Saturday, March 31, 2012

Taal, Batangas Tours (Part 3): The Basilica de San Martin de Tours

The Basilica de San Martin de Tours stands on high grounds and has a commanding view of the town of Taal, Batangas, a position deemed strategic most likely by the founding friars of the church. The imposing facade inspires both awe and reflection.

* the impressive facade of the
Basilica de San Martin de Tours, Taal
* one of the entrances to the basilica with the marker
installed by the National Historical Institute

* a closer look at the facade

* view of the interior aisle facing the doors

The original basilica, however, was not found in Taal but was built in San Nicolas (in Balangon) in 1575 led by Father Diego Espina. It was later moved to its present location in 1754 due to the eruption of Taal Volcano and the basilica was built again in 1755. The earthquake in 1849 destroyed the basilica. By 1856, reconstructions were done, the design of which was made by an architect named Luciano Oliver. It was inaugurated in 1865. The basilica is considered the biggest here in this side of Asia.

* the elaborately designed retablo of the basilica

* several side altars found inside the basilica

The church structure and its overall appearance stand evidence to the wealthy past of its parishioners. There were those numerous side altars with their feature saints and/or Virgins. The interior walls and ceilings were also painted with intricate designs and biblical scenes.

* view of the painted dome of the basilica

* a pulpit found on the side

* one of the many graves found inside the basilica

* the hallway of the right wing of the basilica;
reminds me again of Hogwarts

* a chandelier

This revisit to Taal and to the basilica as well was made more fortunate by witnessing a wedding being held in the place. I could only imagine the results of the shots made the photographers there – dreamy ones with the equally dreamy backgrounds set in the tone of stones and faded paints. But I’d say the use of toy guns to produce the bubbles for the entering bride has a comical touch to it.

* stairs leading to one of the side entrances of the basilica

* Viva Santo Niño! an image of the Santo Niño
found outside a chapel inside the basilica g

* statues found just outside the chapel inside the basilica;
I wonder what biblical scene the statues depict

* a fusion of native looks and concrete

* an old bell of the basilica displayed
on the grounds fronting the basilica

* a structure found just beside the basilica
which probably houses some parochial offices

What remains to be done is to see the basilica at night. It should be enthralling. A December visit would be good, especially during the traditional Simbang Gabi.

* Trailer Pransis just outside Escuela Pia
which is now the Taal Cultural Center

* a statue of a lady; below her is the inscription:
A Los Heroes Nacionales La Sociedad a Patria,
Taal 30 Mayo 1925

* view of the basilica from the Taal Park

Taal Park

Finally, a visit to the Taal Park is inevitable after the visit to the basilica. Found at the foot of the hill-like area of the basilica, the park is a good place to visit in the late afternoon as the heat would be unbearable if you do so in mid-afternoon. Local rice delicacies are being sold in the park which the visitors could purchase as pasalubong. And there’s the old Escuela Pia on one of the farthest side of the park to marvel at.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Taal, Batangas Tours (Part 2): Food for Trails – Don Juan BBQ

* the man – Don Juan BBQ

* Recuerdos de Taal shop

* one of the many decorations meant
to enhance the native look of the place

A rest after a walk through the streets of Taal, Batangas would be good if you get to eat some local delicacies. And Don Juan BBQ is the place to be. Armed with Taal specialties such as Ensaladang Taal, Sinaing na Tulingan, Tawilis, Adobo sa Dilaw, Tapang Taal, your hunger is sure to be answered by their hospitable crew. The place is cozy to a large extent and you can visit ‘Recuerdos de Taal’ souvenir/gift shop found inside for some souvenir items to be brought home.

* ensalada!
too bad I was not able to take a shot of the meat dish
that was ordered because I have eaten it already

For pick-ups orders and inquiries, you can contact them through numbers: 0922-8038855 (cellphone) and 302-2486 (telephone). (VAT is already included in the prices and there is no service charge.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taal, Batangas Tours (Part 1)

* welcome arcs in Taal, Batangas:
the Balisong and Barong Tagalog Capital of the Philippines

* Taal’s Casa Real, the town hall

The town of Taal, Batangas is quite famous for several things: 1) the Batangas blades or balisong; 2) the Taal church or the Basilica de San Martin de Tours; 3) the image of Our Lady of Caysasay (mentioned actually in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere); 4) the Taal Tapa; 5) and its numerous old houses and some heritage houses as well. The trip to Taal was born out of the desire to revisit the place after the brief preview of the town thanks to Philippine Institutions 100 (P.I. 100) subject field trip back in college. I felt bitin and somehow this revisit made up for that longing.

* a monument of Jose Rizal found just in front of Taal’s municipal hall

* “Ang Taal Kay Gat Jose Rizal”:
a slogan of sort foun
d below Jose Rizal’s monument in Taal

Taal, A Concise History

The marker installed just outside the town hall gives the visitors a concise history of Taal. First organized in a place called Balangon in 1572, the town of Taal was later moved to its present location due to the frequent volcanic eruptions [presumably of the Taal Volcano]. It was then made into a capital in 1732 and so for a time, the whole province [of Batangas] was named Taal. The year 1752 saw again the town’s destruction due to volcanic eruption and the provincial capital was then transferred to Batangan [where present name of Batangas was derived].

The world’s smallest volcano is named after Taal which sits in the midst of a lake. In the volcano’s crater a smaller lake is also found where an island is found. Several recorded volcanic eruptions happened in the years 1634, 1635, 1641, 1709, 1716, 1720, 1731, 1749, 1754, 1867, 1874, 1880, 1911, and 1965.

Taal once covered the towns of Lemery, San Luis, Agoncillo, San Nicolas, and Santa Teresita.

* Taal Tours preview: Basilica de San Martin de Tours, a Food for the Trails entry, and the houses in Taal

[How to go to Taal, Batangas: 1) From Manila: One can board a bus bound for Lemery, Batangas. You can find such buses near Gil Puyat LRT Station in Manila. Presumably, there are also buses bound for Lemery found in bus stations along EDSA Cubao. 2) From the provinces (particularly in the Southern Tagalog region): Travel to Turbina, Calamba City, Laguna. There you can find buses bound for Lemery, Batangas. Alternatively, you can make a short side trip to Batangas City proper. From there you can hail a jeepney bound for Bauan, Batangas and/or Lemery, Batangas.]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Caras de la Luna

* in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie
Ron Weasley: "It's beautiful, isn't it? The moon."
Harry Potter: "Divine."

Translated as 'faces of the moon'.

Sitting up all night to type those night-time thoughts away gave me limited things to do: drinking mugs of coffee, trips to the comfort room, and dealing with the rickety window beside me. In several instances, I noticed the moon setting outside the window, just beyond the trees of our neighbor.

And so I grabbed the opportunity to take pictures of the moon with our humble camera and came up with some photos, some of which I am posting here. This may not be a hardcore travel post but isn't it great to anticipate the possibility that there will come a time when travels to the moon would be as easy as jeepney rides?

As Albus Dumbledore once said: "That's something to think about."

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Festive Atmosphere in Batangas City’s Basilica Menor de Immaculada Concepcion

* a fresh look at facade of
Basilica Menor de Immaculada Concepcion

* a view of the bell tower

* the church grounds in Batangas City

* the imposing church entrance

A visit to Taal (details to be posted here soon) via the lower ground of the province of Batangas necessitated a side trip to the provincial capital Batangas City. Since I am yet to make a thorough run down of the city’s streets, I contented myself with revisiting the Basilica Menor de Immaculada Concepcion (see my earlier post about Batngas City and the church here).

* the spiral staircase leading to the bell tower

* a painting seen on the inside wall of the church

* view of the high ceiling of the church

It was a Sunday and I was surprised to notice the festive mood on the surroundings of the church. It was as if I was in a town fiesta: children are playing on the grounds fronting the church, little birds for sale chirped from their small cages, and your vision is painted with the multiple colors of balloons and banderitas. Not bad for brief side trip.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Back Trails is for the Big and the Small

* the mighty snail!

Besides delving mostly into old houses, historical tidbits, book commentaries, and lives while in transit, Back Trails takes pride in including on its pages accounts about the small. Small does not necessarily mean not pretty or insignificant. Small, more often than not, brings you to more intimate pleasures, such as the delight I felt as I watched this snail by the road make its way to who-knows-where.

You don't have to be on the outskirts of the earth's atmosphere to feel enjoyment. One just have to look around. Never mind the brawling politicians for a while. Ignore the capitalist companies making justifications on why they are increasing the prices of their products. As much as we want to solve life's problems, it won't hurt to take a break and enjoy nature. It's free so no excuses there.

The Mystic Mount Banahaw and the Coming Holy Week

* the mystic Mount Banahaw

The coming of the Holy Week does not only attract the religious devout. Concurrent to the Christian rites and ceremonies being conducted, there are also those other groups who turn to the world of mysticism and the supernatural to further their spiritual journey and experience.

As a child I remember my relatives braving the heights of Mount Banahaw during the days leading to Good Friday. But today, I am not so sure if that is still allowed. There may restrictions now in the place to protect the environment there. Nevertheless, it would still be good to tackle Mount Banahaw even during non-holidays and get to know, at least to a certain extent, those groups who chose to make the mountain their place of refuge and worship to their chosen deities.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Changing Slogan at West Tower Condominium, Makati City

Had the chance to take this picture while on the run in Metro Manila trying to get a new job. It seems that the fight of the West Tower Condominium resident is still not over yet.

The Strange Case of the Linked Pedicabs in Carriedo

Saw this after getting off the Carriedo LRT Station.
I wonder where they were heading.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Food for the Trails: Susan’s Lomi Haus, Santa Maria, Laguna

* Susan’s Lomi Haus and Pancit Guisado

* a treat of lomi!

Consider this a publicity of sort, dear reader. We may have been ravenous during our brief side trip to the town proper of Santa Maria, Laguna but the food at Susan’s Lomi Haus was simply superb. The store not only offers lomi but also pancit guisado. Couple it with halo-halo which can be bought from an adjacent store.

* the type of tricycle seen on the streets of Santa Maria, Laguna

* the facade of the building housing FLECO or First Laguna Electric Company

* a modest house found in Santa Maria, Laguna

A walk is good after a good eat and so we just took a short walk through the streets near the market place and made a random sight-seeing activity. Perhaps a revisit through the town center would be good.

(Will post here our experiences during the Makipamuhay XVII, an immersion activity organized by the school where I used to work.)