A Heritage Town Reminiscing History in Taal, Batangas
Amidst the fast phased innovations in the modern society, Taal is one of the few places in the Philippines where history remains alive. Parallel with the meaning of its name “indigenous,” Taal gives accent to historical and cultural preservation in its primacy.
Walking along the streets of Taal would surely take anyone into memory lane recollecting a substantial period in our history: the Spanish Colonization Era. Manifestations of Spanish influences remain truly apparent in this small town of Taal.
Streets of the town are marked by rows of century-old ancestral houses, two-storey structures or Bahay na Bato, that are typically made of stone on the ground floor and wood on the upper level. These houses, in turn, take in features of capiz windows, grand staircases and sets of elegant furniture, adding to the Spanish touch of the design.
Basilica of St. Martin of Tours
At the heart of the town lies another pride of Taal, the world-renowned church, Basilica of St. Martin de Tours. It is dubbed as the largest Catholic Church in the Orient, standing 315 ft. long and 148 ft. wide. Designed by the Spanish architect Don Luciano Oliver, the said Basilica bears resemblance to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It exhibits an architectural masterpiece employing a Baroque style characterized by its grandeur, rich and ornate structure. The facade of the Basilica appears to be very much old, presenting patterns of adobe bricks, columns, grand stairway and a central entrance. The interior of the Church, contrarily, is fully furnished, having delicately carved designs expressing a dramatic sense. Its tabernacle is made of pure silver, adding to its impressive and magnificent structural design.
Near the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours is another historical site in Taal, the Escuela Pia. At present, “Escuela Pia” serves as a cultural center in Taal. At times, it is also used as a venue for public celebrations for Taaleños. Some even consider it as location for holding special private events like debuts, weddings and anniversaries.
Looking at its historical sense, “Escuela Pia” has served as a paradigm of the hulking shadows of the Spanish era. It was a lasting representation of the educational system that the Spaniards brought to the Philippines.
Adjacent to the town plaza is one notable site called Casa Real. It is the municipal government building where all government transactions are made. This structure exhibits a historic design. Erected in 1845, the municipal hall has withstood time and continuously preserves its structure of pre-Filipino and Spanish architectural design.
Leading to another site of Spanish influence is “St. Lorenzo Steps,” also known as “hagdan hagdan.” It is comprised of “125 granite steps,” a path that leads to the Caysasay Shrine, a Catholic institution unmasking the Taaleños’ sense of faith.
Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay
On the other corner of Taal is another centuries-old religious site known for the miraculous apparitions associated with it. According to stories, it is said to be a “provisional chapel,” where the image of the miraculous Virgin of Caysasay was believed to be found. Oftentimes, the Caysasay Shrine is visited by groups of people doing pilgrimages.
Santa Lucia Wells
Built in 1600, the Santa Lucia Wells remains to be a tourist destination in Taal. It is the known “Miraculous Well of Sta. Lucia” where images of Our Lady of Caysasay were believed to be reflected. Since then, many have believed and testified that the water from these wells has miraculous healing and therapeutic powers.
Taal is truly worth a visit. More than all the depictions aforesaid, Taal has, indeed, more features to show off and be proud of. That is why, it is best to visit the town, to grasp a better picture and appreciation of it. With just three to four-hour drive from Manila, one would surely get to taste a journey that would stamp on one’s memory and heart.
By the way Sir Chief and Maya’s wedding will be held here in Taal