August 2012, Shaun and I went south to another one of our spur-of-the-moment road trips and ended up in Badian. Shaun has been missing this place which was an oft visited seminar venue in college. As always, “kinowboy” or rugged was the order of the trip. We checked into La Playa and after a good night’s rest, went for an early walk to Kawasan Falls.
We stopped for breakfast by a roadside eatery and found nicely prepared native pickled fish “inun-unan”. Fish slow-cooked in vinegar and salt in a claypot with ginger and tomatoes. We were told that the governor had shut down operations and had not allowed people in to the waterfalls area. The governor was said to have been worried about buildings and commercial structures sprouting along the trail towards and around the waterfalls. We were surprised to learn this as we have always assumed it was open. At the same time we were secretly pleased that the government cared enough to want to leave nature be.
We were told not to worry and to just take the trail on the other side of the river. So off we went and like always, the trek alone already made me feel refreshed from all the busy days at work. Shaun hadn’t been here for 12 years and myself, even longer. It felt good to be back and trekking along fresh air and green foliage, not to mention the occasional dip into very cool waters. And since operations had been shut down, did I mention we had the place all to ourselves, on a weekend!
Carcar celebrates the feast of their patron saint Sta. Catalina every 25th of November in a colorful and religious way. In recent years, aside from the usual religious procession, they also have a street parade called the Kabkaban. Well, we missed all of it since our trip was scheduled a day AFTER the celebrations.
I knew about St. Catherine a long time ago as her death(beheading) stirred my curiosity as a young Christian. (read more here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Catherine_of_Alexandria)Also, back in high school, we did hear about a girl’s school down south – St. Catherine’s. So now that we are finally in Carcar, I did not hesitate to visit their parish church.
The church was made in 1859 and was finished several years after. It combines Islamic, Graeco – Romano and Neoclassical architecture. Note the onion – shaped minarets. This type of architecture is very rare in Cebu churches.To me, it all has a nice unpolished provencal feel to it.
What really caught our attention were the many epitaphs that lined the church floors and posts. Ordinarily, old churches hold the remains of its departed clergymen, but there were just too many in this church. We learned that these were bone chambers for the more affluent and influential parishioners of the church.
I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend in Carcar. The pool party in Valladolid, the shopping for shoes (more in a separate article) and visiting the old heritage sites. After living in this island for 3 decades, I wonder what took me so long to explore.
Carcar brings to mind ampao(blocks of rice crispies), bocarillos(candied coconut meat) and chicharon(pork cracklings). It also conjures memories of prominent old Cebuano families and their even older houses. So it was a pleasant surprise for me to learn that there was a public swimming pool in the early part of the 20th century in this town(well, technically a city now). It is just that Carcar to me has always been an old provincial town, and a public pool is so urban chic, most especially during those days. In part 1 of this series, I did mention that the City Musuem (which was a dispensary for the longest time) was originally a clubhouse. This swimming pool is just behind that building and I would surmise that this was a main attraction to the clubhouse.
Again, the famous Mayor Mercado commissioned this very forward thinking social center during the 1920’s. Built around it is a two – storey pavilion with beautiful lattice-work. I can only wonder how it was during those days when it was anything but grey.
(Seen from this side, the ground level is chopped into individual dressing rooms. It was also said that prior to the dispensary becoming a museum and the restoration work began, these dressing rooms housed the local juveniles as well)
To the right of the ground level are gazebos where I believe picnickers would enjoy refreshments, the rest of the area is lined with individual dressing rooms, separate ones for men and for women.
The pool itself look to be around 5-6 feet deep on the shallow side and maybe up to 10-12 on the deep end. I can only guess as the guide also did not have any estimation. Two concrete posts jut out in the middle of the shallow end, as per our guide, it used to support the diving board.
It was a day after the town fiesta in the name of their patron Sta. Catalina which was also Thanksgiving Holiday (Pacific Standard Time) for those of us in the call center industry. My team and I decided to take advantage of this long weekend to bond. The team rented a private resthouse and partied like there was no tomorrow. We all had a blast.
Shaun followed later that day and slept over. The next day, when the rest were getting to head back to Cebu, he and I decided to stay awhile and explore Carcar.
We discovered that it was one of four heritage towns in the entire country. While Silay, Vigan and Taal are Spanish heritage towns, Carcar is more American owing much to Mayor Mercado in the 1920’s who was an architect himself. Although you will see Spanish Mestiza architecture, these are side-by side Victorian architecture.
The most prominent of the Spanish era houses was the Balay na Tisa. The architecture itself is not Spanish but very Filipino. It has a roof made of tisa (clay material) tiles, high ceilings, large windows with the ventanillas(mini windows) below them. All these serve to deflect the heat and make it more adoptable to the temperate humid climate. Th ground floor is made of stone.
The Carcar City Musuem is one of the buildings that is more American – Victorian. It has a beautiful facade with intricate lattice-work. It used to be a clubhouse complete with a swimming pool at the back. It was then turned into a dispensary between 1937 -2005 when it was turned into a museum.
What could be more American than a bandstand at the town center? The bandstand-rotunda was commissioned by Carcar’s most famous Mayor Mercado around the 1920’s. The very first settlers in Carcar were from Valladolid, a seaside baranggay. They wanted to get away from the Moro raiders so they moved inland to where the rotunda stands now. The rotunda was said to have been built to mark where these first settlers set up camp.