Degustacion and Tertulia

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The heritage town of Taal, Batangas, celebrated Philippine Independence Day with a weekend Art, Food and Fashion Festival.

The old homes were decorated with Philippine flags and the atmosphere was festive.

Villa Tortuga

Villa Tortuga


An art exhibit was nearby, with artists from UST on a reunion.



Meanwhile, preparations for a fashion show were were being done at Paradores, the town’s premier hotel. A degustacion at Casa Feliza appealed to me the most so I went, having booked well ahead as there were limited seats.


Why was it a must-go?

The menu is a mouthwatering version of dishes served during the Malolos Convention, prepared by Chef Giney Villar.

Researched by, and presented by Chef Giney

Researched by, and presented by Chef Giney


The event host was Elizabeth Angsioco, resplendent in a gown re-created from old gowns.

Beth with media person Howie Severino

Beth with media person Howie Severino

The town’s historian Dindo regaled the visitors with stories from the past, how Taal was also nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO Heritage list, about the festivals in Taal, all in his interesting Batangueno accent.



To highlist history and the link to the Malolos Convention, a delegation from that Bulacan town was present, headed by their vice mayor.



The guests included actors playing guardia civil, General Luna, and then president General Emilio Aguinaldo.

IMG_1685 IMG_1706


Casa Feliza was home to Feliza Diokno, then the secretary of President Emilio Aguinaldo. Today, it is open as a taverna at the ground floor, and B&B at the second floor. For the degustacion, the table setting was nothing less than impressive.



I was lost in the bliss of this culinary experience that I forgot to take photos of the dishes. So I instead took a photo of the dessert corner.



Towards the end, a friend of the hosts recited a poem in Spanish. His original composition in English that he translated to Filipino and Spanish.

An event to look forward to in 2017.

Aguinaldo Shrine, Kawit Cavite


I have viewed this house in awe many times, especially when I make my customary evening drive during the Christmas season, checking out the Christmas lights competition among the many barangays within the whole province of Cavite. I remember seeing hundreds of Capiz shells glittering in the night, spread on a huge tree within the grounds of the shrine. Beautiful.

The house is like no other old house I have visited. Not for its grandeur, but for its intriguing design. It is obvious that a military tactician lived there. So many escape routes, so many concealed doors. The general can go in and out of his bedroom unnoticed by guests he would not want to entertain, or even hide behind a space inside a faux clothes cabinet. A tower on the seventh level allows his men to see any advancing enemies. A trap door under a dining table leads to a tunnel that goes all the way to the church compound. There is also an escape route to the river and on to the sea. Marvelous.

The guide, Mr. Bolivar, peppered my tour with interesting details, and trivia, allowing me to “live those years”.

Here now are photos taken within this majestic mansion. They say a picture paints a thousand words, so here’s a million for you.

This is a photo of how the house looked before

the mansion's grand staircase

Now. The grand staircase.

old beds and furnitur

The rooms are properly labeled, and the guide, Mr Bolivar, provides color to the stories.

Mr Bolivar says Gen Aguinaldo was most likely the first victim of medical malpractice

a daughter’s bedroom

The balcony where “sins” were committed

the balcony

original furniture

imported lavatory, a rarity in those days

bed and friar’s chair

Manila on the horizon

the stairs leading to the tower

the famous “Independence Day” balconyand when was independence proclaimed?

the living room, from the foyer leading to the library

the huge reception hall

the general’s bedroom

faux cabinet doors

a grand bathroom in those days

his bed

false cabinet door

his safe



a house for many guests

state functions

the Philippine flag on a post

the family dining room, with an escape route from under the table to the church

the oven

back door

Veterans Hall

the hall

a small swimming pool

the “washing machine”

the general’s car

his tomb at the back of the mansion

How to get there:

The Aguinaldo Shrine is in Kawit, Cavite. From Manila, take the CAVITEX from Coastal Road. The Shrine is a few meters before reaching the church in Kawit.

By public transportation, take a jeepney or bus bound for Cavite, Rosario, or Noveleta, making sure it passes thru the town of Kawit (and not via SM Bacoor).

Our guide: Mr. Bolivar

Many thanks to you!