Fourth year high school came and the teachers were announcing that all senior students were to create a research-type video blog as a project for two different subjects. My group of five decided to research and blog about the 300 Years of Devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia. Lucky us, it was announced in August so resources were plenty. This was when I discovered a hidden gem in Naga City – Museo de Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia. Located on the corner of Magsaysay-San Felipe intersection, beside Naga River. Here is where the centuries old manto, rosaries, amulets and statues of Ina were displayed. At that time the entrance fee was just five pesos for students and ten pesos for others, so it’s totally worth visiting. The guide was so friendly, explaining the history of each artifact as well as sharing her experience of the miracles of Ina.
Sidenote, those who know Our Lady of Penafrancia know the countless miracles that happened with her help. One that I can never forget was about the sacrifice of the white dog. The carpenter who created the first statue of Penafrancia in Naga used wood and upon its completion, thought that the blood of a dog would be used to paint/color the statue. (shaking my head) So off he went and brought back a white dog, which was killed and whose blood was sacrificed to color the statue. The dog, dead of course, was disposed of in Naga River. Lo and behold however when the dog suddenly swam to land and was wagging its tail, alive and well. That was one of the miracles. The others can be read in the comics, I brought mine at the souvenir shop beside Naga Metropolitan Cathedral for 20 pesos. Buy it and read it if you have time. I wager that if you ask 5 people in Naga about Ina, 2-3 would have their own stories to tell on how Ina has touched their lives.
Going back, we traced the path of the Fluvial and Traslacion Procession by travelling from Basilica to Cathedral. We met a man along the way, a taho vendor, who apparently was also a voyadores! Amazing right? He himself has his own story to tell about the miracle of Ina. And with him, our research was complete.
You can actually view our blog here: Three Centuries of Devotion
Anyway, that project was given a high grade but the topic was not chosen to represent for the national competition. Another group was scouted to become the entry group for the DPSA contest. The DPSA or Doon Po Sa Amin Contest is a nationwide competition hosted by Smart Communications Inc. which encourages students from elementary to high school to represent a certain theme be it a place, cuisine, or products from their respective regions. From a large pool of entries, those who passed the initial screening will be given an invitation to set up a booth in the Mall of Asia Covention Hall where they will be given a chance to show/present their themes. Each award won has a corresponding cash prize and plaque with the grand prize for the grand champion of 30,000.00 pesos. The members were handpicked by the teachers and I was chosen to be one of the technical directors. Here was where it became serious.
After many nights of pondering and brainstorming for a topic, the group, with our mentors eventually came to an agreement on a theme. We chose the humble Kinalas, and thus, Team Kinalas was born. Team Kinalas was led by Vernon, the over-all director, scripts and hosting were officiated by Janica and Cledz, photos, background and web design were handled by Madel, research and presentation was handled by Mayen and video and music directing was handled by Biboy and I.
At that time, the schedule for the group was to proceed to the Computer Laboratory after classes so as class ended at 5pm, we went to the lab and stayed until 8pm. The first problem was to determine the tagline for the website and thus, “Kinalas na Kakaiba: Orgulyo kan Naga”(A Unique Kinalas: The Pride of Naga) was formed. And so, we began our foodtrip/roadtrip/research.
In Naga City, the street known for its Kinalas Eateries was Dayangdang. We asked around and most of the people stated that the Kinalas by Tiya Kamot was the best. However, finding Tiya Kamot was quite the challenge itself. Dayandang is a street full of corners and twists that finding the place took a while. Thank God that the driver of the tricycle we hired asked around and eventually, we found the place. No wonder it was hard to find. The place looked like an ordinary bahay kubo, it had no sign at that time that indicated it was an eatery, you cross a wooden plank to enter the yard where wooden tables and chairs were scattered. The first thing you will notice upon entering is the kitchen which was fully exposed where the customers can view the process of making kinalas. On once corner, a large pot over a charcoal stove was boiling away while the noodles were in a large basin alongside the toppings. Guess why Tiya Kamot was nicknamed so. Come on guess. Apparently it was a literal translation. Kamot meaning hand in Bicol was the term which stuck to this eatery because the noodles were handplucked by Tiya Kamot and thrown to the boiling broth. The elders say that this barehanded process added ooomph to the kinalas which was why patrons keep coming back. Anyway, for the sake for the sake of research the boys sampled the kinalas. However, the owner did not want to answer our questions so we moved on.
Try walking in Dayangdang and you’ll be surprised that in almost every corner and twist you take you’ll come upon another kinalas eatery. Each has its own pakulo – kinalas with beef, kinalas with rabut(ox skin), kinalas pork, and such.Finally through our walking, we finally came upon the coziest kinalas eatery ever.
Kinalas Twin is located along the busy road connecting Dayangdang to Magsaysay. At first glance, it looks like a garage turned eatery. Tables and chairs were place row by row, the walls and floors were tiled, the kitchen as usual was exposed. Instead of charcoal however, they were using an LPG tank where a large pots of broth were boiling, alongside the noodles in a large basin, the special brown sauce in another pot and the toppings beside them. Here was where we were amazed. It was so clean, and the way that the noodles were served was like watching a show. The cook would get noodles using a long ladle, dip it in the boiling broth, place it in the bowl, add the broth, add the sauce, place the toppings and done. Yes, this is what is done in every other kinalas eateries but here is where you can appreciate the process fully. In less than 2 minutes, he was done and was already serving. See? Fast service. Fortunately, the owner himself was in charge of the cash register at that time, so upon paying, we asked if we can come another time for an interview and if he was willing to be featured as our main source of information for our blog. Thank God, after spending a whole afternoon looking for the perfect spot, we finally got a yes.
Our research did not end there however, near downtown Naga, there is a famous kinalas eatery. Aling Cely’s Kinalas was featured in a GMA show before. And so we went there, simply to taste and compare their kinalas from the others. However, since the eatery already had media exposure, we felt that it would be good to have another perspective from another eatery which was not yet known. And so, the group focused on Kinalas Twin.
Now, after several days of researching, we finally got enough data to put in our blog and so the blogging process commences. For the background of the site, we asked volunteer batchmates to pose as if in a food war with each other. Videos centered on exposing not just kinalas, but also the landmarks of Naga, the process of Kinalas making, the team profile, and the interviews.
With all these, and with the website in finished, we finally clicked Enter. And so off our entry went to the DPSA website.
Days passed before we received that news that we were among those who passed the screening and was going to MOA. Apparently, that was not the end. The next task was to think of a theme for the booth. Since we were focused on kinlas eateries, we decided to create a sort of kinalas eatery in MOA. A talented teacher from Sabang High School was recruited to create the giant boy eating a bowl of kinalas as well as the background depicting a bahay kubo style eatery. And so, the booth was completed. Also, during this time, we were practically excused from most of the subjects and were instructed to finish this project first. Alongside us, our mentors were also busy, finding hotels to stay in, flight schedules and others.
And so the came to go, thankfully, another group also from our batch were picked. One of the member’s family were going with us, however, they travelled by land and they had a private car, so the props were brought by them. Upon leaving the airport, 3 hours later, we arrived in Mall of Asia.
There was no time to spare, the moment we put down our bags, we picked up packing tapes, scissors, glue and glue guns and started putting up our booth. By dinnertime, we were finished and we were famished. And so, dinner was eaten at Chowking and we proceeded to the hotel.
The next day was the presentation day. Mayen, our representative, spent the night being questioned by our mentors for the next day’s event. We were all dressed in a business attire and when the judges passed, we were all smiles. All the while, giving silent encouragement to Mayen. We also visited the other booths from different schools. There was an entry from Naga Central School with the 300 Years of Ina as their theme! Hahaha, good thing we didn’t pursue it didn’t we? It would have been a Naga vs Naga battle then. Anyway, by lunchtime, the judges were done and we were given the free time to explore PROVIDED that we do not leave the MOA grounds itself. We went back to the hotel to change clothes for the awarding ceremony that afternoon.
The hosts were now awarding the high school entries. Hurrah hurrah! We won all the awards, including the Grand Champion award! Yeah! All hard work paid off! When we returned to the booth, we were met by the Naga City Councillors who apparently had a convention in the next hall. Congratulations were spread all around and so we went home victorious.
When we went back to school, we immediately were summoned tothe principal’s office and were accompanied to City Hall where we presented the trophies to Mayor John Bongat, who immediately approved a donation of two basketball rings to NCSHS Covered Court, thus, our legacy was left.
Oh! I almost forgot, here’s the link to our blog: Orgulyo kan Naga, Kinalas na Kakaiba.
Happy viewing! 😉