I LEFT Pampanga one rainy afternoon for an assignment. It took me 12 long hours to reach my destination in the northern part of Luzon. The name of the town means “twisting two strands” (to make a rope) and it’s one of the most historic places in the country. I went to the municipality of Lal-lo in Cagayan.
During the Spanish colonial era, the town used to be a city called Nueva Segovia. There had been attempts to restore the old name and status. Local leaders even filed a motion before Congress but the historical Spanish document which declared this municipality as a city that was believed to be signed by King Philip could not be retrieved. Lal-lo was the capital of Cagayan until 1839 when the provincial government was moved to Tuguegarao.
I recently visited the town to deliver an inspirational message in behalf of NPF Executive Director Michelle Aguilar-Ong during the 438th Patronal Town Fiesta and 19th Cabibi Festival of Lal-lo. With this year’s theme, “Treasuring Yesteryears’ Fruitful Community Partnership” the Lal-loqueños seemed to have given importance and effort to the occasion. The town was lively and the folks were in a festive mood.
The locals headed by the newly seated Vice Mayor Olive Pascual together with the young Mayor Oliver Pascual expressed their warm hospitality to the Kapampangan from Angeles City. The venue was held at their brand new gymnasium which is at par with first-class gymnasiums in the metro. VM Olive introduced me to her family, the board members, the councilors, the barangay captains and the town hall department heads. While waiting for the program to start, the energetic vice mayor invited me to dance on the red carpet. I did my best not to step on her foot.
The place is rich in resources and the locals here take pride in the freshwater fish and shells that thrive in its waters. Like the Kapampangans, the Lal-loqueños love good food. I made it a point not to leave Cagayan without trying the dinakdakan, crispy dinuguan, igado, their version of pinakbet, liver in oyster sauce, and the famous Batil Patong pancit.
I was able to visit the historic Santo Domingo de Guzman Church which was erected by the Dominicans in 1581. A four-wheeled vehicle they call tricy is their main mode of transportation instead of a jeepney. Its agricultural landscape is spectacular and the thoroughfares are commuter-friendly.
Taking from the message of my friend and Lal-lo’s pride, E.D. Mich Ong, she said that the beauty of Lal-lo is not only confined to their river but also in the values embedded deeply in their culture. Through the people, Lal-lo shines.
Jose “Kuya Jay” Pelayo IV is the president of Metro Angeles City Journalists Association, Inc. and the president of Pampanga-Tarlac Energy Press Corps. For comments and suggestions, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org