Monday, April 26, 2010

Carcar City Visit

“Sorry I can’t go with you today, there’s an urgent errand in Carcar that I have to attend to”. So said my friend one Sunday morning. When it comes to roaming around, I consider myself a very fast-thinker and very flexible… so I replied, “can I go with you?”… and in no time, we met at south bus terminal! I was off to Carcar City! Yey!

Though I have been passing by this place many times going southeast or southwest of the island, I never really got to step on it and have even just a quick look around. Ah during the bus ride, the friend told me I can go around while he attended to the errand and we set a time and place to meet again. He gave me pointers on what to see and we even discussed its plight to become a city! Ah yes, many of us know that Carcar (together with Naga and Bogo) is part of the 16 municipalities that were converted by congress into cities, then stripped of it, then reinstated. I know though Carcar is a big town just judging from the bustle in its market and the activities around that famous rotunda!

Alright, so there we were… when the bus stopped near Gaisano, I was getting ready to stand and jump off the bus. Friend laughed at my excitement to see the place and told me “not yet, we’re still a bit far from center of town". Ack! But, in no time, we got off in front of an old Spanish-era house. Hmm, conductor was hollering at the chicharon vendors not to block the way as there were quite a number of us passengers getting off. Whew! Now friend said “what do you want to see” and I readily answered “the munisipyo and the church for starters”. So he pointed me the way and we parted ways!

Leon Kilat. After ogling at that old big house where we got off, I started on my way up the ascending road towards the town plaza. Oops, silently obscured beside a little sari-sari store on my left, a monument with the NHI (National Historical Institute) marker caught my attention. So I went near the fine statue and read all about Leon Kilat. Ah, now I know… all along I have known that name as just a street name in Cebu City. I did not know he was the Katipunan’s Visayas commander and that he was murdered in Carcar, 5 days after he led the uprising. Whoa! Leon Kilat was Pantaleon Villegas and was not even Cebuano! Now the statue… it is supposed to stand by the side of an entrance door to the city’s sports complex or something. Unfortunately, it is being overgrown by a lot of constructions in its vicinity that it is not easy to spot – I was just lucky I was looking for bottled water when I chanced upon it hehe!

The Plaza. This is a big town plaza and elevated from Carcar City’s main thoroughfares. I could just imagine this must have been a very nice place with vantage of the town below. As for now though, all views are either roofs or other big buildings (like that sports complex). Surrounding the plaza are an elementary school with very nice old buildings, the church, a college (nice buildings too), an old house now a museum, the city hall and the police headquarters. Jose Rizal stands center of everything looking out and down into the street from this plaza. While Rizal in the middle of the plaza is quite common, (he is the national hero after all) I like the visayan sayings inscribed on the four sides of that pedestal where he stands. Why? Because they’re very deep and I couldn’t readily understand them hehe. I’ll get back to my tutor for that, meanwhile, I think they seem to be a mixture of Cebuano and Hiligaynon – well, isn’t that how they speak in Dapitan and nearby places? Maybe its there that Rizal acquired the bisdak tongue!

The police station is a fairly regular building and I did not dare snap a photo lest those officers watching me come and arrest me for whatever hehe! Then there is the municipal hall (which I should now call city hall, right?) and I can readily say outright… its one of the ugliest in the Philippines. Its just a concrete block of a building with nothing worth a second look hehe! I mean, am sure it is functional, but then again, if everywhere in the islands, municipal or city halls are accorded some effort to look either fantastic, artistic, historic, inspiring, commanding or imposing… when you encounter Carcar’s City Hall, you tend to define it as... ugly. At least that’s what I felt. No its not simple, its ugly! Sorry hehehe! That is most especially because it stands nearby a beautiful park with a beautiful Rizal Monument, a beautiful museum, a college and the church all with admirable structures!

Carcar Museum. Paper lace… that’s what came to mind. This beautiful house is easily the most prominent attraction around the plaza. Yes the church is big, but this house is beautiful! Why do I say paper lace? Remember how we were taught in prep school by folding and cutting paper so that when we open them, they look like beautiful laces? That is what's most prominent in my memory when I look at this house. It looks dainty as the design is intricate. I approached it and noticed that it was closed. A guard was by the door though while another man probably a care-taker was sitting nearby. So I asked them what this house was before becoming the museum. They said “a puericulture” and I asked what it meant. They said the nearest similarity to recent day structure would be a health center. Ah now I realized it was an American style house made during their occupation. Still beautiful, and kudos to whoever maintained it to these days!

The Church. That would be the St. Catherine of Alexandria church. I have seen many pictures of it and heard many things about it that when I approached it, I already seemed to know it! Its quite old and still grand. The fence (which I think is new) has all its posts with saints standing on them! Ah inside, there are also a lot of angels atop each post/pillar that line the entire length of the church. While the altar is not as ornately decorated as other churches in this country, I find the ceilings interesting. This is an example of what I call “perishable art” that can be seen in many places in the country. Artworks that we don't have a choice must decay with the elements - and hard, if not impossible to replicate. The ceiling above the main aisle is made from long strips of wood, painted with a fine design. At least the design is a bit simple as I heard from somewhere that painting them requires the painter/s to be up there facing the roof. Golly, its almost painting while suspended upside down hehe! Ah the ceiling on the side aisles are not painted with any drawings. But looking at them, I know they also required expert hands to make and must require equally expert hands to maintain. Aside from the long strips of wood, they’re crisscrossed with a lot of squares where flowery wood carvings are placed in each center. Hah!

The big wooden doors of the church also have some simple artwork carved on them. Ah am no religious so I don’t know (yet) what those mean. Maybe you can tell me, but they look (to me) like fronds of a grain plant and some kind of a wreath made of leaves.

Now there is one thing that seem misplaced in front of the church. Am not sure if that thing was already there since the ancient times or just added by the more modern (aka enterprising?) priests of our time. Its that statue of a saint (St. Catherine?) that is installed in a tall pagoda-like structure straight behind Rizal’s statue and directly in front of the main door. It stands too near the church main entrance. Plus, they have erected a big housing behind the pagoda and that is where those hundreds of candle holders are placed where devotees light their candles. Totality, the whole structural combination of the pagoda and the “tauran” spoils the “should be” grand view of the church fa├žade and entrance whether you are outside or inside the church. Thus, we cannot take a good frontal photograph of the church hehe!

Rotunda. Aright, I headed out of the plaza area and walked down towards Jollibee to meet my friend. Old houses everywhere seemed to be screaming for my attention. Ahh, I just told myself, I will come back here for more. When I met my friend outside Jollibee though, the view of the rotunda and its various structures were very good to look at as the repainting job was still clean and made the whole place look bright. What else, I excused myself to have a quick go-see of that famous place. Hey, this is where vehicles turn right going towards Barili and all the southwestern towns of Cebu while those going southeast would follow half the rounded road and continue onwards. As we headed to a snack house named Orange Brutus, my friend started telling me about that rotunda…

It is supposedly a place where the old folks of Carcar migrated to from the coastal area due to attacks from bandits. In time this has been called “mowag” where folks split going Barili or Argao as described above. The kiosk at center is a band stand, the two ladies up its roof are supposed to symbolize America guiding Philippines to progress. Whoa! No wonder one girl looks like liberty while the other wears a Filipina dress! The pairs of men and women around the rotund are supposed to represent the three island groups (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao). Ah no wonder I saw one pair in Muslim garb. I was not sure but I said “but there are four pairs”! My friend said he was not sure but probably the 4th pair would represent the modern (urban) folks. Hmm, I saw a pair that wore clothes much like how my mom and dad looked like when they were in college!

Oh across this rotunda, to the east are the many stalls that sell everything Carcar City prides itself of. Like? Well, cholesterol hehe! That's chicharon, lechon, ampao, and other eatables. I wanted to see them but my friend said we were short of time if I wanted to see Sibonga and San Fernando. So off we went!

But I must be back in Carcar for their famous foodstuffs and slippers factories and knife factories and more of the old houses. Anything you know I should also see? Here is what my friend suggests... "you did not count and you did not identify who those "saints" are at the fence by the church entrance, so you have to go back there!

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