062912 - The Urban Tracker (In Pampanga) : Local Blends in Sto. Nino Tabuan

The boundary marker of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija  in Mapalad and Cabiao
Ife on the foot of Mt. Arayat was typically subdued like any other barrios encircling it but almost always attuned to the awe and high regard of Mt. Arayat.  

After all it has blessed the settlers here with rich land and vegetation plus its accessibility that provided them some modest comforts to go about in daily life. 

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A local chapel in Mapalad is radiant in blue.
Searching it out, I zeroed in to the borderpoint in Mapalad, eventually settling with arch boundary of Pampanga to Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. I almost didn't notice the statue of a farmer trailing a carabao in closer look just below the arch.

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Cable guys fix the posts and cables in McArthur Highway
Of course, for a stranger in strangeland, we first paid our courtesy call in  barangay hall to secure our presence in this area. Having that ease gave it more a thrill to explore the corners of this promising rural venture.

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Yummy in a bite, lumpia with bullets of camote
While the rains were at pause, we did a double time of  coverage passing the local chapel along McArthur highway in Mapalad that was well painted in blue along with other nicely arranged neigborhood's houses. Watching the catch-up works by local cable guys taking advantage  the absence of rains, we caught a local peddler selling this  lumpia made yummier with bullets of kamote strips and mongo sprouts. When I tried one, the rest of the cable guys followed.

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Chunks of wood, typical fuel for the locals
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Mt Arayat crowned by fog via Bamban river
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A local worker chopping off wood for fuel supplies.
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Small makeshift shelters in nearby Bamban river
Our next on check was San Mateo, another barangay on the edge of the Bamban river. It's a sprawling community of mostly farmers. Locals here built a makeshift shelter to conduct their farm activities. The abundance of woods made this rural side active with  some chunks being transported to the market. By the time I reached the edge of Bamban river, the elusive mountain that was glazed in haze bespectacled me.

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Tokwa't Baboy Sto. Nino Tabuan's drier version
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Soupy dinuguan enriched with local pork
It's time to go to the adjacent  Sto Nino Tabuan. Along the road, I sampled a popular dish with a local twist - the tokwa't baboy and the dinuguan. The tokwa't baboy was diced  with less sauce that gave it a twist  in taste. In contrast. the non-thick version of dinuguan here was oozing and thumbs up with its local blend of taste.

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A typical hanging in one tienda in Sto Nino Tabuan
Recollecting images while in Sto. Nino Tabuan with the given warmth reception of the people made it more meaningful even for the fleeting moment. It's more about the simplicity of things and the contentment of it that inspired me after all. Prying into one barrio tienda or little store with typical snacks hanging on display  in Sto Nino Tabuan was perhaps the enduring image reminding me that life is beautiful in the barrio on the foot of the mountain.
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