THE WAY WE WERE
Some people come to Paete to visit. Others come to stay. Majority of Paetenians didn't have any choice - we were born here. Still many who were born here do not leave. They grow up, get married, raise children, die, and are buried here.
When I was growing up, the oldest Paete authority I knew was Tandang Indong Palakat (Pedro Cajipe,Tiniyente del Baryo of Ibaba bordering Maytuong), but his memory of the town later included such things as men digging up Paete river ("mga humukay ng ilog") and lions roaming in the Sierra Madre forest (having been a komedya prompter, his favorite line was, "At aba! - ang liyon, lumabas sa gubat!") And of Juana de Arco marching under the Arc d' Triomphe and later spending the night among the banaba trees "sa may iskul." So it was time I searched out other authorities, preferably one who had written a book on Paete.
Luckily for me my Amang Binyag, Col. Paquito Quesada one Christmas gifted me with a book called "Paete" (published 1956), written by his uncle, Dr. Eugenio Quesada and it was just the authority I needed. In it, Dr. Quesada referred to a Mr. Telesforo Dagunton (d. 1944) as the historian of Paete, because Dagunton made a hobby of noting down events that happened in our town from at least 125 years ago.
Dr. Quesada also credited his godson, Fr. Julio Obial, OFM, a Franciscan priest from Paete, for opening up for him the Franciscan archives in Intramuros, Manila, before it was destroyed by the Japanese in WWII. The archives proved to be a treasure chest of information about our town. Still I had to search high and low to find an answer to this most nagging question:
"Bakit ang Simbahan sa Paete ay sa Ibaba nakaharap?"
To my young mind, a church must face the center of town. Yet Paete's church, built in 1864, has its back turned against the larger town sections, with only a side door opening to Gitnang Bayan.
The answer to this question, I later found out, was that for more than two centuries, Paete was a far-flung place, ilang na pook. It was the farthest point of Laguna de Bay from Manila and there was no other way to get there but by boat. People from Infanta could, with great hardship, go up and down the mountain to reach Paete. But Paete roads going to and from Pakil and Longos went no further. So the church had to face the lake, because the lake was then the main entrance.
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