Sunday, March 16, 2008

Angel's Graduation and our Tagaytay Trip

Angel finally graduated from the Little Ranch Learning Center finishing her Prep and moving on to Grade 1 next school year. She will be studying at the St. Scholastica's College in Manila.

There were only 4 in Angel's class: Paolo, John, Karen and Angel. Everyone was given an award and Angel got the Most Talented award. Probably because she had already started taking violin lessons.

After the graduation ceremonies we talked about going to Tagaytay and decided to go there the following day. We attended the anticipated mass at the church near the Mall of Asia and had dinner at Aristocrat's Restaurant to celebrate her graduation. More photos maybe found here.

There we planned or what seems to be our plan for our Tagaytay trip like buying the food and drinks for the trip as well as the places we will be visiting in Tagaytay. The places we identified in visiting are the Picnic Grove, Palace in the Sky, Caleruega Chapel, Mushroomburger restaurant and Taal Vista Lodge. This will be the first time for Angel to visit Tagaytay and so she was very excited.The following day, Sunday, we woke up early and started preparing our things. We prepared sandwiches as we planned to have our breakfast on the road. We also had pork adobo (the most common meat dish brought by would-be picknickers as this does not spoil easily) as well as the left over lumpiang shanghai which we had the day before. I also sliced some cucumbers and seasoned it with some vinegar, pepper and sugar for some salad.

We left the house at around 6:30 am and to our amazement we discovered that the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) traffic was relatively light. We found out later that the reason might be because people have opted to stay at home to watch the Marquez-Pacquiao fight on TV (By the way, Pacquiao, a Filipino, won over his opponent by a split decision.

We got to Tagaytay via the Sta. Rosa exit and arrived in Picnic Grove at around 8:30 AM. There was an entrance fee of 25 pesos per person plus another 25 pesos for the parking fee. Unlike before when it was operated by the Philippine Tourism Authority, the ticket seller does not sometime give you the ticket when you enter, now he just counts the number of persons entering and you have to pay the fees inside the kiosk where you will be given an official receipt. It is now operated by the City Government of Tagaytay.

When you get inside the compound, people will immediately approach you to offer their services like horse-back riding or boat riding on Taal Lake. We opted not to avail of such services and instead just to enjoy the cool and windy weather.

Picnic huts are availabe and would cost you from P150 - P300. If you do not wish to spend on the huts, you can should arrive early and scout for a spot with shady trees and just lay down your own picnic mat.

We had an early lunch so we can go to the Palace in the Sky before 12 noon. At around 11:30, we started packing up and prepared to go to our next destination. After about 10-15 mins of uphill driving, we finally arrived to the People's Park in the Sky. Apparently it has been renamed since our last trip. The place was an unfinished rest house of the late President Marcos, wherein the construction was abandoned when he was overthrown in 1986.

Again, there was an entrance fee to visit the unfinished structure in the amount of P15 per head. There is a jeepney shuttle which takes you from the parking lot to the actual park. The trip which passes to the steep road would cost you another P10 per person. Walking is good for the heart and unless you are really frail or disabled, there is no need for the jeepney ride.

The place looks like a flea market in the sky. Stalls selling souvenirs and snacks maybe found there. The pool was filled with dirt and apparently was turned to a garden. Picnic huts dotted the landscape and cost P100 each. I guess what your paying here is to have a very good view of the surrounding since it is located on top of the mountain/hill.

After looking around the unfinished structure and admiring the view from the top and a few minutes rest, we descended to the parking lot to go to our next destination: Caleruega.

Although, technically Caleruega is not in Tagaytay (It is actually in Nasugbu, Batangas), its proximity to Tagaytay would be ideal to include this in your itinerary. Caleruega is described by its website as "a house of prayer and renewal. It is open to activities like retreats, recollections, prayer, and renewal workshop, study, research, youth camps, marriage and family encounter celebrations, skills training, leadership seminars, art, music, and liturgy workshops, and environment and agriculture-related activities." It's Transfiguration Chapel is a venue for a number of intimate wedding owing to the size of the chapel.

After about 30 minutes drive, we finally got to the place. Again, there was an entrace fee of P30 per person. The place is quite vast where you can find a nook or some place where you can meditate. There is also a koi pond as well as a hanging bridge which you can visit.

Feeling hungry, we left Caleruega to have our snack at the Mushroomburger restarurant in Tagaytay. This restaurant has been there for decades and seems to be a landmark for visitors of the city. Here you can have a bite of their famous mushroomburger. I just don't know the percentage of mushroom that is found in their burgers.

It used to have a branch in Makati Park Square back in the 80s but apparently did not do well closing not long after it had opened. It now has a branch in Quezon City along West Avenue.

Fully recharged again, we left the restaurant to go to our final destination: Taal Vista Lodge. It has been a long time since we last visited the place and we didn't know that the name of the place has been changed to Taal Vista Hotel and it now charges P100 parking fee to non-paying clients. I think they finally found out that most visitors go to the hotel to have their pictures taken at the back of the hotel which offers a good view of the Taal Volcano.

After taking in the cool wind and some pictures, we got back to the car to finally head for home. There was now some traffic along SLEX as the Pacquio-Marquez fight is now over and we finally got back home at around 5 pm.

Click here to see more pictures.

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