Paete, Laguna: My Second Home


Paete, Laguna is the wood carving capital of the Philippines. From the name of the town, there is no doubt that it is considered to be such; Paete came from the Spanish word “paet” - the tool used in wood carving. 

For 21 years and counting, Paete has been my second home. Both of my parents were born and raised from this small town and even though that I was born in Manila, I am proud to say that I have a Paetenian blood in me. 

There is no year that I have not visited Paete. From Manila, I’ll burn my butt for 3 to 4 hours (Well, 2 hours if I’m lucky enough that there'll no traffic in Los Baños) then a 30-minute jeepney ride from Sta. Cruz to Paete. Nevertheless of the long ride, I’m always excited to step my foot out of the jeepney and walk home just to see my relatives’ priceless smiles and hear them shout… “Si Patty andito!! (Patty is here!!)”. So loud that even neighbors could hear my arrival. 

Why do I love Paete, Laguna?

1. Their tilapia is the best!

As in, the best! Your 120php can feed up to 3 to 4 people already because their tilapias are so huge and so full! Buy them in Manila with the same amount and you can only feed.. uhmm.. just yourself? Worst comes to worst is that you won’t feel full or in Filipino terms – mabibitin ka lang. Because it's too small and thin. Disappointing fish.  

2. Paete Church is just a minute away!

Paete Church (Simbang Gabi '13)

Well, from our place, it’s just a minute or seconds away. And for some reason, it’s relaxing for me to see really old places. It feels like I’m living in two generations at once. 

3. Holy Week.

A view of the Señor Sepulkro (Holy Week '14)

Paete is one of those towns where Holy Weeks are celebrated with full bright colors. Tune in to news during this season and you’ll definitely see how Paete celebrates the Holy Week; you’ll see how devoted people are. And because Paete is famous for wood carvings, you’ll see a lot of well-crafted carvings that depicts Christ’s passion and His ministry showcased during Holy Week. 

4. It is a place where my parents won’t bother to know my whereabouts.

Because they know the people who I can possibly be with and they know all the places where I can possibly be in, they’re pretty certain that I won’t get lost. 

Note: The next reason is funny. But please try to understand after you laugh. Thank you.

5. It is where I first met and had my first boyfriend. (Insert Taylor Swift’s Love Story as background music)

That's me with my Dora haircut and that's him, the ring bearer.

My highschool friends always thought that I was a tomboy and that having a boyfriend will be the last on my list. But they don’t know that I’ve been crushing on someone since grade school. And on the year 2007, everything changed. I’ve learned that ze crush was crushing on me too… since grade school! Ha ha ha ha!! To cut the story short, we were childhood friends turned to childhood sweethearts turned to lovers and eventually back to being friends. Such a sweet, sweet memory. Lol.

6.  I have my own room.

In Manila, I sleep on the couch. In Paete, I can roll over my own bed and sleep in a position where it looks like I fell from a building. 

When I first saw the floor plan for this house, the one thing that surprised me most was when I saw "Patty's room" printed on one of the rooms on the second floor. And I was like, "Ha!! I'll paint this one purple!!" But apparently, purple didn't work out so it was painted orange instead. Even so, I was thrilled to have my own room for I've been sharing beds with my mom or my sister (whoever is not home that day) and/or sleeping on the couch (if both parties are home) for 21 years now and going to Laguna means sleeping in my own room and on my own bed. 

7. Weather.

In Manila, when it's hot they'll mean that it's very hot! That feeling where you just want to stay home and turn your air conditioner or electric fan on max level. But in Paete, when they say hot, expect a subtle weather; you can feel the sun on your skin but because of the trees and mountains circling the town, you can also feel the fresh breeze coming from Mother Nature. It is her way of saying, "This is what you get if you don't cut down trees for your pleasure. Welcome to Paete, Laguna."

And lastly...

8. Legal drinking with relatives / Mini family reunion

I know that this is already considered as a fun culture in the Philippines but because most of my relatives live in Paete, this is another addition to my list. New Years, Holy Weeks, Birthdays, Undas and Christmas, there will definitely be a family gathering with a lot of foods and alcohol involved.

No matter how small the gathering is, once there is someone from Manila who visited town, there will be an undeniable celebration.

Other families would actually let their guests use their fancy utensils and make them feel like they're eating in a fancy restaurant. Well, my family do it differently (and in a cool way). We'll get a long banana leaf from my aunt's garden and wash it then we wash our hands then we serve food and lay it on the banana leaf and we gather around the banana leaf then we thank God for the food and (presto!) we dig and enjoy the food with our bare hands! Yup, we don't use plates, spoons and forks. Because, first, it's a lot of dishes to wash. And second, we are too cool for plates.

Maybe this is not the end of my list and I still have something that I just forgot to include. But even though that Paete is just a small town in Laguna, this is still my tribe. This is where my family tree started to grow and I'm a proud fruit.

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