I'll Never Grow Tired of Tagaytay

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February 13th 2009
Published: February 13th 2009
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It took this long for me to think of blogging about one of my favorite places in my own country. Perhaps because I visit it too often, or I took its beauty so much for granted. Tagaytay holds many happy childhood memories for me and my family. Both my parents are from Cavite where Tagaytay is. And many weekends were spent here, in a neighboring town called Silang, Cavite where my grandmother used to live, long before it became a favorite tourist destination. From Manila, it would take about an hour and a half traveling south for 60 km to reach Tagaytay to view the "volcano island" inside a lake called Taal Lake, or Lake Taal.

Childhood Memories

As a child, my ears got so used to many old folks' stories about Taal Volcano where one finds a lake within a volcano within a lake within a volcano. Yeah, I know, it sounds redundant. Can you imagine me listening to all these stories and this line which has now become an adjective to describe Taal Volcano back when I was still of pre-school age? It appears Taal Volcano made up for its size by always threatening to erupt, as if drawing attention all the time. Records show it is the smallest active volcano in the world. And for good measure, the old folks back in the province recount to this day all their experiences with Taal Volcano's mini-eruptions in the past until it was no longer news.

The story goes that Tagaytay Ridge where one gets a perfect view of Taal Lake and Volcano was actually part of a bigger volcano until a major eruption hundreds or thousands of years ago. Originally a huge volcano towering 18,000 feet, many people don't realize that it used to be one of the largest volcanoes in the world. Tagaytay Ridge is the rim of the volcano! Before it was "reduced" to its present size, Tagaytay ridge would have been only about a sixth of the way to the top of the volcano!! This caldera is now fringed with many tourist inns, hotels, restaurants and picnic groves. A major golf course and upscale community (Tagaytay Highlands) and a casino hotel (near Taal Vista Lodge Hotel) can also be found along this ridge. Most tourists make day trips from Manila to this place, missing out on an unhurried day of adventure which may include a boat journey across the lake to reach the volcano island (about 1,500 pesos or US $30 for the entire boat so you can split it among the 3 or 4 of you), a trek to the top of the volcano on a donkey (most recommended, unless you are very very fit but be ready to shed another US$10 per person), as well as trying out the many fine-dining and local restaurants in the area.

A Mountain Resort? A Summer Retreat? Religious Retreat Center? A Garden Restaurant?

Many years back when Tagaytay only had picnic huts available for rent to locals bringing in their own picnic baskets, the place was famous for its many retreat houses and prayer centers. The cool climate and the now-lost "rustic innocence" of the place made for a very meaningful weekend of prayers and meditation. The retreat houses are still there. And many retreat weekends are still held there. The popularity of the place has also resulted in many foreigners deciding to stay permanently and setting up their own restaurants and shops there. These days, one can make trips to Tagaytay to try out this
Entrance to Moon GardenEntrance to Moon GardenEntrance to Moon Garden

From the ridge, turn right or left (depends where ur coming from) as soon as you see Country Suites or Villa Estancia
new Vietnamese restaurant (Bawai), or this Austrian-German bistro called Chateau Hestia, a greek taverna, or a lovely garden restaurant called Moon Garden run by a Belgian. Taal Vista Lodge Hotel is a newly renovated hotel complex , Josephine's Restaurant with its seafood delicacies still stands attracting both local and foreign patrons, the Discovery chain of serviced apartments runs Country Suites and I must say, serves the best lamb chops, and of course there is Sonya's Garden and Antonio's - 2 of the fine dining establishments in the area. My personal favorite is Antonio's though that will set you back a good US$30 to $50 per pax. For local food, one can try Josephine's (their buffet is a steal at only US$7) and Leslie's (try their "bulalo" which is beef stew). As for the kids, there is Residence Inn and Zoo where you can spend an entire afternoon with small children. Lunch is also served in this place, a good way to spend an hour or two after checking out the zoo. Restless kids can go to a nearby playground while the adults enjoy their coffee after lunch, or simply wait out for the sunset while viewing the volcano.

There is always something to do in Tagaytay other than just taking in the view. The more adventurous go for the boat ride and donkey trek. The prayerful spend their retreat weekends there and head back to Manila with emptied minds, restful spirits and re-energized bodies. The hedonists spend time in their favorite spas while their husbands play a round of golf in Tagaytay Highlands. The foodies try out the many food establishments, where the variety caters to every pocket range. The kids can check out the tigers, crocs, gorillas, etc in the zoo. Or simply rent out bikes or go horseback riding in the park.

I live in Makati, the financial center of Manila. This urban jungle has its advantages and disadvantages. Thank God for Tagaytay. In under 2 hours, we can enjoy its breeze and open spaces. There is just no way we will ever grow tired of Tagaytay!

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


Native LechonNative Lechon
Native Lechon

Spit-roasted pig with its crunchy skin for a cholesterol-loaded lunch in Moon Garden!
Chateau HestiaChateau Hestia
Chateau Hestia

They make their own lemoncello!
Inside Chateau HestiaInside Chateau Hestia
Inside Chateau Hestia

Good place for lunch or dinner. International cuisine, with wine selection.
Hut On a Lily PondHut On a Lily Pond
Hut On a Lily Pond

Still in Moon Garden Restaurant
Apos in a Calesa RideApos in a Calesa Ride
Apos in a Calesa Ride

Here, apos mean grandchildren. Calesa is horse drawn cart.
Residence Inn and ZooResidence Inn and Zoo
Residence Inn and Zoo

Can't recall how much entrance fee is, but can't be more than US $4. And you can spend the entire afternoon there.........
Fantasy WorldFantasy World
Fantasy World

Next town to Tagaytay City , in Lemery, Batangas.
Let them play golf, I'd have my dessert!Let them play golf, I'd have my dessert!
Let them play golf, I'd have my dessert!

In Splendido which has a golf course. Located along the Tagaytay Ridge on way to Batangas.

13th February 2009

I just got back from my first visti to the Philippines and visited Taal! I wish this came out about two weeks ago, so I could take more advantage of the area. I did Josephine's and the donkey trek, and, even a bit crazy at times, I loved it. Your words resonated with me and brought back the breeze on my shoulders for only a minute. Can't wait to go back! Excellent entry!
13th February 2009

You bet I was 2 wks late!
Sorry Jon.......I should have blogged about Tagaytay much earlier. Am now convinced I should write more about my adventures within the country, so I can advise others how to spend their time here. You are so right about Manila, sad I know. But the trips to our provinces provide pleasant surprises, don't you think? You may be hassled by the touts, but overall, provincial folks are so much more kind and hospitable. Wishing you more adventures!
13th February 2009

What I wouldn't give now for an empty mind and a re-energised body! You describe the Philippines as sociable and peaceful, it sounds beautiful. I really enjoyed this blog - especially the explanation about the volcano at the beginning, and your second photo. Thanks! J.
13th February 2009

I enjoyed reading your blog. I haven't been to Tagaytay yet, but in the near future, Im sure I'm gonna drop by. Looking forward for more blog entries, especially local travels within the Philippines.
14th February 2009

thanks for the interesting blog and lovely photos
14th February 2009

thanks too..........
Thanks for your comment. Btw, i just got back from Tagaytay's Moon Garden where we enjoyed a Valentine lunch with the family. Now, you know tagaytay is really my favorite place!
15th February 2009

Ahhh...volcanos and food...
What a great posting! I have always been fascinated by volcanos ever since Mt. St. Helens in Washington State erupted in 1980 so I found this extremely interesting...I love geology and actually had a co-major in college because I was so in awe of the power of nature. And, your stories about the restaurants and food really made me hungry!! Great macro shots of the flowers...quite the photographer you are my friend...... See ya, Jeff
16th February 2009

I agree with the above comments, it has really made me hungry reading about the lucious variety of foods on offer. It seems like one of those special places where you would never be bored!
21st February 2009

Hey Thanks for the compliment. Pics from Philippines look beautiful! Been a bit behind on the blog recently. Need to think about writing on recent trips to Germany and England.
24th February 2009

Hey - great blog, it looks really beautiful. Just goes to show how much the Philippines has to offer - when I leave in May, I will have been travelling here for 7 months but still won't have made it to beautiful places such as this and many others!
28th February 2009

I must visit one of these days
Had a quick look at your blog after you wrote on mine. Haven't visited The Phillipines yet - not unless you call a couple of hours stop-over in Manilla a visit! You might be interested to know that we went to Melbourne a couple of weeks ago to the second wedding of an Australian to a Phillapino (not sure about that spelling?!) - their first wedding was in The Phillipines where the groom was working when he met the love of his life! Six Degrees of Seperation!! M
27th July 2009

Indeed...a truly wonderful respite place
Hi Miss Liliram...I have been out of the country for about 4 years now and I realized that I am not only 'gastronomically' homesick of Filipino food but also of the truly wonderful places in the outskirt of Manila. I do miss Tagaytay so much...your write-up and the photos have brought me back to a respite of some sort. Looking at the photos and reading you vivid and detailed yet metaphoric artistry of the pen ( with all your heart felt with it ) - can just bring one back to a spiritual hibernation where enjoyment of silence brought me thoughts about God and nature. Thank you for this inspiration...I bet when I visit Manila, Tagaytay will be the top of the list. Afterall, Ive got relatives and friends in Amadeo...and yes, wherever I am - I can always be proud to recall all my childhood memories of yore - like you did. God bless!
27th July 2009

Thank you, Annie
Like me, you hail from Cavite. Amadeo is now "almost" Tagaytay as visitors can hardly tell when they have crossed the boundary. Thanks for your kind comments. Since we both come from the same province, I know that writing and reading about Tagaytay bring back fond memories . People born and raised in Cavite (like you and I) have always considered Tagaytay as an extension of our playground. Right?
6th August 2009

inquiries about Tagaytay
Hi Sir/Ma'am. I would just like to ask how much is the BOAT RIDE going to Taal Volcano, HORSEBACK RIDING, picnic cottages/huts @ the Picnic Grove or People's Park, and ZIPLINING if you have tried it? and i read that there's a place called Taal Yacht Club, where you pay only 1,500 pesos for one boat (not on a per person basis). i'm hoping for your immediate response. You may email me at the given email address above. Thank you very much!
9th August 2009

Hi Aykah
My blog gave some indicative rates: about US$30 for the boat (P1,500) and about $20 for the horseback ride. The picnic huts in Picnic Grove go for about US$5-6 (P250 to P300) unless they increased their rates. I have not tried ziplining yet. Sorry for the delay in response . (I just got back from another trip).
16th August 2009

Tagaytay information
Your story and images touched me. Childhood memories are best. I have been to Manila twice but not yet seen. Tagaytay nor had I heard of it. It looks wonderful. I live in the U.S. now and would love to move to a town near Tagaytay. Near but without the tourist flavor so much. What are nice town in that area that still have that climate. In am 55 and want a place to relax. A home. To be the rest of my life. thank you for your story Brad
9th October 2010
Residence Inn and Zoo

please give us your contact number for field trip purpose. please send here:09087680568
9th December 2020

I'll Never Grow Tired of Tagaytay especially when i feel tired in everything happening in my life.

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