In all my fifty years, I have never gone out to travel far during Holy Week. Call it Catholic guilt. Can’t shake it off even if I’ve campaigned hard for the passing of the RH Bill. The vacationing Catholic during the commemoration of Christ’s death would’ve been chastised in our staunchly Catholic home. He has suffered, and so must every soul he saved. As kids, we couldn’t play in the yard. We couldn’t bathe before 3pm on Good Friday. No laughing allowed. Extreme remorse came with getting on a car and going to the beach.
But in the last few years, I’ve bent the rule a bit. The excursions haven’t been excessive though. I don’t fly. I don’t swim. I just wander about in Central and Southern Luzon for a day. For one stricken with serious wanderlust, that in itself, is some penance.
Earlier today, I drove for two hours from Makati to Taal, Batangas. I knew nothing about that place except for its very old church and barong makers. These are the things I saw.
Bougainvilleas in bloom. My concession to a Sakura experience, which usually happens when I’m not supposed to travel far.
A 500-year-old basilica
If you know me well, I’m sure you’ve seen how I’ve waxed poetic about my hometown in Pampanga. The street where I grew up is Heritage Row, where a dozen houses built in the early 1900s still stand and remain protected by the Philippine Heritage Commission. My San Fernando is nothing compared to Taal. It’s just Taal’s front yard. The whole town of Taal is heritage town!
We who love to look to the past, and weep when the slightest remembrance is destroyed for progress’ sake, must drive down to Taal and celebrate Taal. It’s supposed to be just a third class municipality in the Philippines; but its sense of art and history is first-rate. It shames Manila.
I’ll definitely go back when the museums and Hispanic villas-turned-restos are open. I heard that the town’s famous adobo sa dilaw – chicken cooked in turmeric and not soy sauce – is supposed to be good. I must try that after Christ has risen.