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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Taal Heritage: A Glimpse of Filipino History

Taal Batangas has known to be one of the most preserved Spanish colonial architecture in the Philippines and home of the famous persons in Philippine Revolutionary history.

Every time my boss saw me, he ask where would I spend on my next weekends. Last Friday I said at home. Every time before me and my family went on tour, we always planned it weeks before we go to a place. But this time, we immediately decided to visit Taal Town in Batangas without  a plan. It so happened that Friday, same day that my boss asked me, a couple of minutes passed my wife called me in the office and told me go to Taal tomorrow. So why not since it’s Saturday, lets see what Taal Town has to offer.

Since it is not planned, our car is not available that time because it is scheduled for maintenance that day so we decided to commute. Since most of our travels are done by commuting via public transport, we went to Balibago Complex in Sta Rosa Laguna where a number of Buses and shuttles are available towards key cities and famous Landmarks like Lipa City, Pagsanjan, Calamba, San Pablo, Cubao, Buendia, Tagaytay, and Lemery. We took a ride towards Lemery for Php120 via GT Express which took the Balibago-Tagaytay route that passes by the tourist towns of Tagaytay and Fantasy World. So if you would like to commute and go at this places and looking for alterative routes aside from passing by Aguinaldo highway this one is the best. Lemery town is the closest town to Taal which is only a few kilometers away. There are buses and shuttles going to Lemery but to be able to get to Taal, you must travel again via Jeepney which only cost minimum fare or a tricycle from the bus terminal or from Lemery Town proper cost Php30.

Taal Basilica (Basilica of St. Martin de Tours)


Our First stop is the Taal Basilica. Excerpt as the largest church structure in Asia, Taal Basilica is built since 1875. The church also has one of the largest bell in the Philippines. There is an ongoing wedding ceremony that time when we went into the church. 


The fa├žade resembles St Peter Basilica in Rome , it’s tabernacle is made of silver and it is said to be the only one of its kind in the Philippines. Another thing that I also noticed is that the church has plenty of parking space and it is not adjacent to the main road compared to other churches which is really ideal to have a solemn surroundings without hearing any vehicles noise.

After a short prayer, we went out and headed to our 1st heritage house which is the Taal Real just in front of Taal Basilica which conforms to the old layout of Spanish colonial era combining municipal hall, school, church, and market. I say the place is really great that people have maintained a well organized atmosphere with a very good traffic routes and excellent market settings.

Ours in Binan also has this old layout back in time when we first moved in 4 years ago where the market is located at the left side of the city hall and the church is on the ride side. But now the new city hall was transferred to its new location because the Binan town proper are over crowded with people. There are stalls everywhere usually sell different kinds of stuff like clothing, foods, toys, and a lot more where people coming from different places as Binan Market is considered to be the Divisoria of the south.

Taal Real


An old Spanish municipal government building erected in 1845 which is the only Spanish building in town that has a tile roof. The building is now officially home of the municipal government of Taal.

At the back of Taal Real is the town’s cleanest market where you’ll find tiangge or store bazaar selling Barongs and other Filipiniana dresses.  Taal is also known as the country’s capital for the traditional makers of the Barong Tagalog (the Filipino’s national costume) and Balisong (butterfly fun knife).

Galleria Taal

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Take a glimpse of history as you visit the ancestral home of the Ylagan Family. It showcasing a collections of vintage cameras from  1800’s to 1900’s by Manny Barrion (Descendants of the Ylagan-Barrion Family). It has also  a gallery of Philippine antiquarian photographs of the 1800’s including rare photos of Rizal Martyrdom in Luneta Park which it was bought for 20 cents of a dollar in the US. A gallery of history through photographs depicting American and Japanese Occupation, 2nd World War, the Liberation period up to the Martial law and EDSA Revolution.

Apacible Museum

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Next to Galleria Taal is the ancestral house of the Don Leon Apacible, a known Finance officer of Emelio Aguinaldo during the first Philippine Government and a delegate to the Malolos Congress of 1898. It showcasing original furniture of the house including well preserved blue and white Ming potteries, 18th century chandeliers, and hand painted Venetian dinner service.

Agoncillo Museum

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Ancestral house of one of the principal seamstress of the official Philippine Flag Marcela Agoncillo showcasing art gallery and photo gallery of Philippine history and original furniture of the house.


Sculpture shows Marcela Agoncillo manually hand-sew the official Philippine Flag with the help of her five year old daughter Lorenza and Jose Rizal’s niece from his sister Lucia named Delfina Herboza de Natividad.  

Villa Tortuga


A traditional 19th century bahay na bato now being preserved by the famous  fashion designer Lito Perez.   Unlike other ancestral houses in Taal, Villa Tortuga is not a family name but a Spanish term as Turtle House. Since the house is close to Pasipit river where during the old time most turtles leave the river and walk slowly inside the house. At first I thought of was a joke but after visiting the house we went to Casaysay Shrine where the road leading to the shrine is just beside the house. We saw the river which is truly at the back of the house.

This antiqued house was then turned to be the central for heritage tour in Taal.  Home of a traditional costume rental shop with photo studio, and a restaurant with board and lodging amenities located at the second floor. A few old photographs and an array of native Filipino attires are on display at the ground floor. They offer heritage tour on Taal for only Php 1500 per person including lunch which consist of traditional Filipino dishes and kakanins, and a photo-taking in costumes like the ilustrados back in time with sepia photo souvenir.

Our tour are DIY so there are some activities we missed that can only be experience via a group tour headed by Villa Tortuga. Ours still worth it where we only budgeted a less Php1800 money including transport fare, souvenirs and entrance or donation on the heritage houses that we visited cost Php50.

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We ate at the famous Don Juan where they offer various delicacies to choose from. It is near the Taal Basilica located at the market and it is the one of the eating places that Taal people recommended.


Taal Town which is also known as the Tagalog Capital of the Philippines  because it is considered to be the center and origin of the Tagalog language. The former capital of Batangas which is forever be a model of all towns with a very quiet and quaint surroundings will definitely has a lot to offer. Aside from the scenic beauties it boasts, the value of Filipino history were remembered here.