Life So Mundane in Batangas
Showing posts with label Taal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taal. Show all posts

05 June 2017

Breeding the Expensive Maliputo Fish and Helping Its Fry Get to Taal Lake
The maliputo served as sinigang at Taal Bistro.

While on a day-tour of the Municipality of Taal last Saturday, over lunch at the famous Taal Bistro, a bit of trivia mentioned by our host Joseph Razon, whose family owns the restaurant, had my ears instantly pricking up with interest. I had previously written an article about the bistro entitled “Taal Bistro: the Maliputo Alone is Worth the Trip.”

Why Marcela Agoncillo was asked to Design the Philippine Flag
Marcela Agoncillo by Unknown - Jackeline, Public Domain,  Philippine flag by Emilio Aguinaldo -, Mandirigma Research Organization, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Public Domain,

It is one of those quirks of history that Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo, in all honesty a peripheral figure to the Philippine Revolution, is arguably better remembered than her husband Don Felipe. The latter was very much involved in the revolution as well as in efforts to secure independence for the Philippines after the surrender of Spain to the Americans in 1898.

Taaleño Felipe Agoncillo’s Failed Efforts at Securing Self Rule for the Philippines in 1898
Image credit: and

Most of us only have a cursory knowledge acquired from basic education text books of Don Felipe Agoncillo, the lawyer from Taal after whom a town in Batangas has been named and who is remembered in history as the country’s representative to the Treaty of Paris1 of 1898 and the “outstanding first Filipino diplomat.2” What the text books do not go into detail about is that he was sent to secure self-rule for the Philippines but ultimately failed through no fault of his or from lack of trying.

The Batangueño Side of Lasallian Entertainer Ogie Alcasid
Image credit:

The name Herminio Jose Alcasid Jr. will not ring a bell; but the nickname Ogie of the multi-awarded artist and entertainer will be recognized anywhere. Presently with the network ABS-CBN, Alcasid has had a long and distinguished career as “singer-songwriter, television presenter, comedian, parodist, and actor.1

Balisong, the famed Batangas Butterfly Knife, May Not Have Been Invented in Batangas
Image credit:  By Iamthawalrus - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Like many young boys my generation, I used to own a balisong back in the seventies when I was in high school. Not that I ever intended to use it. It was just one of those things one kept for a just-in-case moment, not to mention owning one brought with it some level of prestige. Besides, because all other ethnicities in this country thought all Batangueños carried a balisong, it felt almost obligatory to reinforce the stereotype and own one.

Why Once There were no Chinese in Taal, Lemery and Bauan in Batangas

This is more or less common knowledge in Batangas; albeit, from my own personal experience, if you ask people, nobody would be able to give a definitive reason why. Not that this continues to be true in the municipality in the present day. An acquaintance who was born, raised and continues to live in Taal says that one or two enterprises are, indeed, owned by, at the very least, Filipinos of Chinese ancestry.

The Mysterious Our Lady of Caysasay Story as told in Old Tagalog by the 18th Century Agustinian Friar Francisco Buencuchillo
Juan Maningca fishing the image from the river as depicted by a fresco at the Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine.  Image credit:  By Eric Jam - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

The story of the Our Lady of Caysasay, or the Nuestra Señora de Caysasay as she used to be known during the Spanish colonial era in the Philippines, may not necessarily fall under the category “stock knowledge” even for many Batangueños, and especially those who do not live anywhere close to the Municipality of Taal, where the village of Caysasay is located. I, for one, heard of the academy named after her first; and for the longest time only had the vaguest notion about her story.


Taal: Extolling the Virtues of the Neighbourhood Heritage Town (Video Log Embedded)

Taal seen from the tower of the St. Martin de Tours Basilica.

Vigan or Taal? I had a bit of a discussion about this with my former student and colleague Albert Gamatero over the weekend when I took him up on an invitation to take me on a walking tour of his hometown, Taal. Not that the question is of national significance; and ideally, if one has the time and can afford it, both heritage towns are excellent travel destinations.


19 April 2016

Taal Volcano: Lying in Wait like a Booby-Trapped Postcard

Taal Volcano always looks picture-perfect, but has a violent past.

It is always easy when one drives along the Tagaytay Ridge to simply forget that the postcard picture perfect scenario below of Taal Lake has in its midst a midget of a volcano the size of which belies its violent temper.


11 April 2016

Taal Lake's Forgotten Past: How a Volcanic Eruption Reshaped It

Taal Lake seen from the Tagaytay Ridge.

Even to those Batangas born and raised, knowledge of Taal Lake is often limited to that which was taught in elementary geography: that it is a freshwater lake; that inside it is a small but active and dangerous volcano that bears the same name; that it is home to fish species found nowhere else in the world; and that, seen from the Tagaytay ridge, it is always postcard perfect.


07 November 2014

Must Visit: the Camera Museum in Taal, Batangas

An authentic 18th century camera greets visitors right at the gates of the heritage home that is Galleria Taal.
I first heard of the Camera Museum from the Southern Tagalog edition of TV Patrol. That was a couple or so months ago; but it was only yesterday that I was finally able to make the visit I had been aching to make for a while.

The Museum is actually called the Galleria Taal, along Agoncillo Street and inside one of the numerous heritage houses in the historic little town of Taal in Batangas. The museum’s main attraction is the large collection of 18th and 19th century cameras owned by Manny Barrion Inumerable.

However, because the museum itself is a heritage home, even the Spanish-era architecture, complete with a second floor veranda, capiz-shell windows and furniture are something to be amazed at. Moreover, from the walls hang nostalgic 18th and early 19th century photographs, including that of national hero Jose Rizal being shot at Bagumbayan.

I will not do the gallery any justice by doing a descriptive article. Instead, I make available some pictures and a couple of videos to hopefully encourage readers to make the visit.


10 June 2013

Taal Longganisa: Among Batangas’ Best Kept Secrets

What I would do to satisfy a craving for food! Like take a 50-minute trip one way to the historic municipality of Taal for its famed longganisa and tapa, quickly pay the vendor and be back on the road for the return trip to hopefully have enough time to cook the longganisa for lunch.

To be honest, it has been a six-month long craving – or thereabouts. I was just being my old procrastinating self. But having recently gone to Baguio with what was practically a spur-of-the-moment trip, suddenly a much shorter trip to Taal did not seem to be such a whim.

For those not from these parts, longganisang Taal is probably among the province of Batangas’ best kept secrets. The taste is primarily garlic-based with black pepper and vinegar along with salt and sugar to balance things out.


15 August 2012

Garbage Granulator in Taal, Batangas Shows the Way

There is life after garbage, after all. The past two nights, TV Patrol anchor Noli de Castro ran a two-part series on a reasonably low-cost engineering solution to the garbage disposal problem that plagues many cities and municipalities in this country. The solution is called the garbage granulator a.k.a. basura grinder, invented and developed by a Filipino engineer and the use of which is now benefiting the municipality of Taal in Batangas.

The name of the engineer is Bong Archeta. De Castro did not state that Archeta is from Batangas; and unless there is a massive case of coincidence, this is the same Bernabe Archeta of Nueva Ecija who is registered as the developer of a garbage granulator machine called ‘Markell.’ If Bong and Bernabe are one and the same, thank you Google!


22 November 2011

Down Memory Lane at the Grand Dame That Is Taal

There is nothing more unkind to history than time itself. What history strives to preserve, time eventually wears away and replaces. It is when time is in the process of eroding something that man painstakingly built and history struggles to preserve that it is at its most cruel; for time takes no prisoners.




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