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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
…or try fresh Carabao milk.
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.
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?