Showing posts with label Cavite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cavite. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Twelve heritage towns near Manila

Taal Heritage Town, Batangas
There is no doubt that Vigan, Ilocos Sur is the best preserved colonial town in the Philippines. But for those in Metro Manila who just want to make a day-trip to a nearby heritage town, here are twelve places you might want to visit.

Taal Heritage Town, Batangas
1. Taal, Batangas
Taal (the town, not the volcano) is the best preserved Spanish colonial town near Manila. People might be thinking Tagaytay City because of its view of Taal Volcano, but the town is actually 42 kilometers away. The historic town center of Taal was declared a National Historical Landmark. Dozens of Spanish colonial homes, several historical landmarks, the Taal Municipal Hall, Santa Lucia Well, and two centuries-old churches — the Taal Basilica and Caysasay Shrine — are among the highlights of a visit to Taal.

Taal Heritage Town, Batangas
Taal Heritage Town, Batangas
The town has several museums including the homes of Marcela Agoncillo, Felipe Agoncillo, Leon Apacible and Gliceria Villavicencio and the Galleria Taal. Don't forget to visit the local market where you can buy good quality piña and other embroidered cloths for barongs and Filipiniana dresses. Popular dishes from Taal are longganisatapa, adobo sa dilaw, empanada, panutsa, sumantawilis (tawilis is now an endangered species, don't eat it) and tulingan. The balisong, a pocket knife which is also known as the butterfly knife, is also from Taal.

Taal Heritage Town, Batangas
It's easy to do a day-trip to Taal. For those with vehicles, exit the STAR Tollway at Lipa (Taal town is about 32 kilometers from the exit). Please check this map for directions. By public transportation, take a bus to Lemery, Batangas and a then a jeep or tricycle to Taal. After exploring Taal, you can opt to have dinner in Tagaytay City, proceeding there via Lemery and Diokno Highway. But be prepared for the traffic snarls in Tagaytay. There are also several old houses which offer overnight accommodation such as Casa Severina and Villa Tortuga. Here's more information on Taal.

Pila Heritage Town, Laguna
2. Pila, Laguna
Another National Historical Landmark close to Manila is Pila, Laguna. This heritage town is a beautiful collection of colonial homes surrounding a green plaza with the Pila Municipal Hall at one end and the Pila Church on the opposite end. Walking around the plaza is like entering a time machine since the historic fabric of the town is relatively intact.

Pila Heritage Town, Laguna
Pila Heritage Town, Laguna
Even beyond the plaza are fantastic examples of Filipino homes built during the Spanish and American colonial periods. So if you're on your way to Santa Cruz, Pagsanjan or beyond, make sure to include Pila in your itinerary. Any bus to Santa Cruz, Laguna will pass through Pila.

Balayan Heritage Town, Batangas
3. Balayan, Batangas
Balayan is another Batangas town that is rich in heritage. The Balayan Church is a National Cultural Treasure. And many of its old ancestral homes are still intact. 

Balayan Heritage Town, Batangas
I heard the locals are planning a heritage tourism program. But for now, the homes are not open to the public though. Walking around the town will definitely make an interesting historical tour. You might want to pass by Balayan especially on the way to the neighboring town of Calatagan. And just further down the road is Calaca, which has a nice Spanish colonial church and several ancestral houses.

Sariaya Heritage Town, Quezon
4. Sariaya, Quezon
Further down south is Sariaya, Quezon. It has a fabulous Art Deco municipal hall and three of its many ancestral mansions are declared heritage houses — Natalio Enriquez House, Rodriguez House and Gala-Rodriguez House. The Sariaya Church is also quite interesting with convent buildings on both sides. Too bad though the local government built a multi-purpose hall on one side of what would have been a classic example of a colonial plaza.

The best time to visit Sariaya is on May 15 when the town celebrates the feast of San Isidro Labrador. The ancestral houses are also opened for a fee. But you'll have to deal with the crowds who a troop to Quezon for the many colorful celebrations on that day. Any bus to Lucena, Quezon passes through Sariaya.

5. San Juan, Batangas

San Juan, Batangas is another town with many Art Deco mansions. Few people pass through the town's historic center on the way to Laiya Beach not realizing its hidden treasure. None of the houses in San Juan have been declared. Hopefully the local government has the vision to create a heritage tourism program that will complement Laiya Beach.

6. San Fernando, Pampanga
San Fernando is known for many things — the Giant Lantern Festival, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites, and great Kapampangan food among others! It also has managed to preserve a small historic quarter in the downtown area. Five houses have been declared heritage houses — Lazatin House, Hizon-Singian House, Henson-Hizon House, Dayrit House and Augusto P. Hizon House. The San Fernando Train Station, where Rizal got off during his trip to invite friends to the La Liga Filipina and where the long walk of the Bataan Death March ended, still stands.

The San Fernando Cathedral and Pampanga Provincial Capitol can also be found in the heritage district. What excites me is the prospect of revitalizing the PASUDECO Sugar Central for conversion into a shopping and entertainment complex. My fingers are crossed.

San Fernando Heritage District, Pampanga
San Fernando must be the only city in the Philippines where motorized tricycles are not allowed in the downtown area. Instead, the historic center still has many kalesas (horse-drawn carriages) which can take you for a tour around the city. Here is more information on San Fernando.

After you tour, make sure to have breakfast, lunch or merienda in the many restaurants in the city (Everybody's Cafe is an institution) that serve authentic Kapampangan cuisine. You can also visit the nearby Bacolor Church and Betis Church, a National Cultural Treasure. Too bad Bacolor's ancestral mansions were covered by lahar. Pampanga lost a heritage treasure!

Malolos Heritage Town, Bulacan
7. Malolos, Bulacan
Malolos was a revolutionary capital of the Philippines. The Barasoain Church, home of the Malolos Congress, has always been featured on Philippine currency. The city's historic center was declared a National Historical Landmark especially since many of the houses served as offices of the Philippine Revolutionary Government.

Malolos Heritage Town, Bulacan
Too bad though that many of the owners don't seem to understand the historical value of their homes. And quite a number have been dismantled by eager antique dealers, despite being declared. So visit Malolos while it's still there, and before antique dealers beat us to it. This city would have made such an interesting heritage walk!

Aguinaldo Shrine, Kawit, Cavite
8. Kawit, Cavite
The birthplace of the Republic of the Philippines, Kawit has three major heritage sites — Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine (where the declaration of Philippine independence was made on June 12, 1898), Baldomero Aguinaldo Shrine and the Kawit Church. Aside from those three important sites, there's nothing much to see in Kawit. But most people stop by Kawit as part of any Cavite historical tour or day-trip which goes all the way to Maragondon.

Maragondon, Cavite
9. Maragondon, Cavite
Another town on the Cavite historical trail, Maragondon has three important sites — Maragondon Church, Bonifacio Trial House and the Execution Site of Andres Bonifacio. The Maragondon Church is a National Cultural Treasure. While the Bonifacio Trial House is a National Historical Landmark. Here is more information on Maragondon.

10. San Miguel, Bulacan
San Miguel is a charming old town with beautiful ancestral mansions. But the charm is fast disappearing because the local government of San Miguel, Bulacan has not really done anything to ensure the protection of the local heritage. 

Part of the Biak na Bato National Park is also in San Miguel. Ironically, despite the large number of ancestral houses, none of them are declared. So just like Malolos, better visit San Miguel before the heritage disappears.

Binan Heritage Street, Laguna
11. Biñan, Laguna
We've all heard the battle cry "Save the Alberto House!" The historic home of Teodora Alonso's family is still in Biñan, or what's left of it. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many Spanish colonial houses in Biñan. In fact, some of them still have clay tile roofs. The only things that need to be addressed are cleanliness and order in the heritage street which is very close to the market. Biñan actually has much potential as a heritage destination. Hopefully the heritage quarter is declared and revitalized by the local government.

12. Malabon, Metro Manila

Okay, so Malabon is part of Metro Manila! But it's at the edge and I just had to include it in this list. Most people don't realize that Malabon, as well as Navotas, used to be a separate islands until shortsighted reclamation projects fused it with the rest of Luzon. And we wonder why the area floods? Back to the heritage, Malabon has a fantastic collection of heritage houses. I wonder if the local government even realizes the potential for tourism. There are occasional cultural tours to Malabon, maybe once a year. But on a regular day, you'll have to explore on your own. While you are there, try out the pansit, sapin-sapin, kikiam, sumpia and broas!

Other interesting heritage towns near Metro Manila are (13) Tayabas (Tayabas Basilica, Malagonlong Bridge and several other bridges are National Cultural Treasures) and (14) Lucban in Quezon, (15) Angeles City (Angeles Church, Pamintuan Mansion, Museo ning Angeles and Center for Kapampangan Studies) and (16) Santa Rita in Pampanga, (17) Paete (Paete Church), (18) Pakil (Pakil Church) and (19) Pagsanjan in Laguna, and (20) Bustos in Bulacan. Did I miss out any heritage town near Manila?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cavite: Maligayang ika-113 na Araw ng Kalayaan! Happy Independence Day!

President Benigno S. Aquino III presided over his first Araw ng Kalayaan or Independence Day ceremonies at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite this morning. I found myself driving to Kawit at 4 a.m. to make sure I arrived there before the PSG closed the streets.

After arrival honors and a 21-gun salute, the president proceeded to the grave of Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo behind the shrine for a ceremonial wreath-laying. This was followed by the raising of the flag at the balcony of the shrine (which had to be delayed a bit for the nationwide simultaneous flag-raising at 7 a.m.) and the speech of the president.

Before the speech, former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, a descendant of President Aguinaldo, read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. The program is not over and I'm off to the Quirino Grandstand later in the afternoon for the Independence Day Parade. For photos of the event, check out Ivan About Town on Facebook.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tagaytay: Summit Ridge Hotel provides great views of Taal Volcano!

If you're looking for a hotel in Tagaytay City with great views of Taal Volcano, Summit Ridge Hotel is one of them. After our sumptuous food binge in the restaurants of Veranda Robinsons Galleria, our group of bloggers proceeded all the way to Tagaytay City for an overnight stay in Summit Ridge.

We got to tour the facilities including its events and convention venues. We were particularly impressed with the Summit Learning Center which is said to have been patterned after a Harvard classroom. Summit Ridge also has several recreational facilities including a wooden basketball court that doubles as badminton courts. The hotel also arranges tours.

For dinner, the group got a preview of the Summer BBQ Nights by Annie's, which will run every Saturday, 6 p.m. until May 28, 2011 (Php599/head). I suggest you rush to Summit Ridge this summer before this sumptuous barbecue buffet ends. The buffet included Spicy Pork BBQ, Chicken Skewers, Sausage Kebab, Fish Fillet with Remoulade, as well as rice, soup, salad, pasta and dessert.

Before we called it a night, we also got a preview of the hotel's newly-opened SeriAsia Spa. In the morning, breakfast was at the restaurant of Annie's and C2 Classic Cuisine.

Summit Ridge Hotel
Km 58, Maharlika West
Tagaytay City
(632) 2406888 / (0922) 8526800

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Cavite: Visita iglesia to the heritage churches of Cavite

Cavite has a good number of intact heritage churches. Despite its proximity to Metro Manila, it was the first time I visited several of the churches. So here are some churches to visit if you want to do a visita iglesia in Cavite.

Our first stop was Kawit Church. According to the marker in front of the church, it became a Jesuit mission in 1624, with the first church of wood built in 1638 and placed under the patronage of Santa Maria Magdalena. The cornerstone of the current church was laid in 1737. It was transferred to the care of secular priests in 1768, and the Recollects in 1849. In 1869, President Emilio Aguinaldo was baptized in this church.

From Kawit, we drove all the way to the Maragondon Church, a National Cultural Treasure. It was first constructed by the Jesuits in 1618 under the patronage of the Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion. A new church was constructed from 1630 to 1633, but was demolished between 1646 to 1649 to prevent it from becoming a Dutch fortress. The current stone church was constructed in 1714.

In 1768, it was transferred to the care of secular priests, and the Recollects in 1860. It became a base of the Philippine Revolutionary Army when Maragondon became the headquarters of the forces of Gen. Aguinaldo in 1897. It became a National Cultural Treasure in 2001.

On our way back to Manila, we passed by three more churches namely Naic, Tanza and Gen. Trias.

The convent of the Tanza Church played a significant role in Philippine history. It was where Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and Gen. Mariano Trias took their oaths as president and vice president of the Philippine Revolutionary Government on March 23, 1897 after their election at the Tejeros Convention the day before.

Gen. Trias Church was first constructed by the Franciscans in 1611 as a visita of Kawit. It was turned over to the Jesuit mission of Cavite Puerto in 1624. In 1753, the Church of San Francisco Malabon (the old name of Gen. Trias) became a separate parish.

The current stone church was constructed under the leadership of Dona Maria Josepha Yrizzari y Ursula, Condesa de Lizarraga in 1769. Her gravestone is still prominently seen by the main door of the church. It was in this church that the Banda Matanda practiced the Marcha Filipina before it was played during the June 12, 1898 declaration of Philippine independence.

Although we weren't able to visit the Silang Church, it's another interesting church which you should visit if you're in Cavite.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cavite: Andres Bonifacio and Maragondon, Cavite

Andres Bonifacio and Maragondon, Cavite will always be synonymous, a reminder of the tragedy of the Philippine Revolution where political ambition reigned supreme over national unity. Maragondon is the Cavite town where Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan and first recognized leader of the Philippine Revolution, was unfairly tried and ruthlessly executed.

The story of any historical tour to Cavite will not be complete without visiting Maragondon. In Maragondon, we visited the Bonifacio Trial House which is also managed by the National Historical Institute. Just like the Aguinaldo Shrine, entrance is free and it's closed on Mondays.

This residence of Teodorico Reyes was were one of the tragedies of Philippine history unfolded. A life-size diorama of the trial of the founder of the Katipunan, Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio, reminds us of this brazen act committed by our founding fathers. I guess some things never change in Philippine politics.

Don't forget to drop by the Maragondon Church which is a National Cultural Treasure.

Further down the National Highway, on the way to Ternate, ask around for the Bonifacio Shrine or Mount Nagpatong. Few people know that the Bonifacio Shrine exists. So if they point you back to the Maragondon town proper, ask someone else.

Once you find the left turn, just follow the road and the initial signs. The road will get quite rough so it's best to bring a vehicle suitable for rough roads. After you cross a small bridge and reach a fenced-off area, make sure to ask for directions again since there are no more signs inside. You'll know you're on the right track when you reach a bamboo gate which you have to open yourself. From there, the road should be paved going to the Bonifacio Execution Site.

I remember this Bonifacio Shrine from several years back because sculptor Toym Imao mentioned to me he was working on it and showed his initial sketches. It turned out to be a really nice larger-than-life monument to Andres Bonifacio, Procopio Bonifacio and their unfortunate execution.

There's a Php20 entrance fee. It's a gated compound so if the gate is locked, just blow your horn so the caretaker will know that you're there. More posts on Cavite coming up. I'll also be posting photos soon in the Ivan About Town Facebook page. So do check them out.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cavite: Around historic Cavite

Cavite has always held an important place in our history books, having been a hotbed of the Philippine Revolution. And a really good way to understand this history is by visiting the sites mentioned in our textbooks.

Together with several followers of Ivan About Town, I visited the different historical sites in Cavite. The first on our list was the Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine and the Site of the Declaration of Philippine Independence in Kawit.

This historical site is managed by the National Historical Institute. Entrance is free. But do take note that it's closed on Mondays like most government museums. At the Aguinaldo Shrine, you get to see memorabilia and personal items of the former president, artifacts related to the Philippine Revolution such as several of the first Philippine flags, as well as the palatial residence of President Emilio F. Aguinaldo from which balcony, Philippine independence was declared.

Behind the house is the final resting place of Aguinaldo. From his house, we drove over to the Kawit Church which has a really intricate main altar retablo.

Our next stop was supposed to be Fort San Felipe in Cavite City. Unfortunately, it's inside a Philippine Navy-controlled area. And according to the guard at the gate, you'll need to get approval from the higher-ups to enter. I was quite irritated since that is part of our history and people deserve the right to see it sans the bureaucracy. The Cavite Provincial Government should take Fort San Felipe off its list of tourism attractions if it cannot negotiate access for tourists from the Philippine Navy. Can't they simply ask visitors to present government-issued IDs to enter?

Anyway, we stopped by the Trece Martires Monument near the fort area before proceeding to lunch at Malen's Restaurant in Noveleta.

After lunch, we drove all the way to Maragondon to visit the Bonifiacio Trial House, Maragondon Church and the Bonifacio Execution Site with the newly-erected Bonifacio Shrine done by sculptor Toym Imao which I really liked. More details on this in another post about Maragondon.

We made our way to Naic Church, Tanza Church (where Aguinaldo took his oath as president of the Philippine Revolutionary Government in 1897) and Gen. Trias Church.

We were supposed to visit the Site of the Battle of Alapan in Imus where the Philippine flag first saw action. But even people in Brgy. Alapan didn't know where it was and sadly, we couldn't find it. It's quite disconcerting that this site was part of the Philippine Centennial Trail and years after the celebration, even the local community was oblivious to its existence. Before Imus continues to parade itself as the Flag Capital of the Philippines, it should first educate the local community why it should be called such and install proper brown tourism road directional signs pointing towards the site.

Our last stop for the day was the very popular Digman Halo-Halo in Bacoor. A lot of people were raving about it and it's been featured in a lot of national dailies and magazines. But to me, it was like any other halo-halo. I guess for someone used to the rich and flavorful versions of halo-halo in Pampanga, this did not wow me that much. It's funny that there was some confusion when we got there because there were two stores claiming to the the original Digman Halo-Halo.

More posts on Cavite coming up. I'll also be posting photos soon in the Ivan About Town Facebook page. So do check them out.
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