Saturday, February 28, 2015

What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho

Roadside Sushi Sioshi (Siopao and Shiomai)
Spotted in Tanauan City, Batangas

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.



Around the Northern Half of Batangas:
Around the Northern Half of Batangas in Three Days
Back in Time in the Town of Taal
Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan
Caleruega
What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho (you're here!)
The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon
Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church
Where and What We Ate in Batangas

A Bit of Cavite in Between:
Wisdom from the Road #23
People's Park in the Sky

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

People's Park in the Sky

The quest for the Starbucks in Tagaytay with a view of Taal ended when my friend reluctantly waved his imaginary white flag. We settled instead for a view of Taal without the overpriced coffee: People's Park in the Sky.


People's Park reminded me of Ligñon Hill in Albay—from the entrance to the viewdeck, it was all uphill. But the park was clearly going downhill and has been for quite some time: the People's Park Hollywood–style sign read "  O       N THE S  " (Can I buy a vowel?) and what once was white was now a moldy green, the railings have been eaten by rust, lamp posts didn't have bulbs, the unfinished house was crumbling, and everywhere the paint was peeling. But what the facility lacked in upkeep, it made up with the view it afforded.

View from the park: Tagaytay, Taal Lake, Volcano Island, and Batangas (across the lake)

A fraction of the price of a Starbucks coffee:
Jeep to People's Park Php 17
People's Park entrance fee Php 30
Jeep from park entrance to viewdeck Php 5



Around the Northern Half of Batangas:
Around the Northern Half of Batangas in Three Days
Back in Time in the Town of Taal
Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan
Caleruega
What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho
The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon
Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church
Where and What We Ate in Batangas

A Bit of Cavite in Between:
Wisdom from the Road #23
People's Park in the Sky (you're here!)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Caleruega

From Burot Beach, we took a tricycle (Php 150 per tricycle) back to the town of Calatagan, then a bus to Nasugbu (Php 40), and a tricycle (Php 20 per person) to Caleruega.

Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas
Entrance fee: Php 30


It was a Sunday and Caleruega was silently buzzing with people. Silently, for Caleruega is a place for retreats, recollections, reflections, prayers. We weren't in our Sunday's best, only in our Sunday's best for beaches (shorts and slippers), and we looked very out of place. We quickly made our way to the red brick Transfiguration Chapel for prayers and pictures. Had we had more time (and had we been better dressed for such a place), it would have been nice to have a quiet walk in the gardens of Caleruega.

Caleruega is huge, but we only had time to see the Transfiguration Chapel (#7 on map; click to enlarge)



Around the Northern Half of Batangas:
Around the Northern Half of Batangas in Three Days
Back in Time in the Town of Taal
Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan
Caleruega (you're here!)
What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho
The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon
Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church
Where and What We Ate in Batangas

A Bit of Cavite in Between:
Wisdom from the Road #23
People's Park in the Sky

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan

From the trip back in time in the town of Taal, we slow motioned on two tricycle and three jeepney rides to the present: Burot Beach in Calatagan, on the northeast of Batangas. Our camp for the night.



There are no eateries and resorts in Burot Beach, but we were boy scouts: we bought food for dinner and breakfast at the town before heading to the beach.

There are no resorts in Burot Beach, but one of us was a boy scout: he brought his own tent. The rest of us rented a three–person tent for Php 400. We chose our spot under a tree and a nearby table.

There are grilling areas in Burot Beach, but one of us was a boy scout: the person who brought his own tent also brought his cookset and a can of butane. We cooked our dinner and ate on the table that was encroaching in our camping area. (The encroaching table was for rent.)

There is a washing area in Burot Beach, but we were no boy scouts: we didn't have dishwashing soap. The enterprising caretakers though had a little sari–sari store and we were saved.

There is no electricity in the area, but we were boy scouts: we brought flashlights and headlamps (and extra batteries too). This was most especially useful when one had to go to the crude toilets/bathrooms in the middle of the night.

There are open cottages for rent, but we were boy scouts and had set up our tents and so didn't need any cottage, open or otherwise... until it rained in the middle of the night and we had to get out of our partly–flooded tents (ha! fake boy scouts!) and seek shelter.


There is a wide sandy beach, sufficient tree cover along the shore, and a good view of the sunset. We, boy scouts, cleaned up after our early dinner, explored the length of the beach, went for a swim, watched the sky turn orange, and then retired to our tents. It was a nice breezy night and we all succumbed to sleep not long after.


There is a quiet and a darkness in the wee hours, with only the sound of the sea lapping on the shore and an occasional snore from the boy scouts who slept like rocks. But I did not sleep like a rock that night, and woke up at around 3AM to the sound of clanging cooksets. I listened a little more and decided to investigate. I grabbed my headlamp, unzipped the tent, took two hurried steps, and shone the light on the table where we had conveniently and stupidly left our leftovers in a covered–and–handles–folded cookset—it was gone. I tried to follow the sound of the clanging but my headlamp did not spot anything. This boy scout was a bit of a chicken and decided not to venture in the wooded areas out back just for a cookset. I waited til daybreak to tell the owner of the cookset, and then we set off to find it. We scoured the grassy areas and the woods. We eventually found the cookset still in its covered–and–handles–folded state, but with the food inside gone, and with, mysteriously, no marks on the cookset.

How we had left the cookset and how we had found it!
Photo from ebay.com.au

There are no ghosts and monsters in Burot Beach, just dogs. Dogs that know how to snatch a cookset (that had handles folded) from the center of the table, without leaving teeth marks. Dogs that could open a cookset and eat what's inside it, then leave it covered again. Dogs that we imagine had used its front paws to grab the cookset and ran away on its hind legs. Dogs that are smarter than these so–called boy scouts.


Expect these Expenses:
Tricycle from town to Burot Beach Php 150 (per tricycle)
Entrance fee per person Php 65 (day trip) / Php 130 (overnight)
Tent rental Php 400 (3–person tent)



Around the Northern Half of Batangas:
Around the Northern Half of Batangas in Three Days
Back in Time in the Town of Taal
Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan (you're here!)
Caleruega
What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho
The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon
Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church
Where and What We Ate in Batangas

A Bit of Cavite in Between:
Wisdom from the Road #23
People's Park in the Sky

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Back in Time in the Town of Taal

Two things I knew of my Batangas trip: my flights dates and how to get to Batangas from Pasay. Nothing more. I had left all the planning to my good Batangueño friend.

It was only on the first day that I had learned of our itinerary. He had plotted out a clockwise route from Lipa, Batangas and our first stop was the historic town of Taal. Just how historic it was I had no clue, until I stepped off the jeep that had stopped a short distance from Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours.

Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours
(also known as Taal Basilica)
Calle Marcela Mariño Agoncillo
Brochure Php 5
Bell Tower (9AM to 4PM) Php 50

The church was built in 1575, rebuilt in 1642, destroyed by the eruption of Taal Volcano in 1754, relocated and rebuilt in its present location in 1755, then destroyed by an earthquake in 1849. The Basilica that is standing now was built in 1856 (completed in 1878) and is said to be the largest in Asia.

In front of the largest church in Asia is a massive bell, which took residence at the belfry up until 1942 when it fell because of an earthquake. What resides now at the bell tower aside from bats? 


For 50 pesos each, we were allowed to go up the bell tower. The way was dark and dank, and there was a lingering stink in the narrow stairway. The breeze up top was literally a breath of fresh air. In the company of three huge bells (though not as massive as the one displayed in front of the church), we stayed a few minutes for the breeze and the view. And we prayed...that the bells wouldn't toll while we were up there.

View of the town from the Basilica's bell tower

After saying our prayers and gulping down fresh air, we headed back down the narrow staircase and made our way to...
Don Gregorio Agoncillo House
(also known as White House)
Calle Marcela Mariño Agoncillo corner Calle Felipe Agoncillo
8AM to 4PM
Admission fee Php 70

When we reached the gates of this white house, it was closed. There was no sign that the house was open to the public. We peered through the gate like little prisoners until we spotted a ghost! Just kidding. We spotted a lady inside. She let us in but didn't tell us anything about the people who had lived there.


So who was Gregorio Agoncillo? I found this little piece of information written on a little brass sign somewhere in the house:
"An active supporter of the Philippine Revolution against the colonial government of Spain in 1896. Exiled to Hong Kong in 1898 where, as a member of the Revolutionary Council established by General Emilio Aguinaldo, he continued the struggle to establish a sovereign Filipino nation. Solicited funds in Japan and Hong Kong for the revolutionary forces. 
Launched the modernization program of the sugar industry in Batangas and served as first president of the "Associacion de Agricultores de Oeste Batangas." Served as director of Philippine National Bank and the Manila Hotel."
Next house we visited was the...

Casa Villavicencio
32 Calle Gliceria Marella
Tuesday to Sunday 8AM to 5PM
Admission fee Php 70


Through a short film that we were encouraged to watch, I learned about Gliceria Marella Villavicencio and how she would give up her wealth, life, and family for the love of the country.

What is the significance of this house? This house once served as a meeting place of the revolutionary chiefs (like Andres Bonifacio, Miguel Malvar, Felipe Calderon) who came to Taal disguised as sabungeros. On June 12, 1898, Philippine Independence Day proclamation, General Aguinaldo referred to Gliceria Marella as the godmother of revolutionary forces. I did not make that up. I found that little note in the house.

We stupidly missed visiting the house right next door: the Wedding Gift House which Eulalio Villavicencio built for his wife, Gliceria. From Casa Villavicencio, we went looking for the...

San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps
(also known as Caysasay Steps)

and somewhere between the first and the 125th step we met some kids who led us to the...

Miraculous Well of Sta. Lucia

Under the arch of coral stone, which was part of a chapel that was destroyed in the 1754 eruption of Taal Volcano, is a well where the water is said to heal. People go there to pray in the little grotto off to the side of the arch and to wash themselves with the water from the well (there are changing rooms too!). Also nearby is the...

Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine
Photo from Lakad Pilipinas

The church and the well have an interesting story to tell, but for that, you have to head on to Ironwulf's blogpost.

After visiting the Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine, we traced our way back to Calle Marcela Mariño Agoncillo and walked westward, where we found...

60 Calle Marcela Mariño Agoncillo
8AM to 5PM
Admission fee Php 70

Galleria Taal was the home of the Ilagan–Barrion family and is now the home of Emmanuel "Manny" Barrion Inumerable's fantastic collection of old cameras from the late 1800s to the late 1900s! The cameras still look spiffy and, I am told, still work. Copies of old photographs are also on display in Galleria Taal.


It was almost noon and our stomachs were grumbling. It grumbled more when we were told that lunch for a minimum of eight persons can also be booked at the Galleria Taal. It would cost Php400 per person and the menu would consist of Batangueño fare.

Hungry, we decided to visit one more house: the house of Marcela Mariño Agoncillo down the road. But on the way there, we got sidetracked by another old house, which did not charge any admission fee:

Leon Apacible Museum
Tuesday to Sunday 8AM to 4PM
No admission fee; donations welcome
Photo from taal.com.ph


Leon Apacible was a lawyer and his house was also one of the meeting places of the revolutionary leaders (Jose Rizal included). Leon Apacible became General Miguel Malvar's right-hand man and led his own force of soldiers against Spain in capturing Batangas.

Then we were finally on to our last stop, the house of:

Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo
Tuesday to Sunday 8AM to 4PM
No admission fee; donations welcome
Photo from taal.com.ph


The house of Marcela Mariño Agoncillo is one of the oldest in Taal. It was built in the late 17th century by Marcela's grandfather. So who was Marcela Mariño Agoncillo? She sewed the first Philippine flag!

Taal Town is teeming with beautiful ancestral houses and I wished I was wearing a barong while strolling its streets...but then, with the blazing sun and my big black backpack, I would be sweating like a pig. On second thought, I wished I was wearing a barong while riding a calesa along the streets of Taal. That would have completed my back–in–time tour.

Map by Ian Paul Bautista Agojo


Tip: Period costumes can be tried on at Villa Tortuga for a fee. But the costumes cannot be worn on the streets.


This article is also featured on GPSmyCity. If you find this article useful and plan to use it to explore Taal, for a minimal fee, you can download the GPSmyCity iOS app to view it offline and use the GPS-aided map.


Around the Northern Half of Batangas:
Around the Northern Half of Batangas in Three Days
Back in Time in the Town of Taal (you're here!)
Boy Scouts in Burot Beach, Calatagan
Caleruega
What's in a (Business) Name? Treinta y ocho
The Waterfalls of Laurel: Malagaslas and Ambon–Ambon
Lipa, Batangas: Casa de Segunda, San Sebastian Cathedral, Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church
Where and What We Ate in Batangas

A Bit of Cavite in Between:
Wisdom from the Road #23
People's Park in the Sky

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Wisdom from the Road #24

On pocketmoney
Bring extra money.
This is a no–brainer.

But I have no brains. And getting stranded in Pacijan Island, Camotes with no brains and no money makes the worst a memorable experience.

I had been sitting and chatting with a fellow passenger while waiting for the ferry that would take us back to Danao, Cebu, when it was announced that all trips have been cancelled because of the weather. Okay, I am not that dumb, I have a little bit of brain and so had a little bit of extra money, but money that could not afford to go to/from the pier and stay an extra night in a resort. Since I had a tent, I asked if I could just camp at the pier. The person I had been chatting with did not recommend it and invited me to stay at the nearby Baptist chapel where he is a pastor. Ah, an angel.

The extra hours in Pacijan Island were spent helping pastor and his niece prepare dinner (pastor laughed at my slowness in picking the malunggay leaves off its stalk), watching a movie (Piranha, I think it was) with them, and, when the power went out, chatting with them in the dark with only fireflies and the faint moonlight as illumination. When bedtime came, pastor and his niece retired to their little house behind the chapel and I retired in my little tent inside the chapel (Yes, a tent. In the chapel. To keep away the mosquitoes!).

Thank you, pastor, for your kindness.

Indeed, Jesus saves.


For more lessons from the road, please visit Go Learn.