Tibiao in Tagaytay

3 Comments

Just a preview.
I went to Iloilo last October 10 with the intention of going to Tibiao, Antique,  to get ourselves (me and my wife) immersed in a huge hot bath. In Tibiao, they add herbs to the lukewarm water. The hot bath is actually a giant “kawa” used in the making of muscovado in the earlier years. Enterprising resort owners made them into a spa.
Unfortunately, the heavy rains two days before our Iloilo-Antique holiday caused the bridge connecting Iloilo and Antique to become impassable.

DSCF8533

DSCF8530

Had to content ourselves taking photographs around the southern part of Iloilo, up to San Joaquin where the bridge was located. Took photos of Iloilo’s beautiful churches instead. But my chief destination was Tibiao.

Now I do not need to go to Tibiao. I brought Tibiao to my PARADISO in Tagaytay.

Paradiso Tagaytay

DAYTOUR : DRIVING SOUTH OF CEBU

Leave a comment

This is a nice tour once you have done the usual Cebu tour of the Magellan’s Cross, Taoist Temple, the Sto Nino Shrine, the Gorordo Mansion, Tops, etc. Time to head south.

Hit the road going to Argao and Cagbalete and head back via Toledo, Balamban, and return to Cebu City via Nivel Hills – – where Marco Polo Hotel is.

You will be passing thru The cities and towns of Talisay, Minglanilla, San Fernando, Naga, Carcar, Sibonga, Argao, and then return via the coastal city of Toledo. You need to rent a car or hire a taxi for this wonderful tour. Hotel cars can be arranged for P5,000 for 8 hours, taxi’s can be negotiated for P3,000.00.

Stop and take photos.

Talisay

Talisay

This Naga is not in Bicol

This Naga is not in Bicol

CARCAR

cebu-nanay-day2-016

Carcar is a major stop. You can buy shoes and slippers, or ampawa and chicharon. These are the major finds in this city. But the visitor will most likely spend a bit more time taking photos of Carcar’s beautiful church, the museum beside it, and its many old homes.

stop by the stalls around the rotunda for chicharon and ampao

stop by the stalls around the rotunda for chicharon and ampao

shop for shoes and bags - - this is Cebu's Marikina

shop for shoes and bags – – this is Cebu’s Marikina

the old church

the old church

and the museum

and the museum

one of the many old houses

one of the many old houses

SIBONGA

Among photo hobbyists, the biggest stop is probably Sibonga with the castle-like Simala Church. The structure is very much unlike any other church in the country. Perhaps unlike any other church in the world.
DSCF8419

To non hobbyists, it is a pilgrimage place, pretty much like the Manaoag church in Pangasinan where devotees queue to get to touch the statue of the virgin

DSCF8425

as if it is not grand enough, construction is ongoing to surround the church with moat-like bridge/passageways

as if it is not grand enough, construction is ongoing to surround the church with moat-like bridge/passageways

ARGAO

The top attracation of Argao is the cathedral. There is a nearby cafe for the weary and the famished, before heading back to the city.

cebu-argao-hotels-carbon-capitol-jun2010-040

DRIVING BACK

the church in Toledo

the church in Toledo

DSCF8468

DSCF8470

when you get up the hill, look down and see the beauty of the place you just came from

when you get up the hill, look down and see the beauty of the place you just came from

DSCF8477 (2)

Heritage Town : Taal, Batangas

Leave a comment

617150_426840737369011_1340206217_o

The town of Taal in Batangas is only 2 hours away from Manila, and the escape from the city to this heritage village can be really dramatic. Almost like night and day. Imagine leaving the skyscapers and the humongous malls and then allowing yourself to travel back in time to something like 300 years ago. After a very short land travel.

178148_426841887368896_977051988_o

Taal was once the wealthiest town in Batangas and the grand mansions are a testament to its glorious and historic past. Many of the homes have been preserved and are open to visitors. A few have been transformed into cafes and restaurants, while some have opened their doors to visitors for bed and breakfast.

177638_426840820702336_901351450_o

The most noteworthy of the mansions are Casa Villavicencio, built as a wedding gift of a wealthy shipowner to his lady love who was belatedly acknowledged for her role in the Philippine revolution. There is also the Gregorio Agoncillo mansion, from where his uncle Felipe Agoncillo was born. The house is now famously known as the White House. There is Villa Tortuga where visitors can relive the past complete with period costumes. A visit to the Marcela Agoncillo house, probably he oldest of the famous houses, is so informative and is recommended for history buffs. The Apacible mansion allows visitors to see balisong actually being crafted. Across from the road is an old house where antique cameras and photographs are exhibited.

54581_426842787368806_2111949834_o

Casa Villavicencio, the grandest of the Taal heritage homes

the Agoncillo "White House"

the Agoncillo “White House”

dress up and get yourselves photographed in period clothes and setting at Villa Tortuga

dress up and get yourselves photographed in period clothes and setting at Villa Tortuga

the diorama depicting the sewing of the Filipino flag at the 1700s Marcela Agoncillo house

the diorama depicting the sewing of the Filipino flag at the 1700s Marcela Agoncillo house

you may chance upon "balisong" making at the Apacible House

you may chance upon “balisong” making at the Apacible House

old photographs and antique cameras in still another old mansion

old photographs and antique cameras in still another old mansion

There are also the two most famous Taal churches – – Taal Basilica, the largest catholic place of worship in Asia. And the shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay, a charming church with an interesting wishing well at the rear section, a few steps up a hill thru the San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps.

382337_10151465483337570_2138230660_n

Taal Basilica

I did not expect such ornate design in a church of this modest size

I did not expect such ornate design in a church of this modest size  : Our Lady of Caysasay

and finally, go to the wishing well and sprinkle/pour yourself with the water believed to be miraculous

and finally, go to the wishing well and sprinkle/pour yourself with the water believed to be miraculous

There is also the old Escola, now a center of Taal culture, the Casa real (town hall) plus the nearby town of San Nicolas, the site of the first Taal town and its basilica,

the old escola, now a cultural center, right beside the basilica

the old escola, now a cultural center, right beside the basilica

Casa Real: the town hall

Casa Real: the town hall

the ruins of the original Taal Basilica in the nearby  town of San Nicolas

the ruins of the original Taal Basilica in the nearby town of San Nicolas

Truly, Taal is a most interesting destination. I have made at least 6 trips in as many months and it seems I will be making some more. Such is the effect that this town spells on visitors who love history.

268473_10151319407437570_652379796_n

I have also written separately about all these destinations within Taal, including a recommended cafe with bed & breakfast facilities (no, I am not paid to plug this place – – – I went on my own and paid the full amount for the lunch I ordered).

the common area for the Tampuhan B&B guests  - -  dine here or laze around

the common area for the Tampuhan B&B guests – – dine here or laze around

Come visit Taal. And maybe find a piece of yourself thru its past.

1597154_720419948011087_3049591236363627671_o

Taal Basilica

Leave a comment

The basilica is officially called the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours. It is the largest Catholic place of worship in Asia.

382337_10151465483337570_2138230660_n

The basilica as it presently stands is not the original Taal Basilica, no matter that it is very old. The first was actually built in the old town of Taal by the banks of the Taal Lake. A volcanic eruption ruined the basilica and the whole town had to be relocated to the present day Taal, and the basilica was built on this “new” location. The former Taal town is in a barangay called San Nicolas, now a town on its own, independent from Taal. A visit to San Nicols, therefore, is a necessary trip for travelers who want to understand better the history of Taal and its basilica.

the ruins of the original Taal Basilica in the nearby  town of San Nicolas

the ruins of the original Taal Basilica in the nearby town of San Nicolas

135095_426840027369082_1981033295_o

San Nicolas is a lakeside town, and was the first Taal town

San Nicolas is  a lakeside town, and was the first location of Taal

local fishermen bring their catch of fresh tilapia, maliputo, and tawilis to the market, or to the restaurants in this small town

local fishermen bring their catch of fresh tilapia, maliputo, and tawilis to the market, or to the restaurants in this small town. On lazy days, the boats become the local boys’ playgrounds

The Taal Basilica is gigantic and so beautiful. A friend of mine from Masbate remarked that 10 of their town’s church could fit into the basilica.

Let me show the photos to better present how grand this church is.

5298_688674274518988_6541638119669365353_n

615328_426841677368917_1410587646_o

the huge ceiling has many chambers and makes one wonder how long it took to design and paint them

the huge ceiling has many chambers and makes one wonder how long it took to design and paint them

423231_10151319407917570_822233496_n

the baptistry

the baptistry

I felt like I was a wedding photographer on one visit

I felt like I was a wedding photographer on one visit

also one of the largest church bells in the country

also one of the largest church bells in the country

one of my favorite shots of the basilica, a worm's eye view

one of my favorite shots of the basilica, a worm’s eye view

Our Lady of Caysasay

Leave a comment

The Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay is always my first stop when I get to Taal. First of all, it is a feel good church. Small enough that I feel like I can have a heart to heart talk with the Lord.

665670_426840607369024_51148538_o

It is beautiful. The ornate design on the ceiling is rather unexpected for a church of this size. Structurally, the church is not imposing. Neither is it impressive. Yet, it is beautiful, The facade looks like it has been sprayed with a fresh coat of paint, but the sides tell the story of how old the church is.

I did not expect such ornate design in a church of this modest size

I did not expect such ornate design in a church of this modest size

178294_426840677369017_1864585626_o

I like this church since most of the kids here who act as “guides” have become sort of friends. I say ‘sort of” because I hardly remember their names, but I remember some of the faces. Yes, I have visited many times that my face has become familiar to these kids.

I will never forget this boy who once sat in front of my pwe as I prayed. Maybe a Sto Nino?

I will never forget this boy who once sat in front of my pew as I prayed. Maybe a Sto Nino?

The kids offer to guide visitors to the wishing well towards the back of the church, a few steps up the Lorenzo Ruiz steps. Any visitor going there for the first time will be impressed with the kids who narrate the story of how the statue of the Lady of Caysasay was found on the well, complete with dates. They will also sell candles and your purchase of the candles for offering at the altar near the well is like the “guide fee”. Be prepared to be peppered with requests from the other kids for you to also buy candles from them. You can refuse, or offer to give them small amounts as “consuelo” for keeping you informed, and entertained. If you refuse, the kids do not press too hard enough to annoy. In fact most of them will say “next time”, hoping you remember their faces so you can buy candles from them next time. And you will be pleasantly surprised they will even say they will pray for you. These kids are nice.

the kids act as guides

the kids act as guides

The prayer and candles offerings at the altar, and the effect of the water are said to bring good results, and good luck. It has been said that some sickly pilgrims have been cured.

buy candles from the kids and offer a prayer and make your wish at the altar

buy candles from the kids and offer a prayer and make your wish at the altar

307330_10151400878022570_877465346_n

and finally, go to the wishing well and sprinkle/pour yourself with the water believed to be miraculous

and finally, go to the wishing well and sprinkle/pour yourself with the water believed to be miraculous

Truly, the virgin at the church is said to be miraculous. But if one does not believe in miracles, the beauty of the place is enough reason to go, and say a prayer.

When one goes to Taal,  Batangas, it is easy to find the church. Everyone knows where is, and there is ample parking space in the church yard.

Marcela Agoncillo Historical Landmark

Leave a comment

1597154_720419948011087_3049591236363627671_o

The house of Marcela Agoncillo is probably the oldest of the Taal heritage gouse, built in the 17oos by her grandfather. It is in this house where Marcela sewed the first Philippine flag, but not to be mistaken with the flag of the first philippine Republic which she sewed while in exile in Hongkong with her husband Felipe, the first Filipino diplomat and patriot.

1956894_720419584677790_5775422876153021119_o

As one enters the house, tidbits on history can be read. At the bottom of the stairs is a diorama that shows Marcela sewing the flag. The Agoncillo family has kept their furniture and other memorabilia in this house, including laminated certificates of commendation for the illustrious members of the family, mostly in the library at the entresuleo.

The entresuleo. During those days, the farmhands and commoners were limited to the entresuelo.

The entresuleo. During those days, the farmhands and commoners were limited to the entresuelo.

the living room

the living room

10704264_720419864677762_1129781936760799258_o

The house is being maintained by the Department of Tourism – – no entrance fee is stipulated but donations are welcome.