I consider the municipality of Lavezares, Northern Samar as the less complex parts of my heart. The waves with bluish hue are the veins, the streets that glow reddish as the sun sets are the arteries, the leaves sparkling with morning dew are the capillaries, and the Warays who are anything but unfriendly are the blood.
Home to more than 28,000 citizens, placid aura rose naturally from the town’s coast and the continuous roaring of its bodies of water serves as a reminder that the town is alive.
Bounded on the north with Biri, an island that is said to represent Northern Samar to the tourism map of the Philippines because of its magnificent rock formations, tourists consider Lavezares as just the port where outrigged canoes are situated to sail towards the said island.
However, for me, Lavezares is the home of my childhood dreams. Near its mangroves-filled water of Lavezares Bay is where I was born and on its land on a remote barangay with bountiful rice-fields and coconut trees that stand up like spikes is where half of my existence was raised.
Of Tales and Literature
As what my parents have told me, Lavezares was once known as Pinonayan which literally means the home of the ponay. The ponay (green pigeon) is a native bird famed for the melodious sound it makes, their color that easily blends with the leaves, and their ability of being a fast flyer. As a commemoration for its founding, the town celebrates Pinonayan festival yearly where street dancing occurs. I remembered that as a child, I’ve known the festival as the Ati-atihan, where people paraded while carrying the Sto. Niño. I remembered the heavy traffic, the smudge of coal on my face put by random strangers, the loud cheers, and the happy smiles.
The citizens of Lavezares not only embrace people with a hint of their own serenity but also tell about their beliefs in a vivid and creative way. My great grandparents who lived in Lavezares for most of their lives often told me about folklores that happened in the town that includes Filipino mythical creatures such as aswang (flesh eater), nuno (dwarves), sirena (mermaids), engkantada (enchantress), and many more. My late great grandfather loved to sing Waray folk songs. Aside from the melody and tune that will surely lull children to sleep during siesta time, there’s the comedic message conveyed between the lines of each stanza.
Of Taste and Tell
For me, the real star of Lavezares is the foods. Rich aroma of nature wakes up delightful sensation inside my tummy as I think of fresh lato (sea grapes), pako (fern), pili, and the ever excellent seafoods.
Lato had been whipped up on my memory since I’ve first delved my teeth deep into its green, watery, salty, and robust grape like structure best when bathed with vinegar. Lato may be slimy but it is a good source of iron, iodine, calcium, and vitamins A and C.
A platter filled with edible fern cooked with coconut milk reminds me of the place I’ve considered forest in Lavezares—the scent of milky coconut, the sight of green grass, the taste of rain in the midst of summer, the sound of rushing stream, and the texture of rugged and moist lands. The creamy taste of ginataang pako is enough to leave pretentious manners regarding another cup of rice.
The process of getting a single pili fruit is quite difficult but the fruit of labor is worth it. As for me, I’ve nearly chopped off my pointing finger, stained my mouth with violet and blue from the pili’s skin leaving a bitter yet toothsome taste, and invaded the rats’ lair under the roots of pili tree to steal their already skinned pili. A lot of pili nut products made for pasalubong are sold in the market such as pili nut brittle and mazapan de pili, but nothing beats the velvety taste of fresh pili nuts.
What I love about seafoods in Lavezares aside from the fact that they are excellently flavored with the salt water is that people eat seafoods fresh from the sea with just vinegar and a massive chomp of their gnashers. Of course, seafoods can also be served drizzled or dipped with home made sweet or spicy sauces, but watching almost everyone eat them uncooked is fascinating.
Of Tides and Attractions
As an elementary student, leaving Lavezares felt alright until I realized late at the beginning of the end of my teenage years that its nature’s alluring call that compliments the tourists attraction on its neighboring town is something that I missed.
Aside from the Lavezares Bay that I remembered burning both my eyes and my skin, the pili trees everywhere, and the streams that give life to edible frogs and spiral snails, the 18 foot statue of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion (Our Lady of Salvation) that stood proud and tall in the midst of Lavezares Bay is something every Christians would want to visit for a splendor place of worship. It is said that the statue of the patron saint of Lavezares—called by the folks as “Santa”—guards the town against the turbulence of strong waves and raging storms.
In addition, no matter how heartbreaking it is, there’s a lot of places in Lavezares I’ve never explored too much. These includes Lavezares’ very own enticing attractions of beaches ideal for diving and snorkeling, waterfalls, caves, marine sanctuaries rich in mangrove forest growing from crystal clear waters where marine life spawn and spring, and unique life-size religious monuments near the town church for spiritual nourishment and renewal.
Of Travel and Means
From Manila, one can go to Lavezares, by taking a commercial flight to the airport of Catarman or Calbayog, Northern Samar and from there, taking a tricycle to the terminal or to the main road for a jeepney ride going to the town.
Alternatively, one can choose to take the fourteen to fifteen hours bus ride before catching a ferry from Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen, Northern Samar and taking a tricycle or a jeepney.
Lavezares may or may not be appealing to tourists, but in my own perception as a child, even if I’ve remembered visiting only three of its 27 barangays, the lively town is more than enough.