The Heritage Town


RBT’s 50th Anniversary


Rural Bank of Taal, Inc. celebrated their fifty golden years of efficient service to the Taaleños last December 5, 2013 at Escuela Pia, Taal Cultural Center.  It was on December 5, 1963 when the Rural Bank of Taal, Inc. was weaned from the original Rural Bank of Taal-Lemery, Inc. founded in 1957.


For more photos, please visit:

Mutya ng Batangas 2013



Congratulations to Mutya ng Taal Lyza Dianne Hernandez for taking home the 2013 crown of Mutya ng Batangas. It was a well-deserved win!

1st Runner-up – Padre Garcia – Janna Erra Perez
2nd Runner-up – Agoncillo – Aziel Joy De Sagun
3rd Runner-up – Lipa – Louisa Mae Laylo
4th Runner-up – Lobo – Krissandra Marie Abel

Stay tuned at for our write-up, complete coverage photos and some video clips of the pageant. Good night and good morning Batanguenos!


Prelude to Mutya ng Batangas 2013: Looking Back at the Past Mutyas



In a country where beauty pageant is considered like a Manny Pacquiao boxing match, there is such a strong wave of fanaticism in ladies contending for a beauty queen title.

Winning a beauty pageant comes with fame in all forms, a bragging right, an extended title before your name instead of just “Miss”, and at times the challenge to prove to everyone that you’re more than just a pretty face.

For the countless times that we have featured beauty pageants around the province, we have witnessed quite a lot on Batangas pageantry. With that, we know how Batangueños take precious time to rummage on the photos we publish and voice out their no-holds-barred comments. We’ve seen a lot of those, particularly in the province’s much awaited pageant each year, the Mutya ng Batangas.

Formerly known as Mutya ng Lalawigan ng Batangas and Mutya ng Batangan, the pageant is where ladies from different cities and municipalities of the province vie for the crown and be hailed as Batangas’ finest lady. This is where pageant veterans and amateurs contend in various competitions that may lead them to grab at least a spot in the finals.


In 2009, we witnessed how Disayrey Sayat of Batangas City outwit the rest of her co-candidates. It seemed like the stars were aligned in her favor that night as her beauty and intelligence got the people cheering. The Mutya ng Lalawigan ng Batangas title went to the much deserving, Disay.

The following year, a towering beauty from Balayan proved that even though she was born to a foreigner father, a true Batangueña lives within her. Juliana Kapeundl was among the candidates who gave us strong recall because of her last name and her stature. All of the finalists gave each other tough competition but Juliana brought home the crown as Mutya ng Batangan 2010.

More Batangueñas continue to live the dream of becoming a beauty queen. In 2011, 28 candidates vied for the Mutya ng Batangan title. But Rose Pujanes of Sto. Tomas stood above the rest and won the pageant. Earlier this year, she competed in Bb. Pilipinas, the same batch as Miss Universe 2013 3rd Runner-Up, Ariella Arida.

In 2012, the pageant officially became Mutya ng Batangas. It was the year when San Pascual’s darling, Darlene Reyes, won the crown. Throughout the competition, Darlene showed her grace, confidence, and intelligence, which made most people believe that she might bring home the title. And she did.

This year, 23 candidates are vying for the Mutya ng Batangas 2013 crown. The swimsuit competition is done and Miss Padre Garcia, Janna Erra Perez, won Best in Swimsuit.

Meanwhile, catch the talent competition scheduled on December 5, 6pm at the Batangas City Convention Center. Who will be the Best in Talent this year? Any bet?

And of course, you wouldn’t want to miss the coronation night on December 6, 7pm at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum. Be there as a new Mutya ng Batangas takes the crown.


Results of the Beauty Pageant –

Congratulations to Mutya ng Taal Lyza Dianne Hernandez for taking home the 2013 crown of Mutya ng Batangas.  She is really gorgeous and it was a well-deserved win!  Bakit kaya magaganda ang mga binibini sa Taal?

1st Runner-up – Padre Garcia – Janna Erra Perez
2nd Runner-up – Agoncillo – Aziel Joy De Sagun
3rd Runner-up – Lipa – Louisa Mae Laylo
4th Runner-up – Lobo – Krissandra Marie Abel

Taal celebrates heritage with photo contest

Posted at 11/03/2013 6:57 PM | Updated as of 11/03/2013 7:01 PM

MANILA — The Taal Alliance Active Legion has launched a photo contest to celebrate the heritage, culture and beauty of Taal, Batangas.

The town of Taal is a must-visit for lovers of Philippine history and heritage architecture, which includes the biggest Catholic church in Asia, the Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours, as well as preserved and restored homes of families who helped during the Philippine revolution against Spain.

The group also mentioned native products such as coffee, which was responsible for the wealth of Batangas province in the 18th century; folding knives in Brgy. Balisong; and the burdang Taal, which features intricate patterns on pinya (pineapple leaves) fabric.

“There is also the well of the Our Lady of Caysasay, a pilgrimage site for Marian devotees,” the group added.

All photos must have been taken in Taal on November 10 or 11, 2013. All entries must be personally submitted by the photographer by 6 p.m. of the shooting day. (i.e. 6 p.m. of November 10 for photos taken on November 10 and 6 p.m. of November 11 for photos taken on November 11).

The Taal Active Alliance Legion is composed of heritage advocates for the promotion of Taal town in Batangas Province.

For more information, visit the Facebook page “Taal Heritage Town Photo Walk” or call or send an SMS to                     09178764372.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Basilica San Martin de Tours. Photo from the Facebook page of Taal Heritage Town Photo Walk

The House on Marella Street

A revolutionary icon continues to tell her story through a beautifully restored home showcasing period pieces against a backdrop of contemporary artistry.

The original tin ceiling from Europe was retained, as well as the decorative crystal chandelier ventilation
The original tin ceiling from Europe was retained, as well as the decorative crystal chandelier ventilation

To push open the metal-crafted gates of Casa Villavicencio in the town of Taal, Batangas, is to raise the curtains on a period of romance, revolution, and patriotic impulse. The brief walk across the red clay of the zaguan (porch)where horse carriages and church carosas used to park draws out one awestruck thought: history was made here. We pause on the descanso (landing area), as the heavily clothed guests of yesteryear must have done, our breathing affected not by the steep stairway but by the dignity of the structure.


Today, the casa is the most prominent domain on a street that is named after its mistress, Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio. The main house, a geometric bahay-na-bato (traditional Spanish colonial house), was built some time before 1850, and the adjacent house was built two decades later as a wedding present to 19-year-old Gliceria from her husband Eulalio. At the time, the gift house stood on top of a hill and commanded a glorious view of Balayan Bay. It was made from narra and mulawin, the period’s most sought-after hardwood. Six children—Jose, Mariquita, Vicenta, Rita, Sixto, and Anton—were raised there.

The antesala (anteroom) has huge windows for better air
The antesala (anteroom) has huge windows for better air

Our guide, Juliet Villar, directs our attention towards the main double doors, the original reddish narra perfectly preserved, having frames tall enough to let carriages in. To our right, the doors are made of galvanised-iron sheets that were installed as a precaution in the 1990s. These doors were commissioned to a carver from Quezon by Ernesto Fajardo Villavicencio (a descendant of Sixto) and his wife, Ria Benedicto-Villavicencio. “They [the doors] cost eighty-thousand pesos,” Villar divulges, before pointing to a land title that announces the original cost of the 6,375-square-metre property: 930 Philippine pesos.


Villavicencio adds that the exterior of the existing house used to be painted a mustard yellow, commonly used in government buildings. “When we chipped off the layers of paint on the ventanilla (window) panel, we found the original pigment to be a lighter lemon yellow with green accents.” Thus, they painted the acanthus leaves adorning the windowsills a cheerful mint green.


A little farther upward, we come upon the entrasuelo, which used to be a mezzanine storage area for rice bins, jars, and chests. It is a new bedroom with an en suite bathroom. The split-bamboo flooring has been preserved. Villar leads us up the stairway, which in the old days was held together by wooden pegs. After the 1997 restoration, it is a much safer climb. Still we hold on to the pumpkin-shaped barandillas (wooden balusters) and upon Juliet’s suggestion, test the staircase against the oro, plata, mata (gold, silver, death) superstition. “The topmost rung had to coincide with oro or plata to attract good luck,” says Villar.

The barandillas (wood blusters) with a typical kinalabasa (pumpkin or squash-shape) were common in Taal
The barandillas (wood blusters) with a typical kinalabasa (pumpkin or squash-shape) were common in Taal

Fortune or no, one thing was certain: the local revolution flourished on Villavicencio’s watch. Gliceria’s efforts were instrumental in putting up the Maluya Batalan, a battalion that played a pivotal role in the surrender of Spanish forces in Batangas, Tayabas, Capiz, Panay, and Iloilo. Her husband later joined the propaganda movement, travelled to Hong Kong, and contributed 18,000 pesos to the publication of novels like the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, the newspaper La Solidaridad, and the by-laws of La Liga Filipina.


Five years later, in 1896, the Spanish generals in charge of military operations in Batangas and Cavite converted the gift house into a personal residence and military office, forcing Gliceria and Eulalio to move back into the ancestral house. We step into its sala (living room), which features the original calado, cut out in the shapes of plants for ventilation. The crystal chandeliers remain decorative. Gliceria and Eulalio gaze upon us through their portraits, which are reproductions of the original art by Juan Luna.


In her lifetime, Gliceria stayed in this room to keep an eye on her ships, which would sail out on rice and commodity trading trips and dock at Balayan Bay. By the huge, capiz-filled windows, she and her daughters Mariquita and Vicenta sewed the first Filipino flag to be raised in the province of Batangas. Some of the original furniture remains: a spindle-type cane chair for three, a side table with French rococo lines, and a Victorian-aged piano. Villar says the Villavicencios preferred to use lightweight pieces in the living room so they could be moved to the side on special occasions. “This room was often used for dances and tertulias (get togethers). Friends would gather here to discuss art, music, politics, religion, and current events.”


Next, we squeeze into the galleria volada, a covered narrow passageway that runs behind the bedrooms and faces the street. We imagine the Villavicencio children spending their afternoons here, doing embroidery work or watching people and fiesta processions. From the galleria, we are able to manoeuvre our way into the master bedroom, which has a mirrored aparador (cabinet) and dresser. The 1930s cast-iron tub has been re-glazed, and a kamagong four-poster bed has been added to the room. “The four-poster is made in the design of Ah-Thay, a Chinese craftsman who became popular during the Spanish period,” says Villavicencio.


In the dining room, the old narra flooring has been replaced by recycled mulawin from the 1970s. In its heyday, this area was kept cool by the presence of a well underneath the adjoining azotea. The long dining table was made in Bohol and acquired from an antique dealer in Quezon, while the long benches are the same ones farmers used to sit on when bringing their harvests through the main entrance. We admire the vajillera (glass cabinet), mesa platera (silverware cabinet), and trinchante (serving shelf), which are all original to the house. Finally, there is a beautiful painting of the Taal Basilica from the early 1900s.

Villavicencio's fully-restored black 1949 Plymouth sedan
Villavicencio’s fully-restored black 1949 Plymouth sedan

Villar saves the best for last. She walks to the end of the room and lifts the floor boards to reveal the bodega (dungeon) of the ancestral house, rattling off the names of the men who held council there: Andres Bonifacio, Feliciano Jocson, Vito Bellarmino, Felipe Calderon, Miguel Malvar, Eleuterio Marasigan. “They would talk inside a huge bamboo bin with dimmed lights, away from the prying eyes of the Spanish authorities in the next house,” Villar narrates, thrilling us to the bone.


Though the story did not end well for Eulalio, who was imprisoned in Old Bilibid for a year before his death, Gliceria and her children continued to safeguard the cause of Philippine freedom, sheltering Filipino soldiers and making generous contributions to local industries. It is only fitting for the house to have in its address the name of the woman Emilio Aguinaldo called the “Madrina-General de las Fuerzas Revolucionarios” (the godmother of the revolutionary forces), and it is a privilege to have been invited into her home. “We restored the house for the simple purpose of using it and preserving it for the next generation, but every day brought new discoveries about Gliceria and Eulalio, and it became a fulfilling experience for everyone involved,” Villavicencio says. “We are happy to share their story with anyone who knocks on our doors.”


Photography by Albert Labrador | Printed in Philippine Tatler Homes Volume 6

Taal photo contest set


(The Philippine Star) | Updated October 27, 2013 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A photo contest will be held during the fiesta of San Martin de Tours on Nov. 10-11 in the heritage town of Taal in Batangas.

This is a must-visit for lovers of Philippine history, heritage architecture, fans of Philippine Revolution culture, burdang Taal, Taal’s local delicacies, balisong, and the historic Taal Basilica and Our Lady of Caysasay Church.

The photo contest is organized by a non-profit group, the Taal Active Alliance Legion (T.A.A.L.), composed of heritage advocates for the promotion of tourism in Taal.

For more information, visit the Facebook page “Taal Heritage Town Photo Walk” or call/send an SMS to Benj at 0917-8764372.

‘Balikbayan’ architect gives Taal ‘bahay na bato’ a new life

With interesting structures such as Villa Severina, this quaint Batangas town becomes a heritage destination



3:27 am | Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

OUTDOOR LIVING. Simple spare shapes characterize the kubo, with ’50s dining table from Taal, rattan armchair and Maguire cane-back chairs. They pop out against the red flooring.

At Villa Severina in Taal, Batangas, the traditional and the modern happily co-exist in style.

The owner, architect Robert Arambulo, demonstrates how to create visual interest  using unexpected elements.

For instance, would you expect to find Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chairs and a Philippe Starck lamp in a quaint, old, but historic Batangas town?

With a degree in Architecture from the  University of Southern California, Arambulo worked for architectural companies in Los Angeles. He then moved to Singapore in 1996.

“I had my own company design group,” he says. “We did mostly hotels and resorts. Most of our projects were in Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and India. I wanted to move back to the Philippines so I sold part of my directorship.”

In 2007, Arambulo decided to retire partially from the Miaja Design Group in Singapore. In Batangas, he revisited old haunts.

When he was a child, Arambulo would spend Christmas and fiestas in the ancestral home of his buddy, Tony Alcasid (older brother of singer Ogie Alcasid).

VILLA Severina retains the timeless elegance of the trusses, the yakal staircase and balusters.

On a trip to Taal, he discovered a bahay na bato (a colonial house made of adobe on the ground floor and hardwood on the second floor) built in the 1870s. Although part of the stonework was in shambles, the wood was still intact and beautiful.

He bought the house and gave it a facelift by replacing the masonry, painting the rooms with bright colors and providing theme rooms.

The house was renamed Villa Severina, after the former owner, Severina Atienza.

“My design philosophy is to combine East and West, antique and contemporary,” says. Arambulo. “I did that for this house. My intention was to run it as a bed-and-breakfast. Like a boutique hotel, it should look stylish while retaining the Philippine architectural heritage.”



PERSIMMON and celadon stripes give the room a modern feel even amid the antiques in the Pondicherry room.

Arambulo kept the façade in classic white, gray and chocolate brown. He also kept the tree trunks which served as structural posts.

Although he had wanted to retain the original adobe masonry, he still had to mix in lime powder and cement for structural safety.

Villa Severina is furnished with pieces collected by Arambulo through the years from his travels. “I stick more to the mid-century, from the ’30s to the ’40s. I don’t have too many carved things,” he says.

Past the massive molave doors, the visitor is pleasantly surprised to see a contemporary sofa by Budji Layug set under an abstract diptych by Ivan Acuña.

In one section of the ground floor, Arambulo built a rustic kitchen with an antique balayong dining table from Taal as the focal point. Although the cabinets are modern, they look like traditional French windows. “I like country living,” he says.

A statue of Sta. Rosa de Lima, patron saint of Arambulo’s grandparents, stands on a wooden pedestal underneath the  yakal staircase. It is believed to protect the house.

On the second floor, Arambulo discarded the walls that divided the caida or landing area and the sala, opening up space that becomes the starting point for a relaxed, modern look. The walls are painted in pale neutral color.ANTIQUE center table from France coexists with Budji Layug’s sofa. Ivan Acuña’s abstraction adds color to the masonry.In keeping with the period look, Arambulo used Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chairs, designed in the ’20s, which were made from an old chest in Taal. Their off-white leather upholstery, looking chic, highlights the red tones of the adjacent Chinese wedding cabinet on which the plasma TV is placed.Portuguese armchairs from Singapore, which comprised a mid-century living room set from Taal, and oval-back Empire chairs are unified by their soft lines and wood tones.

A Philippe Starck plexiglass lamp lightens up the wood tones. Books on the Korean dining table serve as decor.

“I’m not into heavy ancestral antiques,” says Arambulo. “It’s the blend that makes them look interesting.”

The walls are lined with portraits, such as those of his grandparents, Luisa and José Arambulo, which greet visitors by the staircase.

Old World feel


THE OPEN space is airy, bright and has no clutter.

The bedrooms’ design concept had been inspired by his trips to former French colonies. The Hanoi room has Asian elements—chartreuse walls and silk pillows, modern paintings by Vietnamese artists and bedspreads from India.

In the Martinique room, he recreates an island look with a sunset painting on the ceiling, a bamboo four-poster bed, floral fabrics on the bolsters and a French side table with carved legs. A trompe l’oeil of French coffers further lends a European touch.

The villa’s largest bedroom retains the Old World feel with the adobe walls and exposed trusses. The reflective surfaces of the gilt bed frame, discovered in an antique shop, and a hand-silvered metal side table provide a foil to the roughness of the masonry.

A working corner is painted with stripes of celadon and persimmon. The colors suggest Pondicherry, a heritage town in Northern India that was colonized by the French. (Arambulo says the main character in “The Life of Pi” is supposed to have come from the place.)

The ornately carved black frames made from lahar blend with the curvy silhouettes of the French writing table and round-backed chair.

“Hanoi, Pondicherry and Martinique in the French Caribbean have stuck in my mind,” the architect says. “I find them romantic and idyllic in their simplicity. Hanoi is a mix of Asian and

“MAINTAIN the concept of what you want to express,” says Arambulo. The main room is adorned withmid-century pieces and some antiques, unified by their lines and color tones.

European culture. In Pondicherry, I was surprised to see the only French colony in India. Of all the many places I’ve visited, this one stuck because it’s where an artist would live.”

Of Martinique, he says that Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, came from there. He said the Caribbean island has many old French structures and a chateau.

Arambulo says that even in the United States, his aesthetic has always been eclectic—combining periods, styles and textures with seamless grace.

“There has to be a design intent and a  controlled selection of elements,” he explains. “The stripes on the wall can make a room feel small. But with bold colors, strong linear designs and some baroque (elements), the space becomes interesting.”

Today he enjoys life as Taal’s tourism officer. “With my architectural background, I can contribute to preserving the heritage structures and helping to promote Taal,” he says. “I am happy with this move. I enjoy showing people Taal through our eyes.”

Taal Lake Fest 2013

Taal Lake Fest 2013, September 7 will be the Socio-Cultural part of the festivities around Taal Lake.  For the second time, the municipality of San Nicolas will be the hub of these activities which include the launching of the photo contest, food and trade fair which would last till the following day.  The following day,  participants in the fluvial procession around Taal Volcano is expecting to start as early as 4:00 am.

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After the fluvial procession, the Eucharistic sacrifice will follow at the covered court with the theme, “Through Mother Mary of Lake Taal, Faith and Total Progress for Stewards of God’s Creation”. This would be participated in by the Municipal Mayors of the towns surrounding the Lake.

Taal’s 19th-century house: History made interesting

Built by the family that helped finance the Philippine Revolution, it survives to this day and helps draw tourists to this heritage town in Batangas


1:22 am | Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

THE CAIDA (foyer after the grand staircase) at Casa Villavicencio has the tumba-tumba, or the Philippine rocking chair, which is bigger than the American rocking chair, and capilla, or long bench, a staple.

CUTWORK transom with gold leaf welcomes guests in Casa Villavicencio. Bedroom has silla Americana (rocking chair) and classic four-poster bed. NELSON MATAWARAN

In the early 1870s, the wedding of Don Eulalio Villavicencio and his niece Gliceria Marella was likened to the merger of two big corporations. Both hailed from Taal’s wealthiest families, with businesses in shipping and sugar.

In the 19th century, Batangas sugar was considered one of the best in the country. At the end of the milling season, boats came loaded with money in sacks.

People would bring the sacks to the house and lay them out on a mat. It would take them two weeks to count the money and roll them up. Whoever came to the house was asked to help out.

“The rich didn’t have to work,” says Martin Tinio, co-author of the coffee-table book “Philippine Ancestral Houses.” “There were fiestas every month in every town. The well-to-do attended nine-day novenas, went to picnics, danced, rested. That was the life of the haciendero.”

Don Eulalio’s family lived in a house that was built in the 1850s.

Financing the Revolution

TROMPE L’OEIL simulates marble cornices. Chairs have carvings of Philippine fruits.PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN

For his young bride, he built a house next door which was connected to his parents’ house by a bridgeway. Built in 1872, the new house was called Casa Regalo de Boda or the Wedding Gift House—which has now been restored by Tinio.

The Villavicencios are mentioned in history books for having helped finance the Philippine Revolution. Don Eulalio even went to Hong Kong to give José Rizal P18,000 for his propaganda literature.

He came back with banned publications and was later charged with sedition. He fell ill at Fort Santiago where he was imprisoned.

A famous account says the Spaniards offered to release Don Eulalio in exchange for information about the Katipunan. His wife, Doña Gliceria, it is said, refused, saying that she carried his surname and didn’t want to betray him and his cause.

After two years, Don Eulalio was released. But his condition worsened since he had contracted tuberculosis. He died at home after three months.

His death motivated Doña Gliceria to support the Katipunan. Not only did she give monetary aid, she also used the older

Villavicencio house as meeting place of Andres Bonifacio and Gen. Miguel Malvar. She donated a ship which transported soldiers, armament and food between Batangas and Manila.

During the proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo bestowed on her the title “Matriarch of the Revolutionary Forces.”

She died in 1929 at age 77.

THE KITCHEN of the first Villavicencio home with dapugan, or open stove, and the stairwell leading to the stables.

Five lots

The Wedding Gift House, says Tinio, “is the only house I know which is composed of five lots—one garden for one house, and another garden for the other house. These houses were linked by a bridge. The garden had a fountain with giant clamshells.”

Wedding Gift House living room with trompe l’oeil of marble and fleur-de-lis patterns.

Tinio notes that in that era in the Philippines, the Wedding Gift House was the only one with window grills on the second floor that had a bloated silhouette called “rehas na buntis.”  The balconies were also shaped like a squash.

A sign of wealth was the variety of colors and patterns. The facade stood out for its yellow ochre and indigo tones. When one looked at the stenciled patterns dominating the interiors, one could only imagine the enormous amount of paint used. But that didn’t matter to the wealthy owners.

The ground floor, or entresuelo, featured patterned tiles from Spain. When the house was renovated six years ago, the tiles were reproduced by Mariwasa.

The tindalo staircase led to the caida or antesala, the transition space to the living room. It was called caida, which meant “to drop,” because when women climbed the stairs, they had to hold up their skirts and dropped them only upon reaching the caida.

Floral patterns

IN THE living room of Wedding Gift House, the curlicues on the wall are inspired by the baptistry in a Pakil Church. It has ‘Louis XV’ furniture, the sillion (armchair with curved back), American chairs and chandelier from India.

In renovating the house, Tinio derived the curlicues and floral patterns for the stenciled walls from a pattern book published in the 1870s. In some parts of the house, the patterns were inspired by an old church and convent.

The caida now has Art Nouveau furniture with carved faces by sculptor and decorator Emilio Alvero. It is also decked with sillas Americanas, or American chairs.

At the turn of the 20th century, these chairs were assembled in the same way the Ikea chair is put together today. The sillas Americanas were considered the Monobloc chairs of their time, given their ubiquitous presence, says Tinio.

For the comedor, or formal dining room, Tinio had the narra chairs drawn from the turn-of-the-20th-century designs of sculptor Isabelo Tampinco. “The carvings of cashews, bananas and guavas on the crests were appropriate for this room,” he says.

In the old days, mirrors were imported from Vienna, which held the monopoly of the glass industry.

WEDDING Gift House bedroom with diamond patterns on the wall and stenciled flowers from a Pakil building. The patterns were inspired by a convent bedroom in Pakil.


Today, the repros of Viennese mirrors are eye-stoppers and make the expansive living room feel more intimate.


These big homes had a dispensa, or pantry. “If you were rich, you didn’t shop. When the shipment arrived, you would get the first choice before the goods were displayed in the shops. There was a selection of wines, chorizos, turrones, walnuts, jamon. These foods were locked up in the dispensa,” says Tinio.

My City, My SM, My Crafts: Buli, balisong, and Burdang Taal in Batangas

(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 25, 2013 – 12:00am


Batangas City Mayor Eddie Dimacuha and wife  Vilma are warmly welcomed to the “My City, My SM, My Crafts” launch by SM VP for marketing Millie Dizon (right) and SM City Batangas mall manager Rosalinda Gabriel.

MANILA, Philippines – Batangueños are called Super Tagalogs, a term coined by historian Maria Kalaw Katigbak to describe their rather over-the-top way of doing things. In Philippine mythology, the first man and woman, Malakas and Maganda, emerged from bamboo. But Batangueños went one step further — they have a very prosperous bamboo-based industry with houses and furniture. They can even cook food in bamboo.

Just as they are passionate about their history and business, Batangueños are also passionate about their arts and crafts.

From buli weaving in Isla Verde to balisong making and intricate embroidery in Taal to handmade paper crafts and sugarcane leaf décor in Tuy to handmade decorative candles in Calatagan to religious images in Santa Teresita, Batangas has so much to offer and be proud of.

This is what mallgoers discovered when “My City, My SM, My Crafts” recently made its third stop at SM City Batangas. A joint project of SM, DTI’s Bureau of Domestic Trade, and the Philippine STAR with support from CITEM and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, it is a celebration of traditional arts and modern Philippine design in the cities where SM has malls.

Batangas City Mayor Eddie Dimacuha and his wife former Mayor Vilma Dimacuha graced the event together with Nora Montenegro, wife of Taal Mayor Michael Montenegro, and DTI Batangas provincial director Ruel Gonzales. The Department of Tourism Batangas provincial head Emily Katigbak and Batangas City head Eduardo Borbon, as well as Batangas Province Cultural and Historical Commission executive director and My City, My SM honoree Atty. Antonio Pastor were also present.

SM vice president for marketing Millie Dizon and SM City Batangas mall manager Lyn Gabriel gave guests a warm welcome. Everyone enjoyed the program, which included a video presentation featuring the crafts of Batangas with Batangas City executive secretary to the Mayor Atty. Reginald Victor A. Dimacuha as guide. Multi-awarded writer, poet and novelist Domingo Landicho read his own poem Batangueño Ala Eh, Ala Hoy.

A fashion show, directed by Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines president Lito Perez, featured exquisite Burdang Taal gowns and barongs.

One of the program highlights was the awarding of the winner of the Best Buli Fan contest with workshop participants in competition. Melanie Cachola’s butterfly fan got the judges’ nod for the top prize, for which she received P5,000 worth of gift certificates.

Judges included world-renowned filmmaker Brillante Mendoza, Taal tourism advocate Dindo Montenegro, visual artist Michael Semana, and DTI Batangas’ Marissa Argente.

But the “My City, My SM, My Crafts” centerpiece was clearly the Craft Market inspired by the traditional Bahay na Bato in Luzon. This beautifully designed showcase was a treasure trove of the best of the best crafts in the province, and was an instant hit among SM City Batangas shoppers.

The Craft Market included buli banig, baskets, and bags woven by the women of Isla Verde, expertly handcrafted balisong from Taal; elegant Burdang Taal pieces, religious images from Santa Teresita, handmade decorative candles from Calatagan, and handmade paper crafts and sugarcane leaf décor from Tuy.

Craft demonstrations by skilled balisong makers and traditional burdang Taal embroiderers likewise delighted mallgoers.

“My City, My SM, My Crafts” is a takeoff from the previous “My City, My SM” campaign, which promotes tourism, and “My City, My SM, My Cuisine,” which highlights the culinary specialties in cities were SM has malls. A celebration of traditional arts and modern Philippine design, it aims to showcase the best of the best Philippine crafts in each host city, providing livelihood opportunities, as well as a platform for cultural exchange.

The Batangas launch is the third in the “My City, My SM, My Crafts” road show after SM City Santa Rosa and SM City Lucena. Next stop will be in SM City Davao.