They say why visit Vigan when Taal Heritage Town is more accessible. I say why not do both?
We seem to visit Taal Heritage Town on installment basis as every time we go there it's always an unplanned road trip. Most of time that's how we do it here on Get Lost -- impromptu getaways with no definite itineraries.
With Taal Heritage Town being quite accessible from Metro Manila (give or take about two hours from Makati), it's a destination we can visit every so often with the kids for some history lessons outside the classroom.
LITTLE HUMANS AT THE LARGEST CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES AND ASIA.
Also called "A Secret Vigan" or "Vigan of the South," Taal Heritage Town is one out of five heritage towns in the Philippines. Ancestral houses, quaint restaurants and friendly locals make up this charming little town.
The Basilica of St. Martin of Tours (or simply called the Taal Basilica) is one of the more popular attractions in the area. This grand structure stands 88.6 meters tall and 48 meters wide and sits on top of a hill at the center of the town. The bell tower is open to the public until 4pm but unfortunately we weren't able to do this when we were in the area. I'm making this a priority the next time we visit! They say it's best to go up the tower in the afternoon and appreciate the view of the whole town and Balayan Bay.
Marian apparitions and miracles attract pilgrims to OUR LADY OF CASAYSAY CHURCH AND STA. LUCIA WELL.
Legend says that the Virgin Mary's image was caught in the fishnet of Juan Maningkad and such image was transferred to Our Lady of Casaysay Church, which consequently disappeared and reappeared on repeated occasions until one day it disappeared completely.
The image made its reappearance by the well at the back of the church and is now another popular spot for pilgrims and tourists alike. The water from the well is said to have miraculous properties so the locals encourage the visitors to bring home some water after lighting candles at the shrine and saying prayers.
I'm sure that there's a lot more to learn about the Casaysay Church and the Sta. Lucia well and there are a number of well meaning locals within the vicinity to tell visitors all about it. Unfortunately, our visit was mostly me saying no to all of the vendors selling me candles and volunteering their services to be our guides. A little girl gave me unsolicited stories about the place but it was obviously a memorized spiel that I barely got anything out of it since she talked too darn fast. If there's speed reading, there's also speed talking. I could hear her voice but I couldn't grasp what she was saying. To cut the long the story short, I didn't particularly enjoy our visit to this area because I felt hounded by the locals.
"love is a disease -- ultimately you get sick of each other." (amit abraham)
One of my favorites in Taal Heritage Town is Tampuhan Cafe, a quaint establishment named after Juan Luna's famous painting called Tampuhan (sulking). The famous Filipino painter depicted a couple having a lover's quarrel and it served as inspiration for this charming cafe. The food is affordable (we spent less than Php 600 or USD 13 for three adults and two kids) and if you intend to stay the night at Taal Heritage Town, Tampuhan Cafe is also one of the bed and breakfast inns in the area (Php 850 or approximately USD 18 per head).
galleria taal - a shutterbug's version of disneyland
My dad bought me my first legit camera about twenty years ago when I needed one for my photography class. He got me a Canon A1 film camera and we were attached to the hip ever since I got it -- I'd take pictures of anything and everything and my allowance would go to Kodak so that I could purchase loads of Tri-X black and white film. I'd spend most of the time in the photography lab of my school developing photos and my then boyfriend (now husband) even got me my own equipment for developing so that I can continue processing film in his bathroom. I got a stomach ulcer during those days because I'd forget to eat!
My husband got into photography as well after going with me for my school projects and he is now a professional photographer and videographer for New Media Factory (NMFtv). He takes most of the photos for an NMFtv brand called Opus Macchina while I take most of the photos for Get Lost. Both of us agree that Galleria Taal was the highlight of our trip to Taal Heritage Town!
Galleria Taal is the first (and I think only) vintage camera museum in the Philippines. Established by serious hobbyist and collector Manny Inumerable, the museum houses most of the cameras in his collection and these are all in working condition! His collection is continuously growing as he visits a flea market in France once a year to hunt for vintage cameras. Here are some drool-worthy vintage cameras for our photography enthusiast readers!
We weren't able to visit other attractions as the sleepy town closes shop early (4 or 5pm). We're looking forward to visiting the Taal Basilica bell tower next time, as well as the Villavicencio Wedding Gift House and other heritage houses. Just a few tips -- make sure to go to the public market (you won't miss it, use these gowns as your marker) and buy kapeng barako (Barako coffee) and tapang Taal (marinated diced pork) which are just some of the specialties of this province. And go early (unlike us) so that you'll be able to check out more places in Taal Heritage Town!