10 Reasons to Visit Taal (There’s more to it than the volcano!)

Taal Heritage TownWelcome to Taal — not the beautiful volcano and lake, but one of the oldest towns in the country! :)  The town was founded in 1572, just a year after the founding of Manila.  In the 1750s, it was then relocated to where it now stands when the townspeople were under the threat of the eruption of the Taal Volcano.

Taal books

My first trip this 2015 was in this intriguing yet lovely little town in Batangas — quiet but vibrant with culture, not really commercialized but filled with businesses that are rooted in their rich history, inhabited by simple Batanguenos who speak of their hometown with love and fondness.

Here are 10 reasons to travel to Taal, based on my short yet really meaningful trip:

1. It’s the Barong Tagalog Capital of the Philippines!

This was taken at the Taal Public Market.  The town is known for Burdang Taal, hand-embroidered barongs and sayas made from pineapple fibers and other local materials.  Aside from barongs, they also make pillow cases, bed sheets and table cloths using these materials.

This was taken at the Taal Public Market. The town is known for Burdang Taal, hand-embroidered barongs and sayas made from pineapple fibers and other local materials. Aside from barongs, they also make pillow cases, bed sheets and table cloths using these materials.

 

2. You’ll see a huge collection of vintage cameras —

This was taken in Galleria Taal, an ancestral house-turned-camera museum.  This is just one of the many examples of how the town is able to restore and preserve its heritage and still make it a part of their daily lives.

This was taken in Galleria Taal, an ancestral house-turned-camera museum. This is just one of the many examples of how the town is able to restore and preserve its heritage and still make it a part of their daily lives.

 

3. — and a cute, colorful Victorian Era house!

If you're a reader of my  blog, you've probably figured out how much I love old towns. :)  Out of all the old houses I've been in, this one's the most colorful!  It was a gift to the "Godmother of the Philippine Revolution", Gliceria Marella Villavicenio, by her husband Eulalio Villavicencio.

If you’re a reader of my blog, you’ve probably figured out how much I love old towns. :) Out of all the old Victorian-era houses I’ve been in (at least in the country), this one’s the most colorful! It was a gift to Gliceria Marella Villavicenio by her husband Eulalio Villavicencio, in the 1800s.

The details and overall design of the house are also telling of how rich the town was at the time.  That was her, the lady of the house --- Gliceria Marella Villavicencio, the "Godmother of the Philippine Revolution".

The details and overall design of the house are also telling of how rich the town was at the time. That was her, the lady of the house — Gliceria Marella Villavicencio, the “Godmother of the Philippine Revolution”.

 

4. It is home to heroes and other notable figures in Philippine history & society!

This staircase leads to a secret room where Andres Bonifacio and his fellow Katipuneros held secret meetings.  No, he wasn't from Taal, but the owner of the house, Gliceria Marella Villavicencio (this is her other house), did so much for the country during the Philippine Revolution.  She and her husband loved the country more than their family and their fortune.  She is dubbed as the "forgotten heroine".

This staircase leads to a secret room where Andres Bonifacio and his fellow Katipuneros held secret meetings. No, he wasn’t from Taal, but the owner of the house, Gliceria Marella Villavicencio (this is her other house), did so much for the country during the Philippine Revolution. She and her husband loved the country more than their family and their fortune. She is dubbed as the “forgotten heroine”.

MARCELA AGONCILLO, the principal seamstress of the Philippine flag, hails from Taal.  This was taken inside their ancestral home, now known as the Taal White House.

MARCELA AGONCILLO, the principal seamstress of the Philippine flag, hails from Taal. This was taken inside their ancestral home, now known as the Taal White House.

The ever-so-talented Ogie Alcasid is also from Taal.  A few years back he starred in the Caysasay Musical which tells of the mystery of Our Lady of Caysasay, one of the town's patrons. (Photo credit: caysasay.com)

The ever-so-talented OGIE ALCASID is also from Taal. A few years back he starred in the Caysasay Musical which tells of the story of Our Lady of Caysasay, one of the town’s patrons. (Photo credit: caysasay.com)

 

5. Marvel in the mystery of Our Lady of Caysasay, also known as “Birheng Gala”.

There are so many stories about this Mama Mary statue that I find amusing.  I won't narrate all of them here but this statue was discovered in the 1600s and has since then made several disappearances and has been found in the most unlikely places.  To this day, people who see this image (located at the top of the Caysasay church) claim that the statue moves and rotates on its own!

There are so many stories about this Mama Mary statue that I find amusing. I won’t narrate all of them here but this statue was discovered in the 1600s and has since then made several disappearances and has been found in the most unlikely places. To this day, people who see this image (located at the top of the Caysasay church) claim that the statue moves and rotates on its own!

 

6. Lift up some intentions at the miraculous well!

Apparitions of Mama Mary were reported in this rocky Caysasay hillside.  The water in this spring-fed well is said to perform miracles!

Apparitions of Mama Mary were reported in this rocky Caysasay hillside. The water in this spring-fed well is said to perform miracles!  Suggest you wear comfy shoes walking here.  (Find different styles of women’s shoes and sandals at http://www.zalora.com.ph/women/shoes/sandals/)

The faith of people from Taal is admirable.  I tried washing my hands and face using the "miraculous water". :)

The faith of people from Taal is admirable. I tried washing my hands and face using the “miraculous water”. :)

 

7. Want to see the largest Catholic church in Asia?  It’s in Taal — Basilica St. Martin de Tours!

St. Martin de Tours

Basilica Taal

 

8. You’ll meet people who will remind you to love God —

Editha is 10 years old and helps the church by selling candles and acting as tour guide. She wants to be a nun when she grows up, and she promised to pray for me. Huhuhu. :')

Editha is 10 years old and helps the church by selling candles and acting as tour guide in Caysasay. She wants to be a nun when she grows up, and she promised to pray for me. Huhuhu. :’)

 

9. — to value your family

The candles that these kids are selling symbolize family togetherness.  The locals believe that you offer these candles up (3-4 human-shaped candles), your family will always be together and happy.

The candles that these kids are selling symbolize family togetherness. The locals believe that if you offer these candles up (3 regular candles + 2 human-shaped candles bound in a rubber band), your family will always be together and happy.

 

10. — and to cherish your hometown.

One of our tour guides, Crystal, has been offered job opportunities in Manila but chose to stay in Taal to promote the wonders of her home.

One of our tour guides, Crystal, has been offered job opportunities in Manila but chose to stay in Taal to promote the wonders of her home.

This is Richard, our other tour guide.  He's 18 years, old, an Engineering student, a survivor of a near-death accident, and a theater actor who also tours people around on the side.  Our Taal trip wouldn't have been complete without his animated antics and narrations!

This is Richard, our other tour guide. He’s 18 years, old, an Engineering student, a survivor of a near-death accident, and a theater actor who also tours people around on the side. Our Taal trip wouldn’t have been complete without his animated antics and narratives!

 

Bonus: FOOD!!!

The boodle lunch in Don Juan BBQ House!

The boodle lunch in Don Juan BBQ House!

Special shoutout to Culture Shock PH for another enriching trip!

Want to visit Taal soon?  Check out Culture Shock’s website. :)

 

26 Comments on 10 Reasons to Visit Taal (There’s more to it than the volcano!)

  1. Vanessa
    January 16, 2015 at 1:13 pm (3 years ago)

    Madam Villavicencio is so pretty :) love old towns, houses, and churches too! I love the behind the scenes stories, very interesting

    Reply
  2. ceemee
    January 18, 2015 at 9:35 am (3 years ago)

    Love this post! It’s good to feature towns like this. Did you visit all in one day?

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      January 18, 2015 at 1:09 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Cym! Yup, visited them all in one day. :)

      Reply
  3. cristina
    January 19, 2015 at 8:23 am (3 years ago)

    Hope you also visited the house of Marcela Agoncillo (the white house was really her husbands house (felipe agoncillo)..felipe gave it to gregorio who happens to be his cousin…when felipe marries marcela they decided to live in the house of marcela’s grandfather which was eventually given to them and now stands as Marcela Agoncillo Historical Landmark…
    I also hope you wrote a little more background about the Basilica, not only being the largest catholic church in southeast asia..but also its history and the Patron saint who is Saint Martin de Tours…cause basilica is “the heart of taal”

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      January 19, 2015 at 10:31 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Cristina! Oh we weren’t able to visit Marcella Agoncillo’s house, but thanks for the information. :)

      Regarding the history of St. Martin de Tours Basilica, yes I learned about that during the trip but I opted not to write too much about it so I wouldn’t reveal too much to our readers in case they want to visit Taal. :)

      Are you from Taal? :) Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

      Reply
      • cristina
        January 20, 2015 at 5:44 pm (3 years ago)

        Yes, I am ftom Taal…I’ve worked as municipal tour guide for 4 years there….hope you climb up until the bell tower of the basilica…and visit the balisong shop…
        Thank you also for visiting taal…this blog will help promoting our town…

        Reply
      • Nida Noblejas Norfleet
        February 4, 2016 at 12:25 pm (2 years ago)

        I used to live in the Agoncillo house. There were so many good memories about Taal. I was Miss Taal when we celebrated the 400th years of this town. Hopefully, I will able to visit again in the near future. I live in Florida now since 1976. And I attended OLCA.

        Reply
  4. june
    January 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm (3 years ago)

    Love this post,thanks mam for coming on my hometown.not only 10 but 100% surely,taal town is one of beautiful places in south luzon.

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      January 19, 2015 at 10:34 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks for visiting my site. :) Yes Taal is really beautiful and rich in culture. For me it’s at par with Vigan in heritage conservation. I hope more people get to visit it. :)

      Reply
  5. Ceasar
    January 20, 2015 at 1:07 am (3 years ago)

    Proud Taaleño! Thanks for visiting my hometown Madam. We have more to offer in Taal. I really love this post!

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      January 20, 2015 at 8:58 am (3 years ago)

      Had an enjoyable time in your hometown! Thanks for the kind words. :)

      Reply
  6. Angie de Asis Zabala
    January 20, 2015 at 5:56 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for showing the beautiful historical places of Taal. My mom was born in Taal, Batangas and for us seeing this province is so significant to our legacy. We are now living in Seattle, Wa U.S.A for 36 years and we are so excited when we see these pictures, events and news about Taal. More power keep it going so all our kababayans will be inform with the development and changes in our province…

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      January 20, 2015 at 8:57 am (3 years ago)

      It was my pleasure! Thank you for dropping by my blog! :)

      Reply
  7. joyce dilla
    January 20, 2015 at 8:27 am (3 years ago)

    Pls share where i may contact your tour guide, Crystal, so i can make plans for our family. Thank you

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      January 20, 2015 at 8:56 am (3 years ago)

      Hi Joyce! The tour was booked via cultureshockph.com. They have another Taal tour soon, you may want to check it out. :) Will send you an email re Crystal’s number.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Reply
  8. Glaiza Villanueva-De Leon
    January 21, 2015 at 1:38 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for visiting and writing about my hometown :) When I tell people that I’m from Taal, Batangas, they would usually think I live near the volcano! Hahaha. Did you buy tapang Taal and bicho bicho? They’re the best! :)

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      January 22, 2015 at 4:55 am (3 years ago)

      Yes I tried Tapang Taal in Don Juan BBQ House! It was so good! I don’t think I tried bicho bicho, but I was able to try the suman! :) Thank you for visiting my blog. I’m glad you like the entry. :)

      Reply
  9. rosario tapia
    January 21, 2015 at 2:08 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m happy to see the town of Taal, Batangas in this blog. I’m glad somebody made a better description of the town with its beautiful Basilica being preserved. I’m from Tanauan city and I remembered all the time when I was young, we visited that town just a day tour going also to Nasugbu, Batangas.

    Reply
  10. joy sapiera
    January 22, 2015 at 2:22 am (3 years ago)

    thank you for featuring my hometown. been here in Canada but every time i go for holiday it will always be in Taal… i am so amazed on its development through the years. more power !!!!

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      January 22, 2015 at 4:52 am (3 years ago)

      You’re very much welcome. You have a beautiful hometown. :) Thanks for dropping my blog! :)

      Reply
  11. Richard E. Mendizabal
    January 25, 2015 at 5:44 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for including us ate carmel. Medyo naging viral din po ako dahil dito. Haha 😀

    Reply
  12. Ana
    January 28, 2015 at 5:04 am (3 years ago)

    Hi,
    I saw this blog from FB and I was intrigued. I like to visit Taal town, I have been to Taal Volcano and this time I like to know more about the town. I love to see those old houses and the churches. I like to ask who I should approach if I like to have a tour? Thank you very much. Your blog is so interesting and I can’t wait to visit the place too.

    Reply
  13. Alfred Lascano
    February 6, 2016 at 6:04 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you for featuring my beloved hometown in your blog. I shared it to the world thru my FB accounts if you don’t mind. Have you tried emmersing with a Taalenos? Surely you have love it. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Carmel David
      February 10, 2016 at 2:43 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much, Sir! And thanks for sharing the article. You have a beautiful hometown. :)

      Reply

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