Paradores del Castillo Hotel, Taal, Batangas: A home’s rebirth as a boutique hotel

Paradores del Castillo Hotel, Taal, Batangas: A home’s rebirth as a boutique hotel

By Ria Benedicto Villavicencio (The Philippine Star) |

MANILA, Philippines – How does one write about a passion, a difficult but rewarding journey, when one is standing on the threshold of the gleaming white structure of Paradores del Castillo in the town of Taal, Batangas? Remembering the home’s history suffuses the effort that went into its restoration, so that present results are better appreciated.

This old house is now a grand boutique hotel. Upon entry, you realize that you are in an antique setting, but with added modern conveniences and updated accent colors. An airy, welcoming atmosphere offers a refreshing change from the dark Victorian period design details commonly found in most turn of the century homes.

Originally owned and built by Hermenegildo “Didong” del Castillo and his wife Leonor Sanchez in the early 1900s, design elements of the 1930s and 1950s were apparent, due to renovations by succeeding heirs and tenants. The couple shared this home with their four children: Vicente, Gloria, Blanca and Antonio. Eventually, with each generation’s passing and several tenants’ use, the structure had fallen into a jumble of clashing design elements, disrepair and abandonment.

In August 2009, the del Castillo house was acquired by my husband, Ernie Fajardo Villavicencio, from his maternal first cousins, most of whom were living abroad, the heirs of Antonio and Corazon del Castillo. Corazon is our beloved Ninang Chong, younger sister of Ernie’s mother, Titang Fajardo.

In 1995, we committed to restoring and maintaining another old structure, Casa Villavicencio, the ancestral home of Ernie’s great grandparents Eulalio and Gliceria Villavicencio. Both were patrons of the Philippine Revolution during the Spanish and American periods. The Casa V house is now a tourist destination in this quaint Southern Luzon town.

We proceeded to clean up and use the del Castillo structure for five years as a storage facility for old bricks, antique wood, doors, capiz windows, carvings, wrought iron retasos, furniture and lights collected through the years, for use in other home restoration projects. It was in late 2013 that Ernie decided to undertake the restoration. Aside from the debris that was left there, it was a huge challenge to get the same original materials for aesthetic uniformity.

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As a couple, we have gone through this arduous task of restoring old spaces many times in the past. Paradores del Castillo was our fifth restoration project in Taal. Our team of engineers, architects, craftsmen and construction crew were made to understand that they were on board for the long haul, no matter how many design revisions were done. In repairing and maintaining bahay-na-bato ancestral homes like this one, the work was painstaking and continuous. As restorers, we use modern solutions while respecting the bones of the original structure, balancing it with budget limits.

On the construction crew’s end, it is a test of understanding the value of what was initially perceived as junk and creating something beautiful out of it. It is always a learning process.

Vatican gives special status to Batangas shrine

Vatican gives special status to Batangas shrine


By: – Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 07:01 AM May 26, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Devotees making a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay in the historic town of Taal in Batangas will now be able to receive the same plenary indulgence granted to pilgrims who visit the ancient basilica of St. Mary Major (Sta. Maria Maggiore) in Rome.

According to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Vatican has issued a decree signed by Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, archpriest emeritus of St. Mary Major, granting the Caysasay Shrine the same special privilege attached to the Roman basilica.

Pilgrims who visit and pray at the Shrine will receive plenary indulgence provided they fulfill the prescribed conditions of going to confession, participating in a Mass and praying for the intention of the Holy Father. A plenary indulgence is a complete remission of all temporal punishment due to sin.

The CBCP quoted Fr. Nonie Dolor, the Lipa Archdiocese media director, saying that the Vatican’s pronouncement was “very timely” as the archdiocese was preparing for the grand celebration of its 40th anniversary.

Dolor said a Mass of Declaration to be presided by Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles will be celebrated at the Shrine on June 3 to formally announce to the public the special privilege granted by the Vatican.

The ceremonies will include the reading of the decree and placing the original Latin text and its translation as a marker at the Shrine’s entrance, according to Shrine rector Fr. Jose Maria Loyola Cumagun.

On Saturdays, the day set for devotion to the Our Lady of Caysasay, the otherwise sleepy shrine becomes vibrant when pilgrims flock to the place to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin.






April 25, 2015 – Saturday DAY 1


7:30 AM                                 FESTIVAL PARADE

8:00 AM Onwards               AGRI FAIR/TRADE FAIR

8:00 AM Onwards               VISITAS DELAS CASAS

9:00 AM                                 ARTISTS’ EXHIBITION

2:00 PM                                 EL PASUBAT CHALLENGE

7:00 PM                                 DEPED NIGHT


April 26, 2015 – Sunday DAY 2

6:00 AM                                 HOLY MASS

7:00 AM                                 TAALMUSAL

8:30 AM                                 PALARO NG LAHI

7:30 PM                                 BURDANG TAAL FASHION SHOW

                                                BAYLEHAN SA TAAL


Don Juan Boodle House

Don Juan Boodle House

Taal is known for its preserved cultural heritage and old ancestral houses that’s why it is given the title “Heritage Town”. Its municipality and people are hand-in-hand in taking care of these tourist spots as they are intent on preserving history and our traditions.

Alongside its locals and ancestral houses, Taal is also known for its authentic Batangueño food. And what field trip would not be complete if you will not sample the local delicacies.

Don Juan, the first boodle house that serves native Taal delicacies, is a big hit and the first tourist destination for food tripping.

Interview with Eli AndresIn an interview with Eli Andres, the manager of Don Juan:
“Don Juan is known for Taal’s Specialities; Tapang Taal, Longganisang Taal, Pork Barbeque, Fried Tawilis, Adobo sa Dilaw and Sinaing na Tulingan. All the foods that we serve are fresh and no preservatives. We came up with Don Juan for people to acknowledge the way of how filipino’s eat, with their finger licking and eating from banana leaf serves as the native way. All served in one boodle and eating as if you’re at home. Knowing Taal for being a heritage town, there are visitors coming all the way from Visayas, Lipa and Batangas.”

Their Boodle comes in three servings namely: Inihaw Boodle, Don Juan’s Boodle and Taal’s Specialties Boodle that are all good for 4 to 6 persons.

“We came up with Boodle because of the old ways on how soldiers used to eat, with bare hands and banana leaf. Eating together with more people is more fun specially sharing the best food we can serve,” added Eli Andres.

We were served with a boodle of Taal’s Specialties namely Tapang Taal, Longganisang Taal, Sinaing na tulingan, Inihaw na Baboy, Adobo sa Dilaw, Fried Tawilis, Ginataang Sitaw Kalabasa served with sliced tomatoes, onions, pickled papaya and steamed rice known as Taal’s Specialties Boodle. Serving us the boodle made us realise it is better to eat with our bare hands and chatting made it fun that helped us to be closer with one another. Laughs and bonding were worthwhile and also the food made it suitable for the fun we had.

“It made me feel the true Pinoy essence that is something we can be proud of and eating together in a meal is very mush important for Pinoys especially when the foods served adds falvor to bonding,” said Andrea Josa Suazo of WowBatangas.

We got to taste different portions of food which we had never encountered before like the Fried Tawilis that can be eaten whole and non-stop picking of the crisp of Tawilis. Another that was so undeniably delicious was Tapang Taal; it is a local dish that is marinated just like the Longanizang Taal, but it is thinly sliced and diced pork served as tapa.

Pampering up with their deserts; Leche Flan, Fried Suman with chocolate spread, Halo halo and Sago’t Gulaman, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the Green Field, breathing fresh air. We were much fascinated by the deserts that was served for us and was really enjoyable to eat. One serve of their desert wasn’t enough to fill our stomach but it was a joy to taste their delicacies.

“Eating at Don Juan is like eating at home and it makes you wonder the fresh breeze of the forest. That’s how Don Juan made me feel. The rich delicacies of Taal promises that wherever you are, you’re at home,” said Nicole John Martinez of WowBatangas.

The inside of Don Juan’s restaurant is patterned from the old houses of Taal. Don Juan is a restaurant that brings the family together in one meal and they encourage eating with bare hands, which is as Pinoy at it comes. Not only that, barkadas and group of friends and tourists will also enjoy dining here.

Contact Information:
Telephone: (043) 302-2486 , (043) 740-1828
Moblie: 0922-803-8855
Address: Calle J. W. Diokno St. Taal, Batangas 4208 Besides Taal, Public Market
For more information, visit their website:

And more food articles at

Written by: Maria Celina Valencia
Photos by: Nicole John Martinez

WOWBatangas Team – JR Cantos, Maria Celina Valencia, Andrea Josa Suazo, and Nicole John Martinez

St. Martin of Tours

St. Martin of Tours

The Cavalier

By: Crystal April R. Valencia


November 11 a noted date for Taalenos. This date is big event for a religious activity celebrated by the town. 4:00 am in the morning the town is banged with  a marching band roaming around the Taal town proper itself. 4:30 AM mass starts the celebration, followed by the 7:30 AM Mass and the High Mass of The Con-celebrated Mass at 9:30 AM.  After the con – celebrated mass it became a tradition in Taal organized by Mr. Michael Villano  a parade of St. Martin of Tours “The Cavalier” followed by horses, starting at the Taal Social Plaza going to the church down going to the National road for the  Horse Race.



At 4:30 PM, another con – celebrated Mass is being done followed by the Grand Procession of The Patron St. of Taal St. Martin of Tours.  A procession (French procession via Middle English, derived from Latin, processio, from procedere, to go forth, advance, proceed) is an organized body of people walking in a formal or ceremonial manner. It is also a way of Taalenos showing their faith and devotion for their patron saint, it is also their way of thanking St. Martin of Tours for the blessings and everything.

After the sacred procession is done, a fireworks display is being done sponsored by the “HERMANO/HERMANA” of the Feast Day of St. Martin of Tours. (Hon. Mayor Michael Montenegro) together with his family is the sponsor of this year’s Feast Day of St. Martin of Tours.