A weekend in this charming town of Batangas will definitely make you feel like you’ve gone back in time, minus all the enmity of war and oppression by foreign countries. Just a three-hour bus ride from Manila is the perfect place to relax, unwind, and enjoy the simple life. Do not miss the chance to walk around the town and try to soak in its colourful history and rich heritage.
A visit to Taal wouldn’t be complete without sampling its best culinary offerings. Start your day with having a breakfast spread of Tapang Taal (marinated beef strips) and Suman at Tsokolate-ah (sticky rice pudding cooked in a banana leaf and thick hot chocolate made from Batangas Tablea). For lunch, go to Don Juan’s BBQ right beside the public market. And when dinner time arrives, head on to Taal Bistro for their bestseller, the bistro chicken – juicy marinated pieces of chicken smothered with their special sauce and served on a sizzling plate.
St. Martin de Tours Basilica is the largest basilica in Asia and is found right in the heart of Taal. Do not forget to look up the church’s ceiling and marvel at the intricate paintings. For a bird’s eye view of the town, you can go up the basilica’s bell tower and walk on its roof. Just prepare PhP 50.00 per person and be ready for a tight squeeze going up. And in true encomienda fashion, the church is right across the town plaza and town hall, as well as the public market.
When you start feeling the toll of the tour taking over your body, make a quick stop to the Sta. Lucia Well, where you can take a moment to freshen up using its cool water from the deep well. Said to be miraculous, locals and tourists alike believe that the water from the well can heal illnesses, from a simple headache to skin diseases.
Lastly and most importantly, in order to get the real feel of time travel in Taal, make sure to pay a visit to one or two (or more!) ancestral homes in town. Most ancestral houses aren’t open to the public (except during the El Pasubat Festival at the end of April), but there are ancestral house that have been turned into museums. Some of the most noted ancestral homes in town are the well-preserved houses of Leon Apacible, Marcela Agoncillo (one of the women who made the original Philippine flag), and the Villavicencio Wedding Gift House.
A visit to this quaint and quiet town will definitely give you a taste of what it must have been like before the age of instant meals and free WiFi and make you rethink the things that we now consider as necessities.
Special thanks to Yobic Arceta for his photos from Taal.