Talavera, Nueva Ecija: A Philippine Provincial Town in Photos

The town

Talavera is a town in the northern part of Luzon with a population of 105, 122. It used to be called “Katugian” which means a place abounding in “Tugue” an edible root crop. The municipality’s terrain is relatively flat so that the land is suited for agricultural development.

Today, most of the land is used for rice planting and Carabao raising. Other crops like corn or onion are also produced aside from duck raising and egg production.

On the verge of ‘cityhood’

The Talavera of my childhood was a quiet and sleepy one. Eight plus years have passed since I collected those memories. So to my surprise, last May, a modern town burgeoning towards commercial and industrial development welcomed me back.

In recent years, many efforts to improve the town have been done, including the building of gymnasiums and over-all renovation of the town park and the Town Hall. It has been mentioned that a campaign for cityhood might be launched.

The updated town plaza which I found out too late had a small menagerie

The best time to go

For city dwellers who long for a one day or even a one night stint in the province, the best time to go is the second week of May when the town holds their fiesta. I believe accommodation can be found at the Crystal Waves Hotel & Resort (perfect for the summer) or in the neighboring town of Cabanatuan where a Microtel Inn & Suites is located.

As you can see the place is rife with activity. Despite the sweltering heat and humidity everyone is afoot or more aptly on a tricycle.

Palosebo contestants race to climb the greased bamboo sticks in order to win prize money

Families on tricylces braving the lunchtime heat to watch the different events

Onlookers with their balcony view of the festivities

Some notes on town fiestas and local food

The fiesta is part and parcel of Filipino culture. Through good times and bad times, the fiesta must go on. Each city and barrio has at least one local festival of its own, usually on the feast of its patron saint, so that there is always a fiesta going on somewhere in the country.

A typical Filipino Fiesta buffet

And where one is happening expect an abundance of food. Believe it or not, Filipinos open their homes to everybody- even to strangers off the street. Filipinos are so hospitable that they will make room for anybody on their dining table and treat them like family.

Rule of thumb is to load up your plate with a sampling of food. 1. White rice- the foundation of any Filipino plate 2. Lechon- roast pork 3. Binagoongan- pork in shrimp paste with steamed vegetables 4. Sago’t Gulaman- caramelized sugar drink with gelatin 5. Kaldereta- goat in tomato and liver paste 6. Dinuguan – blood pudding stew 7. Lumpia- pork or vegetable spring rolls

Remember to pace yourself when eating. The trick is to eat slow and engage fellow diners in conversation. This will allow for the necessary time to digest some of the initial serving you helped yourself to. A second or third serving plus dessert is made possible through this method.

My new friend- Mr. Roast Pork

Also, you will find that there will be similar dishes in each household but there will be different versions of the recipe thereby providing the foodie in you with a smorgasbord of flavors.

Your not so typical townsfolk

After loading up on pork and rice, the next best thing to do aside from having a siesta is to people watch.

This man is a Sorbetero. He sells sorbetes which is ice cream typically in mango, cheese or taro flavor. You can get it in a cup, cone or in a small bread bun.

What you don’t see everyday. A kid being chased around by his mom with a small tub of water. As you can see he was not able to escape in time.

Small chicks were dyed to be sold to kids as pets.

…or try fresh Carabao milk.

Talavera is home to the largest manufacturer of Carabao milk in Luzon. http://www.dvfdairyfarm.com/

The farm life

However, if you long for open fields with views of crops and livestock then there is no shortage of farms to lounge on. You may even take a nap under a tree (not a coconut) by the hay undisturbed. If you are lucky you may even find a bamboo platform to lie on.

The shade offers a much needed of respite from the sun.

Acres of farm stretch beyond the main roads

Where else can you pick fresh fruit and flowers side by side

A fire tree branching out into the farmscape

Philippine Provinces

Towns like Talavera provide an idyllic backdrop to the simple life. Outside of the city is a network of Philippine provinces which populate the archipelago. They are easy to pass by but the discerning traveler can spot its rustic charm. It is also the best place to observe local Filipino life and culture. 

Have you been to any provincial towns? What was the experience like?

19 Comments Talavera, Nueva Ecija: A Philippine Provincial Town in Photos

  1. Claire

    I was amused with the fiesta plate 🙂 This is such an interesting and great guide on enjoying the simple pleasures in rural towns especially for foreigners.

  2. The Travel Chica

    Makes me want to hop on a flight right now. The palosebo game in your picture looks like fun to watch. I got lucky in El Salvador and happened upon a small town during their annual fiesta. It was so enjoyable to see their games and music and all of the traditional food.

  3. Grace

    Scott, you were made for fiestas. The pig head is usually for display. I usually eat the white meat and the crispy pork skin/fat is in high demand. Some folks like to eat the cheeks, the jowl and the ears. Chefs in America are now using these parts as well and they are now considered gourmet delicacies!

  4. Pingback: Best of Travel 2011

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