Tuesday, August 26, 2014

CALASIAO: OF COMMERCE, RELIGION AND POLITICS


The scorching heat of the sun directed towards the perspiring and nearly dehydrated me, was the scenario as I stood on one corner of the road.  The landscape was comprised of a park, a number of stalls aligned, a municipal hall and a church.  All came in unison to give a warm welcome.   

This is Calasiao, Pangasinan’s landmark.

PUTO CALASIAO

“Don’t forget to buy Puto Calasiao.”  This was a constant reminder from friends as my whereabouts were revealed through the various postings of photos on my social media accounts. 



And so I heed to their request - a part for personal consumption and the other as a ‘mandatory’ gift for those who requested.


Puto Calasiao is a destination in itself.  The ‘melt-in-the mouth’ rice cake, as their slogan suggests, is the selling point for this local delicacy.  My taste buds may differ from the others but the one I purchased seemed as normal as with other provinces. Involuntarily comparing it to the one I bought at the Alaminos bus stop en route to Manila after our recent Patar trip, the puto Calasiao at the latter was even tastier and in adherence to their slogan.    

MUNICIPAL HALL AND THE PARK

The shade of the trees with benches aligned, surrounding the municipal hall comforted me. As local residents loiter and feast on street foods, we were busy locating for vantage points on how to capture their lives amidst the landmarks on photographs.



It was a weekend, a family day in the Philippines.  The park has been occupied by a number of residents and visitors which purposes of stay are varied.



Standing witness to both religious and commercial activities, the church and the puto stalls to be specific, the town’s seat of government stood at the center.  A typical rural setting it is.

SAINTS PETER AND PAUL PARISH CHURCH


A church that stands across a municipal hall and a park is the usual setting of a rural landscape.  And Calasiao, Pangasinan is no exception.



statue of Sts. Peter and Paul
The caretaker was taking his lunch when we arrived at the church and so we weren’t able to check on its interiors and be amazed at its grandeur.  Nevertheless, the fa├žade of the church has an unspoken history, which even if viewed from a distance whisper of a rich cultural heritage that needs to be told.


The Parish Church of Saints Peter and Paul commonly known as the Calasiao Church is a baroque heritage church.  On account of age and history, this Spanish-colonial era church is declared a National Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.  The church is further declared a national shrine.


As the midday sun exposes, we have to leave the area, an area in the province of Pangasinan where the fusion of religion, commerce and politics comes hand in hand to give each visitor a warm welcome.


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