Most people from Manila go to Tagaytay, Pansol, Anilao or wherever near when spending their weekends out of the city. Am guilty of that too.But most recently, I went with my friends to a day tour of Taal, Batangas and enjoyed it every step of the way. I highly recommend putting this lovely heritage town on your radar for a historically eye-opening experience 🙂
It was a sunny day and perfect for travelling. Our first stop was the town’s famous landmark, the Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, more popularly known as the Taal Cathedral.
A fine example of Baroque architecture, this beautiful church was founded in 1572 and completed in 1878. Because of its size, it proudly carries the distinction of being the biggest Catholic Church in Asia, and was declared a National Shrine on January 16, 1974.
Like most tourists, we got a kick out of posing by the huge Taal signage, with the basilica as a background.
Note: a number of beggars were soliciting and pestering people for alms. I hope the town’s tourism office does something about this.
Ornate details of the inside of the church which is all made of stone and adobe. The original ceiling was painted by Giovanni Dibella, a renowned Italian artist who also did the ceiling of the San Agustin Church in Manila.
From an entrance in the church, one can go up to the bell tower to get a glimpse of ancient bells and afford one a panoramic angle of the town, as well as Balayan Bay.
The heat was bearing down upon us, and so our next stop – the Halo Halo sa Carwash – was just perfect. I must say their halo halo (shaved ice dessert) is really a must-try. So exquisite and yummy. This refreshment spot is also a study in curiosity because of their repurposed furnishings made from old car parts. I forgot to get the address, but one can easily find this spot near the entrance arch of Taal town, it’s the one with the pink house.
For a personal Instagram-worthy photo of your visit to Taal, nothing could be more apt than a visit to the costume shop Villa Tortuga. For a fee of P250, we got to wear clothes worn during the colonial period and I really liked how it turned out on cam. Tee hee.
The truth is, we stopped by so many places flawlessly organized by Dream Travel Quest Tours by Zeti 🙂 Lunch was spent in a lovely heritage restaurant but I guess that will have to be the subject of my next post.
Taal really is all about ancestral houses, and one of those we visited was the elegant Marcela Agoncillo House. Marcela is credited for sewing and making the first official flag of the Philippines. She was married to another historical figure, the lawyer Felipe Agoncillo.
Then there’s also the Casa Villavicencio, owned by a couple who helped finance the Philippine Revolution. It’s historical in the sense that battle-weary Filipino soldiers met here in the late 1800s. But there’s no sign of it from the aristocratic interiors of the place.
For an entrance fee of P100 in the Villavicencio house, we were also treated to a merienda of pan de sal and heavenly-tasting hot chocolate. Good enough 🙂
Galleria Taal was also a worthy stopover. It’s another ancestral house doubling as a museum, showcasing a vast collection of topnotch vintage cameras, long before the age of digital.
We ended the tour visiting the Roman Catholic Shrine of the Our Lady of Caysasay. The Lady’s image dates back to the 1600s and is believed to be one of the oldest in the country. Miracles have also been attributed to the nearby Well of Saint Lucy, located just behind the Caysasay Church.
It was already dusk when we ended our one day tour of Taal, but not before dropping by the town market which was teeming with street food vendors and interesting delicacies.
Must-buys for pasalubong are the popular Longganisang Taal, Tapa, Suman, Panutsa, Sinaing na Tulingan, Tawilis, Maliputo and Chicken Adobo sa Dilaw. Also take a look at intricately-embroidered native clothes for men & women, even wedding dresses, because Taal is famous for this.