The Sleeping Beauty Mountain

sleepingbeauty

Kalinga province is a dazzling bounty of things to do and see. It boasts its pristine waterfalls, crystal-clear rivers, national park, subterranean river, hot springs, mountain lakes, rainforests, and rice terraces. It has legendary mountain ranges, too. One of which is the so called ‘Sleeping Beauty Mountain’ in Tinglayan, a grandeur that one may not opt to miss.
This mountain was named as such for something.
Tale goes that in the early days, there was a man in Tinglayan named Banna and a woman from Dacalan in Tanudan who fell in love with each other. Due to a war which ensued between the tribes of Banna and Edonsan, their love ended to a tragedy. Banna was killed and Edonsan left weeping in a mountain where she fell asleep. From where she lied formed a mountain shaped into a woman which they now call “Sleeping Beauty Mountain”.
This mountain is also known as Mt. Mating-oy. For the Lubo tribes in Tanudan, the ‘forehead’, which is its highest point, is the Mt. Patukan.
As folkloric as it is, beneath this mountain is yet another wonder that also deserves to be told. The legend of the mighty Chico River. This river is fed by waterfalls flowing from the Sleeping Beauty Mountain.
Legend has it that the Chico River was the sister of the Abra River.
These rivers, as the tale goes, were once two siblings who were very obedient, kind, and industrious. However, they had very cruel parents. Because of that cruelty, these siblings decided to run away until they reached the top of a mountain, to which these days, is called the Mount Data.
Knowing that they had nowhere else to go, they prayed to Lumawig, the God of the Skyworld, to turn them into streams of water. The brother became the Abra River while his sister became the Chico River.
Today, the Kalinga people regard the Chico River as the ‘River of Life’.
True to its name, the river is tapped for providing abundant sources of power generation, irrigation, and fishing.

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Kneeling Carabaos

kneeling carabaos

Every May 14, residents of Pulilan in Bulacan, San Isidro in Nueva Ecija, and Angono in Rizal, commemorate the feast day of San Isidro de Labrador, patron saint of farmers, with the carabaos sharing celebrity status.

But while the three towns have similar cause for marking the day of the farmers’ patron saint, it is Pulilan town that always come on top as a sea of curious spectators gather to witness the carabaos’ special talents.

The select carabaos of Pulilan, on this special day, do not only display their enhanced “beauty” but they also showcase their unusual but remarkably surprising talent—that of genuflecting or kneeling or gyrating or doing the jig while kneeling. Because of this display of talent, the observance of the feast day in Pulilan is also called “The Kneeling Carabao Festival”.

The carabaos are brought by their owners in front of the church on this special day and are made to display their

famous trait. This peculiar show, no doubt, is a reason enough for the influx of local and foreign tourists in Pulilan town.

Known as the farmers’ best friend and indispensable ally in different kinds of farm works, the carabaos are given royal treatment on this day. In preparation for the festival, according to their owners, the carabaos are “retouched” starting early in the morning in order to be ready for the parade that takes off early in the afternoon on the same day.

Part of the preparation includes making the carabaos “kings and queens” wherein their “crowns” (horns) are

rubbed with oil for a shining sheen; their backs are adorned with special clothes serving as their capes; their bodies are scrubbed, cleaned, and painted; their legs are designed with knee caps; and their hooves, too, are either made shiny or painted with apt colors.

As in past celebrations, long before the clock ticked at 2:00 pm last May 14, which was the time set for the start of the event, the main streets of Pulilan town were already crowded with thousands of people, residents, and tourists alike.

They were eagerly awaiting for the passing of hooves, too, are either made shiny or painted with apt colors.

As in past celebrations, long before the clock ticked at 2:00 pm last May 14, which was the time set for the start of the event, the main streets of Pulilan town were already crowded with thousands of people, residents, and tourists alike.

They were eagerly awaiting for the passing of incessant popular request from the throng of onlookers, the carabao owners could not do anything but oblige to the delight of the spectators.

The San Isidro Labrador church, of course, was the ultimate destination of the animals’ show of “religiosity”.

The carabaos knelt at the signal of their master as they passed one by one in front of the church. The kneeling was

for a few minutes with the carabaos not minding people and their reactions. What appears to be more interesting and greatly appreciated by the onlookers was not only the carabaos’ demonstration of their ability to kneel but also to “walk” on their knees like penitents in front of the church. This scenario left onlookers in a blaze of awe and surprise.

May 15, according to the Catholic Church’s account, is the day for the patron saint of farmers—San Isidro de Labrador (laborer) also known as Isidore the Farmer. The account said that Isidore was a

laborer who was always late in tending to his farm chores yet always finishes his job at the end of the day.

One day, his co-laborers complained to their master that Isidore was always late for work in the morning. Prompted with curiosity, the master went to the field and investigated the claim by himself. The master was astounded by what he saw. He found Isidore at prayer while two angels were helping him with his field works thus making his work equal to that of three laborers. Struck with awe, the master knelt and prayed before the

angels. San Isidro de Labrador was also known for his goodness toward the poor and animals. He was then called the patron saint of farmers.

Among the residents of Pulilan town, nobody can really tell how this practice of making the carabaos kneel in

front of the church started. However, the residents have been doing this practice for many, many years already.

Accounts said that the farmers took it upon themselves to make it a vow to participate in the parade, thus, they make big preparations for this occasion. In fact, many other residents from different towns in Bulacan come over to Pulilan town just to participate. This tradition continues to be passed on among generations

Café by the Ruins

cafe

If you’re up for a refreshing experience sans the heavy traffic and pollution, then look no further than Baguio City. Aside from the pine-scented breeze wafting through the surrounding rocky mountains, the city is also rich with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that can surely make your jaunts rewarding and healthy.

There’s more. If you’re looking for savory treat and healthy dining, then Café by the Ruins has got it covered.

salad

Located opposite the city hall, this establishment is quasi-closed allowing patrons to catch whiffs of pine-scented breeze which at once becomes palpable as you enter its arc-shaped door.

Inside, a cursory look reveals several artworks collaged in every nook and corner of the café. In one corner, too, a bonfire invites customers to request to have it fired up when the temperature turns unbearably cold.

Without having second thought, one can conclude that the café is run by artists.

Indeed it is true. Ryan Chua, the restaurant manager, says it all.

“The establishment started as an art gallery, a hang-out place for artists alone. As the city started to blossom as a haven for business ventures, it later  evolved into a café that accepts people from all walks of life as customers.”

Today, Ryan added, it is being run by artists, writers, and businessmen who are already the second generation members of the corporation.

The walls of the café, Ryan said, are the remains of the headquarters of the first Benguet government during the American-Japanese war, hence the name.

The artistic displays and historic accounts of the café are just 50 percent of the experience. The other half is right on its menu.

Café by the Ruins offers an array of fresh and organic sumptuous and sometimes bizarre menu for a luscious gastronomic journey. There are no artificial ingredients, preservatives, or enhancers used for the food. The menu is not constricting as it is changed every quarter based on the availability of the season’s goods. This is to ensure that only fresh and naturally-produced commodity is served.

FOOD

While there are other food establishments in Baguio City offering fresh and organic menu, Café by the Ruins stands out not only because of its artistic ambiance but also because of its carabao’s milk-based concoctions. Because of this, the café is an A-list among thousands of patrons, a testimony attested to by netizens and by the international award it recently bagged for being “one of the best restaurants in the country”.

Evidently, one can lose his or herself in the luxury of indulging in the delight of partaking organic and fresh dishes, pastries, and drinks. These are just some of the products made richer and better by carabao’s milk offered by Café by the Ruins.

Alas! A bite of Saniculas!

saniculas

The Capampangans, who are inhabitants of Pampanga, are very much well-known for their discriminating taste for food and high regard for cooking.
This prevailing fact traces its roots to the olden times. Accounts say that every female born to a Capampangan family is exposed to the kitchen at an early age. To master her culinary skills, she is obliged to prepare her family’s dishes. This devoir continue until she passes it on to her daughters.
Lillian Mercado-Lising Borromeo, who is fondly called as “Atching Lillian”, is a living proof to this tradition. She came from a wealthy Capampangan root where her grandparents were “don” and “doña”, a status that is equivalent to business tycoons or magnates in the modern times. Thus, she grew up with the practice of meticulous food preparation.
Atching Lillian, along the way, learned that one of the secrets of the unique, incomparable taste of Capampangan cuisine is the use of carabao’s milk and dayap (lime). She recalled that her grandparents had a herd of carabaos. With the abundance of carabao’s milk, her grandfather used to drink fresh carabao’s milk while taking a sip of duhat (jambul) every morning. Her grandmother, on the other hand, uses the milk with dayap juice in most of her recipes.
“The carabao’s milk with dayap juice, when used in cooking, adds a very distinct flavor,” Atching Lillian said.
As the only female among the brood of four, she inherited a family heirloom that included 17th century cooking and baking utensils and some secret family recipes. Among these century-old recipes is the making of “Panacillos de San Nicolas” or San Nicholas cookies. For the Capampangans, they call it “Saniculas”.
According to Atching Lillian, this recipe is the most noteworthy of all because this was passed on to her by her grandmother Impung Andang (Doña Alejandra Andres David Hizon) who learned the recipe from the Dominican sisters. Atching Lillian, hailed as the “Guardian and Steward of Capampangan Cuisine”, unselfishly shared her family’s priceless recipes especially that of the Saniculas.
Saniculas, a melt-in-the-mouth goodness, is the oldest cookie introduced in the Philippines by the Spaniards, circa 1600. Its inception was born out of oversupply of egg yolks. During those times, the whole of egg except its yolk (i.e. albumen), was mixed with lime powder and sand to build churches, schools, and other government buildings. Hence, the Spanish nuns thought of using the yolks in several pastries and other delicacies.
Every family, too, was encouraged to come up with a product out of the yolks. Saniculas was one of them.
Atching Lillian, with her passion of sharing the secrets of Capampangan cuisine, gladly demonstrated how Saniculas is made.
It starts by gently mixing the ingredients that is composed of arrowroot flour, egg yolks, carabao’s milk, duhat, and enough amount of water to make the dough. The dough is kneaded and flattened using a cookie mold and a rolling pin with gradual precision. After which, the dough is ready for baking.
Atching Lillian, during her demonstration, insisted on using carabao’s milk, instead of any other milk. This, she said, gives the cookies its exact aroma, taste, and texture.

atching
The making of San Nicholas cookies back then, she said, was a lot more interesting. The nuns or the women making it, had to pray three Our Father, three Hail Mary, and three Glory be to the Father. After which, one has to put her hand inside the oven to check if the cookies were already cooked. In some instances, if the cookies were still not properly cooked after the three prayers, they would pray the Salve Regina also known as the Hail Holy Queen.
The baked cookies back then, she quoted others as saying, were perfect in its taste and texture as the prayers served as their timer. Interestingly, too, the Saniculas is imprinted with the image of San Nicholas, the great miracle healer.
But the cookie’s interesting facts don’t end there. Every 10th of September, the feast day of St. Nicholas de Tolentin, the Saniculas cookies are blessed and distributed to devotees for it is believed to have a curative effect. This practice was said to have been passed on by the Spanish friars to the Filipinos. Other than this, the cookie can also be crumbled and scattered on rice fields to ask for a bountiful harvest.
Needless to say, every bite of Saniculas does not only satisfy one’s cravings. It also represents a tradition of love, devotion, peace, and miracle.