Paete, Laguna | The Carving Capital of the Philippines

It has been my self-pledge since the start of the year to travel at least one province, town, whatsoever, at least every month. But it came to me that once a month is not enough to fulfil my wanderlust – so I decided to make it at least once a week. Sounds very ambitious, right? But I’m trying my best to do it and as far as I can see, I’m already on my way to accomplishing it.

Sunday, 5th August, 2012 – Paete and Sta. Cruz

Paete, Laguna: The Carving Capital of the Philippines
Lakbay Xiomai - Paete Laguna - carving
It was my first time in Paete, Laguna – recognized as the Carving Capital of the Philippines obviously because of their passion to the art of carving – and I had a very limited knowledge about the place – it has lots of wood carvings, life size sculptures of saints and all, and whatnots. I intended to visit the place a week before this very visit, but it was raining hard then so I did not pursue.

What preparations did I make before the visit? Well, actually none except for asking some friends on Facebook of the best place to visit in Paete – a friend suggested to go see their church and another suggested to check out “Kape Kesada”. What could probably go wrong with traveling alone knowing nothing about the place you were planning to visit? Well, I guess none unless you make yourself an arrogant visitor instead of humbling yourself and asking the locals for directions – the latter is also a good way to win their trust so you can start blending in. But that is not always the case. I must admit, I had been a lazy chap that time. Seriously, I would not suggest you to go to a place you do not know. I’m not saying you have to know the place completely like you’ve lived there all your life, but at least read a couple of articles or even more about the place and somehow familiarize yourself with the place through these articles – but surely there are things that words cannot really explain or describe. A little knowledge of its people, places, and basics in directions are a great help.

I left the Metro at around 9 in the morning. From Cubao, where the HMT’s terminal is located – the bus line that goes to Sta. Cruz, Laguna via the National Hi-way, – I arrived at the HMT’s Sta. Cruz Terminal at around 11 in the morning. At Sta. Cruz, I asked a very special friend of mine for directions on how to get to Paete. She said I had to get on a jeepney bound for Siniloan and asked the driver to drop me off Paete’s town proper. After a long five minutes of waiting for a jeepney that would get me to my destination, finally it came with a slight drizzle. ;P Yeah, it started to rain again… .

On the road back to sta. cruz, laguna | lakbay xiomai

Town after town, beautiful towns, that is, I forgot to ask the driver to drop me off the town proper of Paete. Pardon me, I was just amazed by the structures of the houses, churches, small and clean paved streets, creatively designed shops, and the green trees along the way – these things are very rare in the Metro, so please, do pardon me. Then the jeepney started to ascend to what seemed to me the Kenon Road of Baguio. Yeah, I know, I was not in Baguio, and I knew that for sure because the Laguna de Bay, I could see it from up there, and I’m telling you, it was breath-taking. Although I was not able to take at least a single picture of the great lake from up there on that very instance, I knew I would on my next visit.

A few minutes later, I saw signs that I was nearing Paete – there were shops of wood carvings on both sides of the road – and finally the word “Paete” welcomed me as if congratulating me for having a pair of itchy feet. My head and eyes were in sync to look for any sign that I was already in the town proper; I could not ask the driver for I was at the far end of the jeepney and he seemed to be pre-occupied with his driving, as I was with my amazement of the town. So what happened next? I got off at the wrong place and I ended up walking back to where I should have stopped.

Kape Kesada, Kalye Kesada, and a Little Misadventure
I saw a small church with small food stalls and establishments around it and I had a feeling that I was already at the right place – the town proper of Paete, – but I was a little hesitant so I did not alight there. So I thought I would just have to look for “Quesada Street” cause “Kape Kesada” should be found there and from there finding everything else would be a breeze. I was delighted to learn that finding Quesada St. would not be so hard because the jeepney would pass there. So I get off the jeepney with my smile drawn up to my ears … until I asked a local for directions to Kape Kesada. She said nicely that the “Quesada St.” I was looking for is not the “Quesada St.” I had found and I would have to go back to the town proper. I asked if I would need to ride a jeepney back, and she said it would be a waste of money cause the town is just a few walks away. So walk I did.

Kape KesadaI found myself at the spot where I first thought was “the right place” and silently laughed at my sudden misadventure. Then I asked another local where I could find “Quesada St.” and she just pointed me to the street opposite us, and I just said, “Oh. D’yan? Thank you!” and smiled at her and I was silently laughing at myself again for I was not reading the street signs! A few steps from the entrance of the street, I found “Kape Kesada”, right behind a burger stall. Without hesitation, I went straight to the café and stepped onto its wooden floor.
There was no one inside the café so I asked the people from the burger stall if the café was closed or if there was anyone to attend to the customers. They said they would call her. While waiting, I sat on a chair inside the café surrounded by the artworks of some Paetenian artists – from paintings to wood carvings. Then a petit woman, whose name is Bebs, arrived and greeted me with a smile and, as a courtesy, I stood up and greeted her back. She asked me to sit down and handed me the menu.

They offer not many kinds of coffee; in fact there were just seven kinds of coffee in the menu, seven cold drinks, no pastries or anything else. These drinks range from PHP50 to PHP120, except for the Alamid Coffee which would cost you PHP200.00 for a cup. Since this was a very special visit and I had no idea of when my next visit would be, I ordered the Alamid coffee – I haven’t tried it anyway. While waiting for my coffee to be served, I asked Bebs if she was the owner of the café cause from what I’ve read, Kape Kesada is owned by some “Dr. Valdecantos”. She humbly said no and that she was just a caretaker of the café and an artist whose artworks were displayed in the café as well.

My coffee was finally served and we continued to chat. Bebs said that the café is owned by Dr. Nilo Valdecantos, an advocate of art and working in the government to boost tourism in Paete. Dr. Valdecantos invited and continues to invite artists from Paete and all of Laguna to showcase their talents to attract more people to visit the town and the province in general. One way is to display their artworks in the café free of charge. He believes that, in terms of arts, Paetenians can do more than just carving – he wants Paete to be recognised not only for the art of carving but also for other forms of art. For his love of art and Paete, the café recently held a painting workshop for kids.

lakbay xiomai Alamid coffee at Kape KesadaI finished my coffee and took pictures of the café when I learned that it was not actually prohibited contrary to what I’ve read. While taking pictures and moving around the small café, I realised that aside from the artworks inside it, Kape Kesada is already a work of art in itself. I bid my good bye to the café and promised that we’d see each other again. 🙂

Along Quesada St. are various wood carving shops and you will find the church at the end of it, right side of the plaza. It had started to rain but I continued to walk forth with my eyes at wild looking left and right. Finally, the church – a real beauty and magnificently built. I was awed by how the huge blocks of rocks were put together to build this awesome baroque church. There was a mass going on when I arrived at the church so I went inside to pray and pay my respect.

After taking some pictures of the church, I went back to Quesada St. for some souvenir. I entered the first store I saw on my way from the church and bought my souvenir and a gift for my Mom – which I haven’t given her yet, ehe. I don’t know, but I find the articles there very cheap – the key chain that I bought cost me PHP30, and the crucifix cost me PHP75. I can’t really say, but for me, they are cheap.
Just at the entrance of Quesda St., you’d find a jeepney stop; the jeepneys there are bound for Sta. Cruz or someplace else. Before I got into the jeepney, I took some pictures.

Where Else in Paete:
Aside from the Quesada St., Kape Kesada and Paete Church, locals said I should visit the falls at the foot of the mountain, which at that time was covered with clouds because it was already raining, or go hike the mountain and see the three crosses at the top. They said the trek to the falls would not be hard if it was not only for the rain, and they have good people ready to assist visitors there. Well, I guess I have good reasons to visit Paete again, eh? 🙂

lakbay xiomai Paete Laguna Church
Next stop? The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Sta. Cruz, Laguna! Read more about it here!

Fare Breakdown:
Cubao to Sta. Cruz, Laguna: PHP148.25
HMT Sta. Cruz Terminal to Paete: PHP23.00
Paete to Sta. Cruz Town Proper: PHP27.00 ***
Sta. Cruz Town Proper to HMT Sta. Cruz Terminal: PHP8.00 ***
Cubao to HMT Sta. Cruz Terminal: PHP148.25
***You do not actually have to go to Sta. Cruz Town Proper; you can just pay another PHP23.00 from Paete to the HMT Sta. Cruz Terminal and ride a bus bound for Cubao. It just so happened that I also paid a visit to the church in Sta. Cruz that is why I added these to my fare breakdown.

9:00 AM – Bus left from the HMT Cubao Terminal
11:00 AM – Arrived at the HMT Sta. Cruz Terminal
11:30 AM – Arrived at Paete Town Proper
11:38 AM – Took my first shot in Paete (ehe)
11:30 AM to 11:50 AM – Walked around the Town Proper
11:50 AM – Kape Kesada
12:30 PM – Paete Church
12:50 PM – Looked for some souvenirs
1:00 PM – Left Paete for another town to visit, Sta. Cruz
2:00 PM – Arrived at Sta. Cruz Town Proper
2:05 PM – Lunch at McDonald’s
2:20 PM – Off to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish and took some pictures
2:30 PM – Headed back to the HMT Sta. Cruz Terminal
2:20 PM – Bus left from the terminal
6:00 PM – Arrived at the HMT Cubao Terminal



5 Comments Add yours

  1. chie says:

    good read 🙂 I’m planning to backpack some heritage town in laguna and your post really helped me to plan my itinerary. Tnx 🙂

    1. iamxiomai says:

      Hey, Chie! Thanks for your comment. This Paete trip is one of my memorable, short trips in Laguna. Its small town is really fascinating, and peaceful. Anyway, try Nagcarlan, Pila and Liliw, too. 🙂 Oh, there are just too many towns in Laguna that are worth a visit. The people are polite and courteous, too. That is why I bought a house in that province.
      Have a great trip!

  2. Looks like a quick trip to Laguna is in my near future 🙂

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