Archive for November, 2008

land of the giants

Posted in artifacts, locales, people with tags , , , , on November 26, 2008 by mijodo

here come the giants

Every November 22 to 23, the giants of Angono, Rizal gather once more to participate in the revelry of the town fiesta for San Clemente. Made from either fiberglass, plastic resin or the traditional papier mache, characters whether in human form or otherwise, are proppped up and paraded along the main streets of the town right beside Laguna de Bay. The ten to twelve foot colorful “higantes” (giants) are products of this town’s indigenous folk culture. Some higantes depict the family in folk costumes from the parents down to the grandchildren. Some are familiar entertainment creatures such as Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing of Sesame fame. And since Angono is both pastoral and bayside, naturally gigantic carabaos, humongous shrimps, and even enormous ducks are presented as well.

Many say that the Higantes Festival evolved from the tyranny of the farmlords during the Spanish Colonial Era. The oppressed farmhands created the first higante form, symbolic of their tormentor, and displayed it along the dusty roads, and mocked it through some finger pinching (in a way, a mild form of revenge (higante’) – which tagalog translation of the word could also be another origin of this tradition).

Totie Argana, one of the participants who have created many of these Higantes in many years, surmised nothing sinister nor dark about the beginnings. He avers that such forms were akin to the western farmlands’ scarecrows, utilized to shoo away birds during the Spanish regime. Michael, family member of the notable Blanco family, traced the higantes history to a more recent era – right after the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s. Just to perk up the interrupted (because of the world war) tradition of the town fiesta, giant mannequin forms were developed, and were proven to make the San Vicente Festival most colorful and exciting.

But it was through the initiative of restaurateur-painter, Mr. Perdigo Vocalan who called the attention of Department of Tourism, and made the Higantes Festival as important as the other festivals around the country. It was just as swell that miniature higantes (a paradox, isn’t it) are scattered among the many folk arts in his famous Balaw-balaw Restaurant as shown by daughter-in-law and resto manager, Luzvimin Vocalan.

The Higantes Festival only illustrates the genteel yet passionate character of the people of Angono where the people’s artistry is made even more siginificant by the town’s actual giants and geniuses.


Posted in architecture, artifacts, locales with tags , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2008 by mijodo

the Cariedo fountain across the Sta Cruz Church

All these years, I thought the fountain across the Sta. Cruz Church has been there permanently. I remember that everytime I passby the area, there has been a rotunda with a fountain on it. Then I found out that the waterfountain was originally from Sampaloc Manila and it was transferred there only in the recent years.

Apparently, during the 18th Century, Spanish Engineer, Don Francisco Carriedo y Peredo, as part of his charitable work, provided the seed fund of Ten Thousand Pesos, a princely sum, for the waterwork system in Manila. It used to be that rivers were the only source for water consumption whether as potable drinking water or for other sanitary use.

But it was only in late 19th Century, almost a hundred years after Carriedo had initially produced the money, that water was available through a waterwork system. And in honor of the the Philantropist Carriedo, a water fountain was inaugurated in 1882, in Sampaloc, Manila, the distribution point of Manila’s first waterwork engineering.  Then in the 20th Century, the Carriedo Fountain was transferred to the Main Office of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in Balara, Quezon City. It is said that MWSS has the oldest waterworks system in Asia, thanks to Don Carriedo.

It was only during the first mayoral term of Alfredo Lim that the fountain got transferred to its present location in Sta. Cruz, Manila. But of course, MWSS wanted to have a memory of the signficant fountain by creating a replica of it thus National artist Napoleon Abueva was tasked to create another. And to be truthful, every time I pass by the area of MWSS compound, I have been coveting to feature the gracefully and classically carved fountain, except that the idea of its security interrogating me on why I would like to even take pictures of its fountain, prevents me to even consider going there. But now realizing the history of the water system, the need to go there maybe is not as much. There is Sta Cruz, Manila afterall.