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    “Lipa gives me a sense of home because I have a lot of acquaintances and childhood friends here,” National Artist for Literature Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera speaks about his hometown with fondness.

    Born in Lipa, Batangas, he recalls that life in his hometown then was simple, and he spent much of his time playing with the neighborhood kids. Even as a child, “I was interested in composing my own stories. I would usually play with salagubang or June beetles as if they were characters on stage with a plot and dialogue.”

    In 1950, he entered the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, but still made it a point to go back home every other weekend. He completed his MA and then his Ph.D. in comparative literature at Indiana University in 1967.

    A renowned poet, librettist, and critic in both English and Filipino, Dr. Lumbera’s works have crossed genres and inspired generations. His poetry collections like Likhang Dila, Likhang Diwa (1993) and Balaybay: Mga Tulang Lunot at Manibalang are rich in imagery and meaning; while his critical works like Abot Tanaw: Sulyap at Suri sa Nababagong Kultura at Lipunan (1987) and Writing the Nation/Pag-Akda ng Bansa, have allowed us to explore our cultural directions as Filipinos.

    Dr. Lumbera has also written librettos for groundbreaking pop ballet musicals like Tales of the Manuvu (1977) and Rama Hari; as well as four historical musicals – Nasa Puso ang AmeriKa, Bayani, Noli Me Tangere, and Hibik at Himagsik Nina Victoria Laktaw in the Sa Sariling Bayan: Apat na Dulang May Musika collection for DLSU in 2003.

    Although he has received many prestigious awards – he was named National Artist for Literature in 2006, and was the Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts in 1993; and holds the distinction of Professor Emeritus in the University of the Philippines – his heart remains close to his hometown.

    Many of his works, in fact, are inspired by Lipa – Umaga sa Lipa, Agaw Dilim sa Lipa; as well as Sunog sa Lipa, about a fire he witnessed during a visit home, and Ang Batang Tinanghali Ng Gising, Sa Pagtila ng Unang Ulan ng Mayo, about searching for mushrooms at the start of the rainy season. He also wrote a play, Hibik at Himagsik nina Victoria Laktaw about the women of Lipa and their courage and contribution to the revolution.

    Here, he takes us on a visual tour around his Lipa and his SM.

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    Dr. Lumbera holds two preserved petals from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. One petal bears the image of Jesus Christ, while the other of the Madonna and child.


    Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, close-up of petals, photo of garden

    “ I love the religiosity of the people of Lipa. When I was in high school, I was a choir member at the Cathedral. That was the time when the miraculous shower of petals and the apparition of Our Lady were reported at the Carmelite Monastery. Since that time a lot of pilgrims have been coming to Lipa. We opened our house to pilgrims for their accommodation.”

    In 1948, it was reported that Our Blessed Mother appeared 19 times to a novice in the Carmelite Order in Lipa City. During the apparitions to Teresita Castillo, Our Lady stressed humility, penance, as well as prayers for the clergy and the Pope and to pray the Rosary. Before she departed for the last time, the Blessed Mother identified Herself as “I am Mary, the Mediatrix of all Graces”.

    During that time, there were accounts of the spinning sun, heavy fragrance of roses, and showers of rose petals that had images of Christ, Mary, and other holy scenes on them. The rose petals were reported to have remarkable healing powers. There was much controversy about this, however, and eventually the convent was sealed.

    In 1991, after the statue of Our Lady was again exposed at the convent’s chapel at the deathbed request of Sr. Alphonse, rose petals reported began to fall again straight from the sky. As a consequence, the Church has now set up a new committee to investigate the apparitions.

    On April 17, 2005 Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa wrote,” I have no objection to this beautiful Marian title –Mary, Mediatrix of all Grace, as well as the image and devotion that go with it. I encourage these devotees and they have my blessing.” Photos show the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, a close-up of the petals, and the statue of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, in the garden where she reportedly appeared.


    Dr. Lumbera with ret. Colonel Nicetas “Katy” Katigbak with a lusong and halo that is estimated to be 80 years old. The nilupak is a popular delicacy in Lipa made of mashed cassava or banana mixed with milk and sugar.

    “During my high school years at the Mabini Academy, our generation’s version of gimmick would be to go to a classmate’s house where we would sing and dance to the music from the radio.

    We would go to a classmate’s house where there was a fiesta celebration, where we would engage in paglulupak, mashing cassava with milk, sugar, and banana using lusong and halo, what you may say is a giant mortar and pestle. Since our ingredients are available in any backyard, paglulupak is a very cheap, delightful, fun, and fulfilling activity with friends.”


    Dr. Lumbera was one of the ten founding members of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian awards for cinematic excellence, which was organized on May 1, 1976 at Taza de Oro in Roxas Boulevard.  Here, he is shown at the cinema at SM City Lipa.

    “When I was still living here in Lipa, I already liked watching Tagalog movies, so much so that when I would go home to Lipa during weekends during my UST student days, I would watch double programs of Tagalog movies in local theaters.

    I got interested in researching about Philippine movies and their history when a student of mine wrote about the First Part of the History of Philippine movies. One of my students eventually became in charge of reviewing movies for the Daily Express in the 1970s, and it was during this time that we started a small organization to write movie reviews for the newspaper.

    SM has helped the local movie industry through its theaters in the malls, making watching films more accessible for Filipinos.”


    Mount Malarayat

    “Mount Malarayat is one of Lipa’s gifts from nature. Aside from being the source of Lipa’s water, the places surrounding the Mount Malarayat are filled with fertile grounds, amazing views, and the mountain breeze keeps the surrounding area cold. I love the cold climate in Lipa especially during the months of December to February.’

    Lipa sits on a valley between Mount Malarayat and Mount Maculot. Mount Malarayat is home to many interesting flora and fauna like the Civet Cat, the source of famous civet coffee made from its droppings.


    Lumbera at the Katigbak farm, inset of liberica tree

    “ The fertile grounds of Mount Malarayat are also home to the Katigbak Farm which grows and cultivates Kapeng Barako.”

    Dr. Lumbera and ret. Colonel Nicetas “Katy” Katigbak at the Katigbak Farm at Barangay Tipakan at the foot of Mount Malarayat. They are checking out a pisokan made of madre cacao wood. The pisokan, which is believed to be at least 75 years old, separates the outer skin of the coffee from the beans.

    The Katigbak Farm grows kapeng barako, a variety of Liberica coffee. Kapeng Barako has a stronger taste than other types of Liberica coffee, which is often noted to have a mild and nutty taste.


    Dr. Lumbera at Café de Lipa at SM City Lipa with owners Joe and Leeia Mercado, who are childhood friends of his.

    “ I love coffee. Reading a good book with Barako Coffee from Café de Lipa is a delightful experience. Its owners Leeia and Joe Mercado are friends of mine.”


    The Farm and the Night Market

    “One of the best places to stay in Lipa is The Farm at San Benito, and one of the best places to explore is the Night Market.”

    The Farm at San Benito is a holistic healing and wellness center where people balance their mind, body, and spirit with nourishing live food in an eco friendly place. The Lipa Night Market, which runs the stretch of P. Torres Street, from the corner of CM Recto to the corner of V. Malabanan Street, offers diverse products from Batangueno traders.


    SM City Lipa 

    “SM is a place where I can do many recreational activities under one roof- watch movies, visit bookstores, and enjoy a cup of coffee with friends.’

    SM City Lipa has made world class shopping, leisure, and entertainment more accessible to residents of this bustling Southern Luzon City.


    Dr. Lumbera at the National Bookstore branch at SM City Lipa

    “When I am at SM, I usually go the National Bookstore. My love of books never fades.”