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I love to travel just to explore new things in life from breathtaking natural wonders, interesting historical sites, delicious food, friendly people and colorful culture. I treasure every moment in traveling by writing in my journal, taking photos and publish it in my travel blog.
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Travel Guide | Top Ten Interesting Facts and Exciting Things to do in Tagaytay City

"A wise traveler never despises his own country." 
- William Hazlitt

This quotation was proven true, Before you explore other places, you must learn to travel on your own hometown. I was born in Cavite and I grew up visiting one of the most popular tourist destinations in the province - Tagaytay. I always visiting that place every year with my family, friends and even I travel on my own in this summer destination.
The breathtaking scenery of the Taal Lake and Volcano Island overlooking from Tagaytay City.
The city is known as "The Second Summer Capital of the Philippines" because it is the city in the highlands with cool altitude and outstanding scenery which provides the view of Taal Lake in Batangas. It is an iconic trademark in our country where the Taal Volcano is located in the middle of the lake where you can see from different portions in Tagaytay. 

Tagaytay is relatively close to Metro Manila where the people took their vacation here in order to escape the urban hassles of city life and to experience relaxation. 

1. How Tagaytay got its name?
The view of Taal Lake from the ridges of Tagaytay City.
The word "Tagaytay" came from two Tagalog words "taga" meaning to cut and "itay" which means father. Legends said that there were a father and son who were hunting for a wild boar, but they were attacked by that animal. The son cried"taga itay!" where the phrase was echoed over the alleys of the ridge and it was heard by the residents, hunters and wood gatherers. Another version of the story where a daughter shouted in their house in the ridge because her father would not allow any suitor to see her. The father was driving away the suitors and the daughter participated with her father in discouraging suitors by shouting "Taga Itay!" Because of that, the place where the shouts came from is known as Tagaytay. In addition, it is a Tagalog word for ridge. 

2. Reflect on the different churches and prayer houses

A panoramic view of Pink Sisters Chapel taken from my mobile phone.
Because of the cool climate and the beauty of nature in the highlands, Tagaytay is also a home of various churches, chapels, convents, seminaries and retreat houses. As you entered the city, you may visit the Pink Sisters Convent where you can experience the solemn ambiance and the faith and devotion of the nuns who are wearing pink uniforms. You can also experience the beauty of nature in this place where you can see tall pine trees, verdant shrubs and lovely flowers as you go around the place. 
The facade of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Church.
The old building of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Church.
Our Lady of Manaoag at Tierra de Maria
When you passed the Tagaytay Rotonda, you may take the Tagaytay - Nasugbu Highway and visit the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Church which was established in 1940. In addition, when you take the Tagaytay - Calamba Highwat (going to Picnic Grove and People's Park in the Sky), you may also visit the Ina ng Laging Saklolo Church (Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church) and the Our Lady of Manaoag at Tierra de Maria. Therefore, Tagaytay is also an ideal place for spiritual retreat and reflection because of the churches and prayer houses existing in the area.

3. Tour the Iconic Tourist Spots 
The people are flying kites in the rolling hills of Picnic Grove which also known for its cozy cottages.
If you are going to Tagaytay City, the first thing that is coming to the mind of the tourists is to visit the two popular tourist spots - Picnic Grove and People's Park in the Sky. I remember that I visited the People's Park in the Sky when I was a kid (maybe I was in third or fourth grade during that time) and the notable things that I remembered in the place were the bean-shaped fish pond and a bridge, the breathtaking scenerey of the verdant fields, tall mountains and the panoramic view of Tagaytay City and the huge pineapple in a playground. I will visit that place again one of these days.

Most of the time, I visited the Picnic Grove where you can enjoy horseback riding, walking in the canopy trail, buying souvenirs and spending time with your family and friends in cottages while you are enjoying the ambiance in the highland city. There are also other activities to be enjoyed in Picnic Grove which will be discussed in the next items.

4. Visit Sky Ranch and Try the Sky Eye
The Sky Eye is one of the newest attractions in Tagaytay City.
A new attraction in Metro Tagaytay, Sky Ranch is a leisure park which is a five hectare project of the SM Prime Holdings Inc., SM Group's real estate company. There are many thrilling rides to take in this park including the Sky Eye. one of the biggest Ferris wheels in our country. It lifts you up 63 meters above the ground and there are 32 air conditioned gondolas that can accomodate 3 - 4 passengers per gondola. It gives you a panoramic view of Tagaytay City and its neighboring provinces and towns, Taal Volcano and Taal Lake.

5. A Tickling yet Relaxing Experience in Picnic Grove
Doctor fish or Garra rufa
One of the new and interesting activities added in Picnic Grove is the Tagaytay Fish Spa. You may experience 20 minutes of foot spa with the help of Doctor Fish (Garra ruffa) and a foot massage for 10 minutes by the resident therapists. It's been a fun experience to stay in Tagaytay Fish Spa and actually, I prefer to have a fish spa as a form of foot massage.

6. Enjoy the Horseback Riding
Horses in Sky Ranch - Tagaytay.
One of the most popular activities in Tagaytay that you shouldn't miss is the Horseback Riding. It is offered in Picnic Grove, Tagaytay Highlands, Residence Inn and Skyranch. You may feel the life in a countryside by horseback riding while enjoying the view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano in the cool highlands.

7. Thrilling Adventures on a Cable Car and Zipline
When a family relaxing inside the cable car meets a person who is enjoying the thrill in a zipline in Picnic Grove.
You may also experience the thrill in riding a cable car and zipline.  You may take these adventures at Picnic Grove, Sky Ranch and Tagaytay Highlands for an affordable price. These packages give you an exciting thrill while viewing the breathtaking scenery of Taal Lake and its neighboring towns.

8. Visit the Mansion with the Largest Collection of Jigsaw Puzzles
Gallery of solved jigsaw puzzles with the different landmarks and artworks.
You may also visit the Puzzle Mansion located within Barangay Asisan where you can see thousands of jigsaw puzzle collections in any form like wooden, crystal and even artworks and landmarks. You may also buy your jigsaw puzzle and have a mind challenge in solving puzzles in the fastest time. This house owned by Gina Lacuna is the current record-holder for the largest collection of jigsaw puzzles which was recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records.

9. Have a Culinary Trip in the Finest Restaurants
One of the interesting restaurants in Tagaytay if you want to experience meals with mushrooms. 
Mushroom meals - Mushroom burger with cheese, Mushroom fries and Mushroom sisig ang patties - are good for our health.
Don't miss to have a gastronomic trip in Tagaytay. You may try their hot, appetizing bulalo from the affordable eateries of Mahogany Market to the stylish restaurants along the highway. There are also various coffee shops from Starbucks franchises to local cafes which offered brewed coffee from Amadeo. You may also experience the rondalla singing while having your meals and experience international delicacies. In addition, you may experience healthy meals in Sonya's Garden and Mushroomburger. Therefore, Tagaytay is an ideal place for culinary excursion to experience different kinds of food.

10. Experience Nature and Wildlife

You may explore wildlife and nature trip in Tagaytay from walking in the canopy trail in Picnic Grove and visiting animal farms and zoos in Residence Inn and Paradizoo in Mendez, Cavite.

Nowadays, Tagaytay made recent innovations in the place especially in establishing condominiums and tall buildings in the highlands. Real estate companies picked the city because of its cool climate and panoramic sceneries. I missed the cool, green ambiance of the city when I was a kid while my family is having a picnic in viewing decks along the highway. Therefore, Tagaytay is still a beautiful place for me where I am proud of having the Second Summer Capital in my province, Cavite where I can travel and enjoy here anytime.

Date of Travel: A frequent visitor in Tagaytay, so I can explore more about the place :) 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Visita Iglesia: An Ecclesiastical Journey to the Churches in Batangas

BATANGAS. The first things come in our mind  when we hear that province are the tropical beach resorts, towering verdant mountains and progressive urban cities. Last year, I've made my Visita Iglesia in this province where I visited eight churches which played an important role in the history and culture of Batangas. I made a day tour from the highlands of Nasugbu to the urban cities of Lipa and Batangas. Let us explore the churches as we go on a pilgrimage and spiritual reflection in Batangas.
The Dominicum's grand stairway.
The Transfiguration Chapel
The Transfiguration Chapel in Caleruega

From Cavite, I took a bus going to Batangas where I made my first stop in Nasugbu. From the highway near the boundary of Cavite and Batangas, I took a 10 minute tricycle ride going to the highland chapel. Caleruega was named after the birthplace of St. Dominic de Guzman, father of the Order of the Preachers. In order to honor and remember the legacy of their founder, the Filipino Dominicans established Caleruega that hopes it will be like the town of Caleruega in Spain. 

In this church, you may appreciate the beauty of nature and the verdant ambiance due to the richness of trees, flowers, and shrubs, the scenery of the mountains, and the solemn atmosphere of the place where you can reflect and relax to gain spiritual strength. The place is also an ideal venue for weddings and you may attend the Sunday mass here. Caleruega Church is located near in Mt. Batulao and in Evercrest Golf Course.
Immaculate Conception Parish Church, Balayan, a National Cultural Treasure.
Immaculate Conception Parish Church

From the highlands, I took a forty-five minute jeepney ride to the historic, coastal town of Balayan. There are plenty of heritage houses in the town proper and a few walks within the Plaza Mabini, you may visit the Immaculate Conception Parish Church. The church is listed as a National Cultural Treasure because it was built and supervised by the Filipino seculars during the Spanish colonial period. The church was constructed in 1591 and it was blessed by Father Pedro Chirino. In 1795, a new stone church was blessed in honor of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of Balayan. Today, the church is still standing and reflects the history and culture of Balayan.
The newly renovated St. Rafael Archangel Church in Calaca.
St. Raphael the Archangel Parish Church

After the visit to Balayan, the adjacent town of Calaca is next where I visited the St. Rafael Archangel Parish Church. It was a historical church but it was renovated recently. The devotees believed that the image of St. Rafael the Archangel in the church is miraculous and he is also the patron saint of healing.

The facade of Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, one of the heritage sites in Taal.
Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours

After two or three years, I came back to Taal and it is the same heritage town that I've seen a few years ago where the Spanish era houses are still there and gives you the feeling of traveling back in time. I visited the "Biggest Catholic Church in Southeast Asia", the Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours. The first church was built in 1575 and it was located in the shores of Taal Lake which is the present town of San Nicolas. It was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1754 and built in its present location in 1755. The church was damaged by a strong earthquake in 1852 and it was restored which is the present church from 1856 to 1878. A small tower at the left side of the facade which contained the large church bell was destroyed by an earthquake in 1942. Recently, there are renovations made in the church.
The Our Lady of Caysasay Church which houses the Marian image of Our Lady of Caysasay.
Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay

A few walks away from the Basilica, you may take the San Lorenzo Steps and it will lead you to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of  Caysasay. It is a coral-hewn chapel located in Barrio Caysasay which was built in 1639. The first church was built around 1611 by the Chinese which was made of light materials. In 1754, the roof of the church was destroyed by boulders and ashes of Taal Volcano and in 1852, the walls were destroyed by an earthquake. Therefore, the church has been renovated ever since and the convent was converted into an orphanage. The church is also the home of the image of Our Lady of Caysasay, one of the oldest images of Immaculate Conception, which was discovered by a fisherman in 1603 and it was canonically crowned in 1954 as "Queen of the Archdiocese of Lipa." The church is also near to the miraculous Saint Lucia Well and there are apparitions happened in Caysasay during the Spanish era.
The Immaculate Conception Parish was transferred for three times before it stood on its present location.
Immaculate Conception Parish Church

From Taal, I took a jeepney ride going to Bauan where I've visited the Immaculate Conception Parish, a Neo-Classical church in the town. It was administered by the Augustinian priests from 1596 to the end of nineteenth century. The church was transferred from the shores of Bombon River to a place called Durugto in 1662, as well in the place called Lonal up to its present site in 1692. After transferring to a new location, it was destroyed by typhoons and fire but they are trying to build with strong materials until the present church was completed in 1894. The church also houses the Holy Cross of Bauan, the patron saint of the town.
The Neo-classical architecture of Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Batangas City 

After a five to ten minute jeepney ride from Bauan, you can visit the province's capital city where you can find the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It was first built in 1581 which was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and it became an independent parish in 1614. It was originally made of light materials but the church was destroyed by a fire in 1615 and in 1686, it began laying the foundation of the new stone church. The church was destructed by fire again in 1747 and repaired in 1756. The church went to several restorations during the Spanish era and in 1945, the church was declared as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
The miraculous Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Lipa City.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church
Lipa City 

After one hour of travel from Batangas City, I visited the progressive and ecclesiastical city of Lipa. In the busy town proper, you can find the the Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace. The church was built in 1946, one year after Lipa was damaged by the Japanese forces during the Liberation. In 1948, a miracle was reported in the grounds of the church with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, made an apparition on a nun named Teresita Castillo. However, the Catholic church declared that the apparition is fraudulent and Castillo left the convent. In 1990, a new apparition happened again where the Blessed Virgin Mary requesting that the statue destroyed should be displayed again and in 1991, the miraculous shower of rose petals happened in the grounds of the monastery.

Supposedly, I would like to visit the San Sebastian Cathedral in Lipa but it was past six o'clock in the evening so I rode a jeepney going to Calamba City and I took a ride from Calamba City going back home to Cavite. It has been a provincial round trip from the western mountains, reaching the southern coasts and heritage towns up to the urban cities for a pilgrimage which devotes my faith in God.

It was proven that Batangas is also an ideal place for Visita Iglesia because the churches have an interesting story to share from the miracles, restorations and historical events. There are many churches and places of worship in Batangas that I've never been visited yet and definitely, I will come back next time for another Visita Iglesia post featuring the different churches in the province.

Date of Travel: April 1, 2015
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