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.
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.
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Address: 60 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Hasselblad brand is a Swedish camera maker since 1941.
When 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.
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.
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.
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.
Visitors can experience viewing stereoscopic photos with a graphoscope, a 19th century viewing device equipped with a magnifying lens.
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.
After a feast for your eyes, you can relax and have some refreshments at Galleria Taal’s 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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Their Taal salad varies upon each visit of the customer because they only use whichever is fresh. It is served with their bagoong dressing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think everyone can agree that we had an exquisite lunch based on all our bright smiles.
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.
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.
Me-An a.k.a. Cream is a former corporate lady who quit so she can continue doing her passions which are traveling, blogging and managing a business. Plain as she may be, she can get quite interesting because of her prior numerous travel experiences and eagerness to go on trips from time to time. All that thanks to her generous dad and wanderlust mom. Being a well-traveled person, It is her desire for her other half, Yogo, to be able to visit where she has been to and be able to explore new places along with experiencing once in a lifetime adventures.