Though I've been to Taal a couple of years ago, I welcomed the chance to revisit it with old and new friends. So when the local SmugMug group organized a photowalk I did not hesitate to sign up.
Taal is one of the places to get a glimpse of Philippine's colonial past. Old colonial houses seeped in history and centuries old churches are well preserved and are accessible to the general public. Taal's advantage over Vigan (another heritage town far up north in Ilocos) is that its only a few hours away from Manila (Vigan is a good 9-10 hours bus ride).
Our first stop was the Taal Basilica (Basilica de San Martin de Tours). Through I had taken photos of this grand church before, it still offered lots of nice angles to keep our group occupied.
one of the side altars
We went up the bell tower to get a spectacular view of the town and its surrounding vistas.
After lunch we made a quick detour from the usual destinations to a "panutsa" factory. It was something which was new to all of us in the group. Panutsa is a sweet Filipino delicacy made of caramelized brown sugar and peanuts. Its very common in this region and you'll see vendors selling this in bus stations, churches, and almost all public places. (More photos of the panutsa factory in separate post).
peek at the panutsa factory
We also made a quick stop at the miraculous Our Lady of Caysasay church. Just like the Basilica, it offered a few more nice POVs just when you think you've seen it all.
Our Lady of Caysasay facade
view of the altar from the pulpit
After Caysasay church, off we go two of the popular old houses in Taal: the Agoncillo house and the Villavicencio "Gift House" (both houses are being maintained by the Villavicencio family). Whats great about these places in Taal is that they are within very short distances from one another, usually just a few minutes walk. I did not shoot much in the Villavicencio house due to lack of time (besides I was able to take photos of the interior during my previous visit).
house of Gregorio Agoncillo
We were back to the Basilica just before sundown. The church directly faces the west so its corral stone facade turn golden a few minutes before the sunset. Unfortunately the sun hid behind clouds just as it was nearing the horizon.
Basilica at sunset
The upside was that the clouds exploded in amazing hues of orange, red, and pink.
The small fair in front of the church (practically at the Basilica's doorstep) came alive as the last colors in the western sky faded.
night market comes alive
We posed for the requisite group hug before darkness finally win over and necessitate the use of ridiculously high ISOs. Tired but happy of our "keeper shots", we made our way back to our van and settled in for the trip back to Manila.
Pieces of History
- Gregorio Agoncillo is the nephew of Felipe Agoncillo, a lawyer who took part in the Treaty of Paris negotiations that resulted to the sale of the Philippines to United States by Spain.
- Felipe's wife Marcela Mariño was the seamstress of the first Philippine flag. Their family mansion later became known as Agoncillo house. So there are two Agoncillo houses in Taal.