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Tanza Fiesta 2011 (Tanza, Cavite)

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When me, my wife Yeyette, and daughter Krystal visited Ternate last August 21, we passed by several Caviteño towns and cities. At the Antero Soriano Highway which coursed through Tanza, we noticed banners announcing that a week later, August 28, the town will celebrate the feast day of its blessed guardian, Saint Augustine. Me and my wife decided to attend the festivities.

A couple of days after our Tanza visit, I posted pictures of the event in Facebook. The photos (some are shown in this blogpost) showcase an array of handsome Philippine ancestral houses. I shared the album to a friend of mine who is a native of Tanza. Upon seeing the photos, she commented that she once read in a history book by the late historian Isagani Medina that Tanza was the only Caviteño town which sided with Spain during the tumultuous years of the Katipunan rebellion.

My first reaction upon reading her comment was that of concern. I have not read that book she was referring to, and I don’t mean to judge books that I haven’t even read yet. But based on her comments on my Facebook photos, I’m inclined to ask: was that book trying to point out that the reason for being of Tanza’s bahay na bató homes was the result of the town’s fealty to Spain during the tumult of the late 1890s? If so, then that information is misleading for I noticed that many ancestral houses in Tanza, although handsome and charming, appear not to have been built during the Spanish times. One perfect example is Casa Tahimic, one of Tanza’s oldest houses built in 1927 (see below).

But I hope that my hunch is just a hunch.

The fact is that Tanza was not the only town which sided with Spain. Many, if not all, local governments condemned the Katipunan for the single reason that their cause —no matter how honestly noble they thought it was— was nothing more but an infraction. To wit: the Katipunan was an underground movement perpetuated by conspirators who were mostly anti-friar. Local governments did not exactly put their cards in favor of this Tagalog underground movement. Rather, the movement was engineered, fueled, and powered by individual dissidents who had no powerful connection at all to each municipio/ayuntamiento around the Philippines, particularly the Tagalog region (there were a few exceptions, of course, such as the case of Emilio Aguinaldo: he was a gobernadorcillo when he joined Freemasonry and the Katipunan). That is why the Katipunan resorted to blackmail, destroying the reputation of many a rich individual who refused to support their secessionist cause.

Indeed, many factors should be taken into consideration when studying (and reassessing) the sad, sad case that is Philippine History.

Tejero Bridge connects the towns of Tanza and Rosario. Tejero was the former name of Rosario.

Iglesia de la Santa Cruz de Malabón

Like most towns in the Philippines, Tanza was very much attached to the history of its town church. Perhaps unknown to many today, a parish is not just a church: it is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care of a parish priest. At the onset of Philippine History (or at the start of our nation’s founding on 24 June 1571), all towns started out as a parish. That is why at the heart of every old town or población, it is not unusual to find a church there, along with a plaza fronting it as well as several bahay na bató scattered around the area.

Iglesia de la Santa Cruz de Malabón.

Researching about Tanza later on, I learned that this little town used to be a barrio of San Francisco de Malabón, now known as General Trías. In fact, during its barrio days, Tanza was known as Santa Cruz de Malabón. People called it sometimes as Malabón el Chico to differentiate it from Malabón el Grande that was the población of San Francisco de Malabón (el Grande).

Tanza became an organized community in 1752. In 1760, the friars built a big residence and granary in the area. The place was eventually called Estancia (a ranch or a place for vacation). It was only seven years later when Estancia became known as Santa Cruz de Malabón. It became a full-fledged parish on 29 August 1780, just a day short after Saint Augustine’s feast day. That is why he was taken as the town’s patron saint. Today, the people fondly calls him by a Filipinized nickname: Tata Usteng.

The term Malabón was derived from either the old Tagalog words “labong” (bamboo shoot) or “mayabong“. It was said that in the early days, bamboo shoots were abundant in the area (I assume that was also the case for Ciudad de Malabón in Metro Manila). The Spanish words santa cruz (holy cross) were attached to Malabón as a testament to the people’s devotion to the sacred image of the Santa Cruz, a wooden cross said to be miraculous. The image is now on display inside the town church.

The miraculous Holy Cross of Malabón.

It is quite sad when in 1914, the name Santa Cruz de Malabón was changed and shortened to just Tanza. According to popular belief, Tanza was a corruption/mispronunciation of the word santa. The culprit of this unnecessary name change was a congressman of the American-sponsored Philippine Assembly: Florentino Joya, a lawyer from the said town. How this guy disrespected his hometown’s history I just could not fathom.

Speaking of history, Santa Cruz de Malabón’s place in Philippine History was a major one: it was here where officials of the Revolutionary Government elected in the Tejeros Convention took their oaths of office. This took place inside the convent of the Santa Cruz de Malabón Church on 23 March 1897. This event served as the prototype of the first República Filipina that was disrespected by the US WASPs later on.

A curious scene during this oath taking was the participation of a priest, Fr. Cenón Villafranca, who was said to be still under the authority of the Vatican (I’m just not sure if he was a Spanish friar or a member of the native clergy). On that same date, Fr. Villafranca administered the oath of office to Aguinaldo and other officials (elected during the Tejeros Convention), calling on “God to witness the solemn moment”. He was later denounced by Aguinaldo’s rival, Andrés Bonifacio, for having joined the Magdalo faction of the Katipunan.

On 23 March 1897, inside this convent adjunct to the church, Emilio Aguinaldo was sworn in as the first President of the Philippines. Mariano Trías was his Vice-President.

Casa Tahimic / Calle Real Restaurant

Along Calle Santa Cruz, where many ancestral homes can be found, there was this one house that grabbed our attention.

Calle Real Restaurant at the first floor of Casa Tahimic.

The house became doubly interesting when we noticed that it also serves as a restaurant. Whenever me and my wife visit old towns, we content ourselves to just taking photographs of ancestral houses. We seldom go inside for fear of disturbing the peace of its residents. But this house has a different allure and mystique to it. And since Yeyette is a food connoisseur, we both decided that this is one place that we should not miss.

So after taking pictures of other ancestral homes along that street and after attending mass at the church, we went back to Calle Real —the name of that house-turned-restaurant— for lunch. We were met by Mr. Michael Tahimic, brother of the owner of Calle Real (his sister, actually).

We were invited for lunch by Mr. Michael Tahimic, the grandson of the original owner of the house (the late Marcelo Tahimic, Sr.).

Due to the festivities, Mr. Tahimic told us that the restaurant was closed that day. Instead, he accepted us not as customers but as guests…

Because, yes, food was served inside the restaurant to celebrate the feast day of Tata Usteng!

Calle Real Restaurant is located on the ground floor of the eighty-four-year-old Tahimic ancestral house (where entresuelos are usually found). The restaurant started out in 1998. According to an article written by food expert Victoria Reyes-Ferrer for FOOD MAGAZINE (July 2003), Mildred (or Millie, Michael’s sister), and her husband Noel Lozada gave birth to this exotic-looking restaurant.

He designed and tested the menu; she dressed up the place. He takes charge of running the restaurant; she takes care of the ambiance… While Noel worked on the menu, Millie indulged in her love for interior decorating. She wanted an ambiance that suited the age and style of her ancestral home. Thus they filled the restaurant with antique and semi-antique collections from upstairs, they put on their collection of old records, hats, and old things.

The turn-of-the-century mood and ambiance of Calle Real complements the delectable Filipino dishes served here. At Calle Real, the clock seems to turn counterclockwise with every bite.

Yeyette astounded by the interior decors (and preserved critters: butterflies, beetles, and scorpions from Palawan).

Reyes-Ferrer's magazine article on Casa Tahimic/Calle Real Restaurant

Casa Tahimic was also featured in the coffee table book Sulyáp sa Lumipas: Mga Tahanang Ancestral sa Cavite written by Emmanuel Franco Calairo.

Reyes-Ferrer mentioned that the Lozada couple used antique stuff from the house’s second floor for their unique restaurant’s design on the ground floor. But not all were spirited away for business use. Just take a look at all the marvelous treasures found inside the house proper…

Going up! So excited!

Posing in front of an antique mirror.

With Mr. Tahimic.

This house used to be a duplex because there was a wall that divided the interior of this house. The other half was owned by Michael's grandfather, Marcelo Tahimic, Sr. The other half was for Marcelo's brother Cayetano Tahimic. Years later, the wall was taken down by the younger generation.

From the outside, it can be seen that this house indeed used to be a duplex.

Genuine antiques fill the house!

Familia Tahimic.

Portrait of Sofía de Guzmán de Tahimic and Marcelo Tahimic, Sr. Below it is the name of their son, Atty. Marcelo Tahimic, Jr., inscribed in marble.

The initials of Marcelo Tahimic inscribed artistically on this wood design near the ceiling.

The initials of Marcelo's brother, Cayetano Tahimic.

Left to right: Noel Lozada and wife Mildred Tahimic de Lozada, Michael (Mildred's brother), and me. The Lozada couple manages Calle Real Restaurant which is just underneath us.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES would like to salute La Familia Tahimic for conserving their ancestral home. They did no harm to their ancestral home’s look even though they made use of its ground floor for business. And even the ambience of their business complements the Filipino feel not only of their house but also of their community. Because of extreme care rendered to their ancestral home, Casa Tahimic now serves as one of the bridges to our nation’s past in general and to Tanza’s history in particular. No doubt, the Tahimic Family of Tanza are heritage heroes. The love, care, and pride that they have manifested towards their very own bahay na bató, the true home of the Filipino family, should be emulated by those who still have that kind of house as their property.

Calle Real Restaurant is located at #8 Calle Santa Cruz, Población, Tanza, Cavite. To avail of their catering services (only ₱10,750 per head!), please contact them at (046)505-2836. Click here for their Facebook fanpage.

Please click here for more of our Tanza fiesta walkathon!

:-)

Bay, the lake’s padrino (Bay, La Laguna)

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Later Tagalog arrivals would sail up the Pásig to Laguna de Baí, on whose shores would rise their bailiwicks and colonies. Their capital was the town of Baí; and so all this lake country —and the lake itself— became known as Baí. —Nick Joaquín—

It’s not unusual for married couples to be on a huff with one another. Well, that’s what happened to me and Yeyette last month (11/06/2010) when we attended the birthday of a friend who lives in a residential area for military peeps in Ciudad de Taguig. You know, the usual tampuhan. And it’s funny because, although we’ve been together for more than a decade, and already with four kids, we still behave —and quarrel— as if we’re college sweethearts, haha! Not that I’m complaining. I even think it’s better that way. Perhaps it keeps us young. I don’t know. Sometimes, I do feel that we’re going over the edge. But at the end of the day, the crumples on our shirts are always ironed out (I’m trying to invent an idiomatic expression here; hope that one’s not yet patented).

Sayang, Myla, ¡hindí man lang acó nalasíng! =)

So how did I fix the mess?

We were both silent in the jeepney on our way home after the birthday party (say… that rhymes!). It was already early dawn (11/07/2010). To break the ice, I nonchalantly suggested to her that because it was still dark, perhaps we could stroll in Bay, La Laguna for a while so as not to disturb our four kids and their yaya who were still sleeping. And also for us to have a breath of fresh air (and I have not yet blogged about that town, LOL!). I honestly never expected her to say yes, although the traveler in me had wanted such a reply. I just wanted her to speak up. Silence is so awkward for lovers who have a misunderstanding.

Surprisingly, she answered: “¿Gaano ba calayo yon? (How far is it?)”. That was an indication that everything was getting OK, hehe!

Fortunately for us, the jeepney driver, who was driving all night long, lives in Santa Rosa, La Laguna. And he was raring to go home that dawn. That’s why we didn’t have to transfer from one jeep to another.

We reached Santa Rosa shortly after six in the morning. We took another jeep going to nearby Calambâ where we got off to a jeepney terminal situated in a crowded place which Calambeños call “Crossing”. We had to wait for our jeep (going to San Pablo, La Laguna) to be filled up with passengers before going to Bay. In a matter of minutes, we were already zooming through the highway surrounded by spectacular views of mountains and greenery.

Bay is the town right after Calambâ and Los Baños. It used to be the capital of the whole province of La Laguna. But the capitolio was later moved to Santa Cruz.

The jeepney driver dropped us right in front of the church. We were just a few minutes late for the 7 AM mass.

Iglesia de Bay

The church is dedicated to one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of all time: Saint Augustine of Hippo Regius (in present-day Algeria). He is, incidentally, the patron saint I chose when I reconverted to the Catholic faith a few years back. He, too, was a convert to Catholicism, having lived a hedonistic life in his youth. Well, it’s not that I had lived the same life he had experienced. But he was a sinner before he became a saint, not unlike most Catholic saints that we have who had lived chaste lives throughout most of their existence.

Iglesia de Bay, La Laguna

The first church was founded by Augustinian monks in 1571 led by Fr. Martín de Rada (an off-on-a-tangent trivia: my mom grew up in a street in Tondo named after this friar). It was made of nipa and bamboo in a place called Aplaya, a corrupted Tagalog version of the Spanish la playa meaning “beach”. This means that the first church made of wood used to be in front of Laguna de Bay. It became a full-fledged parish on 30 April 1578. Being the founders of the church and the Christianized town, it was only natural for the Augustinians to administer Bay. One hundred fifty-nine years later, it was transferred to the care of the Franciscans. The patron saint and the church’s name, however, remained Augustinian.

In 1804, the church was transferred to its present site in the the población or town proper. The new church was made of stone and was supervised by Fr. Gerónimo Hervas. The construction was finally completed after 60 years, but a strong earthquake in 1880 destroyed its roofing. In 1884, Fr. Jesús Lillo had it restored. The restoration work was finished by Fr. Celestino de los Huertos in 1889.

All these restorations and constructions were put to naught during World War II. Sadly, the church and its accompanying convent were completely wiped out. Eight years after the war, Fr. Alejandro Vermorel resurrected the Parish Church of Saint Augustine. He had the façade patterned after the architectural styles of the Early Renaissance period. It was simple in design, with a semicircular door and window openings. The church’s pediment is also adorned with a circular window in its tympanum.

The church’s interiors are very modest. Not surprising since the original church was destroyed by brimstone and fire due to man’s folly (i.e., war). Aside from a chapel dedicated to the Divine Mercy apparition, it has nothing stunning to offer, architecture wise. Even the retablo is not that “loud” with design if one is to compare it with other antique Philippine churches. But the faithful, particularly its senior womenfolk, are a sight to behold: many of them still wear veils on top of their crowns. That’s the way it really should be with female churchgoers regardless of age.

A view of the church's nave and altar from the entrance.

Bay's lady folk selling religious items by the church door.

The church's modest chapel dedicated to the famous Divine Mercy apparition.

Chapel of Saint Augustine. It is attached to the church outside.

A mass was being held that Sunday morning when we arrived (6:00 AM).

Inside the chapel of Saint Augustine, smoked by brightly colored candles.

Bay church's north transept. Notice the initials of the town's patron saint embedded at the top of each buttress.

Handsomely designed circular wood ceiling right above the altar.

The faithful of Bay. Me and Yeyette noticed that many female churchgoers here (mostly the elderly) are still wearing veils on top of their heads. That's the way it's supposed to be.

Bay Church's bell tower. I failed to climb this because one has to pass through the choirloft. In this church, there is a sign that strictly prohibits non-choir members to go up the choirloft. Aside from that, a mass was going on.

Población

The town proper, with its narrow roads and small stalls, somehow reminds me of Unisan. The only difference is that Bay is bustling with vehicular energy, not to mention noise. Its because its main thoroughfare serves as an entrepot between Los Baños, Victoria, Pila, and other lakeshore towns of La Laguna province.

Petness First (not the gym).

Yeyette enjoying "Monay Bae". "Bae" is another variant of the name "Bay". "Monay" is a local bread.

Bay's main road.

Municipal hall.

Yeyette with <em>Aling</em> Siony (Asunción Señadoza), owner of the most popular eatery in the <em>población</em>, very near the church.

Bahay na bató

We also noticed that there are a few Filipino houses, commonly known as bahay na bató, in Bay. If the town church was profaned by bombs, guns, and fire during the last war, obviously the rest of the town burned down with it. And of those very few old Filipino homes we found, only two stood out: The Marfori and Peláez ancestral homes. Unfortunately, we have not gathered much information about these two handsome houses. There’s not even a soul inside the Marfori house, this according to the people around it.

Casa Marfori. It is the oldest ancestral house in town, one of the few which survived the last war. For a time, it also served as a pharmacy, thus the words "Farmacia Marfori" painted on the façade that has already fainted trough the years.

The Marfori house's red-tiled roof is still intact — a rarity nowadays among antique Filipino homes.

Casa Peláez.

Casa Peláez from another angle.

A view of Casa Marfori's façade taken right in front of its neighbor, Casa Peláez.

Yeyette asking some residents about the two old houses' (Marfori and Peláez) history. They said that the deceased matriarch of the Peláez house was Spanish-speaking. But of course; it shows in the house itself.

Feeling history first hand — literally!

Wifey found some old bricks in the walls of Casa Marfori!

Another bahay na bató; (probably postwar), said to be owned by a former town mayor. This one stands on Bay's main highway.

Laguna de Bay

Our journey around Bay would not have been complete without a short stop to the lake —the largest in the Philippines— whose name was taken from the town itself.

It was the Spanish conquistadores led by Juan de Salcedo and some Augustinians who renamed this trilobate lake after the town of Bay (sometimes spelled as “Baé” or “Ba’i”). Renamed, because it has been called “Tadlác ng Ba’i” by its Tagalog-speaking settlers before the white men arrived. Or maybe “translated” is the better term instead of “renamed” because “laguna de Bay” and “tadlác ng Ba’i” have the same meaning, anyway.

Laguna de Bay, being trilobate, is composed of the west bay, east bay, and central bay. Isla de Talím, the largest of the lake’s nine islands and which is very visible to the town of Bay (from Barrio San Antonio), is right between the west and central bay.

But why did the Spaniards named the lake after Bay? Why not Laguna de Tabuco, or Laguna de Pinagsañgahán (Pagsanján), or some place else? It’s because Bay was then the largest settlement along the lake. It was large enough to attract Chinese merchants who were docked in Bahía de Manila. They sailed through the then crocodile-infested waters of Pásig River and the menacing Paso Diablo (or the “Devil’s Pass”, Laguna de Bay’s deepest part which is near Alabang, Ciudad de Muntinlupà) just to trade with the Tagalog tribesmen of Bay. After the trade, these Chinese go back to Manila bay, bringing with them boatloads of forest products.

This trade between the Chinese in Manila Bay and the first folk of Bay, by the way, will also help explain why Tondoc (now the Manila district of Tondo) and Santa Ana de Sapa (now the Manileño district of Santa Ana) were major ports during that time. That trade was a vital factor as to why these two places were populous when the Spaniards led by Miguel López de Legazpi (Salcedo’s grandfather) arrived. Bay, in a way, had a hand in it. =) As a matter of fact, Bay, for a time, was even considered a part of the old Kingdom of Namayan whose capital was in Santa Ana de Sapa.

a lovely view of rice fields on our to the lake of Bay (commonly known as Laguna de Bay).

Barrio; San Antonio is a barangáy; right beside the lake of Bay.

A fishpond! The lake is near!

Laguna de Bay

She thinks that she will never see, a living thing as gigantic as this narra tree!

Isla de Talím in the distance. According to old Spanish records, this small island in the middle of Laguna de Bay was a very forested area teeming with deer, wild boar, doves, and even giant bats!

The same narra tree whose photo I took earlier. And we noticed that it's roughly five storeys high!

A handsome balete tree!

There's a lamb here in Bay!

Bantáy Laua (lake guardians) Headquarters.

Pulóng Bay; (Bay Islet) can be reached in a matter of minutes. It has a small hut used by fishermen as a resting place.

Yeyette with a bantáy laua officer (to man sitting on the table to her right), taking care of an illegal-fishing case involving the people beside them.

Say no to guns!

Grains of gold!

A river coursing towards the lake.

It was truly an enjoyable morning we had in Bay! We had a wonderful time searching for history, food tripping, and nature tripping. It was a wonderful and unforgettable trip. Sans the motor vehicles, For a “laywoman” like Yeyette, it was educational, as well. And most important of all, little did we know that our petty “lover’s quarrel” dissipated over time! We were like foreigners in another country. We were like kids, even, when we got near the lake and enjoyed its flora!

And because everything was OK between the two of us, we agreed to proceed to Victoria the soonest possible time!

Heck, no. Not the motel. I meant Victoria, La Laguna, the town north of Bay and Calauan. Cayó talagá… We hope to get there (again, Victoria, La Laguna) this month or in January.

Till next time, Filipino eReaders! =)

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