081614 : The Urban Tracker (In Batangas): Top 10 Awakening Thoughts In Taal Walking Tour

Taal church...Taal's centerpiece attraction
With Photo Credits to Donnie Mariano

aking Taal for a walking tour, in a nutshell, is rather a nostalgic affair that makes you embrace and retrace your path to understand the magnificence of Spanish colonial past. 

From each transfer, you will realize these 10 affirming thoughts from romancing its rustic, haunting charms after a roundabout by foot.

1.  Taal is after all a rich heritage town, not just a name associated with a famous volcano. 

After a Tagaytay stopover and crossing the Pansipit river from Lemery, something is enveloping and you can feel it a giveaway in the air. From mainstream Poblacion, there is no doubt there is a backdoor that speaks from the past. From The Municipality of Taal, there’s a sentimental remembrance that draws you back with longing and affinity to history. To borrow Coldplay song, you can call it magic.

Darting everywhere are old heritage houses as you get deeper in Taal Poblacion.
Time-tested dome of Taal's municipal hall stood ever since 1572.
2. Taal church is a paradise for a panoramic selfie, and snapshot to grandeur.   

For those whose impulse is to capture Taal church façade, there is an appointed spot for that. There’s a guaranteed fun in group posing among the larger-than-life letters. Raise the stick rods, and chances are you get a photo bomb from local street children with a postcard-like result.

Getting inside the landmark church is nothing short of breathtaking and jaw dropping. The riveting dome ceiling embellishments and the flamboyance of the shrine, all elaborate to give your moment of peace, imaginable and inspiring. For photographers and design aficionados, be prepared for a chill. This is truly a salute to architectural and artwork ingenuity.

Hit the right spot by taking a group selfie with larger-than-life letters with Taal church backdrop.
Awe-inspiring interiors of Taal church is such an architectural indulgence.
Hanging above are stunning ceiling portraits
3. Even in alleyways and interiors, old houses cluster.

Promenading among the alleyways and interiors of Taal town is a mood-soothing attempt that invokes a simple pleasure, but the sightings of rows of old houses that seem to be endless tells of otherwise a once bustling town. Some have been renovated, retouched, repaired, repainted. While others remain in its old state but retained the general feel of century old neighborhood. One harks back to the memory lane and could sense a shrill of how once this place thrived.

A trek to Taal's inner alleyways is a gravitating walk to the shadows of the past...
There's a gothic feel by just scanning the rows of old houses.
4. Some streets in Malate are named after famous local heroes here. 

Agoncillo, Nakpil, Apacible to name some familiar streets in the heart of Malate, Manila are in reality famous and celebrated figures and pride in Taal. Marcela Agoncillo takes her homestead in Taal who is known to be the original mother flag weaver. For some reason, gazing inside Agoncillo’s residence is a sentimental affair. One can’t help but be thrown back to the glory of the revolutionary days and an in-house guide showed us a kitchen back door for an escape. The assembly of old capiz shells as window breakers, for instance, is a trace of a significant past that takes a piece of the puzzle to answer our cultural identity questions.

A statue venerating Marcela Agoncillo's heroics as the weaver of the original Philippine flag.
The interiors of one Agoncillo house reveals timepiece treasures from the past.
The magical and eerie beauty of capiz shells in Agoncillo residence window is classic.
 5. The best longanisa, tapa and empanada are all-in take homes from Taal market.

Aside from Taal being renowned for balisong and Barong Tagalog, one is fortunate to find the tapa, longanisa, empanada all blended to a perfection of a homegrown taste in Taal market. The local vendor’s come-ons are hard to resist, you surely end up buying a take home of langonisa (around 270) or tapa (around 300) or munch a piece of the tastiest empanada (20) that they say you can even forget your name once tried or even reach heaven.

Market folks proudly banner the chunks of their premium tasting tapa.
Langonisa is a popular and irresistible commodity even for take home hunters.
Empanada making in action is such an engaging endeavor for a local.
But when food, place, and comfort collide, there are local cafes where idle moments can easily turn delightful like for instance in the home-inspired Cafe Felisa. Or you can have a brunch break in an obviously newly opened Tampuhan Café along Agoncillo (sans bossa nova music). How one wishes moments settle into lifetime hanging out in the corners of these dainty, fancy cafes while scrolling your snapshots with throwback chats in between.
Reserve your siesta for a stopover at Cafe Feliza
6. Taal used to be a high-class city in the course of the Spanish era.

If Manila has Intramuros, the north has Vigan then Taal would be the ‘Ayala Alabang’ of the Spanish olden times. The presence of those vintage houses, with some well-ornated, could be an indication that centuries ago it was a booming town in terms of trade and commerce. Taal’s prime commodity coffee helped boosted the economy of the town and enabled local residences to gain economic comforts. Taal’s location also played a great role in turning a town as a safe place to stay or hideaway during the times of uneasiness.

Bus park lanes are occupied today courtesy of student tours.
Old houses are well-painted to keep its updated charm and condition.
7. Taal is not penetrated by big franchise players except 711.

Familiar urban players like Jollibee, McDonald’s or even SM are odd-man out here with a city ordinance preventing them to penetrate here. That invasion could spoil the crude scenery but a lone 711 here can help you get your phone charged in case of emergency. Or at least, you can reach for a cone of a sundae in defense of heat in the third class city.

For some take out drinks, 711 provides the kick off for the imminent walking tour.
The stretch of  Apacible St,  in afternoon comforting stroll.
8.  Harvest of time-proof pieces of stuff are well-preserved and still abound in many corners of heritage houses.
Interestingly, there are antiques, heirlooms, wares or piece of furniture survived or ravaged by time hidden or exposed among the heritage houses. You probably long to play sungka, and chances are you’ll find one among those old residences. Or you must be yearning for mid-afternoon discourse over veranda while sipping a cup of tsokolate. You can hang around some houses, play around in talks with backdrops of  cabinets with dull mirrors, long-forgotten vases, outdated lamps,  china wares, old phonograph, or an obscured baul that you rediscover that early on Filipino tradition of relaxing, taking a respite or siesta in asotea is so much fun as a coffee talk over Starbucks of modern times. Then you may wish for time to slow down as you give your regard to the antique closets or anything time proof. How you also wish to see a karitela to appear plying the streets here again?

Ogling an old lamp at Galleria Taal
Vintage phonograph sets the reverie in Cafe Felisa
A  classic kalesa, a remnant of the once bustling transport of Spanish ages.
9. History is encapsulated and told by a local camera period collector.

There is one local here who has turned a passion into a significant fashion. And indeed it generated a time capsule as an Ilagan heir Manny Inumerable captured in his photographs a glimpse of the timeline of the past. He turned his collection into a museum namely Galleria Taal to catch the public interest of a hobby that earned him the respect with a gamut of his collection of antiquarian photographs and vintage cameras. Astounding framed images are hanging as an old remembrance of what once was Manila.

Galleria Taal in Agoncillo St., an inviting must-see gallery
Flash with a smile along with the evolution of camera - an astounding collection at Galleria Taal.
Old Manila as captured in one of the photo history hangings.
10. You can strike a pose with a Spanish vogue attire in a retro photo studio.
If you are infatuated to a time-warping photograph complete with all the props and costumes to give you an exuding look to depict Spanish fashion, there’s Villa Tortuga to give you a makeover. By the way, the place is also a museum masquerading as a photo studio. For 250, you can have yourself a memento of a traje or camisa de chinowhich is better posted in scrapbook rather than a Facebook cover as if you are transported to that flourishing Spanish era.
An inconspicuous Villa Tortuga is a photo studio who wants fancy period Spanish photographs.
Villa Tortuga is open to those who want a Spanish version of yourself with props and costumes.
It’s safe to conclude that a Taal walking tour is indescribably infecting for the remains of the day, seeping through your mind’s refineries and clinging to your sensibilities. But if you choose to spend overnight, there are houses that offer bed and breakfast. Or just ask a tip from a local denizen.
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