Heritage Town : Taal, Batangas

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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 skyscrapers 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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.

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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.

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Taal Basilica

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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