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So Near Yet So Far: Quisao

The quest for a landscape and sunset photos have always taken me places but I usually stay away from the beaten path.  There are places in my countrythe Philippineswhich are known and favored by photographers.  Although any photographers' bucket list would probably include having taken those famous scenery, let me move on to something not all too common.

Or, perhaps something "common" or ordinary that no one would care much for it.

This hunt would take us to a little barangay called Quisao (there is now such a thing as Google Maps), that sits on the edge of Laguna Lake and forms the municipality of Pililla on the road towards Jala-jala.  On a road trip you would skip that isthmus as you travel from Rizal to Laguna on the East Road.  And if you ever wander on to that road, it is probably because you are on your way to Jala-jala and somewhere there is this spot where you have to slow down because the road becomes mildly congested.  And you would not even know what the name of that populated area that is the source of "mild congestion."


Quisao does not appear prominently in news or historical reportsexcept for one instance back in 1842 when tulisanes (bandits) raided and looted the whole town, it may very well be an epitome of a sleepy rural barrio (albeit with nice roadssomething the province of Rizal is known for). Yet it is so near the big city, virtually opposite Metro Manila in Laguna Lake.  That proximity has been both a blessing and a curse.

The blessing is the proximity: it is close to the big city. It is an easy commutemaybe a looong commutebut nevertheless a ride away from EDSA.  That allows the younger generation to take on jobs being created by globalization infecting the national economy. That should allow visitors to travel and see the place--if only they knew it existed.

The curse is the proximity: it is close to the big city. It sits on the edge of a big pond called Laguna Lake and suffers from whatever mismanagement that happens from the other side of lake.

Dionisio Vedanes is a fisherman longing for the old days when fish was abundant in Laguna Lake.  With overfishing and bad ecological management, those good old days are now gone.  Many resorting to fish-pens raising hito (catfish). His complaint is that trying to get attention from the local government, much less the national government, is an act of futility.  It seems the national preoccupation revolves around the lives and scandals of politicians and show-biz personalitiesa redundant phrase since these days "politician" and "show-biz personality" may be interchangeable terms.


"Friendly" and "proud" are words that are sometimes diametrically oppose to each other in the Filipino psyche.  Probably because in some context "proud" can mean "arrogant" (the Tagalog term "mayabang" carries with it enough ambiguity to cover both prideas in confidenceand arrogance).  The people of Quisao is precisely that: friendly and proud (in the sense of confident).  That was what met me as I stepped on the lakeside to meet Mang Dionisio and the kids.

And the kids!  Kids in the big city (maybe a road or so away in the Rizal-Laguna boundary) offers to sell stuff, watch cars, wash windows or what not for a hand out.  Here in Quisao, the kids approach and pull your hand to their foreheads for a blessing ("mano po").


We are going back there again.  At the very least we owe Mang Dionisio and the kids a copy of their photos, but also to take more photos and perhaps tell more of their stories that have been obscured and buried by the big city's obscene fascination for the lives and scandals of the rich and famous.



  1. Drive a bit further, theres a place there to get some fresh carabao dairy products (Milk, cheese, yema..etc re: fresh it's like drinking steak :)))) ) all thanks to France


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