As the Southern Tagalog Kulinarya Caravan continues, the caravan, at dawn took off from Talisay to San Pablo City in Laguna catching the beautiful sunrise in Sampaloc Lake, one of the seven fresh water lakes in San Pablo City. Participants of Leg 2 joined it with the full leg participants.
As expected, the sun rise foregrounded by the dramatic silhouette of Mt. Banahaw as reflected in the water of Sampaloc lake was worth the early rise for the day. The caravan was then treated to a lively coconut fusion dance provided by the office of the mayor of San Pablo City, headed by honorable Mayor Loreto S. Amante and followed by passport stamping by the boardwalk of Sampaloc Lake.
The caravan led by the police escort proceeded to Casa San Pablo, for the seven lake breakfast offering. It was a welcome treat. Sourced out from the seven lakes of San Pablo City, breakfast has Ayungin (check menu that was served). Ms Ann Alcantara, of Casa San Pablo personally attended to the participants who later did a very interesting explanation on coconut propagation in the Philippines and of course as a main ingredient in most of Philippine cooking and delicacies. Food demo and tasting provided the excitement for everybody.
Catching the appointed schedule in Nagcarlan, caravan took off and inched its way to the “bitukang manok”, an interior road of Laguna connecting the municipalities of Nagcarlan, Liliw, Majayjay and Luisiana. The caravan’s first stop was at the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery where a welcoming brass band met the participants. The group was ushered to the “Camp Santo” which leads to the underground cemetery. A guide provided an interesting information on the cemetery.
The caravan participants walked their way to the nearby municipal hall led by a drum, bugle and lyre band. A grander reception led by Mayor James Gordon of Nagcarlan was there to meet the participants. Part of the just concluded Ana Kalang Festival, the municipal grounds has the display of houses made from indigenous materials representing the ancestral housed commonly found in the province of Laguna. Oversized paper machete of legendary folk women added more colors to the setup of the municipal grounds. After the passport stamping, a cooking demo of “menudong gulay “ built up again the appetite of the participants for a morning merienda of menudong gulay, pianono and the besting tasting espasol that Nagcarlan has been famous for. Fresh young coconut was served for refreshment.
Caravan proceed to Liliw which opened its tsinelas festival earlier for the caravan. The streets of Liliw were draped with colourful umbrellas providing immediately the festive mood as you stepped in to the town. The honourable mayor of Liliw, Mayor Ericson Jovellano Sulibit together with his charming first lady met the participants. Immediately hip hop dancers greeted the group followed by passport stamping. Before the participants were unleashed to do their “tsinelas” shopping, a cooking demo of “uraro” was presented to the participants.
The caravan further inched its way to the zigzagging road to the quaint municipality of Majayjay. The reception was done at the grounds of San Bartolome Apostol Parish Church. One of the few remaining untouched century old churches of Laguna. After a colourful reception and passport stamping, participants were led to the office of Mayor Victorino Rodillas.
A short drive from the municipal grounds of Nagcarlan is the Costales Farm, nestled at the foot of Mt Banahaw is the only accredited tourism farm. A colourful reception with lively rendition of folkloric dances performed by Southern Luzon State University dance group. A tour of the farm followed. Cooking demo of Atsarang ubod served as the appetizer for a fulfilling lunch of organic lechon with organic salad on the side.
The participants were even treated with live music from a rondalla group to the delight of everbody.
Lucban was the final stop for the day. The caravan arrived at Buddy’s Commissary where they feasted their eyes on the kilos of sisig, lechong kawali, and crispy pata as they are pre-cooked prior to their delivery to all the Buddy’s Restaurant branches.
At the town center of Lucban is the makeshift nipas decorated with kiping reminded everybody of the “Pahiyas” Festival that Lucban is known for. Demo on how to make “kiping” proved to be very challenging for the participants as they tried to separate the “kiping” from their mold. Pancit Hab-hab was served to the participants, followed by the passport stamping.
In the evening, the group was entertained at the Municipal Hall by a folkloric cultural dancers and rondalla which ended up with a party as the local group of musicians provided the reggae music for the participants to dance on.
Overnight accommodation was at Patio Rizal.
The morning started with Lucban breakfast and then rolled off to Tayabas Quezon. Lucban could never be complete without the visit of “Kamay ni Jesus” which the participants did. Some even took the challenge of climbing to the top most part of pathway past the 13 life-sized mural depicting the 14 Station of the cross and Biblical events.
In Tayabas, group proceeded to the restored Casa Comunidad de Tayabas where the participants were received by young students performing cultural dances. The group was led to the community library where the mayor met and stamped the passport of the participants. On foot, the group proceeded to nearby Basilica Minore de St. Michael the Archangel.
Due to the unforgiving heat that day, the group opted to be shuttled to Calle Budin instead of walking. Calle Budin is the place where one can buy all the pasalubongs like budin cake (cassava). At Rodillas, group feasted on the aroma of the newly baked cakes and yema frosting. Demo on how the yema frosting was applied to the cake to produce the now famous Rodillas Yema Cake. Caravan finally motored off to Malagonlong Bridge to end Tayabas, a seven span stone bridge constructed way back in the 17th century during the Spanish times.
With the help of police escort, the caravan was able to manage the traffic to Sariaya smoothly. The caravan went straight ahead the municipal hall for passport stamping but not before the “lambanog welcome ceremony”. One of the biggest surprise treats was the re-enactment of Baklasan.
It was such a hit that participants just grabbed all those goodies on makeshift trees as they are brought down. Basket of vegetables were also given to the participants. Crossing the street is Don Catalino Rodriguez Mansion. Participants are just in awe as they tour the mansion and can’t help but imagine the colourful and luxurious lifestyle of the coconut barons. Caravan continued to Verdana Farm for some cooking demo and Obreros Lunch. Wide selection of condiments “patapik sa kanin” already showed how rich the tagala kulinarya is. After the lambanog ceremony, lunch was served.
Using the newly completed tourism highway, the caravan motored off to San Juan Batangas proceeding to Sitio Centro for the “karitan” and lambanog making demo. The final treat was the sumptuous snacks of San Juan delicacies followed by Nilupak” challenge. Entertainment was provided by tangeros where they exchange songs as they serve the lambanog.
The caravan caught up with last light of the day at the pottery village. A backyard industry where artisans create beautiful terracotta jars and pots.
Final run for the day is the drive to Laiya, the coastal area of San Juan Batangas. The caravan checked in at Laiya Cocogrove for an overnight stay.
In the evening, the Department of Tourism hosted the dinner and acoustic music. The much awaited awarding of completion certificate capped the evening.