Today was Laguna Day! Laguna day is June 19th, the birthday of one of the Philippines' national heroes, Jose Rizal, who was born in Calamba, Laguna. To celebrate this holiday, PHSA bused all of the students to visit historically significant locations around the province. The dancers had some work to do, and also just wanted to relax a bit before we start teaching tomorrow, but we (Midori and Brian) are here for just this reason, not just to teach, but to experience Philippine culture and see as much of the country as we possibly can in the short time we are here. We also wanted to spend some time with the students we would be seeing for the next two weeks. We ended up in a van full of dancers, and we had a lot of fun. They provided the soundtrack for the trip, as an impromptu juke-box of the current pop music in the Philippines. We also taught them our favorite road trip game of finding printed words starting with each letter of the alphabet, in order. X and Z are hard, but we persevered and made it all the way through! Even Sir Robert, one of the ballet instructors, joined in. Robert also became a good friend of ours during our stay.
We started in Pila, one of the oldest settlements in the Philippines. Nothing was open yet, but we got to see some great architecture, including the Church of Pila. From there we traveled to Santa Cruz, the capital of Laguna, where there is a large memorial to Jose Rizal. Next was the San Pedro de Alcantara Parish in Pakil. It was outside of this parish that we were given small (1"x1") pieces of cloth. The person who was giving them out said that they were for good luck, and something along the lines that each year they would put a different dress on the shrine to the Virgin Mary, and cut up the old one to give out for good health and happiness. One of the things we noticed at this point during the drive was that large amounts of grain were spread out on the shoulders for the roads and in parking lots. We asked what this grain was, and were told that it was rice set out to dry.
|Church of Pila|
|Pila Municipal Center|
|Rizal Monument, dedicated by the People of the Province of Laguna|
|"We die only once and if we do not die well, we lose a good opportunity which will never come up again... If one has to die, at least one must die in his own country, by his country, and for his country." - Joze Rizal, 1890|
|Outside of the San Pedro de Alcantara Parish|
|Front of the Parish (sorry the photos are so poorly stitched!)|
|Inside the parish|
|Gorgeous tree outside of the parish in Pakil. Not something you would see in America.|
|Beautiful courtyard inside the parish.|
|This was an area where you could write a prayer down and place it in a box. Midori and Brian added their own.|
|We were not sure what these were used for, but they are beautiful. If anyone wants to enlighten us, please comment!|
We stopped to have lunch at a really nice Japanese garden near Lake Caliraya. The students were engaged in some kind of competitive race that we couldn't quite figure out, but it looked like a lot of fun. This got us even more excited about working with these students. The next stop was Nagcarlan, which has a fascinating underground cemetery. We thought it was interesting that some of the tombs were simply cement carved with the name of the entombed, whereas others were carved stone with gold leaf or paint and nice block lettering. Regardless, only the rich, or famous, or leaders and priests of the town were buried in the underground portion (there is an above ground portion as well). Apparently the cemetery was used from when it was created in 1845 until it was declared a national historic cemetery in 1981, and subsequently restored. During the revolution against the Spanish, some of the revolutionaries used the underground portion as a secret meeting place.
|Climb the hill at the garden, and this view is your reward!|
|Outdoor Tombs in Nagcarlan|
|One of the nicer underground tombs|
|One of the less nice underground tombs|
|Midori really wanted her picture taken with this giant jackfruit! Unfortunately, we didn't get to try jackfruit the whole time we were there.|
We finished our trip by visiting Liliw, home of the beautiful Church of Liliw, but also known for its sizable shoe industry. We both bought flip-flops (or in Midori's case, 6 pairs, costing her around $3).
|Inside the church.|
|What a view!|
All-in-all, we drove approximately 155 km (96 miles), and spent the
whole day there. One of the best parts was the beautiful drive. We
returned happy, if not a little carsick, and ready to do some teaching