"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Monday, October 01, 2012

strolling in balisong country

"i'm walking on sunshine..."
-- walking on sunshine, lyrics

15th of november 2009
taal: the balisong and barong tagalog capital of the philippines
enjoying a sunday afternoon in this old town of good repute with claire and marissa

in southwestern luzon lies the heritage town of taal, one of the 31 municipalities of the first class province of batangas. it is a charming 4th class municipality located along the pansipit river, the main outlet of the famous taal lake to balayan bay.

the welcome marker to the heritage town of taal

taal is an ideal walking tour destination. within its territory are well-maintained ancestral houses and heritage structures -- a number of them are national historical landmarks -- which date back to the spanish colonial period. taal --  the idyllic town itself -- is a national historical landmark. it is also the balisong (butterfly fan knife) and barong tagalog capital of the philippines.

where is heritage town of taal in the province of batangas?
location of the municipality of taal with respect to the municipality of sto. tomas, batangas
image source: google maps
(i provided the red and light green labels)

it was one late morning on a sunday when claire, marissa, and i pursued a roadtrip to the town of taal from sto. tomas, batangas.

how we got there
bus ride from sto. tomas to lipa, jeepney ride from lipa to taal

we were supposed to ride a lemery-bound bus from the public market of sto. tomas but the buses that came our way were few and full. we opted instead to take a bus going to lipa and got down at the lipa bus stop in front of the local big ben. from there, we rode a public jeepney bound for lemery, batangas. we made sure not to go beyond our sunday afternoon destination by informing the driver that we're only going to the town of taal and not all the way to lemery.

destination: the heritage town of taal
walking around the national historical landmark

we knew we were in taal because we saw this! ,'-) | taal park 

when we arrived in taal, the streets were deserted. manny pacquiao's firepower fight with miguel cotto was still being aired on TV that time and, as expected with every pacquiao fight, most of the people were off the streets and busy paying attention to the bout. just as well for us girls who only wanted to hear about pacquiao's victory -- we were able to walk and look around taal's public market without being persistently approached to buy this or that and/or be asked if we wanted this or that.

our first stop, after taking a look at the public market and after having our sumptuous lunch of adobong dilawsinigang na maliputo at a local restaurant, was the taal basilica.

st. martin de tours basilica (basilica de san martin de tours)
a national historical landmark and the biggest catholic church structure in the far east

basilica de san martin de tours
"the church measures 88.6-m long, 48-m wide and 95-m high
with a 44.5-m high cupola."

dominating the town center of taal is the basilica de san martin de tours, a massive church built atop a hill overlooking taal lake and balayan bay. the existing adobe-and-coral structure was constructed in 1858 as commissioned by fr. marcos anton and designed by don luciano oliver but its history of being built, relocated, and rebuilt goes back far to the last quarter of the 16th century.

the church's interesting history is complete with volcanic eruption and destructive earthquake backdrop stories!

the basilica from different angles 
taal folk tip: go five steps down the stairs and you'll get a full view of the basilica in your frame

the basilica de san martin de tours, which is also often referred to as the taal basilica, is not just noteworthy in terms of size but also in terms of style. the southwest facing facade of this magnificent church is baroque in style but its main altar is doric. plus, its tabernacle is said to be one of its kind in the philippines as it is made of silver.

the main altar of the st. martin de tours basilica

left to right: the nave of the basilica and the right wing

the chandeliers, the pews, the floor, and the pulpit of the basilica

the right side entrance of the basilica

stairs that lead up to somewhere at the right side of the basilica

escuela pia
a national historical landmark and the taal cultural center

the present-day structure of the escuela pia, now the taal cultural center, was built by fr. aniceto aparicio in 1885. it is part of the taal park and stands close to the taal basilica.

perspective | part of the escuela pia in taal park and part of the taal basilica

according to the historical marker, the escuela pia is considered as one of the oldest educational institutions of the country. it was established as a church-supervised school and was named after the order of the piarists, the congregation established by jose de calazanz in the 17th century. the augustinians established it in 1839 and their convent served as a school for the underprivileged youth of taal. the escuela pia was also the central school during the american period.

the escuela pia | taal, batangas

walking around taal
more sights to see

within the immediate vicinity of the taal basilica in the town center are the rizal college, OLCA (our lady of caysasay academy), and the municipal hall of taal -- the casa real.

the rizal college of caysasay

gregorio agoncillo mansion
the white mansion in the poblacion

along taal's calle j.p. rizal is an attention-grabbing white mansion with manicured lawn. this is the house of don gregorio r. agoncillo, which is also known as the gregorio agoncillo museum, a national historical landmark.

the gregorio agoncillo mansion
the house where felipe agoncillo, the first philippine diplomat, was born

displayed in its front garden is a statue of felipe agoncillo, don gregorio's uncle and the first philippine diplomat (as he was appointed by general emilio aguinaldo to represent the philippine republic to the united states and to the treaty of paris in 1898). felipe agoncillo was born in this house -- this is probably the reason why the site is also sometimes referred to as the felipe agoncillo mansion. the house has a choice collection of period items and edwardian and spanish-inspired antique local furniture -- from the 1800s and early 1900s.

if the name felipe agoncillo does not ring a bell, perhaps the name marcela mariño agoncillo does. she was the woman responsible for making the philippine flag and felipe agoncillo was her husband. both of them were from taal, batangas.

the ylagan-de la rosa house
a heritage house along calle j.p. rizal

standing close to the white agoncillo mansion is the ylagan-de la rosa ancestral house, which is recognized by the national historical institute as a heritage house.

old world meets new world | the ylagan-de la rosa heritage house

walking on the streets of the heritage town of taal is like being transported back in time. if the ilocos region has vigan, southern luzon has taal.

some of the other old houses we saw in taal

calle for street and clinica for clinic | taal, batangas

yes, i think of taal as southern luzon's vigan and vigan as the ilocos region's taal. ,'-)

because "knife cuts like a knife..." :)

on our way back to sto. tomas, we made sure to stop by first in taal's brgy. balisong. why? because taal, batangas is THE balisong country!

taal is known for its national historical landmarks and well-preserved ancestral houses. it is also known for the piña cloth, the barong tagalog, fine needlework and high-quality embroidery by hand (burdang taal). it is also very known for the balisong (butterfly fan knife), which is also known as the batangas knife.

glistening batangas blades |  choose your balisong

top of the line stainless steel blades |  mga balisong sa brgy. balisong

it is in brgy. balisong that these pocket utility knives are traditionally well-crafted in various sizes and handle designs. when we went there, i finally saw for myself a real deal viente y nueve traditional balisong -- a 29-cm long butterfly fan knife.

see the comb? i soooo wanted the balisong comb (a comb is concealed between the handles instead of a glistening blade). i did not buy it because i really couldn't justify to myself a php600-worth stainless steel comb when a 5-peso plastic comb would do for my long hair. still, it's a neat piece of handiwork and very nice to have.

but... i did buy my own batangas knives from brgy. balisong that sunday afternoon. (--,) actually, i bought three -- 2 functional ones (1 with old wood detail & another one with horse bones) and a mini balisong keychain.

marissa, claire, and i | sunday afternoon bliss in taal, batangas

i like it there in heritage town of taal so going back there should be in order soon. for one, i want to see the ruins of st. martin de tours church in brgy. san nicolas. i also want to visit the other sites that are listed here and shown on this map which we missed during our afternoon tour -- the marcela agoncillo house, the leon apacible museum, the villavicencio houses, the san lorenzo arch & steps, among others. plus, i want to taste again sinigang na maliputo and adobong dilaw and to experience the rest of taal's food treats. if possible, i'd also like to take a look at the silent "king of bells" housed in the restored dome of the taal basilica.

1 comment:

  1. very extensive! i hope to revisit taal soon, i know now that i missed a lot of spots as i was reading your post haha


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...