Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Serene Lake: Taal

Growing up in Manila it was the closest highland we could spend our weekends, holy-week, vacations, with family and cousins.  Hence, I was excited to re-visit this place after 10 years.

Given a chance, I should have went straight to Tagaytay upon landing in the Manila International Airport - just to escape the heavy traffic jam in the metropolis.  Using the Sta. Rosa exit from SLex (South Luzon Express Way), we also encountered slow traffic-flow due to road maintenance works near the Nuvali area.  Once we reach the highland, along Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, the familiar Taal lake welcomed us.

Surprised to see the the newly built shopping mall complex and condominiums at the right-side of the road - Robinsons, SM, Ayala, all got their share of the scenic Taal lake view; with their commercial and residential developments I just hope this wont mess up the cleanliness and balance of natural environment in this place.

We had our lunch stop at Leslie's, which is famous for their Beef bone soup - Bulalo.  Our foreign visitors enjoyed the live band which was really good and can sing almost all the song requests by the diners.  The scenic view of the Taal lake is the  main charm of the place.

We then checked in to Taal Vista Hotel.  The oldest hotel in this place, and it is a landmark in itself.  

It is highly recommended to book the lakeview wing rooms, for you to have your veranda facing the magnificent lake.

 Morning view from your room is really beautiful, 

While roaming around the hotel, I was glad to find their mini exhibits,  which tells the history of the place:

Tagaytay and Taal History:

During 1920’s Emilio Aguinaldo (RP's first President, but was a tax collector then) would often rode through Tagaytay on horseback, and it is through him that the story of how Tagaytay got its name is told. As legend goes: A soldier approached a boy and his father asking about the name of the place. The frightened son shouted to his father, “Taga, Itay!” which meant “Strike, Father!”, and the foreigner, misunderstanding the words,   thought  that  this  was what  the area was called,    thus    giving    birth   to   the name: Tagaytay.

In the midst of the tranquil waters of Taal Lake, Taal Volcano stands proud—a volcano within a lake, within a volcano within another lake. Through the volcano’s eruptions, the land that would come to be known as Tagaytay was formed.

In early 1935, then Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon expressed interest in developing Tagaytay as a tourist destination. It was he who suggested that Manila Hotel build a lodge and golf course in the area. 

Because of his fascination with Tagaytay, he held Cabinet meetings on the premises of Taal Vista Lodge when it was finally built.

After a long afternoon nap, we went to few attractions around, while enjoying the cold evening wind:

Tierra de Maria (Mary's Land):

Tierra de Maria, Haven of Meditation and Enrichment, H.O.M.E. of the majestic 50-foot image of Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth. 

The place is quaint and  simple, yet you will feel the faith of the people visiting.  Suggest that you arrive before their closing time 6pm, to be able to climb up the roof deck (behind the statue), to see panoramic view of the lake.

We also passed by the Palace in the Sky, but it was already close when we arrive at 630pm, but we still enjoyed the view from the highland during the sunset:

Sky Ranch:

Next, we had dinner at Sky Ranch compound, which consist of several food establishments, and a small carnival,

Kids and kids at heart will enjoy the rides, food destinations and family-friendly ambiance high above Tagaytay.

Glad that we came here during regular weekday, so we enjoyed the cold night with few people.  I heard that every weekends this place is packed with people and difficult to find parking space.

Casino Filipino:

Just across the Taal Vista hotel is Casino Filipino.  Though we did not gamble on any table, yet we still enjoyed the live music from the singers that night.

Can't compare the facilities in this casino with other country, but I still appreciate the native Filipino architecture in the interior of the establishment.

This was our last stop before heading back to hotel for a good night sleep.

The following day, on the way back to Manila, we pass by Heritage Town of Taal.  It was only 1 hour drive from Tagaytay.  

First stop was Saint Martin de Tours Basilica:
This is considered as a historical monument of Taal town, and is named after the patron saint of Taal, Saint Martin de Tours.

At the front of the church, is the illuminating altar wall, which is made with shinning sterling silver and gold, symbolizing the sacred liberation of the tabernacle.

The Basilica’s size and Baroque fa├žade is awe-inspiring. Its extraordinary structure is even more captivating with the addition of dome ceilings hand painted with intricate detail.

Situated on the lower left side of the church is Escuela Pia. The present edifice was built in 1885. It has become the central school during the American regime.

Escuela Pia is a school supervised by the church and was named after the congregation established by San Jose of Calansanz, during the 17th century. Agustinian priests constructed this convent that which later became school for underprivileged Taal youth.

Just few meters form the church, we had our lunch at: Don Juan Boodle House Restaurant.

photo credit from Taal.ph

We all enoyed their native dishes: Taal Longanisa, Tapang Taal, Sinaing na Tulingan and Adobo sa dilaw.

After a heavy meal, we had to find an interesting place to walk around, to let the food digest, and since there are several Spanish colonial houses around this town; we decided to view one, which is the Wedding Gift House:

photo credit from Taal.ph

Villavicencio “Wedding Gift House” – Adjacent to Casa V, colorful and airy interiors characterize this restored home which Eulalio gifted his wife Gliceria with on their wedding day.

Entrance was 80 php.  The house caretaker, also the guide, were happy to accommodate us.  Maybe because we were the only visitors that day. 

This house has been historical, because the Villavicencio funded the printing of the books of Jose Rizal, to be able to publish it and circulate it which initiated the revolution from the Spaniards. 

The floor tile in the entrance was the only original part of the house interior.

Past 3 pm, we decide to head back down to the congested city of Manila, prepared face the well anticipated traffic jam. This ends our blog for Tagaytay, hope you can try visiting this place and appreciate its beauty.

To navigate while on location download this article from GPSmyCity.com.

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