MORE THAN A COUPLE OF STREETS
Pardon me, but Paete does have a few more streets than what travel guides would make you believe. Incorporated under Laguna provincial laws only after it had been shuttled back-and-forth as a village between two older municipalities (Lumban and Pangil), Paete achieved township in 1850 when a group of Franciscan Friars (OFM) built a friary there. With the friary came the Church of Santiago Mayor, Apostol y Martir (St. James the Great, apostle and martyr), built in 1864 and filled with century-old paintings and wooden statuaries that the people themselves made. This baroque mission church itself is worth the trip, both for its aesthetic value and spiritual significance. A piece of Campostela in the Far East, it is steeped in legends, stories of martyrdom, and memories of a people that bind them together through generations.
Where the northward and southward streets meet is a paved road that runs parallel to the river. That road is Quesada Street (formerly Gen. Luna), otherwise called "Gitnang Bayan", the center of town. This is where most of the stores are located but no one calls it downtown because in Paete, to go "down" means to walk toward the lake - the "Ibaba." And to go "up" means to walk toward the mountain, to "Ilaya" Southeast is "Kinale" and northeast is "Bagumbayan." Northwest and southwest are really just narrow plains of ricefields and of course, the lake. Gitnang Bayan is where the plaza, the old Catholic church, the Aglipayan church and the municipal buildings are located. The fish-and-vegetable markets are on either end of Gitnang Bayan. But it is in the plaza area that people congregate during the day to attend town meetings, to watch the games, to hold festivities, to dance, and to watch stage presentations during special nights.
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