TIMELESS TAAL

BATANGAS PROVINCE, September 11, 2003  (MALAYA) NOTHING escapes time. Its passage is synonymous to evolution and change. No matter how small, the effect it leaves behind remains mirrored in tattered photographs, old establishments, like the deep lines on our parents' foreheads.

It is quite astounding therefore to discover places somehow left "untouched" by time, still preserved in its almost original state, in memoriam of the way things used to be.

One such town is Taal in the province of Batangas, best known as the birthplace of some of the country's leading nationalists and the site of important archeological finds. It is also a major coffee producer and home to some of the country's leading dive sites.

Historic Taal was founded by the Augustinians in 1572. It is the twin town of Lemery, occupying the opposite bank of a shallow river. The town's name comes from an old Tagalog word which means "native." It is an agricultural and fishing center, and a terminal for regional transport.

This small, peaceful town has several Spanish colonial houses lining its streets and possesses some of the most elegant "ancestral homes" to be seen in the Philippines. One of these houses belongs to Gliceria Villavicencio, where members of the Katipunan met and mapped out their plans for the uprising against the authorities. You will also see here the house of Marcela Agoncillo, the woman responsible for the sewing of the first Philippine flag.

Landmarks

The well-preserved town boasts of its old churches, handicrafts, and historical landmarks.

Taal is best known for Taal volcano, believed to be the smallest volcano in the world, situated within Lake Taal, definitely a breathtaking sight to behold.

The serene but active volcano stands on its own island amid the landscapes of ash and cinder. The lake's shores, rich with volcanic soil, are now being farmed extensively.

A trip to Taal should include a visit to Volcano Island to see the mysterious Crater Lake with its famous "island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island" attraction.

The Taal Heritage Village rivals Vigan for the best-preserved relics of the Spanish colonial era. Attractions in the village include Leon Apacible Historical Landmark, Marcela Marino Agoncillo Museum and Monument, the Basilica of San Martin de Tours and the Church of Our Lady of Casaysay.

The Taal Basilica is quite famous with its high ceilings, ornate chandeliers and unusual facade. The impressive Basilica Minore of St. Martin of Tours, built between 1858 and 1878, is considered to be the biggest in all of Southeast Asia. Atop its bell tower, it presents a panoramic view of the town plaza and Taal Lake from a distance.

Behind the basilica is the sanctuary of Our Lady of Casaysay, a famous Madonna that draws pilgrims from all over the region, which dates back to the 1600's. It houses priceless relics of the colonial period. There are also a number of other sacred shrines to be found here.

Balisong trade

At the outskirts of town, in Barrio Balisong, you will find a steel factory where all kinds of knives are made, one of which is the popular balisong.

Balisong, as history tells us, traces its ancestry to as far back as 800 A.D. as one of the ancient weapons of the mystic art of the Malaya-Polynesian fighting systems - Kali. The Balisong or Butterfly knife, occasionally called the Batangas knife, is a deadly weapon that in the hand of an expert can be opened as fast as, if not faster, than a western switch blade.

The average balisong maker can finish three to four knives a day. The blade is made from several materials depending on the quality required by the manufacturers. Ordinary balisongs are usually made from scrap iron, automotive leaf springs, ball bearing housings or used steel files. The average balisong is 29 centimeters in length. The art of knife-making here and in the whole of the Batangas province has already developed into a thriving cottage industry.

Taal is also renowned for its fine art of embroidery being kept alive by the women of Taal. The expensive jusi cloth, imported from Hong Kong, is being tailored into the Barong Tagalog and the saya, the Philippine national costumes.

Development

Taal's great potentials as a tourism investment site may be attributed to the excellent preservation of Spanish and American colonial residences, churches and public structures, its proximity to the popular destinations of Tagaytay, and the scenic highways which link Taal with the outlying towns of Batangas and Cavite. All these contribute in making the town a unique and special interest destination in Southern Luzon.

Taal, Batangas was chosen by Carmona Ventures and Resources Development Corp. (CVRDC) as the site for Buckingham Hills. With only an hour's drive away from Manila, Buckingham Hills presents a welcome alternative away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Located along the national road, Buckingham Hills is accessible from Manila though the newly opened South Luzon Expressway (Calabarzon Road) or the Sta. Rosa Access Road, Aguinaldo Highway and the Diokno Highway that conveniently connects Buckingham Hills to the bustling Laguna Industrial and Business Park.

A Class "AA" development, the sprawling estate covers close to 15 hectares and showcases 465 residential lots varying from 120 to 300 square meters in lot area. Amenities include the newly unveiled multi-purpose clubhouse, Piccadilly Court, which houses a full sized basketball court, a tennis court, a world class swimming pool and playground.

Buckingham Hills is indeed an excellent investment for people who treasure the best value for their hard work and hard earned money. Here, one could wake up to the scent of cool and fresh Tall air, relax and enjoy the finest things in life with their family or just relax and enjoy the moment.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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