Echoes of the past in Pagsanjan Episode 1

March 11, 2017

Pagsanjan in Laguna is of course well-known for Magdapio Falls, which it also shares with the nearby town of Cavinti, and it is precisely what the town heavily advertises to draw in tourists. However, Pagsanjan is also notable for a number of American colonial-era houses lining its main streets, as well as other historical structures. 
Because I live just minutes away from this town, my girlfriend and I decided to spend one Sunday afternoon just walking around. We started here at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church, which was first erected in 1690. Note though that this present structure is just a replica that was finished in 1965, with the original having been badly damaged at the tail-end of the Second World War in the Philippines, in March of 1945. Compared to the Nuestra Señora de la Concepcion Immaculada in nearby Sta. Cruz, the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is much more faithfully replicated, albeit without the dome. 

 Below is a photo of the original structure showing the dome. I am certain that you are going to find some charming elements in this photo, of how some things used to be. Picture credit to John Tewell:

Crossing the Balanac Bridge, we headed to Aling Taleng's at Gen. Luna St., famed for its traditional halo-halo reputedly concocted by the namesake herself in 1933. Because we went there by late afternoon and had plans to do some walking, we ordered a light merienda, starting off with their puto bumbong topped with muscovado sugar:

 Muscovado is an unrefined sugar that has always been deemed inferior, though I must add that it has its own character distinct from refined sugar. This type of sugar is nowadays only produced in Barbados and the Philippines. As for the puto bumbong itself, we found it better to the usual types one sees being made at the onset and during the Christmas holidays- stickier and more scrumptious, and the muscovado certainly gave it some personality! And to go with the puto bumbong, we also ordered the near-mythical Aling Taleng halo-halo:

That's sweetened kundol used as topping- chewy and delectable, but perhaps it would be better off chopped into smaller bits and incorporated to the other ingredients, and the topping preferably less firm. Ube and yema has been used in other incarnations of this popular dessert, so something along those lines would go well, although we do understand that this is what Aling Taleng most likely originally used in her version. Now, if there's anything that instantly comes to mind upon tasting the halo-halo, is that it's very sweet. Too sweet for its own good. Ask the servers to lessen the sugar or you'll have the umay that we Filipinos feel for very rich foods. Serving size is on the generous side, though still a bit too pricey for 95 pesos each. The puto bumbong is priced at 35 pesos.


Here are a few photos I have taken of the interior: 





That's Aling Taleng's:

I reckon that these are the boats used in navigating towards Magdapio Falls:

 This is from an old postcard, and shows the river being used to raft coconuts on their destinations; Manila of course is the prime market. Note the dome of the Pagsanjan Church on the upper right side of the postcard. Credit goes to John Tewell for contributing this endearing photo:

Getting back to where we came from:


In front of the church, we found this obscure monument:

 Now, for some reason, the municipal government made a replica of it at the town plaza, instead of just tidying up this one. Note the base of the replica; this part of the plaza is currently under renovation.


 Ramon Blanco was the Governor-General of the Philippines at the time Rizal was about to leave for Spain to obtain a passport for Cuba. He also imposed martial law on the 8 provinces that rose against Spanish rule in 1896, but his approach in dealing with the insurgency as a whole was found wanting, which led to his dismissal. He was replaced by Camilo de Polavieja, whose rise to notoriety was punctuated by his signing of Rizal's execution in Bagumbayan in the final days of December, 1896. 


Below is a memorial to the brave souls who fought in the Second World War:

 Calle Mabini is a much more laid back street, where decades-old houses can be seen.

 Like many structures in Pagsanjan, the history of these remains are shrouded in obscurity:



 A relic from the past:

 This is the Ejercito mansion:

 Back to Calle Mabini...











 The Arco Real:


 Episode 2 is under way!








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