Batangas Heritage Experience

TLC Foodsteps 2017: Batangas Heritage Experience and Guide

When I hear the word Batangas, most often than not, what comes to mind are beaches and mountains. I learned that those are not the only reasons for visiting the place all thanks to TLC Foodsteps 2017 by Sky Cable and TLC, channel 62 of Sky Cable.

 

TLC Foodsteps 2017

Together with major sponsors Datu Puti, Mitsubishi, and Goldilocks, they took me and other select bloggers to a foodgasmic trip. Such trip for me on a personal note is a wonderful Batangas heritage experience as it made me appreciate being a Filipino all the more. Thus, I hope that, through this blog post, you will have the burning desire to discover that side of Batangas as well.

Visitors both national and international will certainly help encourage Batangas residents to continue preserving the local architecture, traditions, and cuisine for future generations.

 

For easier navigation, simply click below what you want to read first:

 



Suggested Itinerary of “Batangas Heritage Experience”


6:00 AM – Travel to Batangas.
9:00 AM – Have breakfast at Cafe at the Ranch.
10:15 AM – Visit Galleria Taal.
11:15 AM – See Basilica of St. Martin Tours.
12:00 NN – Have lunch at Feliza Cafe Y Taverna.
1:00 PM  – Explore Taal Town by foot.
3:00 PM -Leave Taal, Batangas.
4:30 PM – Have afternoon snacks at Candlelight Cafe.
5:30 PM – Head back to Metro Manila.

 



Cafe at the Ranch


AddressMGM RANCH AND FARM- Mahabang Ludlod Taal, Batangas.
Operating hours: 10 AM to 7 PM from Mon. to Fri.; and 10 AM to 8 PM on Sat. and Sun.
Contact: +63 906 504 7308. 

 

Mr. Michael Villano, a prominent businessman in Batangas, shared to us that this 1904 bahay na bato was an ancestral house turned into a cafe by her daughter who is a graduate of International Hospitality Management.

Cafe Ranch

bahay na bato literally translates to house of stones. Houses, during the 19th century or Spanish colonial era, were traditionally finished in stone or masonry.

With urban development, quintessential Filipino houses diminished so I appreciate it when owners repurpose it to restaurants. It lets us urban dwellers enjoy it from time to time. At the same time, architectural heritage is well preserved.

Cafe at the Ranch is located inside the MGM farm and, since livestock is raised and grazed, the name easily stuck.

 

When we went there for breakfast, I honestly wasn’t able to dine at the bahay na bato itself.

Cafe at the Ranch

A beautiful setup in a separate covered area was done for bloggers and TLC’s staff. Nevertheless, I was still able to go up the bahay na bato and enjoy it as TLC held activities for us.

 

Cafe at the Ranch

Going up the upper floor, the wide open windows enabled me to view their front yard and also see horses roaming freely at a distance. The lush greenery and fresh air are certainly what we city dwellers need to see and feel once in a while.

 

I wasn’t able to take a proper photo of the main cafe area as there were activities going on and the setup was different from the usual.

Cafe at the Ranch

What I was able to take a photo of is this ranch-themed dining room perfect for those who want exclusivity. A cowhide rug, cowboy accessories, and horse decor hung on the walls. Despite the presence of capiz shell window panes, the ranch theme surprisingly worked well with the ancestral Filipino aesthetics.

 

Traditional Batangueño Breakfast at Cafe at the Ranch

Breakfast at Cafe at the Ranch

The dishes served to us aren’t the cafe’s serving size and usual selection as based on their menu that consists of predominantly Western selection. I appreciate the fact that they went out of their way to serve us traditional Batangueño breakfast dishes. It is also interesting to know that the owner aims to serve all organic meat three to five years from now.

 

Cafe at the Ranch

TABLEA TSOKOLATE

Aside from Davao, Batangas is also known as a producer of cacao in the Philippines. A blend from roasted cacao beans is made into thick disks or tablea which is the Spanish word for tablet. The produced tablea is then boiled to produce a rich, thick blend of hot chocolate that is often served with breakfast since the Spanish era.

Drinking tablea tsokolate is a tradition in Batangas as well as other provinces in the Philippines i.e. Bukidnon, where I got to enjoy it too. So don’t miss enjoying this with your breakfast especially when you’re in Batangas.

 

Cafe at the Ranch

BATANGAS LONGANISA

There are different variations of longanisa which is pork meat wrapped in pork intestine then marinated. I may have eaten the Batangas version when I was younger since we used to travel frequently in the south. However, as I grew older, we never went back to touring Batangas again.

So I’m really grateful that I got to taste Batangas Longanisa via TLC Foodsteps 2017. Eating it was like blindly falling in love. I ignore its looks then I get swept away by its predominant garlicky taste. Found this version to be my new favorite.

 

Cafe at the Ranch

SINAING NA TULINGAN

Tulingan fish or tuna mackerel is widely available in Taal Lake. As such the coastal towns of Batangas came up with a way of cooking it which is the sinaing na tulingan.

The tulingan‘s innards, gills, and tail are properly and carefully removed. Its blood is also washed off and then it is slow cooked with kamias or ginger lily until it is soft. A portion of pork fat is also added for savory flavor.

 

Cafe at the Ranch

CRISPY FRIED TAWILIS

Tawilis fish is a one-of-a-kind freshwater small sardine fish that can only be found in Taal Lake. Most restaurants in Batangas include this dish in their menu.

One of the most popular type of cooking is the crispy fried tawilis. The fish is seasoned with salt and pepper then deep fried with the dredged light batter.

 

Cafe at the Ranch

ADOBO FLAKES ON YELLOW RICE

Pork adobo leftovers can actually be turned into crunchy adobo flakes. I usually eat it with garlic rice but Cafe at the Ranch served it with turmeric rice. It was a pleasant surprise for me since the first and last time I ate turmeric rice was in Batanes. Topped with egg, this rice dish is already a meal in itself.

 

Cafe at the Ranch

TAPANG TAAL

This is another delicacy that shouldn’t be missed when in Batangas. Thinly sliced sirloin is cured in a marinade without drying and then quickly fried. It is paired with a native dipping sauce which is vinegar with onions, calamansi, and chili.

 

Tapang Taal Cooking Demo

Tapang Taal Cooking Demo

As we were busy exploring Cafe at the Ranch after breakfast, I missed the first part of the cooking demo by Mr. Michael Villano himself. He may not be a professional chef but he cooks ever since he was a young single man. Aside from that, his wife doesn’t cook so he cooks at home.

I learned from him that the secret to the tenderness of the tapa is to cook it in a highly heated pan quickly.

 

Tapang Taal Cooking DemoMr. Villano states that those who wants the Tapang Taal to last 2 to 3 days or are planning to commercially sell such should sprinkle little salt as a natural preservative.

 



Galleria Taal


Address60 Agoncillo Street, Taal, Batangas.
Operating hours: 8 AM to 5 PM from Tues. to Sun. Closed on Mondays.
Entrance fee: PHP 100 (or USD 2) per person.
Contact: +63 906 763 2449 or mannyinumerable@yahoo.com.

 

Galleria Taal

After a hearty breakfast, we proceeded to Galleria Taal. It is both a 7-year-old vintage museum and a gallery of Philippine antiquarian photographs housed in a Spanish-era home.

 

Admission here includes a guided tour of the place. When we visited, Ms. Karen Ilagan, a third cousin of the owner and who has been working at Galleria Taal for six years, was our guide. She animatedly discussed interesting information about the cameras and photographs on exhibit.

Galleria Taal

She started explaining the technicalities of using a century studio camera, the 1900-1907 camera often seen in old movies. After a photo is taken, it takes a week to get the photograph. This produces only “8 x 10” and “5 x 7” photograph sizes. Thus, if one wants a bigger photo, one will need to go to studios with cameras as big as rooms.

 

History of Galleria Taal 

Our guide also told us the a brief history of the place.

Galleria Taal

Since 1976,  no one lived in the ancestral home of Domingo and Maria Ilagan. It became a gambling place, a warehouse, a restaurant, and a jueteng safehouse until the grandchild of the owners, Manny Inumerable, reconstructed it.

In March 2010, Galleria Taal opened its doors as an exhibition venue of antique cameras and antiquarian Philippine photographs which it is currently known for.

 

Camera Collection

The camera collection on display is owned by Mr. Manny Inumerable. Meanwhile, rare vintage cameras from the late 1800’s up to late 1900’s mainly compose it. Everything, believe it or not, is in working condition according to our guide. In fact, they use some of the cameras from time to time.

Below are some of the photos that piqued my interest.

Galleria Taal

I can’t imagine myself using this now but I find a twins-len reflex cameras intriguing. One of the lens takes photos and the other is the viewfinder.

 

Galleria TaalThe Hasselblad brand is a Swedish camera maker since 1941.

 

Leica Collection Galleria TaalWhen I saw this Leica collection, I gasped with astonishment. Leica is legendary for having the world’s best lenses and for having iconic cameras. Because of its premium price, I think buying one is out of my options.

 

Galleria Taal

As Nikon was recognized as the European camera of the year in 1984, they made 2000 pieces of this to celebrate.  It is a beautiful 24k gold camera with lizard skin covering its body.

 

Batangas Heritage Experience

Fujifilm made a contribution to Galleria Taal by displaying both their old and new cameras. The cameras on display include a Fujifilm X-A2 and a X-T1 mirrorless cameras. What a nice way of marketing to camera enthusiasts. I personally love the Fujifilm brand so I spent my time staring at this. No worries. I made sure not to drool.

 

1870’s and 1980’s Philippine Photographs and Events

The digitally reproduced photographs hung on the walls are the collection of John Silva, John Terell, George Bonsay, and Sonny Camarillo.

Galleria Taal

This is a photo of how a Filipina used to look before. According to our guide, there is a probability that this woman is posing for his photographer boyfriend. The way she dressed is too revealing and it may as well be considered as a cover photo for a FHM or playboy magazine in the past.

 

Batangas Heritage Experience

Visitors can experience viewing stereoscopic photos with a graphoscope, a 19th century viewing device equipped with a magnifying lens.

 

Galleria Taal

This photo is the execution of Rizal in 1986 by Manuel Arias y Rodriguez. It is considered genuine as there is a dog in the photo and one of the katipuneros wrote in his diary that a dog sniffed the dead body of Rizal. Filipinos also weren’t allowed to go near Rizal.

 

Galleria Taal

After a feast for your eyes, you can relax and have some refreshments at Galleria Taal’s cafe.

 



Basilica of St. Martin Tours


Address: Calle San Martin, Taal, 4208 Batangas.

 

Batangas Heritage ExperienceSitting atop a hill in the heart of Taal, the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours is considered the largest Catholic church in Asia with a length of 96 meters and width of 45 meters. It is designed by a commissioned Spanish architect, Luciano Oliver, who also supervised its construction. With its baroque style architectural elements, it is said that its façade resemble St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. 

 

Batangas Heritage Experience

Women who were selling candles told us of a belief that newcomers who knock on the door thrice can make a wish and it will come true. My new found friend, Jazper Tiongson, a host and vlogger, quickly decided to give it a try.

 

Batangas Heritage Experience

The church interior is in the form of a Latin cross. Once you reach the end, you’ll see its distinct silver tabernacle. The Basilica of St. Martin Tours is often among the most visited churches during lenten season.

 

Batangas Heritage Experience

Looking up the hand painted dome ceiling, I can’t help but notice how intricate the details of it is.

 

Batangas Heritage Experience

Kakanin or Filipino rice cakes are sold just outside the church. It is perfect for a quick snack.

 

Batangas Heritage Experience

Near the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours is a sturdy stone structure that is difficult not to notice. It is Escuela Pia which used to be a school and considered to be one of the oldest educational institutions in the country. Currently, it houses the cultural center of the town – Taal Cultural Center.

 

Batangas Heritage Experience

Just across the church is the Taal Heritage Town proper. Indeed, history buffs visiting the Philippines need not travel as far as Vigan just to learn about the Philippine history during the Spanish colonial period. One can simply walk around the living town that was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute and marvel at the preserved dwellings.

 



Feliza Taverna Y Cafe


Address:  6 F. Agoncillo St. Barangay Poblacion, Taal, Batangas.
Operating hours: 11 AM to 2 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM from Tues. to Thurs.; and 10 AM to 2 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM from Fri. to Sun. Closed on Mondays.
Contact: (043) 740 0113 and felizacafeytaverna@gmail.com.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna

Ms. Beth Angsioco, one of the women behind Feliza Taverna Y Cafe, had Adarna Food and Culture restaurant in Quezon City. When they fell in love with Taal, they closed that restaurant and opened Feliza Taverna Y Cafe.

The century old bahay na bato that houses the restaurant was previously owned by Feliza Diokno who inherited the house from her parents.

 

Galleria Taal

The house underwent renovation upon Feliza’s return because it was unoccupied for some time in the 1980s. When the current owners came,  they fixed the place to make it feel old and aged. Seeing it reminded me of the restaurant I dined in at Bicol.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna

As Feliza served as the secretary of Emilio Aguinaldo, a lot of things were discovered by the owners. The artifacts, photos, newspaper clippings, and even a flag is put on display all over the place. Dining here is hitting two birds with one stone. That is learning about history and enjoying Batangas heritage dishes.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna

What I found fascinating among the display are the old currencies when the Philippines didn’t have a central bank yet. Ms. Beth explained to us that each province issued their own currency.

 

Lunch at Cafe Feliza Y Taverna

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna

According to the executive chef of Feliza Taverna Y Cafe, Giny Villar, Batangas cuisine places a high premium on freshness. So frozen meat or refrigerated vegetables are a big no-no for them. Fresh ingredients are their key to delicious flavors amidst the simplicity of their dishes. She also broke the notion that most of the dishes are beef based. Yes, there are a lot of ranches raising cows in the area but fish and pork are more widely used in dishes.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna

Our dining experience was certainly enhanced with the fine tableware we got to use. I checked the back of the plate and found out that it’s from England not China.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna
ENSALADANG TAAL

Their Taal salad varies upon each visit of the customer because they only use whichever is fresh. It is served with their bagoong dressing.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna
KILAWIN

This is a raw seafood dish similar to ceviche. We were told to mix it since they didn’t do so to prevent the fish from being cooked in vinegar.

 
Cafe Feliza Y Taverna

SINANGKUTSANG LECHON WITH LIVER SAUCE

As Batangueños needed to feed a lot of people during festivals and they didn’t have refrigeration back then, they brine their lechon, also known as roasted suckling pig, with ginger and salt. This is to prevent it from spoiling.

Feliza Taverna Y Cafe serves it with their liver sauce that is thickened with biscocho, baked bread usually topped with butter and sugar.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna
BULALO

Batangas is often associated with Bulalo. Thus, this flavorful soup with beef shanks and bone marrows was also served. I love eating  this with squeezed calamansi and patis.

 

Adobo sa Dilaw
ADOBONG DILAW

This is an adobo version that doesn’t use soy sauce. Executive chef Giny demonstrated how to cook this and I learned that it is mainly cooked in vinegar and turmeric. The vinegar used is irok sourced from kaong or sweet palm. Meanwhile, turmeric is yellow ginger that lends both a distinct flavor and hue to the dish.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna
CHICKEN RELLENO WITH SALSA MONJA 

This stuffed boneless chicken is based on a 1940s recipe. It is the first time I got to eat it with salsa monja which I found much to my liking.

Salsa monja is a 16th century dish that nuns used to serve to priests. There is little documentation on how it is made. Hence, executive chef Giny convinced her friend to make her 100 year old grandmother teach her the recipe.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna
PAELLA DE MARISCO

Seafood paella can be overwhelming with a lot of ingredients in it. What they did to enable it to complement well the other dishes is to lessen the tomato sauce on saffron rice.

 

Cafe Feliza Y Taverna
LECHE FLAN, FRIED SUMAN WITH MANGO COULIS & TABLEA SAUCE, AND KAPENG BARAKO

Leche flan is my favorite but their fried suman with mango coulis and tablea sauce stole the spotlight. It is the perfect sweet treat to pair with kapeng barako, a strong brewed coffee from Liberica coffee bean variety.

 

Feliza Cafe y Taverna

I think everyone can agree that we had an exquisite lunch based on all our bright smiles.

 



Candlelight Cafe


Address: Km 75 JP Laurel Highway, Lipa, Batangas.
Operating hours: 8 AM to 10 PM daily.
Contact: +63 977 829 2473 or mortencarstensen1@gmail.com.

 

Due to delay in schedule and heavy traffic, we arrived in Candlelight Cafe at night instead of the planned late afternoon. We proceeded to a large covered area where a coffee brewing demo was to be held.

Candlelight Cafe

While waiting for everyone to settle down, we took the opportunity to look at the candles with different shapes, sizes, and scents being sold. Those who love lighting up a candle in their rooms should defnitely go here. I have even seen an eiffel tower candle. It can serve as both decor and emergency light when there is a power outage. Don’t you agree?

 

Candlelight Cafe

Another part of the area are different art stations. One of the owners said that the place also serves as an art gym. So if you have a crazy art idea, this is the place to go. I’ve actually seen some teenagers spending their time practicing their art.

 

Candlelight Cafe

I was wondering about the purpose of the enclosed room with lit candles. Apparently, a proposal was about to take place and, as we were curious about what will happen, we stood from a distance to witness the surprise proposal. We, of course, got the permission of the man just in case they want absolute privacy.

The proposal went well and the blessed lady said yes. Men may as well consider proposing in this place because you’ll definitely save money on candles.

 

Candlelight Cafe

Ms. Marichu Carstensen enthusiastically demonstrated different coffee brewing methods using the famous liberica coffee. What stuck on my mind is how Batangueños brew their coffee everyday. Perhaps, it is because it is the simplest brewing method out of what she discussed.

 

How to brew kapeng barako
  1. Put 2 tablespoons of kapeng barako grounds in 6 oz. of water for strong coffee. Or put 1 tablespoon of kapeng barako per 6 oz. of water for a weak coffee.
  2. Boil the coffee water in a pot. Stir it gently.
  3. Once it boils, wait for thirty seconds then remove the pot from the stove.
  4. Pour the coffee into a cup.
  5. Add muscovado, coconut sugar or desiccated coconut to sweeten it.

 

Aside from demonstrating different brewing methods with the help of her husband and daughter, she also told us a short history of coffee in the Philippines. A Franciscan monk in 1810 brought with him six kilos of coffee beans and decided to plant it in Lipa, She speculates that his reason may be due to their soil having volcanic quality, their low temperature, and people back then were receptive to coffee.

 

Candlelight Cafe

BATANGAS GOTO

I was surprised to find out that Lipa’s version of goto, a rice porridge that uses ox tripe as its main ingredient, doesn’t have rice. Squeezing in calamansi and adding chopped onions,  I enjoyed slurping the soup. The innards, on the other hand, I didn’t enjoy so much as I don’t eat it.

My partner, Lloyd, will surely appreciate this dish and will be able to describe it better than me. I’ll definitely ask him to return with me to Lipa for him to try out this tasty soup dish.

 
Candlelight Cafe

PILIPIT, BATANGAS SUMAN, AND TAMALES

These rice based snack variants are a sweet ending to our foodgasmic TLC Foodsteps 2017.

 



TLC Foodsteps 2017 experience


TLC Foodsteps 2017

I believe that the best way to learn about a culture is through its architecture and cuisine. TLC Foodsteps 2017 organized such an awesome foodgasmic trip. It displayed how reliable TLC channel 62 on Sky Cable is as a source for travel, lifestyle, and cuisine knowledge. I really learned a lot from the restaurant owners they tapped, had fun with the games held, made new friends, and, most importantly,  I got to bring home unforgettable memories. It is such a wonderful experience which, as mentioned, I ended up calling my own Batangas heritage experience.

 

Hoping that this blog post gives you a fresh perspective of Batangas and entices you to discover Filipino heritage by visiting the place for yourself.

 

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Before this post officially ends, I would like to thank again Sky Cable, TLC, Mistubishi Motors, Datu Puti Adobo series, and Goldilocks for making this trip possible. I also would like to extend my gratitude to Go Bag PH, Regent, Amway, Nutrilite, Century Tuna, Amway Home, MIYU, and Glister for game prizes and freebies.

11 Responses to “TLC Foodsteps 2017: Batangas Heritage Experience and Guide”

  1. This looks like the complete and total cultural experience. What I really love is how everything is not all shiny and new, but instead has a more real, authentic quality. Should the opportunity ever present itself I would love to visit Batangas.

    Reply
  2. This is definitely my type of trips, where you visit but you also get to eat a lot of the local delicacies and experience the cuisine. I am a big foodie and food is an important element of every trip I take. It was interesting to discover the food from Batangas through your post. The batanga longanisa is a very intriguing dish, with the pork meat inside the pork’s intestines. The coffee class also sounds like something that I would love to take part in.

    Reply
  3. Based on all your photos and your very detailed itinerary, I think the trip, even if it’s far from the north (where I am) is super worth it. You get to taste the place and also learn about their very rich culture. Seeing all your photos reminded me of the one in Bataan but that is just a very short trip. Here in Batangas, it’s the other way around. There’s just too many in store that you have to allot more time to be able to appreciate everything.

    Reply
  4. Well, this is what I call a detailed and informative itinerary. Love your photos and all of those places are really worth seeing. But the food looks simply amazing. I must admit that food completely took my attention. Everything looks so delicious and beautifully arranged and it just made me hungry.

    Reply
  5. That’s was a lengthy and informative post! The photos truly showed the grandeur of the place, exhibit and everything else. This trip must be exhausting but also fulfilling since this is a chance to reconnect with tidbits of our culture and feed our eyes and souls. The tapang Taal is my fave among the food choices! 💙

    Reply
  6. The tawilis, Tulingan, and tapa are just a few of what my mom loves best about Batangas. We travel there if time permits and would always be part of our itinerary after visiting our dearly departed at Dasmarinas. I truly appreciate activities such as your recent travel because they intoduce us to new food, experience, and friends.

    Reply
  7. This is so cool. I would love to visit and see personally a “bahay na bato” — is it cold or hot inside?

    Also, the food looks really good that this post made me really hungry. Now, I want longganisa for lunch. hahahaha!

    Reply
  8. Wow this travel has all elements I love. Historical monuments, local cuisines are my favs in a new place. Loved seeing your pictures.
    Definitely worth taking a tour here. You are lucky to experience all these.

    Reply
  9. I’m planning to get down there this November. Will surely check out some of your suggestions. Especially the Pilpit!

    Reply
  10. It is very interesting to see that aside from Taal’s heritage town, the province has ranches din with ancestral houses. It seems like visiting Taal is like traveling back in time din pala. I haven’t explored Taal Batangas yet but I will surely include this town on my list! I’ve only been to Taal Basilica and the nearby Caysasay Shrine and the only food I have tried so far is their famous Lomi and the suman of Taal which are being sold outside the church. Hopefully I can visit Batangas nbext month Cheers!

    Reply
  11. wow!This sounds like an amazing experience.The ancestrol house (now restaurant) looks really attractive.Glad you atteneded a cooking event too.All the food looks so delicious and so many choices.

    Reply

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