Before dawn yesterday, we left on a road trip. The plan was to drive to Paete and then to Pagsanjan via the Teresa-Tanay-Morong road. We’d check in at some hotel in Pagsanjan, the most comfortable we could find, explore the surrounding towns and drive home on Black Saturday. It was an exciting prospect. Paete, after all, is supposed to be a cultural gem during Lent. Plus, for the first time since we had children, it was going to be our first semi-spontaneous trip (when you have children, you just tend to plan everything to the last detail). Just driving, stopping where there’s something interesting, eating in roadside restaurants that aren’t listed in those chi-chi websites that “specialize” in restaurant reviews… You know, see the countryside as it is sans the usual hype and the commercial thrust.
To make a long story short, there were no accommodations when we got to Pagsanjan. La Corona de Pagsanjan did not reopen last month as scheduled and there was just the security guard to greet us. Pagsanjan Rapids Hotel closed some two years ago. We checked out another resort in the area and we were told every room was fully booked as early as two weeks earlier. After lunch, we drove home. A little disappointed, yes, especially Sam. But we didn’t exactly come home empty handed. We all wanted to take photos and we took photos.
It was still dark when we left the house. The sun rose when we were somewhere between the towns of Tanay and Pililia. Sam exclaimed as soon as she saw a small orange ball rising beyond the mountains but only I got out of the car. I wish I could have taken a better photo. But with all those campaign posters littering both sides of the road, there was just no way to take a panoramic shot. Unless I crossed the road which isn’t really just a road but a highway with speeding trucks. So, talk about a beautiful view ruined by politicians’ faces. But then, like I said, it was a road trip to see the countryside for what it truly is — and politics is part of the countryside just as much as it is part of the city. So there.
And there’s another reality that we can’t deny. The Filipinos’ love for cockfights is very much visible in the countryside.
In Rizal province especially, there are so many scenes like the one above. Cock farms where fighting cocks are raised and sold. It’s big business around here and some of the biggest cock farms are owned by politicians. In fact, in our old neighborhood, right across the road was a cock farm. And we’d often hear gunshots fired late at night. Because fighting cocks cost thousands and thousands of pesos, some bold robbers venture inside cock farms, many of which are guarded by armed men.
As we drove farther and farther away from the city, the scenery got better. While towns and their immediate vicinities were all lined with campaign posters, in the more rural areas, everything was green and blue and simply beautiful.
The two photos above where taken at around 7.30 a.m., after a tapsi breakfast in a farm-cum-restaurant, just after we crossed the boundary to Laguna province.
Rice fields are beautiful.
Rice fields are green when before the palay matures.
As the palay nears harvest time, the golden grains turn the rice field into a sea of gold.
After harvest, the rice fields are brown with the dried remains of the palay.
At around 10.00 a.m., we entered Pansanjan via Paete. We turned right at the junction where the church is located, not knowing that we should have turned left. And we passed by a beautiful scene. Rice harvest.
The road was also lined with old houses.
Pardon the bluish tinge — the photos above and below were taken through the windshield.
Those are typical 1950s and 1960s middle and upper class family houses. The house I grew up in, which my parents built, was like that. Concrete ground floor, wooden second floor. The only difference is that the windows of our house had frosted glass instead of capiz.
After gaping at the old houses, we reached the boundary to the next town, Santa Cruz, and we realized we were heading in the wrong direction. We turned back, asked for directions, and headed to the opposite side of Pansanjan where we found out that there were no accommodations to be had.
We exited Pansanjan, passing the church once more (we didn’t go in as the church appeared new — we only visit old, old churches to marvel at the architecture) intending to go back to Paete via the town of Kalayaan where we’d have lunch at the Exotik Restaurant. We did, actually, but made a detour before that. We went to the Lake Caliraya area where we discovered something we never knew existed. But that’s another story.
All photos were taken with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens.