Historical Taal, Batangas
The first time I’ve heard about the Taal Heritage Village was when I was doing my thesis in college. We need to come up with our thesis proposal, and since I love traveling, we decided to focus our project on tourism development and have chosen Batangas as our project site due to its proximity in Manila.
We came across Taal Heritage village as one of the major attraction of Batangas. On our first visit in 1997, we were immediately drawn to the Ancestral houses as an architecture student. The imposing Church at the center of town is a Landmark in itself being the widest Catholic Church in Asia.
We did not pursue a tourism complex in area; instead our thesis took on the much challenging Taal Volcano Island as our site. In 2011, I was once again reminded of the charm of the area. Coming from Puerto Galera, we were meeting friends in Tagaytay, and took the coastal route from Batangas City, passing the towns of Taal and Lemery. That was such a short encounter that prompted my visit again this year.
I carefully planned my route using the navigator on my Iphone. From STAR Toll way, I took the Lipa exit and follow the route passing Cuenca and Alitagtag. Road signs pointing the direction of the Taal Heritage Town is visible from the highway after Santa Teresita.
We are tempted to make stops on the Ancestral houses along the road but the streets are so narrow that it would cause traffic. We finally found a parking spot in front of the Municipal Building just across the church.
Since it’s a Sunday, we came to visit the church first admiring the imposing façade. The interior recreation of fresco paintings is good, making it a recent version of the San Agustin Church Interior in Intramuros.
Next, we went on a walking tour to appreciate the ancestral houses. Had we arrived the day before, we could have visited all the houses that are open to the public for free.
Since we are already in Batangas, we are in search of the local favorites. A cup of Barako and Lomi were the things that came to mind. I searched foursquare for trending places in the area. Casa Conchita appeared on the search list under the Café category. We asked for directions from the tricycle drivers and pointed us to a small gate along the road very near the church. The place is still new, with no signs except for a streamer against the wall along the road. According to one of the owners, this used to be the ancestral house of Ogie Alcasid.
The place was very charming with dining areas on the balcony and the ground floor area. The house shows influences from different periods. The Gallery is reminiscent of the ground floor bahay na bato. The 2nd floor Bed and Breakfast is an American Period Improvement of the Spanish Sala and Bedrooms. Although now made smaller to accommodate guests. If you really want to immerse yourself in living in an ancestral house, you can sleep here for 600 php that comes with breakfast.
They did not have our cravings, but instead, was treated to something different. We tried their Kamias and Malunggay Shake. The Kamias Shake is a balance of Sweet and Sour similar to a green mango shake. The Malunggay is refreshing with a bitter sweet after taste.
On weekends, the small street connecting the town hall turns into a night market serving street food.