Archive for June, 2009

wedding of the year

Posted in architecture, artifacts, events, fashion, history, lifestyle, locales, people, religion, sports, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2009 by mijodo

sta monica church of sarrat 

The story could have come from a tv soap opera in epic proportion.

A story of strong political couple, willfully ruling a place for some decades, with a vision of creating a perfect  familial image.

In the early 1980s, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos might have  tried mightily to control the minds of the Filipinos from their Malacanang Palace, but surely enough, they were not able to restrain the heart of their first daughter, Imee.

Apparently, Imee, who was already making her own political mark, as National Chairperson of the Kabataang Barangay, fell in love with a married sportsman, Tommy Manotoc. Obviously, during that time when there were no cellphones, no text messaging, no emails, and even no freedom of the press, such salacious, portently scandalous story would have to be spread through hushed tones, and word of mouth.

And the story took a wilder, more frighteningly turn.  Tommy Manotoc was kidnapped. The alternative press such as We Forum, the precursor of Malaya Newspaper, had a heyday reporting the story, albeit there was a strong possibility of the paper being clamped down by Malacanang. Then all of a sudden Tommy Manotoc just came out of nowhere, reportedly from the New People’s Army camp in the mountains of Sierra Madre. But of course, the popular conclusion about this sordid tale was that Imelda masterminded the abduction.

Some years later, during in first few months of 1983, the youngest daughter, Irene would marry Greggy of the pedigreed and landed Araneta clan. Although Imee could maintain relationship with Tommy, and even start family of their own, they were not able to get the grand nuptials that the Marcoses wanted for them. Tommy who was able to get a divorce from beauty queen Aurora Pijuan could not merit another marriage as the Catholic Church would not allow such. Thus this time around, the Marcoses saw to it that a fabulous wedding would have to be prepared for Irene and Greggy.

Ryan Cayabyab, Irene’s personal friend and musical mentor from University of the Philippines, involved himself in composing a whole wedding cantata.  European designer Renato Balestra was tasked to do the Italian silk and Philippine pina cloth wedding gown.  The exclusive, and red bricked Fort Ilocandia Hotel in Laoag was rushed to beat the nuptial date deadline, as it was where many of the invited foreign dignitaries, esteemed government officials and chic members of the society would stay before, during and after the wedding. It was also the venue for the reception.

And of course, Irene and Greggy chose the heritage church of  the sleepy town of Sarrat, where the Edralin side (mother) of Ferdinand Marcos came from, and where the ancestral house still stands. The Baroque and Neo Classical Sta. Monica Church had to be cleaned up, spruced and refurbished for the wedding.  Hundreds were deployed to paint the walls of the edifice, and install large airconditioning  machines in the cavernous church building. And beside the church,  a huge tent was put up for the town’s local officials and people who might  not have the necessary credentials and status to get inside the official reception area, and yet should partake in the lavish food prepared.

True enough, it was the grand social event of that year for the Philippines as  the Marcoses, particularly Imelda would have envisioned. The local press put the event as the banner story, and paralleled it with the Diana and Charles’s royal wedding, a year before.

Some months later in  August, 1983, a strong earthquake shook the church. And some days later, again in August, Ninoy Aquino arrived and shook the Marcoses. And the seeming  telenovela story continued.


Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, food, locales, people, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2009 by mijodo

kaleidoscope of colors

To say the least, there was much anticipation in getting to Lucban, Quezon afterall it was fiesta time (May 15).  And next to the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, the Pahiyas Festival has been drawing the most tourist crowd according to tourism officials. Tens of  thousands should be swarming the narrow streets of this town, about 5 hours from Manila.

Our driver, took the less popular route, by getting through the hills of Antipolo and Tanay, Rizal, and proceeded to the coastal towns of Laguna. With a brief stop at Lumban where jusi and pina cloth has been its  industry product for years, our family’s reliable Revo went directly to the first town of Quezon – Lucban.

It was not supposed to be the easiest company to have during this road trip, after some heavy domestic problems. But Mom was an eager tourist, ready to sample what this town could offer. This time, Mom and I had a nice ride, no family spats, no recurring “I told you so’s”, just the crackling of our laughters, somehow wiping out all the recent emotional crises, we just had.

As the car drove towards the town, we knew right away that it was a busy day as commuters packed the jeepneys and buses reaching the area. Our car could not parallel park on the usual avenues thus the driver had to drive it to the designated parking lot.

Mom, a family friend (Nang Bina) and I went to explore the numerous homes, fancied up for the occasion on the feast of San Isidro Labrador, Lucban’s patron saint. It indeed was just like what one gets to watch on tv, and read on the papers, many of the homes are wrapped in a cornucopia of colors.  Each participating house creates its own florid design, a veritable kaleidoscope made out of  farm harvests and the famous kiping – rice based wafers, dyed in assorted color, used either as a petal or leaf in creating ariticial floral pieces.

The tradition of presenting the town’s harvests as part of its decoration is a way of thanksgiving to the Almighty and San Isidro for continually blessing the town’s people with such bounty. Banana leaves, rice grain and the stalks, garlic bulbs, sayote and talong, stringed together are just some of the ingenious  and inspired ways the people of Lucban have fashioned to make the tourist smile and feel good about this town. Well, the P100,00 promised to the best decoratedd house from the local government can be a good incentive too.

The people of Lucban were warm and accommodating during the festivities.  They would let people go up even to the second floor of their houses so that travellers could have some pictures taken at the windowsills which usually were the focal points of the facade adornments.  There was a need for public restrooms though for tourists who might not necessarily know of anyone in the locale. Yet the owners graciously welcomed us to use their bathrooms. We were  just wondering a little why on the very feast day, at noon, many of the owners did not have significant food prepared for their respective personal guests, not that we strangers would gatecrash.

But of course, we had to sample the peculiar way of eating Lucban’s pancit habhab which had to be fetched by mouth directly from the banana leaf make-do plate.  We grabbed a bite from the numerous and crowded restos in the area. The pancit habhab was very similar to that of the usual pancit canton, although less spicy.  Mother and Nang Bina liked it a lot. I enjoyed more the fried lumpiang ubod.

After some photo opportunities, we went to the church where many activities were being  prepared until the early evening. But we knew our time had come to leave the area and head back to Manila, and we just had to get a kilo or two of the popular longganisang lucban as pasalubong. Amidst more laughters and good conversation inside the car, I got to see my Mother who had been adversarial and combative just a month ago in a different view – a vital and vibrant part of our small family. It was just a matter of focusing where one could get to really see the beautiful colors and shades of a person, again just like in a kaleidoscope.