Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thursday, November 02, 2017

If the ancient Laguna Copperplate Inscription is to be believed, Lucban is formerly part of an older expanse called Kasumuran that also covers the neighboring towns of Majayjay and Nagcarlan. Much is yet to be debated about this information, but what's certain is that the more-than-400-year-old town is famous worldwide for its flamboyant tradition -- the Pahiyas Festival. The colorful revelry pretty much sums up what this side of Quezon Province is about -- a colorful thanksgiving to a bountiful harvest. The annual festival marks the local scenery with much influence that it now has an offshoot festival -- the Paskong Payas.

Lucban is no more than three hours away from Metro Manila and is also quite accessible from the Bicol Region that it has become a favorite stopover by travelers on a long road trip. All in all, this relaxing destination at the foot of Mount Banahaw is guaranteed to always be worth a visit.

After having visited it four times since 2015, I can attest that making a dash through just a few activities is not enough to have a genuine whiff of what the town is about. To ensure that you will really enjoy your stopover, overnight stay or long vacation here, I listed down 10 exciting things to do that are usually not in other people's top 10s:

Paskong Payas
Paskong Payas
Paskong Payas
1) Celebrate the Paskong Payas Festival

The Paskong Payas Festival started only in 2016 as an offshoot of the famous Pahiyas Festival. This means that it's also about a colorful thanksgiving of sorts but it's celebrated in December to coincide with the Christmas season. As a result, the mood is one of holiday cheer and the public decorations are an interesting mesh of nature's bounty and Christmas.

This is a great way to take a stroll through the narrow streets of the town because residents would be visible either at their doors and windows of their houses or right in the middle of the road, depending on the state of their home's decoration. Some can be seen weaving leaves into an intricate mat or matching colors of kiping to form patterns. The whole town suddenly becomes one big living room on a holiday hustle anywhere you look.

Read more about Paskong Payas.

Pancit Habhab
Making the Longganisang Lucban at the town proper; Photography by Aubrey Gacer
Longganisang Lucban at Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort
2) Go On a Food Trip of Pancit Habhab and Longganisang Lucban

Locals here can't go hungry because they'll always have a full stomach after mindlessly snacking on pancit habhab for only Php10. And you get to try it for yourself when you visit the town proper. A strip of eateries are located just outside of Lucban Church and it's where the delicious break takes it course from ordering the pancit, receiving it on a piece of banana leaf to drizzling cane vinegar on the whole shebang. The delicious culmination is when you burp for satisfaction. For it to happen, though, you'll need to bury your face on the whole noodle dish and directly eat off of it with your mouth sans the use of fork or chopsticks.

In the same vicinity, you can also spot a lot of nondescript stores that sell Longganisang Lucban. Most of the stores are also in the same locations where they make the garlicky treat, so you'll probably see two or three locals exposed or behind humble dividers stuffing casings with meat mixture and forming them into links. Some make them in hefty forms wherein pork fat is as much part of it as lean meat. However, the smaller longganisa are really the tastier ones because they're just pure meat.

The view of the Saint Louis of Toulouse Parish Church from the Lucban Tourism Office
Inside the Saint Louis of Toulouse Parish Church
Saint Louis of Toulouse Parish Church
3) Visit the Saint Louis of Toulouse Parish Church and Lucban Tourism Office

After your food trip, you can conveniently stroll in the same vicinity to see the impressive baroque architecture of the Saint Louis of Toulouse Parish Church. Made of cement and lime, the elaborate facade of the structure looks glorious from any angle. Its shape at the top is flawlessly echoed by its arched windows which gives the impression of clouds or the feel of heaven on earth.

Just next to the church is the Lucban Tourism Office where you can inquire with tourism officials or any staff on duty about the town and where else to go that you have not considered in your itinerary.

The old Lucban Cemetery Chapel
The old Lucban Cemetery Chapel
The old Lucban Cemetery Chapel
4) See the Ruins of the Old Lucban Cemetery Chapel

Fond of old ruins? Most houses in Lucban are already modern, but it has an old cemetery chapel that's still standing. It was built in the late 1700s on top of a hill that overlooks the town. Featuring a twin belfry, the mortuary church can still be seen past rows of graves and is a great reminder of the town's old scenery.

Lucban Municipal Museum
Lucban Municipal Museum
Lucban Municipal Museum
5) Make a Side Trip to the Lucban Municipal Museum

The Lucban Municipal Museum just opened two years ago at one of the oldest structures in the town, but its collection is nothing like its young age. At the historic Gusaling Escuelapia, the museum houses anything old and remarkable that have been donated by the residents like a vintage kalamay stirrer, a metal pan, and notable World War II relics. 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).

From time to time, a part of the venue (specifically the hallway to the museum floor) also shows solo and group exhibits of the town's various artists.

Lucban-based artist Pepot Atienza at his atelier
Pepot Atienza's creations; Photography by Aubrey Gacer
Inside the atelier of artist Pepot Atienza; Photography by Aubrey Gacer
6) Be Inspired at Pepot Art Shop

If you happen to have caught a glimpse of a solo exhibit by artist Pepot Atienza at the Escuela Pia's Lucban Municipal Museum, you may also be interested to know where his art works are conceptualized and brought to life.

Look no further than Pepot's atelier that's just behind the famous pilgrimage site called Kamay Ni Hesus in Lucban. The art studio is located in the same rustic home where the artist is currently staying whenever he's on work mode with his dreamlike creations of tortured and whimsical dolls. The clay sculptures have been featured in a popular children's book and he's currently working on another book's illustration. The site is also where he gets his inspirations for Pepot Art Shop's souvenir items that mostly promote the town's festival and various local trends.

Read more about Pepot Atienza.

Kamay Ni Hesus
7) Reflect at Kamay Ni Hesus

What's known as a pilgrimate site, Kamay Ni Hesus is where tourists -- religious or not -- flock to for a chance at meditation or a no-fuss break. It's a great alternative to visiting the town plaza since the 5-hectare property is a lot bigger to explore. It even has an attraction called Noah's Ark which also serves as the structure for the park's accommodation, function hall, and restaurant. An overnight stay costs Php800 per head and the rate comes with free breakfast.

Malinaw Spring Resort
8) Swim at the Fresh Malinaw Spring Resort for Php10

If you're just on a day tour and you want to make it count, you can make a quick side trip in Barangay Igang where a mountain spring water is known to be flowing straight from Mount Banahaw. Called Malinaw Spring Resort, this roadside attraction is right next to a bridge that connects Lucban to Majayjay. For Php10 only, you can take a refreshing dip and ease your nerves of all the exhausting touring that you've been doing the whole day.

A guestroom at Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort; Photography by Aubrey Gacer
Dining at the restaurant of Samkara
The poolside of Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort
9) Stay at the Relaxing Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort

If you're after real Lucban hospitality, an overnight stay at Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort should be in order. The property is also in Barangay Igang and just right across Malinaw Spring Resort. Here, guests are given access to a well landscaped garden that's surrounded by coconut trees and accentuated by a relaxing view of rice fields. The rustic lodgings and natural pool are also a dream to experience since they exude a distinct countryside charm that no longer exists in the bustling town proper. Most of all, food is divine at its restaurant which is also open to walk-in visitors.

Read more about Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort.

Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort dwarfed by a view of Mount Banahaw

10) View Mount Banahaw from the Town's Rice Fields

Lucban shares a view of Mount Banahaw with its neighboring towns, making the weather here a bit unpredictable any day of the year. This means that it can drizzle in the morning and be balmy by brunch. As a result, a view of the mountain's silhouette is something that's also unpredictable. Fortunately, the vegetated part of Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort's property (beyond its natural pool where a path leads to the rice field expanse) allows for fantastic views of the natural attraction on a pleasant day.

Are you ready to visit Lucban? Book a stay.


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