8/27/2015

TAAL BATANGAS: A walking heritage tour only hours away from Manila!

People nowadays are always in search of somewhere new to explore. And this time, I want to explore a heritage town that is only a few hours away from Manila. What caught my attention was the pictures I saw on the internet of Taal, Batangas. So I immediately invited my friends and scheduled a day trip to Taal, Batangas! 



We left Cavite at exactly 7:00 am and arrived at 10:30 am via Tagaytay. That was still allowing time for a leisurely breakfast in Tagaytay. The drive to Taal was quite scenic and the road was good - an easy journey.

The old colonial houses scattered along roads of the historical town of Taal, Batangas, was a definite reminder of the Philippines while a colony of Spain.

What I appreciated was the fact that they were able to preserve the rich historical background of the town for future generations to see. And, that is what I came to see! 


When we arrived, the first place we looked for was a place to park and the best place to do that was at this beautiful Church of St. Martin de Tours. This served a a starting point for our walking tour around town. With only a printed map on hand, we were ready to explore Taal Batangas! 

ST. MARTIN DE TOURS BASILICA

Named after their patron saint and being the largest Catholic church in Asia, anybody would be amazed by the grand and magnificent structure of this church. Built in 1575, this church has survived eruptions and earthquakes. Efforts have been made to rebuild it and now it stands as a living monument in Taal, Batangas.


As we entered, we couldn't believe what we were seeing. I am not a Catholic, but a structure like this is one of a kind! Now, with the intricate wall paintings found inside the church and the addition of dome ceilings, anyone who enters will be wowed by what they see. 


As I got closer, I was hypnotized by the shining silver and gold altar of St. Martin De Tours Basilica! Just stunning! 


BELFRY TOWER

Don't leave the church yet, because there are still so many things to see and one of them is the climb to the BELFRY TOWER.

ENTRANCE FEE: Php 50.00 - Filipinos
Php 100.00 - Foreigners

As I walked through this narrow spiral passages as your approach the tower, it reminded me so much of my walk up to the belfry of Yorkminster Cathedral in the UK back in 2012.


The walk was pretty safe, and as long as you have no fear of heights, then I guess you are safe to walk around here. 


When we got to top of the tower, the view of Taal, Batangas was spectacular! A perfect place if you want to see the heritage town from the top! 


From the top, you could see the Municipal Hall and other colonial houses even from afar. The town of Taal, Batangas is not just known for it's colonial houses. This is also a place where some of our notable people that shaped our history are also found like Marcela Agoncillo who made the first Philippine flag. 



St. Martin De Tours Basilica also has a small museum that shows the different artifacts and antiques found in the church.



After seeing the Basilica, I was now more eager to see what was still out there in Taal, Batangas. We started our walk from the Basilica and followed CALLE MARCELA MARINO AGONCILLO. It is basically the road next to the municipal hall. 

Source: http://taal.com.ph 

It was a great day, it was humid but at least it was overcast just perfect for a walk around town!



Everyone who walks around here would have an idea of what life was like before. It was like you are living in the history! Just unbelievable!







SAN LORENZO RUIZ STEPS

Renamed after the first saint of the Philippines, SAN LORENZO RUIZ STEPS is a 125 steps that connects the main town to the Casaysay Church and to the WELLS OF ST. LUCIA which I also wanted to see! 



WELLS OF ST. LUCIA

At the foot of San Lorenzo Ruiz steps, you will find the Wells of St. Lucia, you will find a gold color deep well pump. This is also the entrance to the Well of St. Lucia. 


I asked some of the locals, about the history of this place. According to them, it was built as a landmark where the image of Lady of Casaysay was found in 1611. The drawings in the ruins was so elaborate and the bush covering it adds more to the mystery of this place. 


It was also believed that the water coming from this well has healing powers making devotees gather at this place just to get the healing water. 


The water seems very clean so I decided to give it a try myself. 


CHURCH OF CASAYSAY

Next to the Wells of St. Lucia, you will find the Church of Casaysay. Not as big as St. Martin De Tours Basilica but in 2012 , Vatican issued that who ever visits or prays here are able to receive plenary indulgence.

A plenary indulgence remits all the temporal punishment for sin. That means that if you were to die in a state of grace, having obtained a plenary indulgence, and not sinned since obtaining the indulgence, you would go straight to Heaven. ( Source: http://www.catholic-pages.com/penance/indulgences.asp)



GALLERIA HOUSE/ Camera Museum

Another place to visit if you are fond of photography is the GALLERIA HOUSE/ Camera Museum. Here, you will find an enormous collection of cameras never seen before. I asked the guide if they are all functional and they said that all of them are. That's pretty amazing! 

Entrance Fee: Php 100.00



They also have a wide collection of pictures that shows the different historical events in Philippines. 


MARCELA AGONCILLO MUSEUM

It was pity that the Marcela Agoncillo who made the first Philippine flag museum was closed. I have to save this for next time! 



As we were walking back, aside from the well preserved colonial houses, you will also find the not so well preserved houses. I hope the local government and the tourism office could do something about it since I see a lot of potential in the town of Taal, Batangas as the next favorite spot for cultural heritage tourism. 



A visit to Taal, Batangas was really an overwhelming experience. I never thought I would be able to find a living piece of history not far from Manila. I love this place and I wonder how many of these cultural towns do we still have left? 


PUBLIC MARKET

Our last stop was a walk to the public market. Taal, Batangas, is also famous for their craftmanship of Barong Tagalog and gowns at a very affordable price. I will definitely get my own Barong Tagalog here next time!



Taal, Batangas is a great discovery! The town itself is a living testament that our country is rich in history and culture. And my mission now is to spread that word that IT'S FUN TO VISIT TAAL, BATANGAS!




For more information you can also check: http://www.taal.ph/

Directions to Heritage Town of Taal : 
( source: http://www.taal.ph/directions-map/)



Approximate travel time from SLEX (Magallanes) 2 hours.

1. From Manila, take the South Luzon Expressway all the way to EXIT 50. Continue driving and enter the Star Tollway.

2. Take the LIPA Exit from Star Tollway. After the exit, turn LEFT at the National Highway towards Taal / Lemery / Cuenca.

3. Drive STRAIGHT for approximately 3.5 km (past landmarks like Fernando Airbase; Petron Gas Station; Sunflower Agro-Industrial Corp.; Vazbuilt Tiles/Vazcom) until you sees a green highway sign on your right side and Phoenix Fuel station on your left side. This green sign will have an arrow directing you to the RIGHT to Cuenca/Alitagtag/Taal.

4. Once you see this signage, make a RIGHT towards Cuenca / Taal / Lemery.

5. Follow this winding road for about 11.5 km. At about 11.5 km you will go past the Alitagtag town’s welcome arch. Continue going straight past this arch for approximately 1.7 km.

6. When you see a Caltex station in Cuenca on the left side, veer RIGHT towards the Alitagtag Poblacion (town proper).

7. Go straight for another 3 km till you see the welcome arch of the town of Sta. Teresita. Go straight for another 3 km till the end of the road, until you reach the National Highway Junction. Your landmark is the Petron Gas Station at the end of this road. Turn RIGHT towards the town of Taal.

8. After 5 kms, past landmarks like the Villas del Pueblo Subdivision, Tawilisan, you will see the Flying-V Station on your right side. (DO NOT go RIGHT on this INTERSECTION, just go STRAIGHT)

9. Go STRAIGHT, after Flying V for approximately another 2 kms towards the Taal town proper. Always minding your RIGHT side, pass landmarks like the Hacienda Villas Subdivision and the Heritage Villas Subdivision, following the RIGHT LANE all the way to reach the town proper where you will see the Plaza/Municipal Building/Basilica of ST. Martin de Tours.

Directions to Heritage Town of Taal via Tagaytay: 
( source: http://www.taal.ph/directions-map/)

(This is the scenic route, but not the fastest way).

Approximate travel time 2 hours & 45 mins. w/o traffic.

1. Take the SOUTH LUZON EXPRESSWAY and exit at STA.ROSA, LAGUNA. Make a RIGHT after passing through the toll booths towards Tagaytay. Follow this road till the END, where you will pass the Public Market. Make a RIGHT at the dead end, on the NATIONAL HIGHWAY.

2. Take the main Tagaytay National Highway driving past TAAL VISTA LODGE, McDonald’s, Josephine’s Restaurant, etc., all the way past the radar; Rodeo Hills Subdivision; etc., going towards Nasugbu.

3. Before the Nasugbu sign, you will see the SAN MIGUEL CONVENTION CENTER on your left. (DO NOT GO STRAIGHT TOWARDS NASUGBU.)

4. Make an immediate LEFT on the small road after the San Miguel Convention Center, (this small road is before the Petron Station on the left side).

This small road is called DIOKNO HIGHWAY going towards the town of Lemery. (If you’ve passed the arch of Nasugbu, you have missed Diokno Highway, so you must turn back.)

5. Drive PAST landmarks like the Pacific Heights Subdivision; Canyon Woods Subdivision; Fantasy World; Leisure Farms; etc., all the way down to the END till you reach LEMERY. This zigzag road would take approximately 40 minutes drive. Make a LEFT at the end of this road going toward the town proper of LEMERY.

6. Go straight until the dead end and you will see the river and the PANSIPIT BRIDGE, which is the entrance to the Heritage Town of Taal. Make a LEFT turn going uphill toward the town proper of Taal.


8/15/2015

DAHILAYAN Forest and Adventure Park - Making your visit in Bukidnon more fun!

Bukidnon is a place famous to have the sweetest Pineapples you could ever taste (Guaranteed!). It is also known for its cool climate all year round because of it's elevation. But now, the province of Bukidnon is also becoming a famous destination for those tourist seeking to have a great adventure. 

Since I visited my father's hometown which is in Libona, Bukidnon, I immediately told my parents that I wanted to visit this place since it's only minutes away from us. This is also my first time to visit Dahilayan Forest and Adventure Park. I thought it would be a great idea to take my family as well. 


Coming from PHILIPS, Libona, Bukidnon, we made a quick stop at Cooperative Market to buy some snacks to take along with us. 



For the information of everyone, Dahilayan Forest Park is different from Dahilayan Adventure Park. They also offer different outdoor activities and my advice is for tourists to check both parks. 

For an entrance fee of Php 100 for adults and Php 50 for kids, you can already enjoy the cool breeze at the park and all the activities it offers at a certain price.



A ticket booth is also available inside just in case you want to try some of the activities inside the park. 


We didn't waste time, my parents didn't mind the intense heat from the sun. Everywhere you looked it was picture perfect. And some of them are these life size animals.



Forest park is not just made for kids to have fun, even adults can also join in the fun! 


One of the many activities you can do , is a puttputt or miniature golf. When I was in South Africa, I used to play a lot of this and it was really a fun game for everyone. 


For Php 100, you can walk across this very long hanging bridge at the Forest Park. 



Aside from doing ordinary poses, make memories more memorable by doing some wacky poses like this one! 


From the activity area, if you walk on the other side of the park, you will find the park's picnic area. Tables are available for rent which is perfect place for any type of gatherings. But what I liked most about this place was the the huge and tall pine trees covering the whole area. It was beautiful! 


As I looked above, I am just thankful that there are some places like Dahilayan where nature and development thrive together. 



After walking around Forest Park with the whole family, it was now time for us to move on to another adventure park which is basically next door, The Dahilayan Adventure Park! No entrance fee is required at this park. If you are looking for extreme adventure, this is the right place for you!

Accommodation is available in both parks, but if I were you, you must try and stay at PINE GROVE MOUNTAIN LODGE.


Pine Grove Mountain Lodge
0917-622-3204 | 0917-3111-192
pinegrovemountainlodge@yahoo.com
I promised myself that the next time I visited, I would definitely stay at this place for at least a night with the family. The pine trees that surround the lodge would really give every guest a feel like you were in the summer capital or in other countries with cold climate. 


I love adventure and that was the main reason why I came to this place. Along with my cousins, I decided to treat them to two rides. The ASIA'S 1st Longest Dual Zipline and the Dropzone.

ZIP LINE costs us Php 500.00 per person and DROP ZONE costs us Php 500.00 per person if you want to go alone and Php 750.00 if you want to go on a tandem. 


After buying the tickets, we immediately went to the Dropzone which is a few meters walk from the Pine Grove Lodge. 


You will also pass through some of the rides and activities such as this ROPE COURSE. 


After tickets had been verified, I now just had to wait for my turn at the Dropzone. I was scared as hell of heights and this is another challenge for me since I would be swinging 120 meters above the man-made lake. Such an adrenaline pumping activity but I was very eager to do it! 



The friendly staff of the park had to double check and make sure everything is ok. I felt safe though, I was just a little nervous maybe about the free fall. 


When I heard the cables pulling me up 120 meters above ground, I started to have cold sweats. What added more to the fun was I had to pull the trigger myself that would release the lock and start to freefall. That was an intense part of this ride! 



As I pulled the chord, I screamed liked a baby! Once I started swinging, I felt unstoppable and wanted to do it over and over again! ! My fear of heights suddenly turned into joy of flying!


After that exhilarating ride, it was now time for my father and I to try the Zipline. It is a 840 meters zipline with a speed of 60 - 80 KPH. It is considered as Asia's first Longest Dual Zipline. 


I've tried so many ziplines including the longest and fastest in South Africa. But, I am just glad that there are so many parks offering this activity and I am sure it will just get longer and faster compared to other countries. 


From the park, a cab took us all the way to the starting point and once everything was checked, they pulled the trigger and zoomed through the pine forest from Dahilayan Forest Park to the Adventure Park. The ride took around 3 to 4 minutes from the starting point up to the Adventure Park. 




After all the activities at Dahilayan, I had no doubt that that it's indeed more fun to visit and experience both Dahilayan Forest and Adventure Park. If you are in Cagayan De Oro or nearby places, do not forget to drop by at Dahilayan. The road going there was also quite scenic making your trip a memorable experience. 



I would personally like to thank Roj of Pine Grove Mountain Lodge for accommodating us during our visit. A very friendly and a professional person, he will make sure that you will have a great time when you visit at Dahilayan! 



Websites:
https://www.dahilayanadventurepark.com
Zipzone Dahilayan Adventure Park
0922-880-1319
zipzoneinq@yahoo.com
http://dahilayanforestpark.com

Mobile No.
+63917-715-4399
+63917-719-4398
+63917-316-8922

Landline
088-855-0141



How to get there: 

From CDO take the BuDa (Bukidnon-Davao) Highway then turn right on the Alae Junction (which is about a kilometer past the quarantine stop).


Go straight passing through Camp Phillips, through their soccer field to your right and through the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation. Just continue until you reach Dahilayan Forest Park. 

You will see several directional signs along the way to guide you.

Source: (Dahilayan Forest Park)