Revisiting my lineage in the Heritage Town of Taal - June 2012 Photo Walk

Friday, September 14, 2012

As American as I look, I am Filipino through and through. A couple of years ago, our incomplete clan (a little under 100 people? Haha) went to Taal in Batangas to learn about our roots. My second visit here was for Appetite Magazine’s Food Tour in 2009 when we covered the event for the TV show I was part of.

Going back to my first trip with the huuuuge fam, we visited some churches and ancestral houses in the town. For my lolo’s (grandfather) 85th birthday this year, the family decided to revisit these sites so that our nieces, nephews and younger cousins would know more about our lolo’s (grandfather) relatives and the roles our ancestors played in Philippine History.

DO NOT expect empty interior photos. I was on tour with my whole first degree family (all 50 ++ of us) which is why most of my photos have people in them. Even if I wanted to stay and wait for the halls to be empty, I couldn’t – I risked getting left behind. Haha

St. Martin de Tours Basilica also known as the Taal Basilica
True to the Spaniards urban planning, the Basilica sits in the heart of the town fronting the plaza. It is the largest Church in Asia and on January 16, 1974, St. Martin de Tours Basilica was pronounced as a national shrine.

Check out the detail of the ceiling

Gregorio Agoncillo Museum 

Gregorio Agoncillo married Marquita Villavicencio who is the daughter of our matriarch, my great great grandmother, Gliceria Marella Villavicencio.  The ancestral house turned museum contains an abundance of family memorabilia and items from the 1800 and 1900s.

View from the house, it was a blistering hot day to go sightseeing.
They prepared this bread whose name escapes me. Everyone loved this because it was more than a bread roll; with every bite of the warm bread you could taste the lusciousness of the butter without feeling like you’ll get a heart attack.
Felipe is Gregorio’s tito (uncle)
Scenes inside the museum

I love how the sun hit the chair beautifully. 

Doña Marcela Agoncillo Museum

Doña Marcela is known as the Mother of the Philippine Flag for having sewn the first ever Philippine flag. She found herself in Hong Kong during the revolution because her husband Don Felipe was exiled there. It was in Hong Kong where Emilio Aguinaldo requested her to create the flag.

Exiled Filipinos sought refuge in their home in Hong Kong. The couple opened their home to revolutionary meetings and activities. The couple also used their riches to help fund the revolution.

Villavicencio Residences

Gliceria Marella married Eulalio Villavicencio in October 1871. Eulalio grew up in a stunning house in Taal. As his wedding gift to Gliceria, he built a house for her next to it. 

Like Doña Marcela and Don Felipe, Gliceria and Eulalio used their fortune and resources to support the revolution. Eulalio was incarcerated because of his connections to the revolution. The Spaniards offered her Eulalio’s freedom is she disclosed information about the Katipuneros. She refused the offer and Eulalio was eventually released a year after. After his death, Gliceria continued to give financial and moral to the soldiers. The Villavicencio houses were used for meetings and on occasion hide members of the revolution.

Both houses have been restored amazingly and a regular location for period films and television shows.
Exterior of the house, on our first trip we had an alfresco lunch here and it was perfect.
I loved the many patterns in the house.

After our tour, we were all melting. We had lunch at the clubhouse of Villas del Pueblo Subdivision. (Note, our clan brought the food with us.) The pool was a welcome sight after the morning of sweating it out. 

Like our first trip, we had the Balisong presentation again. Unfortunately, the art of making the Balisong is a dying art like a lot of customs in our country. These beautiful knives range from P150 – 950 depending on their size and material. I bought one as a souvenir for P250. They also sell training balisongs which has a fake blade to help you master the moves. 

Taal brings back food memories too! Growing up, we would have the famous tapang – taal and rich hot chocolate for breakfast. Suman salehiya and panutsa are 2 other sweet treats from this town that I adore. You also connote Taal with tawilis, adobong dilaw, tinidag na saging, puto and a lot of kakanin (sweet rice delicacies). 

If you want to spend more time in Taal, the Villavicencio Gift House has rooms you can book for a stay. The family room for 6 to 8 pax costs P6500/night. The small room upstairs with a double bed costs P2500/night. It is best to take the guided tours to truly have an authentic experience.

We were only able to visit part of the historic town. There are more houses and museums that you can visit in a day. You can check out more about Taal by watching this video by my cousin, JM Quiblat.

Book at room at the Gift House
Tita Baby Quiblat at 0917-8970363

Book a tour in Taal
Bennet at 0918-3155634

Past Photo Walks:

January - Manila Ocean Park 
February - Sablayan and San Jose, Mindoro
March - Siem Reap
April - UP Photo Walk turned Food Trip

May - NKOTBSB Concert 

Hola! Thank you for passing by and checking up on me. Teehee Get my blog posts straight to your email by subscribing to the newsletter here. Never miss an article again, booyah!

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