Hi there! Our next stop is Lumban, it maybe a fourth class municipality  on the southern part of Laguna but this little town was full of amazing stories to tell. It was once a big town divided into many known town now such as Kalayaan, Pagsanjan and Longos.

Lumban is the considered as the Embroidery Capital of the Philippines. From parents to children, most of the locals here are doing hand-mad embroidery that are sold all through out the country and abroad. The industry has been going on for over 100 years and it keeps on innovating, there are also painted design on Jusi textiles. Finished products are colourful and lively Barongs and Gowns. It was said that during Marcos administration where the golden times of embroidery in Lumban, because of the promotion of Philippine local products that time. Most of the government officials are encourage to wear a Filipina dress during their office hours and most of the festivals.

Few years ago, quarrying are prevalent in Lumban river causing the river to drench deep and widens the width of the river. Fortunately, it has stopped but left a great difference from what it look like before. My father use to tell me that before, you can cross the river by swimming and still can touch the river bed. There was an incident that cause drowning because it was not safe for swimming anymore.Population gradually grew at a small phase due to immigration of Lumbanos to other cities  or country to look for job or change residency. I think that the it will take time before this town industrialised because the concentration was in places near Metro Manila like Calamba, Cabuyao, Sta. Rosa and Binan cities. But with positive outlook, time will come that it will catch up and will continue to progress.

Anyway, Lumban has a lot to offer for locals and tourist:

Caliraya Lake… a man-made lake in the mountain comprises of resorts and recreation centers giving way to temporarily escape the bustling cities of the metro. This place has been commissioned to generate hydroelectric power plant called CBK, but I think it has been sold to a foreign company which you can find in the on other source. Prior to that deal, when I was on my college days, it was all owned by the government and I was able to work there as an OJT by our school. I was able to know how the power plant works. According to the schematic, in the morning, the plant generates electricity to supply to the grid of Laguna and in the evening, waters from Laguna lake is pump from Laguna lake to Caliraya Lake, isn’t that amazing? The breeze of the mountain really gives the feeling of relaxation and continues fun.

Resorts and recreation centers offers wide variety of adventures like zip lines, jetski, sailing and a like. Of course, the lake is well maintained and still undergoing some developments so it’s safe. the last time I went there was December of 2015. And for the first time, I came about sight seeing the lake with the boat ride with my family. It was amazing and full of enjoyment. And the last time that I was able to swim was like forever, I can’t remember. And when I went to that particular place, it has been renovated to cater the small  embankment of water for a plant in Barangay Bagong Silang. Fences has been installed along the highway and there’s no way you can go to the lake side unless you check in a resort unlike before. In a way that’s also good to keep people from playing without consent and avoid accidents.

The lake was actually an expansion of the small lake of the town of Cavinti, a neighbouring town. Caliraya is few kilometres from the town probably about 10-20 mins going up the mountain by jeepney or tricycle. The road to the lake has become a place for people to jog, run and cycle. I’m glad that my mother was able to join together with her friends, walking until the farthest that they can reach. Based on my observation, most of its foreigners love to go to this place specially Japanese. And speaking of is ….

Japanese Garden… in commemoration with the Philippines- Japanese friendship after few year of WWII, this garden was open for the burial of some Japanese soldier. Technically this garden belongs to the town of Cavinti but for the sake of my blog and my fascination in this place, let me include this. Garden has been developed and the scenic view was made to amazed visiting public. I remember that during my time there, my friends and I usually go there barefoot just to relax and have something to in the weekend off class. Picnic can also be done here, there are sheltered pavilions to sit and eat. The Garden has also become a excursion destination of schools to learn about the previous wars and the laid soldier there. And because it’s in the mountain, it’s a good place to feel the breeze and breath the fresh air. This place is a picture perfect for selfie and groupie because of it’s backdrop, it’s greenery.

I think the best thing about this garden is the view, there’s one place there where you can stand on it’s highest point over looking the the lake. Stair going there is also challenging but satisfying when completed.

Hand Embroidery… in every barangay, you can watch and learn how this is being done, from designing patterns for embroidery, stitching, washing and even tailoring. There are many places where you can see them working for a Barong or gown, a very well know was Anda Manic, she has been in this business for the longest time. She has been featured on GMA’s news program State of the Nation by Jesica Soho. I personally knew her so I feel uhmm…. proud that because of her,  once again our town was featured on tv. The last time I’ve seen this happen was during the TV Patrol Junior way back 1900’s. They went to a place called Dialiris Barong shop to feature kids doing embroidery. 

Upon entering Lumban, you will be welcomed by Barong inspired arch. And along the side of the highway are few embroidery shops. Well of course buying here is a lot more cheaper than buying under some branded or well known designers in Manila. Where the cheapest you can get is about more or less Php1500.00 compare to 3-5k in Manila. 

Every industry must innovate, it’s not all hand embroidered because some are automating the process. This applies only to certain fabrics, the piΓ±a fabric are still intricately hand embroidered because of its delicate strands and other than that its the most expensive of all the fabrics available. Now, aside from barongs and ternos products, there has been expansion of items which can be choose from like bags, handkerchiefs, wallet and other accessories both for ladies and men. 

And because of this, for the past 10 years Lumban is conducting a festival called Burdang Lumban to keep the legend of embroidery alive even to the next generations. It happens every 3rd week of September in which for the first time, was, I will attend and see by myself. The program includes extraordinary designs worn by models on the ramp. I think this will be amazing πŸ˜‰!

I didn’t realised for a small town… there are more than 3 items to visit in Lumban!

San Sebastian Parish Church… a 1600 church, the oldest church if not, one of the oldest in The Philippines. Like any other Roman churches, it was built by the conquering spanish archdiocese in Laguna to so called christianise the people of Lumban, Franciscans has establish catholism. It has gone a lot of internal and external renovations and rebuild due to earthquakes and war, it has survived typhoons that frequently arrives in Laguna. The church has a convent, the main place of worship and the bell tower. San Sebastian as it was name is the patron saint of Lumban which celebrate its feast every 20th of January. 

Komedia, Fiesta and Lupi…  komedia is happening few days before the fiesta, it’s also called moro-moro or a play that is performed on the stage by local artists. They wears colorful costumes to fascinate the expectators.  And then the Festival itself, like any other fiesta, there are so much food on the table open to everyone. But it’s a lot of fun to eat with family and friends. The previous years, there are actually some shows and theme park within the town plaza but eventually, it just disappeared. Street shopping can still be fun, with street food and cheap items, Lumban fiesta is celebrated mostly by the whole town with the exception of I think of barangay Maytalang and Conception. Lupi is actually a celebration done a week after the fiesta. It was actually fun because it is like throwing bucket of water to anyone joining it. By right it is washing of the patron saint because according to some stories, San Sebantian was salvaged deep in Lumban river. But as times goes by, it became a tradition to get wet during Lupi. I resounds the fiesta in San Juan in Manila and Songran in Thailand. 

Other things to look forward to… Espasol, it is so special like no other. Filled with macapuno to give an addictive appetite. Kesong Puti, there’s also a local maker here other than Sta. Cruz and it taste as amazing. Suman and Kalamay, it’s an ordinary type of glutinous rice rolled with a palm leaf. Commonly available during town fiesta but you can find it every morning being peddled. 

You can visit Lumban in 2 ways, if your coming from from Manila, Cubao or Pasay, take a bus going to Sta Cruz and take a jeepney to Lumban. And if you’re near Rizal, you can take the trip to Siniloan and then transfer to jeepney or bus to Sta. Cruz and then alight in Lumban. In any drop off point in Lumban, you can take a tricycle to bring you to town.  For Caliraya trip, from Sta. Cruz, take the Cavinti bound jeepney and alight in your destination.