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:
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 http://wowbatangas.com/ for our write-up, complete coverage photos and some video clips of the pageant. Good night and good morning Batanguenos!
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 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.
With interesting structures such as Villa Severina, this quaint Batangas town becomes a heritage destination
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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 25, 2013 – 12:00am
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.
MIA Protacio at the magnificent Taal basilica. Photo by Nini Hernandez
During the ’90s, the Chinese dragon roared, a communist turned capitalist, and invaded the world’s markets. Many small, export-oriented firms suffered losses, and some folded up.
Among those who felt the dragon’s hot breath, copying this and that design, was Misoromo in Parañaque City, managed by entrepreneur Mia E. Protacio and her mother Soccoro Eusebio-Protacio. They were doing well, turning out angels which sold briskly, especially in preparation for the Christmas trade here and abroad.
Then, to their consternation, they saw many products, cheaper at that, just like their carefully crafted angels, all over the leading department stores. Sales plummeted, Misoromo closed shop, and the Protacios had to raise money just to give their employees separation pay.
Sick at heart, Mia began to question why this had happened. After all, they treated their people well. She was “a good Christian” and all that. Her parents Benjamin and Soccoro comforted her, told her this was all part of the maturity process, and she must start all over again.
And so Mia did, with a vengeance. She turned to decorative lights as a business and, she laughs, “made a deal with the devil,” meaning she was now importing products from China, and using these lights to enhance visual displays of leading boutiques and department stores.
She created a new firm M-Pro Ventures (www.m-proventures.com) and undertook a more ambitious field—architectural lighting to beautify and enhance major establishments and landmarks. She prepared well for this challenge, taking lighting courses in Florence, Italy, and meeting abroad a manufacturer of special lighting fixtures who set up a factory in Metro Manila.
This the renewed, fired-up entrepreneur uses to customize special lights for churches and other places of worship, museums, hotels, homes, office buildings and special projects like monuments.
Her projects have included the BenCab Museum near Baguio City, the RCBC Plaza in Makati City, the luxurious Amanpulo Resort in Palawan, and the magnificent Taal Basilica in Taal, Batangas (and never mind the modern bell tower—constructed, it is said, by the Department of Tourism—which looks like a biberon, a baby-feeding bottle, according to distinguished glass sculptor Ramon Orlina, who is from Taal).
Mia has worked with and gives credit to top architects like Ed Ledesma of Locsin Architecture, Onglao, Mañosa, Calma and Fr. Alex Bautista, an architect of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in charge of church restoration and construction.
Fr. Bautista will be the rector of the St. Josemaria Escriva Parish in Gerona, Tarlac a current project of M-Pro Ventures.
Later this year, the lighting supplier will study advanced lighting in London to keep up with latest trends and technology, especially in church lighting.
“Lighting churches is quite difficult because it takes a lot of humility in doing so,” Mia observes. “It is all about respect for architecture. You are lighting up a place of worship as if there is no light.”
Of all her projects, the San Martin de Tours Basilica in Taal (structure completed in 1865) was the most challenging.
“Lighting is highly visual where there are no hard and fast rules,” she says. “We did not follow lighting places from the consultant. We did a lot of demo and mock-up to finally achieve the desired effect of the rector, Msgr. Fred Madlangbayan, who was educated in Rome and will never settle for anything that’s not at par with the churches in Europe.”
Mia concludes: “It feels good to see a nicely built home with proper lights, like looking at a pretty face with the proper makeup. But it feels great to light up old churches where everybody can fully appreciate architecture, which means culture and history.”
For many people, the name “Taal” would automatically be associated with that small volcano in Batangas found in the middle of the lake that also bears this name. Thus the mention of the existence of a town in Batangas called Taal, from which the volcano and the lake got its name in the first place, should elicit a lot of surprised reactions.
The fact that the volcano and the lake was named after the town underscores the historical and cultural significance Taal has played not only for Batangas, but also for the whole Tagalog region and the country as well that not many people know about. This underrated gem has so much to offer that makes it worth the visit.
A WALK BACK IN TIME
Being a town with more than 200 years of history, Taal bears a rich, unique heritage that has managed to survive and thrive in the face of modernism. The most visible example of this heritage is the presence of many structures, some dating as far back as the late 18th century. Some may be reminded of Vigan with such scenery, but Taal is a bit different in that each of the structures have their own architectural style and look that span time that should delight even those who do not have a trained eye for design.
Historically, Taal has played a prominent role in our history with a number of notable individuals and families who were born or have lived here. There are the Dioknos from which came the senator Jose W. Diokno, the Villavicencios whose matriarch Doña Gliceria contributed significantly to the cause of the Philippine Revolution, and the Agoncillos, particular the couple Felipe, the first Filipino diplomat, and Marcela, who helped make the first Filipino flag. Some of their residences have now been converted into museums that are open for visitors who wish to learn about life in a bygone area. Perhaps the more notable of these museums would be the one used to be owned by the town’s illustrious Ilagan-Barrion family, now converted to become Galleria Taal, the first and only camera museum in the country and in Southeast Asia that is home to hundreds of cameras dating as far back as the 19th century. (all units still in working condition too)
One can also appreciate learning Taal history in a fun way. A visit to Villa Tortuga gives one the opportunity of experiencing history come to life by dressing up in period costumes and have your photos taken there as well. Dress up as a 19th century illustrado or even some infamous Damaso. It’s a different twist to cosplay that should make it an unforgettable experience.
FAITH STANDS HIGH… LITERALLY
Taal may not be popular as a Catholic pilgrimage site, but the presence of Asia’s highest Catholic church, the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours should be worth a visit. The present Baroque-inspired structure was built in 1856, and it is said its towering height symbolizes the Taaleño spirit to rise above adversity as the town has managed to prove many times like in calamities brought about the volcano’s eruptions.
Then there is Taal’s Marian patron, the Our Lady of Caysasay. Believed to be one of the oldest Marian images in the country, the Our Lady of Caysasay also is notable for being the first Marian apparition in the Philippines that was verified by the Vatican. The well where the apparition was said to have occurred is visited frequently these days for its purported miraculous powers and a church was built in the lady’s honor in 1620 which stands to this day.
Many people know very of the balisong, the Philippine butterfly knife, as one of Batangas’ trademark products. But not many know that Taal is actually its birthplace. In fact, it is the town’s barangay named Balisong where much of its production is based, thus the title given to the town as “the balisong capital of the Philippines.”
There is also the “burdang Taal,” the hand embroidery tradition of the town in the making of garments made from pineapple and abaca like the Barong Tagalog. What makes the burdang Taal Barong Tagalog different would be the intricate designs handwoven into the garment, something that has become the template for Barong Tagalog design and would also give Taal a monicker as “the Barong capital of the Philippines.”
As far as culinary delicacies go, Taal has some to boast as well. Some Taal delicacies to try out would be the maliputo, the fish from Taal Lake, the marinated meat products Tapang Taal and Longganisang Taal, and the just-right sweetness of the Sumang Taal. Of course, being in Batangas, one cannot miss out having a drink of hot Batangas coffee more popularly known as the Kapeng Barako.
With so much to offer than what is described within the confines of this article, the best way to appreciate it is a visit to this storied town. Who knows, you may be surprised with what Taal has in store.
From Manila, Taal can be reached by taking the bus headed for Lemery; Taal lies right next to it. One can also take the bus going to Batangas City and drop off at the Tambo exit of STAR Tollway then ride a jeepney going to Lemery.