Batangas Pilgrimage and Food Tour

It’s the long weekend. Thanks to the holiday declared by the President.

With people being happy about the successful trip to Enchanted Kingdom, they wanted more trips for the group. They decided to go to Lipa City, Batangas – hometown to one of our colleagues.

We went there straight from the office on a Thursday night and planned the tour for Friday.

In the morning, we had a very homey breakfast taken care by the parents. It was a breakfast of perfectly cooked eggs, pork sausages, fried rice, and rice cake. Add to that the strong barako coffee Batangas is known for.

First stop: A visit to the seat of the archdiocese of Batangas – Cathedral de San Sebastian.

20150925_100209

This is where we met our colleague’s girl friend who will be with us for the duration of the day. And, for a fun fact (which will be written throughout this entry), it is the venue of the first ever liturgy in the province of Batangas.

The place looks familiar since I’ve been here before. But, I cannot pinpoint exactly what’s familiar about it.

After a few minutes of praying – me and my colleagues offer prayers to churches we visit for the first time – we headed out into the highway.

Second stop: a special halo-halo at Casa Rap.

20150925_113400

Found along National Highway in San Jose, Batangas is a hidden gem of a rustic restaurant. It’s just a little outside of Lipa City. If you don’t know it’s there, you wouldn’t see it.

The entrance is covered with a lot of plants which probably tells you what to expect inside.

They have a sign near the dining area which tells you that it’s a slow food restaurant – as opposed to fast food, what pun. And that’s customer expectation management for you.

20150925_110705

What’s special about the halo halo? I don’t think there’s any. In fact, I think what’s more special is the ice cream with lambanog that is not available.

I did like it because it isn’t too sweet and it has the ingredients that I like best about halo halo – leche flan, corn, banana, macapuno. And none of the unnecessary ones.

Then, we’re off to Taal – the town, not the volcano.

Third stop: the lesser known Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay.

20150925_125858

It is lesser known because it’s less grand than the other church the town of Taal is known for. The church has a story to tell though. The Virgin Mary, patron of the church, is always stolen / lost. However, when it is found, it is always in the company of a lot of kingfisher which frolic the area. Kingfisher being casaysay in Tagalog. The Spanish aren’t able to pronounce that; thus, the birth of the word caysasay.

20150925_124801

A few meters from the church is a well where the Lady was last found. They aren’t able to build the church in the area because of the slope. It is led to believe that wishes made in the well come true.

I’m looking forward to that wish realized.

Fourth stop: the grand Minor Basilica of St. Martin of Tours.

20150925_131122

With the mention of this church always comes a though, “this I have got to see.” And if this is the minor basilica, I wonder how big the major one is. That is, considering this Taal church has the distinction of being the largest catholic church in this side of the world.

I was thinking why it was for Saint Martin de Tours then Google told me that he is the patron saint of wool-weavers and tailors. This had to be coincidental to the number of dressmaking shops the local public market had to offer. Cool!

20150925_133049

PHP 50 later, we got ourselves climbing the bell tower. The space we had to traverse made me remember of my Cu Chi Tunnel experience. Well, that was more claustrophobic than this is. But, as opposed to Cu Chi, you get to be rewarded after the journey.

20150925_133830

Beautiful. And stunning.

You have a view of the Balayan Bay and the expansive landscape of the Batangas province. It was worth the climb.

20150925_134957

It was everything I thought it would be. Well, except for the students on a field trip who aren’t listening to their teacher tell them about the church. I was more interested than them.

Then, we were off to a late lunch which resembles a boodle fight. No pictures were taken because there’s really nothing special about it except that it was cheap.

Oh, but wait, there was something special about it – bulalo! Bulalo is a soup dish where the beef is cooked slowly until the fat melts into the soup. It’s one of the dishes Batangas is known for.

Final stop: a very big serving of Liam’s lomi.

20150925_183822

I didn’t know Batangas is also know for their lomi. It is incredibly iconic that we just have to try one even if we’re so full from lunch. Liam’s lomi is found in Recenos Compound, Gen Luna Street in Lipa City. All I remember is it’s near SM City Lipa.

That’s pork chop lomi for you. There was a choice for lechon but it isn’t available. I had to go with this one.

It was delicious! The sauce is thick and the noodles are cooked perfectly. The serving size is too big that an average person couldn’t possibly finish one. I’m not average because I have a black hole in my stomach where food mysteriously disappear.

Then, we head off to the transport terminal beside SM City Lipa for a bus ride back to Manila.

It was a trip for the books. It’s not like the planned vacations that we have but we also enjoy things that are short and sweet. What made it better is the company I had and the bond we were able to create and strengthen.

Where are we off to next? Mindoro? Albay? These places doesn’t seem so farfetched anymore.