Monday, August 31, 2015

TRAVEL | Liwaliw sa Liliw: Where everything closes at six

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The red-bricked St John the Baptist Church in Liliw, Laguna.

It was five in the afternoon already when we got out of the heavily vandalized but still impressive Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery and proceeded to the town of Liliw, also in Laguna province. No thanks to our laziness we found ourselves rushing once we found a parking spot, as darkness was just minutes away.

Liliw is a fourth class municipality that is probably best known for its slippers and shoe industry, a place relegated to but a quick stop to many an excursionist's itinerary. I may have intentionally sought out Liliw from the comforts of our little retreat at Sitio de Amor in San Pablo but it's a shame I only had about an hour to see the town before it got dark -- and everything closed.

Nonetheless, here's what I managed to check out in that very limited time.

Saint John the Baptist Church
With a striking red brick facade, the St John the Baptist Church of Liliw is a beautiful piece of baroque architecture, its old world charm only enhanced by moss and stray plant growth (though they also cause gradual damage to the building).

Unfortunately its beauty does not completely shine through because newer additions on the church grounds, particularly the string of white statues of different saints, mar the structure's otherwise glorious view. It's a shame, actually, and evidently it's another one of those church developments that haven't been thought through by their proponents.

Where it's a grotto with an image of Our Lady of Lourdes that I normally see on many church grounds, in Liliw's case it's a statue of Our Lady of Fatima that stands next to the belfry. On the floor and fence around it are slabs of concrete with hand and foot markings and nameplates, presumably of donors. Unfortunately -- again -- it wasn't properly thought of. There's supposed to be a nice mountain backdrop behind it but wasn't put to good use. And what's with the electrical wire dangling in front of Our Lady's face? And the cheap "Bawal maglaro dito" (Playing here is prohibited) sign?

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With all those white statues around, it's hard to get a good photo of the church in its entirety.

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Looking back at the entrance to the church grounds.

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A stained glass image of the Divine Mercy somewhere along the church's facade.

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Ugly dangling wire and tacky yellow sign ruin this sight.

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Donor, donor on the floor and wall.

Whatever's been happening elsewhere on the church grounds, it's a good thing nobody messed with the actual church's design. I wasn't able to take proper pictures of the church's interiors because a mass was ongoing but it's really beautiful here.

The main congregation area is a long rectangular space whose walls are a mix of stone and red bricks, and where two rows of chandeliers hang from the ceiling. There are three multi-level gilded altars housing nearly two dozen religious figures. Even from the door where I was standing, the altars evoke a sense of awe, in my case at least. Its old pulpit is also still gorgeously intact.

To the right of the main hall (when facing the altar) is the adoration chapel, while on the left is another chapel dedicated to San Buenaventura. This is also where believers light candles and offer prayers.

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I didn't risk stepping inside lest I burst into flames.

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Zooming in from the door, it's a really beautiful church, don't you think?

The footwear shops
The way I saw it, most of the shops selling locally made shoes, sandals, and slippers, are on Gat Tayaw Street. With just a few minutes to spare I wasn't able to find anything for me here, except for a pair of flip-flops. Kwittiegirl, however, scored a few bargains like slippers that go for 3 for Php 100. Never mind that the quality's not really good but 3 for Php 100? Talk about cheap thrills!

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One of the shops along Gat Tayaw Street.

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Badong, arguably Liliw's most popular footwear store. Those are all shoes hung on the wall, by the way.

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An image of Gat Tayaw outside Badong. The guy founded the town.

By the time we got to Badong it was already closed for the day. Yes, they -- along with every other store -- close at six. Maybe I'll have better luck with shoe shopping next time.

Giant footwear
It seems quite common for stores here to have a pair of giant slippers as decor, with which tourists delight themselves for photo ops. But it's not just the stores that have them, I realized.

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Waiting for the prince that never came. Poor Cinderella.

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A giant high-heeled shoe inside Liliw's municipal hall.

Old houses
It may not be like Pila (a town in Laguna known for heritage houses) but I was glad to have spotted a few old houses in Liliw. And it's great that they seem to be in very good condition even if some of them aren't exclusively residential abodes anymore. In some of these houses, the ground floors have been leased out as commercial spaces and are now either restaurants or pharmacies.

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Spotted this nice house that's partially occupied by a drugstore chain.

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Still in great condition, and I'm loving the paint job.

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The municipal hall. Okay, I'm not sure if this is an authentic old house or just patterned after one. Either way, I like it.

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Definitely not Hispanic but it's still a beautiful house. And since it looks like something from the 70s or early 80s, doesn't it qualify as old yet?

Dinner at Arabela
A really small place but with good Italian food. No wonder it's a hit with visitors. (You can check out my Arabela restaurant review to learn a bit more about this place.)

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So long, Liliw.

It was already dark outside when we finished dinner. Everything was closed, even the ATM! Well at least 7-Eleven wasn't. I left Liliw with a resolve to come back and spare her a little bit more time next time, time she rightfully deserves.


  1. Such a beautiful and interesting town (i´ll be all over the giant footwear like a good tourist lol). The church is so beautiful, the altar reminds me of a church we have here in Casco Viejo (Old Town) that houses the Golden Altar which is made of gold. The houses are so beautiful I really visiting towns like that it feels very homely in some way.


  2. Awesome work.Just wanted to drop a comment and say I am new to your blog and really like what I am reading.Thanks for the share

  3. Beautiful cathedral. I'll take a note not to exceed 6 p.m. in Liliw or everything is closed hehe


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