Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some roads are not meant to be travelled alone.
250 kilometers of Twists, Turns and Surprises around Taal Lake

An American facilitator who hails from Old England and lives in Spain was in Manila and asked me “What are you doing this Saturday?” In effect I was asked, “Bring me around the city and nearby where I can appreciate nature, food, history and people in a day.” Quickly the night before, I mapped out an itinerary which should fulfill these expectations of a well traveled guest. Running in my mind as a criteria were: it must show a modern city and its infrastructure, bistros for conversations, grand views, and historical sites building up interest as we complete.

This 8AM to 10PM activity started out from a Makati hotel pick up and back. In between we moved out of Metro Manila via Bonifacio Global City highlighting the “Fort” buildings and the Manila American Cemetery and Libingan ng mga Bayani.

We took South Luzon Expressway exiting at Sta. Rosa Laguna to show the training centers, industrial park and urban expansion. 1st stop in less than an hour was a coffee shop at the ridge. Java Jazz Coffee is a small bistro type shop in an all wood structure ventilated coolly by the breeze of Tagaytay. It is manned by 2 young baristas who served coffee with care and dedication. Setting was sufficient trigger to start a conversation about coaching, life struggles and travel. Not minding the time, it was an ideal place to go on and on and on.

But that was just for starters. From cozy we went grand, Antonio’s. Antonio is about 15 minutes from the coffee jazz but miles and miles away in structure. Built by a landlord of Negros, it is an architectural wonder; rooms are oversized, interiors are well appointed, food is excellent. From the many dining function rooms, we chose a corner at the garden for a small meal. Like the 1st stop, the patio setting and cool air set us up for more conversations on career.

Past lunch, we moved further South to Taal for view of the heritage town after a brief stopover at Sonya’s Garden. Taal showcased the rich Philippine heritage as evidenced by the Taal Basilica, ancestral houses and cobblestone streets. On the way out, we dropped by the shoreline just to have a glimpse of the sea. To the surprise of the guests, the residents appeared not to have shown any appreciation for the sea which according to them is a premium in their country.

Resort in Alitagtag
Nearing the completion of the loop, I included in the itinerary a resort known only to a handful meant to show a panoramic view of Taal from the West side at night. From this resort in Aligtagtag Batangas, it appeared that Mt. Maculot, a popular mountaineering destination was just within reach.

We returned back to Metro Manila via STAR and SLEX logging in about 250 kilometers of travel traversing from Metro Mania, Laguna, Cavite and Batangas in a day. Ending our expedition was a dinner at the wings of Vivere on the 31st floor which showed the Metro Manila skyline.

All in a day, Manila and the 3 nearby South Luzon provinces were seen differently; no longer as a cramped space but expansive with natural wonders and attractions. Guests said "They'll bring their friends from other countries when they come back to Manila." I said "I’d cover the track again with another company." As some roads are not meant to be travelled alone and done only once, especially this 250 kilometer trip of twists, turns and surprises around Taal Lake.

At the 31/F of Vivere

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