This is a view of the old church of Kalayaan, Laguna from Exotic Restaurant. This was taken April 2010 (see, my signature is the old one hehe). As much as I wanted to visit it right away, I can’t since I only accompanied my cousin and their family. Sabit, ika nga. Fast forward to 2011, here I am. As part of my Laguna loop trip, I made sure that I visit the church.
Kalayaan is a very small town in Laguna located at the shore of Laguna de Bay. The nearby towns are Paete in the north, Cavinti and Lumban in the south. And as far as my research goes, it has only three barangays: Longos, San Juan and San Antonio. Longos and San Juan are located at the Laguna de Bay’s shore, while San Antonio rests on the mountains of Sierra Madre.
Bro. Erning Galleros of Pakil church told me that each barangay in Longos has its own church, the eldest one is in Longos (the one viewable from Exotic Restaurant), then in San Juan (which looks like it’s not maintained well). Recently, San Antonio has its own because, as Bro. Erning explained, the difficulty of going up and down hill to San Juan to attend the mass.
And the search for the old Church in Longos made me appreciate more the sad story behind Kalayaan.
From my last stopover at Paete, I took a jeepney ride to Kalayaan, but I missed Longos and the church (I have reached the power lines in Cavinti already!). Of course, I took a jeepney ride back, and upon seeing the Kalayaan Municipal hall, I got off because I thought that it is where I can find the old church. But when I asked the locals, they pointed me to the San Juan church, because they thought that it is the old church, and the new one is in San Antonio. It’s a good thing that a tricycle driver knows what I’m talking about and took me to Longos for PhP15.00, almost the same amount of a special tricycle ride in Manila.
While on the tricycle, the kind driver (how stupid I am not to ask for his name!) gave me some history about Kalayaan. Albeit not that accurate, his story was somehow consistent with the history pamphlet I got from the Longos church and some notes from the Internet.
According to the tricycle driver, the picture above is where the former municipal hall was located. Originally, the name of this town was ‘Visita Babaye’, which was only a part of Lumban, Laguna (‘Visita’ I believe is the equivalent of a barangay during those times). It was renamed ‘Longos’ after Fr. Luciano Longos, who sought for the visita’s improvement. In 1600, the Visita Longos was transferred from Lumban to Paete, and in 1669, the town of Longos was born. During the American colonial period, Longos was again annexed to the town of Paete, but got back its town status a few years later. However, on March 30, 1948, the seat of power was transferred from Longos to Brgy. San Juan (where it is presently located). And as a final blow to Longos, the town was renamed to Kalayaan on May 17, 1957.
When I arrived in Longos, it was the opening of an inter-barangay basketball tournament, making Longos a little bit alive.
And more importantly, I finally found the church.
Inside the church compound, there is also a small garden. And a few steps ahead is the shore of Laguna Lake. From the outside, it seems that the Longos church has retained its Spanish-era features. When you enter the church, however, is a different story.
According to the lay workers in the church, the rooftop of the church was destroyed by the typhoon Milenyo last 2006. However, they don’t have the means of restoring its original roof, that’s why they settled to the less costly but more miserable looking roof. And I presume that the church (and the whole Longos itself) was flooded during typhoon Ondoy, since it is just within the shores of Laguna Lake.
As I made this entry a month after the trip, I believe that Longos is a reflection of the Philippine society. Lacking in sense of history, just like the renaming of Longos to Kalayaan. However, like the Longos church, we’re resilient, resourceful, and will not back down to any challenge. Filipinos are survivors, just like the Longos church. Just like Longos itself.