My dad is from Batangas, or a "Tubong Batangueño".
Back in the day, he will drive the whole family to his hometown in Tanauan almost every weekend to visit his mom and siblings, and maybe even his childhood friends. Seeing the Makiling at a distance as we pass by Batangas municipalities was a feel good core memory to me as a kid--which is still vivid to me up to this day. Maybe it's because of dad's adventure stories related to this dormant volcano during his teenage years. I've always looked at Mt. Makiling with curious eyes!
And although we weren't really able to explore more of Batangas outside Tanauan, it's nice that my current work entails me to experience and discover things that I never really had the chance to do so about my dad's home. Let's start with Taal, and hopefully there is more to come in the coming months!
Our day 2 for this trip is dedicated to Taal Heritage Tour. It will take more than an hour drive coming from Taal Vista Hotel, and another 1+ hours to reach our next hotel for this trip which is Pico De Loro. Some might say it's time consuming, but personally I enjoyed this itinerary! Sharing the lineup of activities we had for our full day in Taal.
Batangas' Balisong Culture
I just learned now that Taal is the Balisong Capital of the Philippines!
We visited Barangay Balisong to check out one of its famous shops by the road called Ona’s Batangas Blades Store. The owner himself, Mr. Diosdado Ona, was there to entertain us with our questions. He even did a quick kick-ass demo, sliding this deadly weapon to open and close with just one hand (like a ninja)!
I only learned now that balisong literally means "Broken Horn", to break (bali) and horn (sung), as these knives have handles made of animal horns. When you check out the shop, you'll see different varieties now from materials used to sizes, and even assorted blade shapes. The craftsmanship is superb, very impressed that I just have to get one to take home to my dad.
Also known as the Taal Basilica, the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours is the biggest church in Asia standing 88.6 meters long and 48 meters wide! This basilica went through several renovations after damages cause by twin earthquakes in 2017. And because of the grand architecture and maybe its long aisle, the basilica is also popular wedding venue and location for movie/TV shoot!
I have a thing for vintage floorings:
I can imagine the priests from yesteryears holding their sermon here:
Taal Squad! Haha! Enjoyed this trip because of them: Mikyle, Victor, and Kuya Melo.
Museo nina Marcela Mariño at Felipe Agoncillo
This is where the first Philippine flag was created! Marcela sewed our flag using silk cloth for 5 days in May 1898. She was helped by Lorenza (her daugther) and Delfina (Rizal's niece), before delivering the flag to Emilio Aguinaldo. The Philippine flag was first unfurled in Cavite City to celebrate the victory of the revolutionary army against the Spaniards.
The house is now converted into a museum where you can enter preserved rooms, check out the details of antiques and artifacts, and see old portraits of the family free of charge. It is history class outside the four walls of a classroom!
Lunch in Paradores del Castillo
When you search Taal on the internet, one of the recommended accommodations is the Paradores Del Castillo. If you find old houses fascinating than scary (hehe) then most prob a stay in this restored 19th century residence will be a nice experience.
But if you're also a scaredy cat like me hehe (although the rooms are modern already), Paradores del Castillo also has an alfresco restaurant where you can dine and enjoy Filipino dishes, and then stroll around the house and their beautiful garden.
Villavicencio Wedding Gift House
This ancestral house is called the Wedding Gift House (or Casa Regalo de Boda) because it is literally the wedding gift of Don Eulalio Villavicencio to his wife Doña Gliceria Marella y Legaspi. An interesting tidbit about this couple is that they fully supported the revolution, including the financing of Jose Rizal's novels and allowing Andres Bonifacio to hold Katipunan meetings in this house!!
As our last stop for the Taal Heritage Tour, we had suman at tsokolate at the Wedding Gift House's dining area. The suman dipped in chocolate is divine, as my eyes browsed through the intricate details of every corner of every room in this house. The variety of colors and patterns used was a sign of wealth during its time. With so many stories, this place is a must-visit for me and a perfect ender for our Taal Heritage Tour.