Sunday, March 2, 2008

Getting Lost With Names - San Juan

This topic started with this article

San Juan. There are a total of seven in this country – 6 towns and 1 city!

First of course is the famous city and the turf of the Estradas/Ejercitos – that is the City of San Juan right in the very middle of Metro Manila. Did you know it is almost the smallest in the metropolis? Well, Pateros is the smallest! Mind you, I dream of living in San Juan City because it is in the middle of everywhere and come to think of this, it is not as bustling as the other areas in the metropolis!

Now San Juan is not all about Erap or Greenhills. There are more like the first battle between pinoys and the kastilas happened in this city that is why there is the Pinaglabanan Shrine. Hey, one of the few remaining boys’ school in the country (Xavier School) sits in San Juan. That school is managed by priests but that is where the son of a friend learned how to speak Chinese! Of course you all know that unless traveling in a closed vehicle, one must avoid any part of this city during celebrations of feat of St. John the Baptist. If you don’t know that just yet, then go there via a jeep or non-air conditioned bus and experience it! Walang pikunan! Ah, these days they don’t anymore douse you with water – they literally spray at everyone via water-hoses and water-guns! Actually even the fire trucks are sometimes “involved” in this ridiculous but funny celebration (at a distance)! But if you're part of the spraying and dousing... its fun! Oh, okay, for those who wanted to know, the “spy camera” installed by the government in front of La Salle Greenhills’ gate is still there!

Now our second San Juan is far north in the province of Ilocos Sur (Region 1). This town is only 3rd from the northernmost in the province but it already touches Ilocos Norte and even Abra. While this is a coastal town, and there is at least a resort, their part of Lapog bay is not quite interesting but at least historic. This is Ilocos, so get to see San Juan’s church and as with the others, it is enormous and old like it has been there since the 1700s. Whew! And you also get a glimpse of onion fields and pottery factories. They say there is a waterfall somewhere but I have yet to venture into that!

Moving further down south but still in Region 1 is another town of San Juan, this time in the province of La Union. This is the surfing capital of Luzon. Being just next to the City of San Fernando and the Wallace Air Station, this place is getting rather urban and hundreds of resorts line its shores. There is even already a blossoming (or is it waning) industry of bar girls! Well, there are still pottery making ventures in the place plus there are tobacco and vegetable plantations too!

Then to the boondocks, in the province of ABRA (ARMM) is our 4th town named San Juan. This is a farming community that has its highest elevation at more than 4,000 feet above sea level. This is quite a rural place and has no tourism infrastructure nor activities but there are caves and rivers that offer scenic vistas.

Our 5th San Juan is in the province of Batangas (Region 4A Calabarzon). And who does not know this town? This is that hard get to resort town but boasts of fine white sandy beaches and good resorts. There is even a mushrooming of theme resorts like the health-spa-style places and I hate some of them – because smoking and beer and music are not allowed hehe. But that’s only on some of those, so when my friends and family want to get in there and meditate or have a massage etc etc., I hop in to the other resorts that caters to my kind of relaxation hehe. Laiya is the most famous strip in this town.

The 6th San Juan is a town in the southwestern part of the island province of Siquijor (Region 7 – Central Visayas). Like the last two above, this is also a resort town with a long strip of white beach. That alone should already be enough to describe how grand this place is, right? But there is a famed claim that there is a natural body of water coming from the town’s plaza and that became the name of their festival – Bugwas. And that makes this town the only place in the country where a natural spring is the center of town (plaza/park). I went down knee-deep and its cool... but OMG the town's younger set enjoys that pool! Oh, this place, like the rest of the island teems with superstition and superstitious what have yous. The people still believe in and are also known for quack doctors, healers and witchcraft and anti-witchery matters. But when I was there, all I could summon were the calmness of the sea, the idyllic white beaches, fresh fruits, moonlight and fireflies. Either the witches were afraid of me or they went on vacation somewhere?!

Finally, still in the Visayas we have our last San Juan, and that is the town also called Cabalian (its previous name) in the province of Southern Leyte. This is on the eastern peninsula of the province and just southeast of St. Bernard most remembered for that landslide tragedy last year. There is a geothermal plant and it lies along a major fault line! It has the oldest church in the province and part of Lake Danao is the jurisdiction of this town. There are fish sanctuaries and fish are abundant in this San Juan but, I don’t know why I am not excited about this town hehe! Is it too sleepy? Is it naturally or developmentally dangerous? Whatever!

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