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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Tampuhan Cafe and Bed& Breakfast

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Tampuhan Cafe was named after a painting of the great Juan Luna, a reproduction of which hangs on its walls. Owned by spouses Benj and Marj, this charming place offers meals as basic as tapsilog and pastas like carbonara and pesto tinapa. Lunch for three, with drinks, was less than P500.( I always pay full price for my meals and hotels so I can objectively review a place).

 

my pesto tinapa was great and sufficient for lunch

my pesto tinapa was great and sufficient for lunch

 

 

This is a cafe you would expect to find in a heritage town. There are the customary “batibot” chairs but what I found more interesting were the tables topped with glass using capiz windows painted white. Ingenious and very creative.

interesting cafe furniture

interesting cafe furniture

 

Upstairs are two rooms, with a third being furnished to receive guests. There is a common area for dining. All furniture from the rooms to the common areas make guests feel like they are traveling back in time. I did not stay for the night, but I learned that the rooms, airconditioned,  go for P850, breakfast included.  The toilet and baths are common for the guests, found at ground level.  One can say this is part of the heritage village experience – – – in my tours of the grand mansions, they did not have en suite bathrooms in those times.

Pretend like you are living in the past when you stay here

Pretend like you are living in the past when you stay here

the second room, each at P850, with breakfast. No aircon, with bathroom downstairs

The second room. Rooms cost P850, with breakfast, airconditioned. Bathroom are found downstairs

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

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

 

 

Tampuhan Cafe is between Villa Tortuga and the Basilica. Parking can be arranged by the owners at the vacant lot at the rear. The cafe/B&B is easy to find along the main street of this heritage town.

Easy to find Tampuhan Cafe on the main road, with those paintings of people in period costumes on the wall. Right beside Villa Tortuga.

Easy to find Tampuhan Cafe on the main road, with those paintings of people in period costumes on the wall. Right beside Villa Tortuga.