A city renowned for its vintage glitz and glamour, is Vigan, but hey little do we know that another Heritage Town set in a closer proximity to Manila is here and with all the owner’s lenient take on privacy (and generosity) allowing you to peruse their ancestral homes with nothing but a token of thanks to leave them. With those facts one would say that Taal is arguably better. Having been to both we will conduct a showdown of the two at the end of this post so you can take my comment with a grain of salt.
It’s relatively easy to go here, with a lot of ways to suit your fancy. The easiest of which is to take a bus to Lemery where you can ask to be dropped off at the Taal town or just drive in which case you can just google waypoints.ph for directions. You could also do our way where in you take a random Batangas bound bus at the Araneta Center, then ride a random jeepney (probably to lipa) wait an hour and get off at Taal. Where you arrive at nighttime tired, sleepy and hungry. Yes, just like astronauts through a time warp.
But unlike eating toothpaste goo, you can head on over to Rizal’s Bistro
where the best Kare- Kare can be procured for only 270(+/-)Php
It does feel like a 70’s style restaurant where at any moment you expect FPJ to bust through the doors and gun down the Fil-Mafia dudes with the bad facial hair at the next table.
The well- proportioned food was served lightning fast, had a thick sweet-tasting soup, it was best eaten with the savory Bagoong and either calamansi juice or yummy sago’t gulaman.
I don’t need to bore you with the details of having a hard time checking in at Casa Punzalan with the ghost of a receptionist who’s as reliable as a bubble about to burst, and i don’t need to tell you that even though according to blogs the rate for a room is 600 but he charged us 700. Silly Carrie, blogs are unheard of at 1920’s Taal. But apparently inflation is.
You can literally taste the history of the rooms where you imagine the well dressed inhabitants going about their business with the long night gowns and reading with a beautiful gasera. One can’t deny the old world charm and beauty of these sleeping quarters, the best one being Jesus as the only AC room at 1.2k with my fantasy canopy bed
Sadly Jesus was the witness to a nuptial just the day before and hasn’t been cleaned up yet. So we crashed in Graciano’s quarters saving us a whopping 500 pesos. We had free reign to choose any room apart from Jesus since we were the only visitors that night, which adds to the tranquility and ghostly vibes since at 9pm everything is oh so quiet.
Ah, the beauty of times gone by, where the sunlight in the morning passes through the capiz windows, the smell of white un-desecrated sheets and the sounds of a sleepy town awoken at early morning. Whereas the night before was a total contrast since my fear of cockroaches rendered me trapped in limbo. And both of us unable to get ready at the bathroom since it eerily smelled like liquidated fear.
I’d be hard pressed to find a more fitting place to spend the night in Taal, us carrying more stories than what i could possibly fit in this page, and as we got ready to leave we were unable to say goodbye to our dematerializing doorman. But the spirit knows we leave with good thoughts. We then boarded a bus to transport us to our work at the sugar plantations.
Nope, kidding but this totally operational bus with friendly drivers made my feverish travelmate smile. By the way, the first thing we noticed in Taal was that familiar beacon of commercialism 7-11 lighting the path of many citizens who cherish the thought of buying overpriced goods at an airconditioned sari-sari store. And a new hang-out place for the “Taal Tweens” who at 8 in the morning saw me with wet hair embarrassingly buying shampoo because mid-shower i realized i only bought conditioner.
Deciding against prudence we skipped breakfast and just had our trusty Cheetos because we failed to find good food at decent prices, and went ahead to the Biggest Catholic Chuch in Asia where the building is big and the Faith is even bigger, it does make you wonder how Taal stayed true and untainted all these years.
The Art at the ceiling was hand painted through the use of scaffolding by Artists, says the Caretaker. Beautifully done if i may say so myself. And based on Google, the Artist who rendered this is an Italian named Giovanni Dibella
Inside the Church where for a “measly” 50Php where the ticket stub was not given presumably out of the fact that there were 100P and 50P and 20P separate denominations, you can see an aerial view of Taal and Beyond by climbing the charming dark stone stairways.
The 50 peso ticket was worth it in the sense that like in the movie Vantage Point you can easily scope out the bad guys and shoot ’em up or when behaving in a slightly more realistic manner, you can see your next destination and plan how to get home.
Aside from the Bell Tower there is also a beautiful fountain downstairs, an office with antique furnishing, a well, and other mentionables i will leave for your camera to point out.
Leaving the Taal Basilica, we then on proceeded to the Cultural Pavilion and upon realizing it was an empty rectangle that smelled like a latrine, we promptly left and took a tricycle asking for a Carinderia in town. After overcharging us double the amount and leaving us in an “eatery-with-no-redeeming-quality-except-that-it-was-the-most-geographically-convenient-location-for-him” We then braved the heat looking for food and medicine, luckily we passed by a Mercury Drugstore and then got 1. Cecon, 2, Bioflu and 3. Ciprobay, a wide spectrum antibiotic to treat a myriad of bacterial infections, thanking my cousin for replying to me at the crack of dawn for the emergency prescription. Taking yet another tricycle while trying to avoid sounding vague and tourist-y we asked again for “authentic Taal food” he then brought us to this cute Carinderia with a miniature bridge who serves— Yes!!!! The Saving Grace of our afternoon!!
No! Not the siomai! Although this was hefty and good. What we had was what we’ve been looking for all morning. ;)
Tapang Taal and Taal Longanisa, the semi-solid and seemingly hand-ground Longanisa, i’ll give a 3 out of 5 and the Tapa (Pork, i believe) a 3.75 out of 5, although both was satisfyingly finished in rapid succession and i bet if you’d have given us coagulated wheat grass extract i would still happily devour it.
Now well-fed and less stressed since my companion got a Panacea. I can now with a clearer mind take into account my previous Vigan trip along side Taal and compare with all variables accounted for.
What’s listed isn’t the positives or the negatives but bullet points of what i think are the similarities of the two. Both are fun family friendly destinations where you can kick-back relax and enjoy your time-warp to a lesser complicated time. I leave all the hard work of deciding where to go next. To you :)
*Erratum : Taal is not yet a Unesco Heritage site but i hope it will be soon :)