APRIL CHILL. The weather is hot in April but there is a nice little nip in the air as we approach Liliw one weekend afternoon. Just like other towns nestled at the foot of Mount Banahaw, the temperature dips in Liliw a few hours before sundown, making it an alternative summer destination.
Liliw has been known for its rustic resorts, tasty uraro cookies, and potent lambanog. Recently, the quiet Laguna town was recognized as the Tsinelas Capital of the Philippines with the launch of the Tsinelas Festival in 2001 to celebrate Liliw’s thriving footwear-making industry.
LIW.LIW. LIW. Coinciding with the Tsinelas festival that is held every April, the occasion is also dedicated to the town’s founder, Gat Tayaw.
According to legend, the town got it’s name from a bird that alighted into a pole-maker erected by it’s founder. The bird made a melodious sound of liw, liw, liw so Gat Tayaw named the new settlement as Liliw in 1571.
LILIO JOE. At the time of the Spanish era, the Franciscan erected a church and dedicated it to San Juan Bautista. Baroque in architecture, the church has a brick facade and imposing bell tower topped by overgrowth.
With the turnover of the Philippines to the United States, the Americans began a spree of renaming our towns for the sake of convenience in pronouncing them and Liliw became Lilio. But the townspeople passed a resolution declaring Liliw as the town’s official name.
TSINELAS CAPITAL. The narrow street leading to the church is lined with stores selling tsinelas fashioned from leather and abaca. Displayed in every store front is a pair of giant tsinelas and overlooking this narrow street is a gigantic slipper making a glaring statement that Liliw is the country’s tsinelas capital.
URARO. Liliw is also famous for it’s uraro cookies. Making the best tasting uraro is no secret in Liliw. Uraro is arrowroot flour with butter and condensed milk, distinctly embossed with floral design and baked in a pugon fired by coconut husks.
SIDE STREET STALLS. Aside from freshly-baked uraro cookie, sold in alleys are talangka, snails, sweet yam, and pako or fiddle-head fern that grows abundant in mountain streams.
Dealers of pako give instructions on how to make it into a refreshing salad by mixing pako with chopped tomatoes, onion, salted eggs, kesong puti, and home-made vinaigrette.
-Gat Tayao Tsinelas Festival 2015