Friday, October 31, 2008

Tayabas Lambanog

If you’re particularly searching for the most traditional way of drinking (inuman) in the Philippines, you shouldn’t miss this place in Quezon called City of Tayabas. The art of drinking has its own roots in every place but all are one in the name of spirit and tradition, that is celebration! And there has got to be something special that we look forward to in drinking in this city, where traces of history can be found in every street you trek.

What else could that be but the famous coco vodka – “lambanog.” Lambanog is a famous drink among Filipinos and you can find one of the richest and most flavorful beverages only in Tayabas.

So how do we go about the making of lambanog? Made from the nectar of flowers of coconut trees (where Quezon Province is the leader of plantation in Southern Tagalog), this is then distilled and made into lambanog. But this is not how easy the process is because getting all the flowers from coconut trees could be a really difficult task. Men of the locality will climb up these trees and would cross from one tree to another using a long bamboo tree that is connected to the tress. What only make it look easy is that this isn’t simply a business they run but has been part of their culture. Another interesting thing about this vodka is its flavor. As time went by, local distillers from this town have defined the richness of the taste of lambanog. You can now see it colorful bottles with flavors such as bubble gum, mango, calamansi and the like.

So, if one of these days you’ll come by in this town, drink lambanog in the art they keep. The Tayabenses way of drinking is simple. It is usually coupled with songs accompanied by a guitar player (who is also part of the “inuman”). One common glass (tagayan) is placed on the table and is shared by everybody which symbolizes their common level in the society and of course, camaraderie. And when it is your turn to take your “tagay” you would have to say “Tagay ko!” before taking that round. This scene can take place either on side streets, inside the house or under a tree in any time of the day. Men and even the ladies take part in this session. A man shouldn’t be so surprised if a lady can knock him up in drinking lambanog because they have surely mastered the art!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Asia's Oldest Church Clock

One of the biggest and oldest church clocks in all Asia is found in the centuries old Roman Catholic Basilica in the ancient but progressive town of Tayabas, Quezon, formerly Cabezera (provincial capital) of Quezon province.

Located at the church belfry, the ancient clock of Tayabas measures one half meter tall and 42 centimeters in circumference. The hour hand measures one half meter while the minute hand is 62 centimeters long.

A 70 kilo heavy weight runs the hour hand while a 140 kilo heavy weight operates the whole clock.

The heavy weight is suspended from an old steel cable attached to the ancient church clock. The heavy weight strikes a giant bell to announce the time at intervals of every one and a half hour.

Dr. Avelino A. Obispo, a businessman and civic leader of Tayabas, said the ancient church clock was erected in the St. Michael Basilica way back in 1911. The giant church clock, the only one of its kind in Luzon, came all the way from Europe, Dr. Obispo added.

He said that during the Second World War, the clock was heavily damaged and for the next 50 years, it was abandoned and almost forgotten by the people.

However, in 1971, a group of civic spirited and concerned Tayabense parishioners led by Msgr. Gregorio Salvatus, Juan Rosales and Daniel Riola, spearheaded the repair and rehabilitation of the ancient church clock.

The group hired the services and expertise of Agapito Zafrance, a clock repairer and inventor, who reassembled and repaired the damaged parts of the ancient church clock.

Zafrance was assisted by his three sons, expert clock repairers in their own right, in the repairs and rehabilitation of the timepiece.

According to Dr. Obispo, the Tayabas church clock is one of the oldest existing church clocks in all Asia.

The lumbering clock has become one of the two major attractions of the town’s minor basilica, one of the oldest Catholic churches in this part of the country.

The other attraction, which lures tourists and visitors to the ancient town of Tayabas, is the big bronze bells located at the church belfry of the basilica overlooking the whole town of Tayabas and nearby Lucena City.

From the church belfry, one can see in the distance the high rise buildings of the city and even the island province of Marinduque.

The giant bronze bells, with Spanish lettering date back to the 16th century.

Numbering six, the giant bronze bells are tied to an old wooden platform in the church belfry. To reach the giant bells, one has to climb a crumbling stairway of old abode.

The church tower is as tall as a six storey edifice. The bells, the biggest measuring more than one meter long, has a Spanish inscriptions and names of Roman Catholic saints.

Up to his very day, residents of Tayabas, Quezon are puzzled as to how and when the big bronze bells were brought up to the belfry.

A retired Roman Catholic cleric, who was formerly the parish priest of Tayabas, said another ancient church bell is buried underneath the basilica for unknown reasons.

City of Tayabas

Tayabas is the land-locked town within the Province of Quezon, Tayabas is situated at the south-eastern foothills of one of the famous volcanoes in the country: Mt. Banahaw. It is encircled by several municipalities of Quezon Province: Lucban, Mauban and Sampaloc to the north; Atimonan and Pagbilao to the south-east; Lucena City to the south; and Sariaya to the west. It likewise shares its boundary with the Province of Laguna in its north-eastern extremity. It lies some 150 Km. southeast of Manila and only about 10 km. from the provincial capital, Lucena City.

Tayabas has a total land area of 23,095 hectares divided among its 66 barangays, 19 of which are within the Poblacion; 47 classified as rural with respective areas ranging from a mere 10 hectares to an enormous 3,002.41 hectares. The compact urban core measures only 82.15 hectares which is less than one (1) percent of the total land area.