As a child, trips to Tagaytay with my parents are all memorable. The view deck at Taal Vista Hotel is where we would usually go for a spectacular view of Taal Volcano. The Philippines contribution to the wonders of the world, consists of an island in a lake within a volcanic crater island within another lake. A generation later, together with my own family, we would often make a fifty six kilometer drive from Manila, most of time unplanned (as we always do in most of our travels), to marvel at this natural formation within Taal Lake some 700 meters below from the Tagaytay Ridge. On our most recent visit to Tagaytay, we decided to bypass the usual late afternoon stroll at People’s Park and Palace in the Sky. Instead, we turned right from the rotunda towards the Tagaytay town proper to rediscover the ever-changing view On this part of the Tagaytay Ridge.
Like most places, Tagaytay has its own share of stories on how it received its name. One legend relates a father and son while hunting down a wild boar when the animal they were chasing turned and attacked them. As the boar attacked the father, the son threw in a jungle knife and repeatedly shouted “Taga” (jungle knife) “Itay!” (father). The boy’s cry echoed throughout the ridge’s valley. It was said that the cry was heard by the Spanish conquistadores who were camping out in the area, thus naming the place where the shouts came from “Taga-ytay.” Another source said that during the 1896 Revolution, the forested ridge offered sanctuary for revolutionaries. The passage to and from town via the Tagaytay added the word “mananagaytay” (to traverse the ridge) to the native’s vocabulary. A rather unusual story was told to me by a friend about a young boy caught by his father in a drinking session. Instead of running away out of fear from his father, the boy offered his itay the jigger glass and said “tagay? itay!”
Tagaytay City is perched on cool Tagaytay Ridge. The ridge that provides a wonderful view of Taal Volcano is believed to be part of large crater of a much larger, long-since collapse volcano. Taal Volcano may once have been the earth’s largest volcano, towering to a height of 18,000 feet. Long before recorded history, Taal blew its top with megaton violence, and collapse into itself. A lake formed in the resulting chasm. A new crater bubbled up in the lake. Taal’s new crater is only 984 feet above sea level. In one imaginably violent explosion, Taal went from being the world’s largest volcano, to become the world’s lowest active volcano above sea level.
Little is written about the history of Tagaytay. What we can source out is that the sparse and windy range was made into a chartered city on June 21, 1938, through Commonwealth Bill no. 388 authored by Assemblyman Justiniano Montano and signed into law by President Manuel L. Quezon. As we were headed towards the city proper from the rotunda, we stop by the old Lourdes Church. With its red-brick bell tower, this bastion of faith is Tagaytay’s oldest public building.
Near Tagaytay’s City Hall is the 41st Division Memorial Shrine. Within the shrine are marble walls etched with the names of all 6,000 servicemen PA-USAFFE forces (from Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Tayabas, Mindoro and Palawan) who mobilized on the ridge in August 1941 prior to the ensuing Battle of Bataan. February 3, 1945 marks the Liberation Day of Tagaytay. It was on the day when the U.S. 511th Parachute Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division of Major General Joseph Swing landed on Tagaytay Ridge and raced down towards Manila. This first airborne landing is marked by a monument installed in 1951 at the Silang Rotunda.
A few meters from the Silang Rotunda is Bag of Beans, a quaint and unassuming coffee shop and bakery that became an all time favorite among Tagaytay habitués. We had our late afternoon merienda in the whimsical English garden, enjoying the Delightful Treats at Bag of Beans. From the Bag of Bean we went to nearby Taal Vista Hotel. The hotel has an attractive viewing deck and picure window where the scenic Taal Lake and its volcano can be viewed.
The open field next to hotel also provides a breathtaking view of the volcano. Ponies for hire wait to delight both young and old. One may ride astride or in a buggy. Here we experienced riding on horseback and reflected on why Filipinos Love Horses.
We wanted to follow the volcano’s ridge towards Nasugbu for Residence Inn and Caleruaega, but it was getting dark. So decided to have dinner at Tagaytay Food Fiesta Park along Aguinaldo Highway, where a cluster of restaurants are competing for gastronomic feasts.
After the hefty dinner of bulalo, pork sisig, tuna belly and chopsuey at Leslie’s Restaurant , we went up to the viewing deck for another look of Taal Lake. The lake by night is twinkling with fishermen’s lighted bancas. A full moon reflected long and shining across the shimmering lake waters.
These are just some of the many awesome experiences we unraveled everytime we go On this part of the Tagaytay Ridge.