If Ilocos Sur has Vigan, Batangas has Taal. This is the joy of working with WOWBatangas — you get to places, meet different people, discover things — it’s a continuous process of learning. And then you grow some more.
Just like what our new team members had experienced in our coverage of Taal’s El Pasubat Festival. Joel, our new writer, came up with his own document of our Taal adventure. Read his story Experiencing Taal’s El Pasubat Festival. I was able to ‘force’ one of new multimedia artists, Aris, to write about our trip and tell the story from a photographer’s point of view. Aris wrote about Capturing Taal’s Cultural Heritage.
EL PASUBAT FESTIVAL
El Pasubat sounds like some unfamiliar event of sort but for those who still don’t know about Taal’s festival, EL PASUBAT is an acronym for the products which the town is known for. Empanada, Longganisa, Panutsa, Suman, Balisong, Barong Tagalog, Tamales, Tawilis, Tulingan — the local government decided to showcase all these products instead of just highlighting one.
We were there on the last day of the 3-day activities. That day was commenced with the Grand Parade, featuring local organizations and floats showcasing the products from which the festival name El Pasubat was originated from.
VISITA DE LAS CASAS
The Grand Parade was succeeded by the street dancing competition. See our EL Pasubat Festival Image Gallery and our video for a few clips of that event. To maximize the time, we started roaming around to visit the heritage houses of Taal. I love this part. Pakiramdam ko kasi ako ay isang lumang tao na nabuhay noong panahon ng mga Kastila, haha. That explains my fascination on old houses and antique furniture.
Heading on the direction where we think the open houses are. Some of these heritage houses are private residences but for the Visita De Las Casas (or Visita En La Casa), the owners permitted the ‘invasion’ of visitors from around the province and from Metro Manila. Visita De Las Casas was led by Taal Active Alliance Legion which promotes the preservation of Taal heritage houses and is part of the celebration of El Pasubat Festival and the 439th Foundation Year of Taal.
We first entered Casa Punzalan. The team (JR, Gerlie, Alva, Joel, Aris, and I) were drawn first to the multihued paintings hanged on the walls. Those were of the famous Jorge Banawa. Then Gerlie introduced us to Tita (forbid us for forgetting the name) who happens to be singer-actor-host Ogie Alcasid’s relative. Although she appears to be welcoming, she repeatedly told us to head to the Alcasid’s casa because they are the ones who are “super yaman”. Tita was such a joy to embrace. Very makulit, and that trait of hers lightened up the mood of the old casa.
Because Tita was so persistent, we went to the De Las Alas-Lualhati ancestral house right after leaving Casa Punzalan. There, we met Ogie’s mom Herminia and older brother Tony. The house was named after their grandmother Doña Conchita de las Alas-Lualhati.
The first floor was turned into a gift shop and a coffee shop, which appeared to be modern and classy. An art gallery can also be found which showcases the artworks of Tony. He showed us the collection inspired by some of Ogie’s songs. The old structure of the second floor remained but the family is thinking of renovation for business purposes.
Architect Robert Arambulo, the Tourism Officer of Taal, was the one who invited us to cover the events. We went to his place, Villa Severina, which is part of the Visita De Las Casas. This casa is a fusion of the old and the new. We also had the chance to talk to Arch. Robert about El Pasubat Festival, watch our recorded interview below this article.
Villa Severina featured a 1920’s fashion show with three pretty young ladies posing in front of the cameras surrounding them.
After Villa Severina, we searched for Villavicencio House. I was told of the how to get there but knowing me who often gets confused with street directions, we had to ask a few more locals but didn’t get the right instructions we had to search for the house ourselves.
Off to heritage house hunting! Holding the Guided Tour Schedule with images of the Casas to visit, Alva led the search. Fortunately, we were able to drop by the other heritage houses in the line-up. We entered the Goco House where a lady in Filipiniana welcomed us and upstairs was a guy who was in character (seriously sitting by the window).
We were also able to take a picture of the Orosa House and the Cabrera House before finally reaching the Villavicencio House. This is the house of the couple who played important roles on the Philippine Revolution — Eulalio Villavicencio and Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio. They are a couple characterized by wealth, patriotism, and bravery.
Gliceria was even dubbed as the Godmother of the Revolution as she led the sponsoring for the Philippine Revolutionary forces when her husband was arrested by the Spaniards after being proven that he has connections with the revolutionary men.
The personal belongings of the couple’s family are on display. Most of the furnitures inside the Villavicencio ancestral house were preserved, as memories of the distant past lingers to anyone who would set foot on this casa.
Wedding Gift House
This is, I believed, also under the ownership of the Villavicencio’s. We dropped by to watch the harana done by these two men who sang “O Ilaw” and “Dahil Sa ‘Yo” to a lovely lady on the terraza being guarded by an older woman who plays the role of the lady’s mother.
Gregorio Agoncillo Mansion
The Agoncillo Mansion was the last casa we visited. You’d know that important people used to reside in this house. Gregorio’s sister, Maria, was the second wife of General Emilio Agoncillo. A performance of the famous Subli entertained the guests.
It was a tiring day. But the discoveries and the mini-adventures which completed are I guess for us, priceless. First time adventures bring escalated laugh trip and countless ticking of the camera’s shutter.
The sun, the exhausting weather, the steps we took on the heritage town are all parts of the journey and it felt good to finally conquering another town in Batangas that’s truly worth visiting. We have a rich cultural heritage and we hope our fellow Batangueños would realize that.
‘Wag tayong maging dayuhan sa sarili nating bayan. Conquer Batangas.
IMAGE GALLERY OF EL PASUBAT FESTIVAL 2011
Learn more about how El Pasubat Festival came into being from our one-on-one interview with Taal Tourism Officer, Arch. Robert Arambulo.