, I ended my visit with a cup of hot tablea. However, this is something I won't recommend for those with sensitive stomach because my naiveté cost me my well-rested night at Samkara. Soon, a couple of hours after the combo of the local concoctions in my tummy, I was racing to the nearest bathroom at the town's old church. It was an embarrassing tourist emergency! My recommendation is to just have one of the other if you won't be able to take it like a local.

Inside the town's old church




Reflect At The Saint Louis of Toulouse Parish Church

Since I was already at the church premises for a non-religious activity, I made sure to linger and marvel at its baroque architecture. Made of cement and lime, the elaborate facade and bell tower of Lucban's old Saint Louis of Toulouse Parish Church looked glorious from a close distance. The facade's shape at the top is flawlessly echoed by its arched windows which gives the impression of clouds or the feel of heaven on earth. Inside, more of the heavenly ambiance is exuded in decorations painted over walls that mimic real installations. It definitely felt grand inside.

The Lucban Municipal Museum
Check Out The Lucban Municipal Museum

After marveling at the beauty of the town's old church, I did some small talk with a local who was biding his time reading a newspaper next to the monument of the three World War 2 Lucbanin heroes. He recommended that I visit the town's first museum.

I proceeded with my travel buddy to the old facility that he pointed to from the church. After minutes of chatting with the museum's bohemian curator named Elna, it turned out that the guy I conversed with was actually part of the committee that's in charge of educating the museum's staff and experts in the rich historical past of the town.

An old kalamay stirrer for kitchen use
Remnants of World War 2
Elna of The Lucban Municipal Museum


The museum was inaugurated last April 9 of this year. It is housed at a rickety building that was formerly a school for kids. Located at the town center, the 1935-built structure seemed narrow at the entrance, but a doorway in the middle of the long corridor leads into an open space of memorabilia and vintage pieces from an old metal pan used for hefty cooking to WWII bullets fired from Filipino-owned rifles. It's accentuated at the center by a well-preserved trombone used by a long-departed local musician named Laureano Racelis Elma of the Banahaw Band (Banda Banahaw).

An old metal pan

From the get-go I felt uneasy inside the museum not because the place was unpleasant. Every piece inside was enriching. The fresh spring water from Mount Banahaw that the curator offered us helped ease my nerves. It turned out that my tingling senses were telling me something of the spectral kind because when I returned to the resort later, a staff at Samkara shared that the old structure's basement was used as a torture chamber of Filipinos by the Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Visit Kamay Ni Hesus, Buy Longganisang Lucban, and Eat Pancit Habhab

On our way around the town looking for a mobile credit reload, we spotted a string of shops that sell the popular culinary find called Longganisang Lucban, a garlicky sausage that locals pronounce as langgonisa instead of longganisa.

(left) A local eating Pansit Habhab; (right) A local making Longganisang Lucban

Kamay Ni Hesus pilgrimage site
After a few minutes taking photos of the public park, we dropped by the Tourism Office for a quick rest. Soon, its staff recommended that we try the Pansit Habhab at the public food court just outside the church before we return to our booked resort. Without much ado, we strolled to the strip of stores that sell the local delicacy. Served on a piece of banana leaf, the dish is best tasted with vinegar. An order of the snack is truly affordable as it can range between 10 pesos to 15 pesos only.

Before we headed back to the resort, we made a quick side trip to the famous pilgrimage site called Kamay Ni Hesus that most local tourists annually flock to every Holy Week.

Three days can be a tight schedule for an immersion of Lucban. With the variety of activities and attractions to experience in the town, it's definitely worth a revisit.

Where to stay when in Lucban?

When in Lucban, try staying at Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort. The 7,000 sq.m. property was originally conceptualized to just house a decent dwelling such as a nipa hut where the owners could retreat to whenever their hectic work schedule would permit. Soon, their passion for the hospitality scene made sense to transform it into a full-fledged leisure spot. Check out my review of it here.



More Photos Below:

Old rustic bins for storing freshly hauled seafood catch and various harvested items

A local peddling the native delicacy called Espasol
The fresh spring water from Mount Banahaw at the Lucban Municipal Museum

The entrance of the Lucban Municipal Museum

3 comments:

  1. I've been going to Lucban for vacation since childhood years, but I never even knew about this museum! (sad) I've also seen Samkara in TripAdvisor, but after your reading your blog, I'll be planning an overnight stay - just for the experience :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry coz the museum just opened and I got fortunate to be in Lucban months after it got opened to the public. A lot of improvements have been done on the garden lot of Samkara since I visited it, so you will be surprised to see it to be more well-manicured should your overnight stay happen soon.

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