I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

20 June, 2011

Happy 150th Birthday Jose Rizal!

     I searched in vain for some ceremony or activity to attend in the Santa Rosa area on Jose Rizal's birthday.  There were many parties, concerts, a run, film showings, all in Metro Manila.  Other provinces had their ceremonies, and I never even got around to finding out if there was anything going on at the bayan ng Santa Rosa. 

     My plan was to actually avoid Calamba on Sunday, June 19, knowing the President would lead rites there, and that there probably would be activities all day.

     By 3 pm, I was itching to really go SOMEWHERE close, feeling strangely celebratory.  I think the excitement had something to do with just BEING in Laguna, being near Calamba.  We went to Calamba, exiting Bgy Don Jose, Paseo area via Eton. This drive to the town center takes around 20 minutes. I was hoping that museum hours would somehow be extended on this special day.  I had assumed it would be open today, Monday, too.  After all, it is a National Holiday.  Why wouldn't the Rizal Shrine hold special hours?

    Well, festive, it was, by the church, which is next to Jose Rizal's ancestral home. There was the familiar smell of a marketplace, even if the Calamba tiangge and public markets were away, near SM Calamba.  There was also the smell of oil frying fishballs, but it wasn't good as usual. It was like some kind of cheap, greasy, oil, not appetizing at all.  People were milling everywhere as mass went on...as well as people positioned among vendors. I saw a small hunchback walking in front of me, and a crippled man sitting by the church gate, one palm up asking for alms, one palm grasping  cane.  I bought some sampaguita from one of five vendors outside; I said no thank you to friendly teenagers selling mini replicas of the famous giant palayok--a major landmark in Calamba (which we failed to see on the trip).  The beggars outside the church, the street food, the wares--all the requisite provincial town plaza elements were there. But I was unrealistically expecting more "Rizal's 150th birthday" souvenirs, I guess.  Like the cupcakes I saw a child holding at the Luneta shrine, shown on the news later in the evening.  Then again, I would prefer puto or kakanin.

    There were crowds within the house's grounds too, but the guard told me the museum was closed. I had wanted to just take a photo with the boy Rizal in the garden...but gave it up. The rain continued and it was muddy. Strange again, I still enjoyed the brief stop and walk in the rain. 

    I guess we had missed the parade of floats, as they drove by us, paper and flowers soaked, wilted...but it's alright.  Living here, we have our pick of days to return to Rizal's Shrine now.  Another good thing about living in Santa Rosa :-)

    Anyway, this is what happened in the morning of Sunday:

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