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Queen Sofía of Spain visits the Philippines!

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Click here for the latest news on Queen Sofía’s Philippine visit!



La Laguna, Una Sa Lahát (music video)

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Here it is, finally! The awesome music video of majestic La Laguna — my home, my province! 😀

Congratulations to Governor E.R. Ejército and his team for featuring all the towns and cities of Provincia de La Laguna, and what the province has to offer and showcase to the country and to the rest of the globe. Never before has this kind of project been done. This endeavor will forever serve as a benchmark for tourism (and even business) promotions elsewhere.

¡Viva La Laguna: Uno Progreso… Una sa Sayá… Buhay Laguna!*


Artist: Pagsanján Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejército
Composer: Marizen Soriano
Director: Louie Ignacio

*Theme for this year’s recently concluded La Laguna Festival 2012.

The Seven Lakes of San Pablo City, La Laguna

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San Pablo City is famously known as “The City of Seven Lakes”. And for good reason. Because it really has seven lakes, though not as large as nearby Laguna de Bay. And definitely NOT artificial like the one in Nuvali (in Santa Rosa City). These seven lakes are not ordinary water formations since they have a subterranean background with a “volcanic touch”.

Scientifically, the seven lakes of San Pablo are classified as “maars” or low-relief volcanic craters. Maars were formed by what volcanologists call a phreatomagmatic eruption (heck knows how it’s pronounced; I might be able to do it with a mouthful of polvorón). Such eruptions are rare; they occur only when groundwater comes into contact with magma.

The lakes have queer native names, some of which are familiar to Tagalog speakers. Nobody knows who gave them their names. But as is the usual case in our culture, legends have been passed on from generation to generation. And since hundreds of years ago, nobody knew the difference between a phreatomagmatic eruption from a scorned lady, people really had to come up with stories about their origins.

Here are the brief profiles of each lake as well as their legends.

1) Lake Bunót (30.50 hectares; 23 meters average depth)

Lago Bunót

Bunót was named after —you got it— that whatnot cleaning item that you use to make the floor as shiny and sparkling as your high school classmate’s oily face. Its origin comes from the never-ending Spanish-indio– miscommunication story. Spanish soldiers who were new to the place inquired the name of the lake from a man who was husking coconuts by the lakeshore. Thinking that the soldiers were asking for the native name of the coconut husk, the man, probably Raymart Santiago’s ancestor, innocently replied bunót.

2) Lake Calibató (42 hectares, 135 meters average depth)

Lago Calibató

Calibató was said to be the turf of a nature spirit locally known as a diwatà. The place was once a rich valley filled with wild game and fruit-bearing trees. But she was angered when natives constructed rocky pathways which criss-crossed her haven. She must have turned green and big like the Incredible Hulk because she caused an earthquake. Afterwards, she must have transformed into Ororo Munro of the X-Men to cause a severe storm that transformed the valley into what it is today: a lake, but which provides abundant fish (probably those who constructed the pathway, just a crazy guess). It is believed that the name Calibató was a combination of “Cali”, a corruption of the Spanish word “calle” or street, and “bató”, Tagalog for “rock” (sorry, no crystal meth jokes allowed).

3) Lake Mojicap (14.50 hectares; 80 meters average depth)

Lago Mojicap

The story of Mojicap (spelled nowadays as Mohicap) is about a religious couple who had a very sickly daughter named Mónica. They made a promise to do anything if God heals her. God granted their prayer on condition that the child should only stay inside their elevated hut and must never set foot on mother earth. One day, while Mónica was sewing her dress, the ball of thread that she was using fell on the bamboo slat floor and slid towards the earthen ground. Her parents were out on a date so they were not around to retrieve it. The poor child had to recover the ball of thread by herself. Reminiscent of nighttime TV soaps, it was apparent that the parents were too secretive towards their daughter regarding their pre-natal deal with God, because the girl didn’t wait for her parents to retrieve the ball of thread. So upon stepping on the ground for the first time in her life, she immediately collapsed, then water spewed forth from the earth, drowning her and the entire neighborhood. Voila, a new lake emerged. For some reason, the name Mónica eventually became Mojicap (this means that actress Danica Sotto has a fair chance of having her name changed to Dajicap Sotto pretty soon). Mojicap, by the way, is my wife’s favorite lake among the rest. She finds its turquoise-colored waters fascinating.

4) Lake Palacpaquin (43 hectares; 7.50 meters average depth)

Lago Palacpaquin

Nope, Palacpaquin has no “let’s-give-them-a-round-of-applause” (or “magpalacpacan tayo“) myth. Elders instead will tell you that it was once a river where a mysterious lady (probably a diwatà again) used to wash her long hair every full moon by the hollow trunk of an ancient tree called palacpaquin. A big fish also appears in the river every time the lady washes her hair. Hmmm… May crush yatà. Anyways, nobody dared to catch the fish, fearing that it was owned by the lady. And maybe because it was too big to be caught, if I may add. One day, a stranger suddenly thought that he’s Sherlock Holmes, so he started to investigate the mysterious lady and her queer fish pal. One moonlit night, he saw the mysterious damsel. As he approached her, thunder and lightning shook the earth, causing the river to swell. No, Thor wasn’t there (he’d rather visit a First World country). It’s just that no mortal man was allowed to go near the damsel. So in a matter of minutes, the river had become a lake. There was no more sign of the stranger, the lady, and the fish. But in their place was a large quantity of shrimp from which the popular cuisine Hipong Palacpaquin originated.

5) Lake Pandín (20.50 hectares; 63 meters average depth)

Lago Pandín

Now this lake is paradise! My personal favorite, and the most popular among travelers. And this lake has a twin: Yambó, which can be reached on the other side via raft. Or if you think you can be the next Michael Phelps, go ahead and do a butterfly stroke towards the other bank. Anyway, both Pandín and Yambó are separated by a narrow strip of elevated hill. The story of these is almost similar to that of Mojicap’s. It tells of a story of a barren couple who kept on praying for a child. One day, a diwatà (I wonder if she’s the same femme fatale from the Calibató and Palacpaquin tales) appeared to them and told them that they will be granted a daughter only if they promised not to allow her to set foot on the earth, to which the couple agreed. They named the girl Pandín who grew up to become the hottest chick in town. One day, a suitor of hers, Yambó by the name, invited her to come down from her hut while she was sewing. But Pandín, faithful to her parents’ instructions, objected. Without saying a word, Yambó immediately climbed up the hut, grabbed Pandín’s ball of thread, then threw it outside. In anger, the girl totally forgot her parents’ instructions. She angrily went down the hut to fetch her ball of thread, and to probably give Yambó a beating a la Claudine Barretto. The next thing that happened? I bet you already know — two gigantic waterfalls appeared! Joke.

6) Lake Sampáloc (104 hectares; 10 meters average depth)

Lago Sampáloc

Sampáloc, the largest of San Pablo’s seven lakes, took its name from a tamarind tree popularly known in Tagalog as champuy. Oh, I’m so nuts today. It’s sampáloc, actually. As I was about to say… a long time ago, a sampáloc tree grew in the garden of a stingy old hag who drove away a hungry old man asking for some fruit as a cure for his ailing grandson. Instead of helping him, the stingy old woman had him driven away by her ferocious dogs. Little did she know that the old man was actually a diwata in disguise (probably the first case of folkloric closet queenliness). As punishment for her selfishness, her garden and its surroundings sank into a colossal pit which was eventually filled with water. The new lake was called Sampáloc after the old tree. And thank goodness it is not called Champuy Lake.

On a side note, Sampáloc was the original name of San Pablo before the Super Spaniards came.

7) Lake Yambó (28.50 hectares; depth unclassified)

Lago Yambó

My arthritic hands are stiff and tired. But thanks to item# 5 (Lake Pandín), there’s no need to retell the Yambó story. So I am going to finish my breakfast now.

In closing, do I really have to describe in detail the prettiness of each lake? Sans the occasional eyesore (informal settlers, a couple of plastic water bottles here and there, pesky fish pens that are already stressing out Lake Bunót, etc.), even that would have been an injustice. All I can say is simply this: visiting all these lakes and reminiscing the scenes in your mind will surely make you hilariously happy that you would go nuts writing, or on whatever it is that you are doing. 🙂


NOTE: All photos, except for Lake Calibató, were taken last 16 April 2012. The photo for Lake Calibató was taken the next day.

LA LAGUNA The Festival of Life (booths of towns and cities)

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LA LAGUNA The Festival of Life 2012. Featuring photos of all the beautifully decorated booths of each town and city of the cultural-conscious province of La Laguna (only Majayjay did not participate; I still have to find out why). Each booth showcases its respective town and city’s identity — products, festivities, cottage industries, and tourist attractions. So, without further adieu, feast your eyes on these…

First District

The Sampaguita Capital of the Philippines

The Home of the Famous Puto Biñán

The Lion City of the South

Second District

The Town of the Legendary Golden Bell

The Hometown of the National Hero

Special Science and Nature City of the Philippines

The First Capital of Laguna

Third District

The Duck Raising Center of the Philippines

Home of the Sweetest Pineapple

The City of Seven Lakes

The Home of the Coramblan Festival*

Tayak Adventure and Nature Park

Site of the Nagcarlán Underground Cemetery Historical Landmark

The Footwear Capital of Laguna

Fourth District

La Noble Villa de Pila

The Capital of Laguna

The Bamboo Capital of Laguna

The Pandán Capital of Laguna

Laguna’s Ecotourism Capital

The Tourist Capital of Laguna

The Embroidery Capital of the Philippines

Laguna’s Symbol of Peace and Unity

The Woodcarving Capital of the Philippines

Home of the Turumba Festival

Home of the Nuestra Señora de la O and the Santo Niño de la O



Waterfalls Sanctuary of Laguna

The Home of Bamboo Weavers

The Site of the Fabled Battle of Mabitac

The Rice Granary of Laguna

Today, by the way, is the last day of festivities. Click here for the schedule. And for more of the festival’s day one (21 April 2012) photos, click here.

Congratulations to La Laguna Governor E.R. Ejército, his team, and to all Lagunenses for this splendid event!


**COconut, RAMbután, and LANzones

Pagsanján — Bangkero, Lahát ay Masayá (music video)

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We often hear of celebrities, usually movie and TV actors, running for public office. And if they ever win, their acting stops there. Naturally. Their craft has no place in the higgledy-piggledy world of politics.

But Pagsanján Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejército beats them all: she makes use of her craft that has been in the back burner for years.

Not many people today know that she used to be an actress back in the 90s. Once known as Maita Sánchez, she wasn’t as popular during that time compared to her contemporaries because she usually played minor roles, as a character actress, much like her now esteemed husband, La Laguna Governor Emilio Ramón “E.R.” Ejército (son of the late actor George Estregan and nephew of former president Joseph Estrada). She was further relegated to obscurity when she became a full-time housewife (a mother to four children), hiding under the shadows of her relatively well-known husband who, like her, played supporting roles and cameo appearances. Using various screen names from Jorge Estregan to George Estregan, Jr., Governor Ejército’s salad days in cinema wasn’t that delectable as well to moviegoers for he usually accepted roles as a notorious villain in many action films.

But it was during their later years when they achieved mainstream success albeit in a different industry. The movie villain changed his one-dimensional persona and somehow managed to make himself one of the best and efficient mayors in the entire history of Pagsanján. When his term came to an end, he ran for a higher position, winning the gubernatorial seat by a landslide in the last 2010 general election.

Governor E.R. wasn’t the only Ejército who was victorious during that election year; his wife stood tall beside him. Breaking out from obscurity, Mayora Maita (as she is fondly called nowadays) successfully snatched the mayoralty seat of the same town that her husband had administered for a full nine years (2001-2010). Aside from other duties as a public servant, she now continues various projects and programs which were started by her husband. One of these projects is the annual Bangkero Festival, a tribute to the boatmen of Pagsanján (Bumbuñgan) River.

The “Pagsanján Bangkero Festival” is held every first week of March. The Tagalog term bangkero pertains to the people whose job is to provide transportation over sea or river through a bangka (boat). Welcoming summer, every first week of March, Pagsanján, Laguna celebrates its Pagsanján Bangkero Festival and is fast becoming popular through its lined-up exciting events on both land and water such as the Palarong Bangkero, street dancing contest for students from different schools dressed in colorful costumes swaying to the upbeat music, drum and lyre band competition, choralefest cultural night, trade fair, sports events, and many more.
—From the town’s official website

Actually, the spelling should be banquero; but what the hey, my animosity against today’s mangled orthography will have no place in this blogpost at the moment. :D) Anyway, as I was saying…

And then came last year’s multi-awarded action-art flick Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story. Governor Ejército won not only the prestigious Best Actor’s Award in the recently concluded Star Awards for Movies last 14 March, he also inadvertently won an audience who is not in-the-know about the province he is governing whenever he is away from the glitter of showbiz (trivia: some scenes from Manila Kingpin were shot in Pagsanján).

Last month’s Bangkero Festival (March 27-31) was extra special — a music video entitled Bangkero, Lahát ay Masayá was launched during the five-day event. Created by prolific TV/music video director Louie Ignacio, the music video is another lasting tribute to the sturdy boatmen of Pagsanján River who bring excited tourists to a pulse-pounding ride of their lives to catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of the world-famous Pagsanján Falls tucked deep in the forests of nearby Cavinti.

This medium is one-of-a-kind because, to the best of my memory, this is the only music video which serves as a town’s promotional material and at the same time the performing artist is none other than that town’s chief executive herself! And yes, Mayora Maita can sing, even hitting that coveted high note, her voice effortlessly joining the mellifluous yet upbeat tune that was composed by prolific songwriter Marizen Yaneza.

In the words of Ronald Yu (publisher/editor/photographer at In-Frame Media Works), this music video will serve as a benchmark for other municipalities and cities who might take that extra step to promote their respective turfs’ tourist attractions (I try to imagine Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim belching out a tune to promote Intramuros, and then I start to weep). Why, it’s not everyday that you’ll encounter your town/city mayor doing a catchy music video for the sake of their town’s local heritage. 😀

This is simply pure genius.

Check out the awesome video below!

Artist: Pagsanján Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejército
Composer: Marizen Yaneza
Director: Louie Ignacio

Watch out for cameo appearances of Governor E.R. Ejército and the holy image of the town’s patroness, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.


This music video is being blogged in celebration of LA LAGUNA The Festival of Life whose soft opening falls today. Come celebrate with us and enjoy La Laguna’s best!

Watch out for Mayora’s next video. It’s guaranteed to give you an idea of how María Maquiling looks like! 😉


“(La) Laguna is the number one province and best place to visit, to invest in, and to live in.”
—Philippine Information Agency—

“Bloggers’ Hour” at the NCCA

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The first ever "Bloggers' Hour" organized and hosted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS are honored to have attended the first ever “Bloggers’ Hour” this morning. The event was organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Click here for the story.

The Black Nazarene of Quiapò (Facebook photos)

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Exactly a week has passed but I haven’t blogged about the Black Nazarene procession of Quiapò which I have attended. I have been very busy attending to some personal matters: taking care of my pet grasshoppers; searching for fireflies in the dead of the night, etc. Actually, I did blog about this historic event (reportedly one of the longest processions ever at 22 hours despite terrorist-threat warnings from Malacañang!) in my other blog, with videos to boot. But it’s in Spanish. So I will blog about the event here in FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES very soon. Hopefully before the month ends.

In the meantime, I have published my photos of the Fiesta de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno in my Facebook page. You can view the photos (with captions) by clicking here.

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