IT WAS a quick day tour to Taal, Batangas the day before the annual stockholders meeting of Globe Telecom the other week. Being someone who has this affinity to old structures, Taal was a feast to the eyes.
First stop, St. Martin of Tours Basilica. It’s said to be the biggest basilica in the Far East. I wouldn’t know. I just know that it is impressive from the outside and has a lot of nooks and crannies inside that you’d love to explore.
Construction on the present structure was started in 1856 by Fr. Marcos Anton with Spanish architect Luciano Oliver and completed by Fr. Agapito Aparicio in 1878.
Its belfry at the left side of the façade was destroyed by an earthquake in 1942 and was reconstructed in a way that did not match the church’s general design. It was restored in 1953. Its full restoration to how it was when it was first completed was done in 2011 that came with a new set of carillon bells for its tower.
Then it was off to Villa Tortuga for lunch and photo sessions in Hispanic era costumes.
Villa Tortuga’s for tourists, to get a taste of dining in a heritage house and having souvenir photos making them lok like they were people of a long-ago age. If that’s your trip. It’s not mine. I prefer to just stare at old houses and explore their nooks and crannies.
Lunch was as Tagalog as it can get. It started with a sweetish ensaladang kangkong and ensaladang hilaw na mangga (the Bisaya among us were craving for ginamos), followed by tinola, Taal adobo, and pinasingawang tulingan, and the suman sa lihiya with sikwate. I forgot to mention, the waiters were also in period costumes. Totally touristy.
Over-all taste… sweet.
Last stop was the Villavicencio Wedding Gift House of Don Eulalio Villavicencio to his wife and niece Gliceria Marella that come replete with their history of having financed the Philippine Revolution.
It has everything that a house of the wealthy in those times have: an entrasuelo that originally had patterned tiles from Spain but were said to have already been replaced, a staircase that led to the antesala or caida, the comedor or formal dining room that had narra chairs and a trap door that led to a huge basement that was said to have hosted the secret meetings of Katipuneros, and a dispensa or pantry. The house comes furnished with a Waterfor chandelier in the sala and cutwork transmos with capiz and gold leaf in the bedrooms.
There was a lot more to explore, but there was no more time, and it was boiling hot in Taal that day, so off we went back to the comfort of our posh hotel in Makati, the Fairmont.