A B O U T     P A E T E
By Marie Cagahastian Castillo-Pruden

Church of St. James, circa 1950.  The Richard E. Alhborn Collection, Tulane University Latin-American Library.
Church of St. James, circa 1950.
The Richard E. Alhborn Collection, Tulane University Latin-American Library.


PAETE (Pi-tè). A town in Laguna province of the archipelago-republic of the Philippines (population: 21,809), situated between 14 degrees and 16 degrees N and 120 degrees and 122 degrees E, about 113 kilometers southeast of Manila in the island of Luzon.

Paete lies at the foot of the green Sierra Madre mountains looking northwest halfway across the water towards Mabitac hill peninsula and on to what seems to be infinity itself. One does not see Manila from here. The silvery water is not the China Sea, but simply Laguna de Bay (Lake of Ba-i), the largest lake in southeast Asia.

Come in, meet the people of this most interesting place who are conscious of their history and proud of their cultural, religious and artistic heritage. You will find some of us eccentric, but that's because having been raised in a near-bohemian tradition, we are never overly concerned with appearances.

Paete is home to the lanzones fruit, the "ukit" (woodcarving), the "bakya" (Philippine woodenshoes), the gayly painted papier-mache "taka", the yo-yo and other toys...and the magical stories, songs and poems that the people themselves weave in their various celebrations and day-to-day living.

Over the years, the town has had its share of poverty, earthquakes, wars, typhoons and fires. But surely as the trees and vines cometo life again, our quest for the true and the beautiful continues. This gives Paete strength to survive yet a few more catastrophes and to enjoy the good life in between.

If you're lucky enough to be in Paete during a celebration, by all means join in. Feasts are a time for family gathering, for food, for praying, for telling stories, for singing and dancing, and for cherishing the children. If not a feastday, stay anyway. Paete is just as glorious in ordinary time.

But if like me, you could only dream of Paete - then log on to this website and get a feel of the place and its truly magnificent ordinary people. Come celebrate Paete in cyberspace.

Tuloy po kayo!

Back to previous page Read next section
Go Back Next


Since December 21, 2000