Friday, July 22, 2011

El patrimonio de Taal

The Heritage of Taal

My tour of Taal Town last July 15-16 was surely an eye-opener of a heritage unknown to many of us. It is listed as a heritage landmark by the National Historical Institute, much like Vigan. Unlike Vigan, though, the whole town is in itself a well-preserved Spanish Colonial Town and walking around it brought me a reminiscent of a rich cultural past that we've learned only through the books.

At the center of the town is Basilica de San Martin de Tours or commonly known as Taal Basilica, said to be Asia's biggest Catholic Church. 

Taal Basilica
Original church was instituted on 1575 and current church structure was constructed on 1856.
Church is said to be Asia's biggest Catholic Church

 Aside from Taal Basilica, the town is almost surrounded by other Spanish religious influences like the Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine and San lorenzo Ruiz Steps, which I counted has 122 steps.

Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine: left, front and right side
San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps: I counted has 122 steps.
But probably one of the highlights of my trip to these structures was the view deck of the whole Taal Town via Taal Basilica. You just need to give a donation of Php50 to do this. I'd have to say it did freak me out when I ought to take the dark narrow stairs going up the top of the church. It's lighted, yes, but at one point it was really dark because one bulb was pundido (burnt out). I was taking pictures not just to document but to  also aid me going up and down!

Going up: please tell me the red marks on the second pic was due to camera lighting :(
Going down: I was asking the security guard if they are planning to fix the bulb :)
Nevertheless, it was all worth it after seeing the whole view of the town. You can even see a glimpse of Taal Lake from the view deck. 

View of Taal Town
Thanks to Kuya guard for the photo :)
Once you're done with this activity, you might want to take a rest at Taal Park. It gives you a view of the church, plus it was really well shaded by trees. 

I did not realize you can take this picture capturing Taal Basilica
On the other hand, I was hopeful to enjoy the food at Taal but, for some reason, I thought most of what I ate were really salty. It must be a Taaleño appetite. :)

Tapang Taal for dinner on Day 1 at Don Juan Restaurant: Php190
Longganisang Taal for breakfast on Day 2 at Bistro Taal: Php155 (includes Kapeng Barako)
My Kapeng Barako: still the best coffee!
Nevertheless, it was still worth it as the stroll did provide me so much eye enjoyment. Government and business structures were actually required to have an old design so as to make sure the town keeps its heritage feel.

Taal PNP
Rizal College of Taal
Antique House (aka Junk Shop) =)
These buildings and houses took much participation in showcasing the town's well-preserved past, and I was informed that the town's government is keen on keeping this culture alive.

Truly precioso

If these structures made you want to see more of the town, you might want to hit the next episode of this story arc: Viva Villavicencio!

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