12 January, 2014

Falling in love with Colonial Philippines. Part 1.

History has always been one of my favorite subjects. Nerd alert.Ü I know, I know... that was such a geek-ish thing to say. I always enjoyed assigned readings and always looked forward to recitations. My perpetual curiosity and wild imagination made my History classes fun. Each time, I would ask myself — Where would I live? Would I survive this era? What would I eat? Will I fit in? What clothes would I wear? Will I get married? Will I get killed? How will I spend my free time? What am I gonna do at night? How would I spend my vacations? What job would I have? And my list goes on.

I didn't have to think it over when one of my colleagues invited me to go on a spontaneous trip to Taal, Batangas. He got me at, "Russ! You go to this house and you can wear these Spanish dresses." FIGHT! Oddly, I have always been fascinated with anything colonial period despite the fact that the stuff I've heard about this period were all ugly stories.

Originally, there were five of us who were supposed to go on this Rizal Day impromptu road trip. And come early morning of 30-December 2013, my Howe and one of our guy friends flaked. Did we cancel our Taal trip? Nope, we didn't. This trip does not have the usual beach vibe nor does it give you the typical mall scene on a no-work day. These boys missed out a lot! But I know them, they just didn't want to get up at 5:00AM on a holiday. Lucky me, I stay in the South. I didn't have to wake up extra extra early.

10:30AM, Basilica de San Martin de Tours
We left Alabang at 7:00AM. Our first stop was the Basilica de San Martin de Tours. It was my first time to set foot at this Basilica and following an age-old Filipino Catholic tradition, I made a wish after saying my prayers.

Our contact in Taal gave us a 10 o' clock call time because we weren't the only group that was going on that tour that morning. There's us + two other groups coming from Manila and Caloocan respectively. I hate to say this, but we were not so fortunate. The two other groups perfectly observed Filipino Time. One group arrived at the Basilica at 11:00AM, while the other one probably did not want to be punctual and arrived in Taal at 1:00PM.

Being the go-getters that we are and me being mainipin, my frends and I took the liberty to tour ourselves. The Taal Basilica is one the oldest Agustinian churches in the country. My colleagues and I checked out the Basilica, went to the museum, and climbed up to the bell tower. Sans our tour guide, we explored, what's dubbed as the largest Catholic church in the Philippines and in Asia.

Outside, the Taal Basilica is beautiful. Inside, it's even more breathtaking! The grandeur of the Basilica in Taal reminded me of the old churches in Bohol and in Cebu.

We enjoyed our own little tour that we totally forgot about our tour guide. We went missing and our guide had one of the local kids look for us.

Colonial grandeur inside the biggest Catholic church in the Philippines

Quite a lot of Spanish influence in this hall

Vintage Lampara and Wood Carvings

A portion of the museum inside the Basilica

At the bell tower. Meet the 10-year old lad gave us one of the best tours ever. I think he'll do well in Sales.Ü

11:45AM, Casa Villavicencio
That day, we also had the privilege to visit the home of an unsung hero, Doña Girella Marella de Villavicencio. Together with her husband, Don Eulalio Villavicencio, they helped finance the revolution. This was the first time that I encountered their names. I don't recall any mention of the Villavicencios and their sacrifices & selfless acts in our history books.

What makes Casa Villavicencio different from the other colonial houses that I've been to is the clip that the descendants of the Villavicencios made. One of the rooms in the house was converted into a viewing room. All guests were asked to watch the video before touring the house. I appreciated the effort made by their descendants to share the stories, works, and legacies of Doña Girella and Don Eulalio.

Welcome to Casa Villavicencio

Dirty Kitchen, Colonial Style

Uso pa ba ang harana?Ü

Part I of my Taal, Batangas day trip ends here. Friends I tell you, maganda pa rin ang Pilipinas. I encourage you to go on a roadtrip one of these days to this part of Batangas. It's a long drive from the city but trust me on this, it will be worth your while. With that, I end this post with a line that struck me the most from the Casa Villavicencio AVP.☮..Peace + _Love + Good Vibes.

"Her love of country was so great that she begged her children to deprive themselves of their comforts and caprices, to the extreme of eating corn mixed with rice, because she feared she would be short of the precious cereal to give to the soldiers who were on the battlefield."


Ben-Ariel said...

This place looks perfect!!!!!!

Russ R. said...

If you think this one's perfect, wait til you see the other house that I visited. I promise to write about it real soon.

michymichymoo said...

I haven't been to Batangas for quite a long time. Must do some cultural tour there soon. :)

lloydy fernandez said...

I so love the views and photos are high quality thumbsup!

bxcrochet said...

It looks like an awesome place to visit. Beautiful pictures too!

Michelle F.

Franc said...

There's a lot of historical places in Taal, Batangas. My former Boss have a resort in that area.

Amanda T said...

That looks like an amazing place to visit!

Kung Phoo said...

That is a much different road trip then we could take here in NY. Thanks for the share it was very cool!

Fabulous Perks said...

I sure would love to visit. My he pictures you shared are great, reminds me of Jamaica.

Couponing in Central Florida! said...

BEAUTIFUL PICTURES!!! I love all the info.

Sharon Ruggieri said...

I've never been anywhere near there, but WOW! just wow...and I'm a huge fan of history myself so I love places like this :)

john kenneth acibedo said...

Great place everyone will feel the Filipino culture in here this will be one of the best destination for educational tours :-)

Russ R. said...

I hope you could visit my country one time. There are so many beautiful places to see :)

lisamc7 said...

Beautiful pics! Not a place on my bucket list until now - thanks!

Paula - Buenos Aires said...

Beautiful church and great shots of it. Lovely details. Thanks for sharing the story too.

Joanna Sormunen said...

I love adventuring through the colonial parts also. Though here in South America. Beautiful pictures!

Pehpot Pineda said...

aww I envy you! I love visiting old churches and learning about the past, though history is not my favorite subject haha

Julie Jamison said...

What a beautiful place! Gorgeous pics.

Lisa said...

Such A Beautiful Place Would Love To Visit Such Great Art Work!

Liz Martin said...

this place is nice!!! i'd love to do a tour of this place too. history's my favorite subject too russ.