Updated: Dec 1, 2019
Taga-Alog Ilog Pasig: Sulong Lusong, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) brought its Lakbay Baybay Tour to the Tiger City of Mandaluyong with total support of Mandaluyong City local government. Lakbay Baybay is an experiential tour along the cities where Ilog Pasig flows. It aims to promote our cultural identity and also educate Filipinos of the historical significance of their own cities in a fun and engaging manner.
Lakbay Baybay is neither an ordinary tour or a usual escape room experience. It's more of a scavenger hunt that takes the participants right in the middle of a city, lost with a mystery they have to work together to solve. The team would have to investigate and solve each puzzle that would bring them to the next locations where more clues and challenges await. As you explore the city and find more answers, you get deeper into the story and closer to catching the "culprit". Throughout the adventure, you'll get to visit the many historical sites, talk to the locals, eat famous delicacies and learn many interesting facts you never knew about your city.
We were all from Mandaluyong
The team I joined in on was made up of individuals from an organization called Sakah-Bahay, part of the Samahang Kabataan ng Barangay Addition Hills. All of us reside in Mandaluyong, so you might think that we should know all about the city already right? Actually, no. My family has been living in Mandaluyong for more than 5 years now, but we haven't really gotten around the city or know much about it. This unexpectedly felt like a chance to get to know Mandaluyong more in a very special way.
Let the Lakbay Baybay Adventure Begin!
We only had 2 hours. The story began by literally opening a book we found after we were told to look for clues by a Librarian in Distress at the Kaban na Hiyas Library at Maysilo Circle.
Our team had to decipher the words and then, search for hidden items in the room. When we find the right items and got the correct answers, they will be our ticket to ride the Gate Ride Tricycle which will bring us to the next destinations. After leaving the library, we headed for Aling Tonang's Pancit Palabok Restaurant.
Even when Aling Tonang was very worried about her missing apron which she inherited from her loving Lola, she was still very welcoming towards us. She told us about the history of her restaurant, starting off cooking for nuns in the church, until they decided to open up a restaurant and expand their menu. She also thought us how to make her famous palabok. Each of us added every ingredient that makes their palabok the perfect dish that the locals still love to order to this day. And yes, we also got eat it! And to thank Aling Tonang for her hospitality, we agreed to find her Lola's apron for her.
After going around San Felipe Neri Church, we were met by an Altar Boy who was quite down because he lost a table mantle. Why do these laundry items keep disappearing? Who has been taking them? It certainly was odd. More questions start to pile up and we set off to find answers to each of them. After walking around in circles because apparently our team doesn't know where north, south, east and west is, we found another clue asking us to find someone's grave.
This is where we got stuck, looking at rows and rows of headstones at the Garden of Life Park because we cannot remember any name from the clues we've read. A helpful tip to anybody who's on a scavenger hunt: take a picture of all of your clues or evidence gathered. Also, don't rush off to a place because you think you know the answer off the top of your head. As you go along, take in every detail to fill in the blanks and form the story in a way that will make sense.
There was a lot of blaming and some debating, but with a bit of reading and some extra guidance from locals, we were able to solve the puzzle leading to our final destination. We were brought to the side of Ilog Pasig where a certain Mang Jimmy was doing his laundry under the hot sun.
He told us that before, it was the man in the family who would do the laundry by the side of the river. He taught us how they used to do it by hand before our the time of washing machines and laundry shops. You would first scrub the clothes in a basin of water and detergent. Then, you would squeeze the water out of the clothes and then go by the rocky part of the river to hit the clothes repeatedly until the dirt was removed. He even had us join in and try it for ourselves. After that, you would rinse your clothes in the clean water of the river until all the soap was gone. Another squeeze and then you can hang them out by the clothesline under the sun to dry.
And what do you know? On the clothesline were Aling Tonang's Lola's apron and the Altar Boy's missing table mantle! Mang Jimmy was surprised that we were looking for them. Right on cue, Aling Tonang and the Altar Boy came in from nowhere and confronted Mang Jimmy. It was just an accident, and the important thing is they got their sinampay back and they were all clean.
Ilog Pasig Needs Our Help
Unlike the old times though, Ilog Pasig is now too dirty even for washing clothes. Like the great lavanderos of Mandaluyong almost being forgotten, it's like we've forgotten to take care of our own Ilog Pasig as we should. We try everything to remove the stains in our clothes, especially those shirts or articles of clothing we hold dear. That's also what we should do for our Ilog Pasig, but one pair of hands isn't gonna clean it. We have to put our hands all together and scrub, scrub, scrub the dirt away so that the Ilog Pasig will be clean again, good as it was back in the olden days of Mandaluyong's lavanderos. More hands the better!
Mission Accomplished. What's next?
We did it. We found the culprit and solved the mystery of the missing sinampay. And to celebrate a mission accomplished and our renewed perspective on the city of Mandaluyong and the Ilog Pasig, we ate the biggest siopao we've ever seen at the PVL Restaurant, sharing it among ourselves. I would totally recommend it. You don't even have to share it. Like it's so good, you'd want to eat it all by yourself!
It was time to say goodbye and we went our separate ways with a new mission, a new quest to do our part in helping efforts of rehabilitating Ilog Pasig.
Thank you Lakbay Baybay Organizers
Lakbay Baybay was truly an immersive experience and it felt like I was suddenly caught in the middle of a juicy teleserye. The setting was the same, but I was seeing Mandaluyong City in a different light, full of wonder and excitement.
I was really impressed by the whole experience from the designs of each location. Everything was ready and just in place. The actors were also very talented because they seemed like real people, and they never once broke out of character. The transportation and going around the city was also hassle-free and the organizers were also very helpful to us all throughout the tour. I would like to congratulate the staff of Taga-Alog, Kultura Turismo Mandaluyong and all of the other organizers involved on a great job done! You guys are amazing. I'm sure it was a lot of hard work behind the scenes just to make everything flow so smoothly and seamlessly.
Lend a Hand and Join the Fun!
I really would recommend you guys to join in the Lakbay Baybay Experiential Tour in Mandaluyong next year or if the Lakbay Babay Tour comes to your city. Every city has its own story and the mysteries always need to be solved. Are you and your friends up for the challenge?
Please do support other efforts by Taga-Alog, NCCA, and PETA and I hope that you guys had fun joining us in quite an adventure through Mandaluyong City and along Ilog Pasig. Let's put our hands together guys as Filipinos and fight for what's ours.
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