Monday, May 28, 2012

Mauban, One More Time

The good writer-doctor, Dr. Luis Gatmaitan and I, together with CCP's Bing Tresvalles and Hermie Beltran spent a five day stay in Mauban for the Batang Sining Workshop 2012. Last year, we did the same workshop but with teachers of Mauban. This summer, we had children ages 6-12 years as participants. They were a joy to be with!

The Maubanin children were participative and very much eager to learn. They liked the movement activities and visual art projects. They were natural storytellers and writers of stories. If pick-up lines are trendy among Manila kids, Maubanin kids are crazy over those too. Thanks to the reach and power of TV and media, Dr. Gatmaitan and I had our fill of pick-up lines from Day 1 to Day 5 of the workshop.

 Another wonderful thing about the children in Mauban is that, they're in touch with their town's unique culture and local knowledge. Their group cheers bespeak of  Rizal Hill, the fabled hill where locals attest to seeing St. Elmo's Fire; Gat Uban, their local folk hero, a Dumagat who drove away the Moros; the Maubanog Festival, their town fiesta; and other tourist spots like Cagbalete, Alitap Falls and La Fella Resort.

The local government unit has something to do about this. The visible projects set out by the LGU's Tourism Office help raise the awareness of Maubanin culture and way of life. I have written about the many historical and geographical wonders of Mauban, as well, as gastronomic delights in previous blog posts. Going back there again revealed fascinating aspects of Mauban charm.

First, we met "Mamay". She is the town's buri weaver who looked like my maternal grandmother. The woven flowers I am holding in the photo is made by her. I did not ask Mamay how old she is, but it's obvious that weaving buri products is something she's done all her life.

Mamay is very grateful for the revival of this industry. The Tourism Office is working on a manual for those who will follow Mamay's footsteps. Buri weaving is a traditional art in Mauban it is being saved from extinction.  From this art, the LGU of Mauban has produced an industry that sustains the buri weavers and the collective livelihood of the towns people. I bought some of the woven flowers and buri bags as souvenirs.

On our free day, Ms. Anie Calleja, Mauban Tourism Officer showed us the Public Bath which was built in the 1700's.

It was a fascinating relic, an architectural ingenuity! The picture on the left shows Dr. Gatmaitan standing beside a water sprout. The basin like container catches the water that came from a spring which locals call Batis na Malinis. The batis (stream) is long dead and has dried up over the course of time. But the public bath stands till this day as a testament on the creativity, resourcefulness and local smarts of Maubanins.

How many public baths are there in this archipelago? This was a first for me and yes, I was impressed. See, it really is more fun in the Philippines!

After that trip to the public bath, we headed to Cagbalete Island. It was my second time there. I loved it on my first visit. As the saying goes, it was lovelier the second time around.

 Thank you to the LGU of Mauban; to CCP and PBBY for this wonderful experience of knowing my country piece by piece, one island at a time.

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