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Everything Lucban Part 2

There was a time in my student life when Quezon Province was synonymous with Lucban. Seriously! I heard it on several occasions in the past that whenever I said I am from Quezon, whoever I was talking to would respond, “Oh, Quezon! Lucban?” as if it is the only town in a province composed of 39 (and two cities). Later on when I was older, I would not let this comment happen by saying, “I’m from Lopez, it’s in the other Quezon (backed up by hand gestures), that part which is nearer Bicol.”

Why the popularity of Lucban? But why not?

A lot of things easily come to mind by the mention of the place: Mt Banahaw, Kamay ni Hesus, Pahiyas Festival, pancit Lucban or habhab, longganisang Lucban, kiping, buntal hats, and the list is really long. Lucban has established itself as a tourist destination and cultural municipality, famous with the taglines Summer Capital and Art Capital of Quezon. The book Viajes por Filipinas de Manila a Tayabas por Don Juan Alvarez Guerra (1887) has a chapter describing this old town;  a source worthy of re-reading now as many of the things mentioned there can still be observed in this municipality at the present time.

Great hospitality is one, “picturesque garments” is another. ‘Amazons’ of the mayor, the Tagalas meeting the visitors about an hour away from town proper or poblacion wore colorful clothes made of fabric woven in the country, hats with ribbon and flower adornments; and they had kerchiefs made of pina cloth on their shoulders. There is a vivid description of how excellent horse riders the ladies were, and that the invited guests were escorted from the entrance of the town to their destination. It mentions musical bands, and the streets being decorated by buntings and bamboo arches. Musical bands from Lucban were well known even in Manila, ‘few in the country can compare.’ 

According to the book, the people of Lucban were artists who made good designs of metal jewelry, products from carabao horns, beadwork, and woven bags. Hats from Lucban were exported and displayed at the Philadelphia Exposition. Guerra’s book also mentions the very precious crown given to General Alaminos on his 1874 visit to this town. Visual artists were described to make photographic rendition of their works. During the time when selfies were not yet done, it was possible to have one’s souvenir portrait on canvas by the artists there.

The climate in Lucban was described to be cold as one needed a blanket or two, in order to sleep soundly, and rain was common.

Clear water from the open canals where residents can wash clothes or even take a bath is one of the important features of the town that we miss now. When I was a child several decades ago, I would hear stories about this as one of the best things to look for when one visits the place. I saw it myself when as a Girl Scout in 1980, I joined Camp Pahiyas where we lived with foster families to experience Lucban for a week. But like the several huge trees mentioned in Guerra’s visit in the 1800s, the crystal clear water on open canals can no longer be found.

It is not too late, as Lucban is still the prime tourist destination in Quezon. Students from all over the province go there to have their dreams of college education fulfilled. The famous Mount Banahaw is being protected by the government, non-government organizations, and concerned citizens. There is hope for the restoration of Lucban’s natural resources while its tourism industry continues to shine, like the majestic mountain that calmly rests on top without being threatened by competition. There is nothing to be ashamed of, even if Lucban and Quezon Province are thought of interchangeably by some. Because from the time the Spanish colonizers arrived, Lucban’s uniqueness, beauty and hospitality can still very well represent any town or city in the province today. 

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