Published: October 7th 2006January 14th 2006
A view of the smallest volcano from the mountainside of Tagaytay.
I never really thought that Tagaytay would be an interesting place to go. I mean, I've been there several times, but mostly for school retreats (Catholic school's way to make you reflect), picnics, or just a weekend sleepover. Overlooking Taal Volcano, the province provides most city-dwellers a weekend getaway. Being two hours away from smoke filled Manila, it offers clean, crisp and cool breathing air and scenic spots to unwind from the daily stresses of the metro.
Tagaytay for me was nothing more than a place to relax. Nothing interesting. It’s a trivial, easily accessed, one-day affair nonchalant province.
But this year, along with some of my friends (Iyay the designated driver, Arvin our little boy, and Aisa who ate most of the ginger bread cookies), I saw a different side of the province. It was a road trip with practically no plans, no ideas and no reservations. We were after all just cruising through the place to get to Talisay, Batangas. With just a car filled with gas, overnight clothes and the music of the Eraserheads
, we droved along the highway, wondering where we will find a place to sleep.
The search wasn't that much of an
Famous for it's Bulalo and uber pricey extra charge if you want to dine at the kubo(nipa)huts whose picturesque view of Taal is not really to die for.
obstacle since huge signs of inns, apartelles, hostels, transient houses and hotels will literally greet you with a big hello! Since there was just us four girls, (well, Arvin is a girl in a man's body) and we only needed a place to crash for one evening, we settled for a cheap inn. It was a cozy room, with 2 queen size beds and one clean bathroom. Yes, it is imperative that the bathroom is clean! I would have loved to dump myself in the bed and sleep the day away, but our stomachs were growling already.
We decided to have lunch at the ever-popular Leslie's. A resto that serves Filipino cuisine (yumyum for hungry people like us) whose specialty, Bulalo
(beef bone marrow stew, I think) draws most Manileños
out of their dwelling hole. By the time we got at Leslie's, the weekend lunch crowd was close to gone. That was a good sign for us since we didn't have to wait to be seated! But lo and behold, when we ordered our food, we were told that we had to wait for about 30 more minutes for our orders to be served.
Not a very good
thing to say to four famished, sleep-deprived girls, but what can we do? Threaten the chef?
Since we had heaps of minutes to spare, we took a tour around the whole complex. There were several restaurants lined up with Leslie's and they were all fronting Taal. I decided to go around where the Kubos
(Nipa Huts) were so we can take pictures and thought it would be nice to dine in one of those traditional huts while eating all Filipino food. Unfortunately, our bubbles were literally pricked when we heard that we needed to pay an extra whopping Php500. Aside from that, it was around 2pm where even the constant breeze of the wind doesn't do much in relieving you from the usual tropical heat. It wasn't really worth it so we just stayed around the huts and started being camwhores
After our late lunch, we still had no idea on what to do. Cruising around, we saw from afar a castle atop the highest point of Tagaytay. Iyay said it was People's Park or Palace in the Sky. The sun was about to set so we raced across the mountains, and sang along 6-Cycle Minds's
Palace in the Sky
trying to beat the sun to the top... but camwhores will always be camwhores!
the Ehead's "Alapaap"
, hoping to catch the sunset while on top of the highest peak of Tagaytay.
The sun was half way down when we got to the entrance of the park. We were offered a Php5 per head ride on the jeepney
bound to the top. It's funny how we looked at each other and shook our heads in unison! Where the heck is the fun in that?! I think we had to climb about half a kilometer steep road to the peak. When we got to the so-called palace, we were at awe at the contrasting beauty and deterioration of the palace. The place itself was a government project that was abandoned due to the lack of funds. It was never completed and is barely being maintained. But even that fact, didn't overshadow the experience that the sunset offered. It was cold but you felt like you're sauntering in the heavens.
We never saw the sun set. But a walk in the clouds is much more astounding than watching the sun disappear in to the mountains.
We headed back to the inn to get a few hours of sleep before dinner. It's January, and it
was freezing. Mind you, I live in a tropical country and I have a different idea of what chilly is from freezing cold! We roused ourselves around 8 and decided to look for a place to chow. The complex we were at earlier was transformed to a gimik
spot. It was just like walking around Greenbelt
. The only difference is, it's frigging cold, the view of Taal is covered in utter darkness and Henlin
is so dang expensive!
Dinner was sumptuous as usual albeit expensive to think that it's Henlin
. In Manila you'll find them in food court stalls in most malls and their price never reached hundreds! But this Henlin
surely did! By the time, we were finished eating, the thought of drinking cold beers over at Cafe Lupe's while looking at the deep dark ravine wasn't that enticing anymore.
We were looking for HOT HOT HOT coffee to warm our freezing guts! Starbucks was just beside the restaurants, but the flocks of masses were swarming the place. I remembered that cafe we kept passing when we were going back and forth the city looking for the pasalubong
shop that sold the apple pies (which we never
Aisa, Iyay and I on our way down from the peak.
We drove down to this unique cafe called Java Jazz and Lisa, part owner of the cafe, served us. She suggested Tso-Ko-Late-eh
which is a native tsokolate
(chocolate) that you make using a batirol
. In the cafe, there were only about 5-8 people, including us and the art works of the owner’s family surrounded us.
It was almost midnight. We needed to go back to the inn and get some rest for the hike to Taal Volcano and what a way to end our trip in Tagaytay. Over hot tsokolate
and sensible words amongst friends.
I guess, I have a new perspective of Tagaytay. It's a place where you need good music to sing along with, an eye for the unusual, a stomach to hold all the food in, a jacket to keep you warm, and real friends to keep you sane
PS: Bits and Peices of Info about taking a trip to Tagaytay.
1. To get to Tagaytay by bus is a bit impossible and a hassle. It's not a commuter friendly province. Best you hire a van with a driver.
2. You need a car to get around. Public transportation in this province is a mystery yet to be unlocked. It is an unusual feat to find any jeepney/tricycles that can take you around.
3. Try to stop by at The Good Sheperd Sisters Convent and buy their famous ube/halaan (purple yam). I'm not sure of the name of the street where it is but it's near Picnic Grove.
4. Ensaladang mangga complements all Filipino dishes. It's a combination of green mango, tomatoes, onions and bagoong (shrimp paste).
5. Tso-ko-late-eh, a not so sweet native chocolate drink is a must try especially when you're in sub-zero. Stray away from the usual latte's and fraps and experience real honest to goodness personalized service at Java Jazz located at 442 Tagaytay-Calamba Road. They are usually open as long as there are customer's inside.
6. Racing to the sunset is heaven in itself.
7. Unless you're contemplating to commit suicide, close friends/good companions are a necessity.
8. Holy Kettle Corn is the best popcorn ever!
9. To know more about Taal: Tales from Taal: Poop Island
There are more photos below