Shakeys Holds Manager’s Training at Casa San Pablo
Sykes Asia Goes Team-building at Casa San Pablo
Special Discounts on Conference Packages
Casa San Pablo Meeting Facilities
WEDDING INSPIRATIONS: Ryan and Christine's Wedding
Blue And White Wedding
Bountiful Wedding
Hacienda Wedding
Dining Hall Reception
Garden Reception
Pavilion Reception
Bed And Breakfast
Romantic Stay
Family & Balikbayan Escape

Palayokan Fame


I love these miniature palayok sets in playful colors at a roadside stall
Just like I remember them when we were kids—miniature palayok either unpainted or painted in bright colors
Meet Aling Femy, the belly-dancing palayok trader
Rows of flavored labanog in pink, emerald green, mint blue; and coconut vinegar

ONCE I OVERHEARD a rather animated conversation between two of our guests who were chatting at our veranda:

Guest 1: “Hoy! May pottery barn daw sila dito. Punta tayo! Tingnan natin.”

Guest 2: “Anong pottery barn?”

Guest 1: “Ha?! Hindi mo alam?!”

Guest 2: “Hindi nga, eh.”

Guest 1: “Yung gawaan ng palayok! Baka may mabili tayo.”

 I am sure they were disappointed when they got to my studio and found only my little clay dolls there and no earthenware for paksiw, sinaing, or kanin.

 After my bruised ego had recovered, I realized the native wisdom in the conversation. It is the native palayok, after all, that is our most common encounter with hand-made terracotta pottery and our connection with it is deep, with roots in our childhood or in our hometown. There was no palayok cooking in our home kitchen as I was growing up, neither do I remember seeing it in use in my grandmother’s home in Lucena. But I do remember receiving a miniature set as a child and knowing exactly what it was for. I remember thrill of cooking malunggay soup in it, the adrenaline rush of watching the panggatong catch fire, and the excitement of seeing the broth bubble up to a boil. Today, all those feelings come rushing back when I see a palayok set. Perhaps, it was the same rush that my guests were hoping to find in my pottery barn.

 Yesterday, I celebrated Mother’s Day, by driving out to Tiaong in search of miniature palayok and kalan. We found two roadside stalls along Maharlika Highway, a few minutes after McDonald’s Tiaong, before the by-pass road. The play sets were painted in vibrant candy colors—red, pink, yellow green, sky blue, powder blue, and violet.  My heart skipped a beat at the colorful display, they’re hard to miss even when you’re speeding down the highway.

I found Aling Femy, the palayok vendor, enthroned in her stall on a plastic lounging chair behind a row of vinegar bottles and jugs of lambanog (in different flavors and colors). I couldn’t see her from the roadside, but maybe that was because a large tarpaulin plastered on the makeshift wall distracted my eyes. It was a photo of five paunchy middle-aged women dressed in belly dancing shimmers with embarrassingly rotund bare midriffs. “Ikaw po ba iyan?” I asked her. “Ay oo!" she said proudly. "Iyan yung sumali kami kay Willie Revillame. Sumayaw kami doon. Nanalo kami ng P20,000!”

 I was hoping to meet a fellow artisan, one who could connect me to the traditional terracotta-making process but no, Aling Femy is not an artisan herself, she is a shrewd trader who buys her wares from paso kilns in Bataan and sells them in Tiaong, along with an assortment of pasalubong items. She knew nothing about clay nor the painting process. But ask her about her tarpaulin glory and she waxes lyrical. It was her minute of fame, after all, now forever remembered in her roadside shrine, between the shelf of lambanog and the row of palayok.

(The stall is a 20-minute drive from Casa San Pablo, along Maharlikha Highway in Tiaong, Quezon., a few minutes after McDonald's)