It is funny how attending a wedding ceremony would suddenly turn into a weekend adventure where I had to do an impromptu research to check on the interesting sites of Talisay and Tanauan.
A leisure drive along the highway, as we headed to Talisay, had me interested with the town of Tanuan when we passed by this huge estate which turned out to be the birthplace of Apolinario Mabini. As much as I wanted to stop and check out the place, I figured that we might be late for the wedding ceremony so I had to forego of the thought. Nevertheless, it did excite me enough to start googling on the interesting sites along the way.
After the wedding reception in Talisay, we made a quick decision to just find a place and spend the night in Talisay. It was a decision that brought out the explorer in me.
Talisay: The Gateway to Taal Volcano
The sleepy town of Talisay may be overshadowed by its neighbour, Tagaytay City as it offers a magnificent view of Taal Volcano, but Talisay serves as the gateway to those intending to see the volcano up close. The town sits conveniently along the shores of Taal Lake which also makes it an ideal location for water sports.
Taal Volcano and Taal Lake
Taal Volcano is touted as the smallest volcano in the world and it is one of the active volcanoes in the country. Although Tagaytay Ridge offers a majestic view of the volcano from above, the town of Talisay offers a more upclose view of the volcano. In fact, the town serves as the jump off point to those intending to trek Taal Volcano. Hiking the trails of Taal Volcano is quite a physical activity but the view of the main crater lake, Yellow Lake, from the volcano’s ridge is rewarding. Hmm… I think I should try hiking Taal Volcano next year.
Taal Lake is the third largest freshwater lake in the country and it was declared a national park in 1967. I admired the stillness of the water in the morning. It also offers a great view of the sunrise. The peace and quiet atmosphere that the lake offers while the rays of the morning sun touches your skin was just bliss.
Talisay Public Market
I have always loved public markets. I seriously think that it is the microcosm of the community and visiting the market gives me the thrill. Talisay is a small community that is void of malls and that gives it the rural charm. If you need anything, the public market is the way to go.
Located along Taal Lake’s shoreline, the Talisay Public Market is one worth visiting. It houses stores that sells most, if not everything, that you need from housewares to the fresh catch from the lake. The market, roughly about 1000 square meters, also sits adjacent to the lake’s walkway that has an amazing view of Taal Lake. One can take a leisurely walk along the platform and enjoy watching people doing their daily chores.
The church was founded in 1892 and serves as one of the tourism centrepieces of the town. However, the church was damaged in 1898 and the current structure was built in 1966 through the efforts of its faithful patrons. The church honors St. William the Hermit as its patron saint.
At present, the church stands beautifully on a small hill at the center of town. Its cream-colored simple façade compliments the wide space that surround the church giving visitors a relaxing feel. At the time of our visit, a wedding was about to start so the whole church was buzzing with activity. An image of St. William the Hermit was placed at the front as the church’s exterior highlight.
Despite the activity, I managed to take a peek inside the church and I was amazed at the grand design of the church’s interiors with its high ceilings and stained-glass windows. The gold-colored retablo at the church’s altar is the highlight of the church with St. William as its centrepiece.
Tanauan: Cradle of Noble Heroes
It was hard to miss Tanauan on our way to Talisay. The huge estate dedicated the Apolinario Mabini was enough for me to keep a mental note of the place, knowing my interest in Philippine history. So as we headed back to Manila, we decided to make a quick stop in Tanauan.
Tanauan was once a community situated along the shores of Taal Lake but a massive eruption of Taal Volcano in 1754 destroyed the town which resulted to the relocation of the town to its present location. It has earned the monicker of “Cradle of Noble Heroes” because it is the hometown of two great Filipinos – Apolinario Mabini and Jose Laurel.
Apolinario Mabini Shrine
Tucked along the Talisay-Tanauan Road is a huge estate dedicated in honor of the Apolinario Mabini, the country’s first Prime Minister. The estate in Talaga, Tanauan was the birthplace of Mabini and now also serves as the final resting place of his remains. He was a revolutionary leader, a lawyer, an educator, and a statesman who was fundamental in the drafting of the Malolos Constitution.
One thing that will catch your attention is the whitewashed building as the center of the compound. This serves as a museum where it showcases the story of Mabini and the revolution. It also displays some of the personal belongings of Mabini, including the coffin that was used to transfer his remains from Manila to Talaga. The tomb is found just right in front of the museum. The museum is also used for temporary exhibits of artworks of Filipino artists.
On one side of the compound is a replica of the house where Mabini was born. The house is a typical nipa hut made from palm leaves.
Jose Laurel’s House
Just within the main street in the Tanauan is a house where another great Filipino was born – Jose P. Laurel. He served as the country’s President of the Second Philippine Republic under the Japanese leadership. Although, some may argue his loyalty at the time of war, Former President Laurel had always been pro-Filipino by heart. I think he had to do what he had to do during the Japanese occupation to alleviate the plight of Filipinos. He is known to be the only Philippine President who served in the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches of the government.
I only had the opportunity to see his birthplace in Tanauan from outside the gates as permission is needed to enter the compound and the house.
Simbahan ng Tanauan
Established in 1584, the first church of Tanauan was built near the lakeshore of Taal but the destruction of the town during the volcano’s prompted the relocation of the whole town, including the church. A new church was built on its present site in 1881 but was severely damaged in 1944 during World War 2. The church was again re-built in 1948.
The grand exterior of the church is something that will definitely catch your attention. The twin belfry stands out in Tanauan’s skyline. The church has a total of 8 stained-glass windows on its façade which makes it really look grand when viewed from the outside.
The church is remarkably huge with its high ceilings. Unlike the conventional churches that we see in the Philippines, the altar does not have any retablo but it is highlighted by huge stained-glass window give it a more modern look. The minimalist approached worked very well for the church.
One of the unique features of the church is the life-size Stations of the Cross in its garden surrounding the structure. The touch of spirituality and nature is a good way to meditate. It was nice to just feel the peace and tranquillity of the church in the midst of the trees.
Old Municipal Hall of Tanauan
Just right across the Tanauan Church is the Old Municipal Hall of Tanauan. This pre-war structure was once the seat of the local government of Tanauan. It was destroyed during World War 2 and was later rebuilt. At present, it now houses the city’s library and museum where memorabilias of prominent Tanauenos.
Unfortunately, the museum was closed during the time of our visit.
President Jose Laurel’s Final Resting Place
It was amusing that we were heading off to the public cemetery to cap off our visit in Tanauan. I was interested to visit the final resting place of former President Jose Laurel. Interestingly, the crypt was void of any fancy and it is located in the public cemetery of Tanauan.
If you ask around the cemetery, locals are aware of the place and they are willing to direct you to the actual burial place.
Post Travel Notes:
Our quick trip to Talisay and Tanauan was a trip that gave me the quick thrill of history. It was a nice experience to be spontaneous during quick trips as it gives you a couple of surprises and learnings along the way. Make sure that you always take the opportunity to explore and who knows you might just find something interesting in the process.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.