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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Places to Visit in Quezon, Laguna and Batangas for a day

From Bicol, a Southern Tagalog trip is feasible if you leave by night and arriving early to your first destination. Here's the catch though, take a bath at night because the moment you wake up, your off to your first tourist destination. 

Here are at least four destinations on the map (A to D) that you can reach in a day that I was able to do, shopping included, in Marikina's rival when it comes to affordable but quality fashion. Hope this itinerary works for you too.

We left Naga at 10PM and arrived in Lucena (Junction) going to Tayabas as early as 4am for breakfast. From there, we traveled to Lucban for Kamay ni Hesus as our first destination and dozed off a little and waited for 7AM for the gates to open (See photo below for grotto and mass schedule). I already wrote a blog about Tayabas, Quezon entitled 3 Things You Can Do in an Hour in Tayabas, Quezon. You can also visit Taal, Batangas for a day should you wish to continue this itinerary the following day. CLICK HERE for a possible itinerary for a day in Taal, Batangas.

1. Kamay ni Hesus Shrine. Lucban being known for Pahiyas Festival, is also now a sought-after pilgrimage destination known for its miraculous healing masses. The hill that leads to the Risen Christ statue on top paves the way for Catholics to go through the Stations of the Cross from the base. Thousands of Catholics flock here during the Holy Week and yes I have seen how big the crowd can be during those days. Been here twice, photos below was on lean months but flow of tourists / pilgrims is indeed steady.




The gate of the shrine.

A replica of Noa's Ark. There's a nice clean pond nearby the ark.

The view when you reach the top of the grotto.

Buy Lucban Longanisa, priced per dozen, plus many other local delicacies and souvenir items you can find outside the gates of the shrine. 
After Lucban Quezon, it's now a scenic, mountain side trip going to Laguna. You can actually add a quick stopover in another church in Majayjay which is equally beautiful with that of the next destination.

2. Red-Bricked Liliw Church in Laguna or St. John the Baptist Church is definitely one of my favorites. The redness of the bricks make it look elegant and rustic at the same time. It's a bit dark inside the church but the light coming from the stained glass windows will actually make it feel more peaceful. Because the church is made of bricks it actually feels a little cold inside. 





Noticed two other prayer rooms on both sides of the church. 



There's a nice museum depicting the history of the church and these volunteers will be there to assist and guide you. There's a very minimal fee. Taking pictures inside the museum is prohibited. 
Entrance to the museum

Buy shoes, sandals, bags in Liliw. Just right outside the street of Liliw Church is a long stretch of shoe stores for men, women and children. I could not even count all of them left and right. Sandals starts as low as P100. Sometimes you'll even see items which you can see in malls but unbranded just yet and way too far from the mall price. So it's a must to hoard este buy shoes when visiting Liliw. For those considering to venture into the business of reselling, you can consider Liliw and just choose among the stores here who can be your supplier. 



3. Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery - We then traveled to Nagcarlan, Laguna to visit this aesthetically beautiful final resting place. The burial site is actually located beneath a church. In history, it was built for funeral masses in 1845 by Franciscans where it paved way for the underground graveyard which is said to be 15 feet below the church. 





There was no "no photography" sign in the crypt, that's why I was able to take photos. But then my colleague told me that it's not allowed according to the caretaker. But if you will, always remember that always practice the NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY when taking pictures of old structures.

First thing that came to my mind is the movie series "Tales from the Crypt-keeper" hahaha
It's also cold inside the crypt, just don't forget to give due respect to the place. 

There's also a museum at the left side of the gate with an audio visual presentation about the history of the underground cemetery. The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

4. National Shrine of Padre Pio, Sto. Tomas Batangas - The shrine under the Archdiocese of Lipa is around 84 kilometers or an hour and half drive from Metro Manila. From Bicol, upon reaching Sto. Tomas, turn left near the over pass where there's also a signage to guide  you and you can always use Waze or Google Maps. From the main highway it's about only about a kilometer or two. Same as Kamay ni Jesus in Lucban, the Padre Pio Shrine is also flocked by Pilgrims especially during the Holy Week season.

 There are two main domes where masses are held, this one is near Mary, of Mother of Mercy Belfry and the other one on the side near the parking lot. 
 The other chapel, Divine Mercy Sanctuary for Pilgrims



 Many pilgrims get holy water from this sanctuary. 

So there, we were able to visit these places all in one day. We headed to Lipa City at stayed at Zillion Builders Pavilion and stayed for the night after the long day. Zillion Builders offers a practical alternative to staying in a hotel with basic accommodations including a clean, comfortable place to rest with it's ideal location just right beside SM City Lipa. A single room can accommodate 4 people with two double decks. There are other types of rooms available, you may just visit their website for more details. 

There are many other places in Quezon, Laguna and Batangas that you can surely visit but I can say that this itinerary is very feasible. 

Related links:

3 Things You Can Do in an Hour in Tayabas, Quezon
Places Visit in the Heritage Town of Taal, Batangas

Monday, October 23, 2017

Places to Visit in the Heritage Town of Taal, Batangas


Looking for a heritage town to visit with the feels like that of Vigan in Ilocos? Just around 3 hours away from Manila, the Heritage Town of Taal is an easy place to visit with sights just around a few blocks with each other. 

From Bicol, we actually took the Quezon (Lucban), Laguna (Majayjay, Nagcarlan) and Batangas route (CLICK HERE for itinerary). We left Naga around 10 pm and arrived as early as around 4:30 am in Kamay ni Hesus in Lucban Quezon. This post is only about the Heritage Town of Taal, our DAY 2 ITINERARY. Here are few spots that you can visit for free except for one private museum which is the Galeria Taal.


Taal has a big role in the Philippine Revoluation. There are a lot of Bahay na Batos that you can learn about. You will be able to admire the Filipino-Spanish adobe stone homes with the classic capiz windows, hardwoods flooring and walls plus the antiquity of the fixtures and decors. It's just so nice to see the houses of the important people in Philippine History. Bring your family with you especially the kids, let them learn from the actual places and not only from the books.

Places to visit in Taal Batangas

1. Basilica of St. Martin de Tours
Known as Taal Basilica, this church is the largest in the Philippines and in Asia. At the right side of the church is an equally beautiful building with a very nice facade.

Before you reach the Basilica is a Taal marker (first photo) on the right side and on the other side of the road is the Escuela Pia Taal Cultural Center

 


2. Galeria Taal History and Museum
If you are a professional photographer or a hobbyist like me, this place will be mesmerizing for you. The private collection ranges from different brands from all over the world from the past to the present. Entrance fee for adult is P100 and srudents fee with ID is P50.



3. Leon and Galicano Apacible Museum
“The Apacible Museum, once the ancestral home of Don Leon and Matilde Apacible, stands like a beacon on the main street of the town. Don Leon was Emilio Aguinaldo’s Finance officer and a delegate to the Malolos Congress of 1898. Some notable items on display are blue and white Ming pottery, gilded Florentine wine decanters, a gilt-edge hand-painted Venetian dinner service, 18th -century chandeliers (many more were made in 1870 by M.F. Rachals of Hamburg, Germany) carefully preserved by the Apacibles.” from taal.com.ph





4. Doña Marcela Agoncillo Museum
The house is one of Taal’s oldest, built in the late 17th century by Marcela’s grandfather Andres Mariño. This is the very house that the first Philippine flag was sewn by hand by Marcella Agoncillo.




5. Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay
The image of Our Lady of Caysasay is a small image of the Mary that is smaller than the usual Marian images by only about 2 feet I think. The Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay is built out of coral stones.  The legend goes:  The Virgin’s image was caught in the fishnet of a religious man named Juan Maningkad in 1603 at the Pansipit River (See photo below with mural on the wall of the church depicting the scene of the fisherman).



7. Don Juan Boodle House
Taal is know for their tapa, so this is what I had for lunch. At the Taal Market, they also sell loads of tapa as well as a special type of empanada plus kapeng barako.



There are still a few ancestral houses turned museum under the management of the National Historic Commission that you can visit. You may visit taal.com.ph.

Related links:

Day 1: Places Visit in Quezon, Laguna, Batangas for a Day
3 Things You Can Do in an Hour in Tayabas, Quezon