Batangas, just like the other provinces near the country’s capital, is a treasure chest of a whole lot of pleasant surprises. Surrounded by luscious greens and mountains towering in the distance, abound by diverse ocean waters and dotted by stunning lakes and waterfalls, a 2-hour drive to this historic province is always a time well spent. What’s even more mesmerizing is how the province and its people have kept their rich cultural heritage in tact despite the ever challenging world. From their distinct Batangueño accent to their local delicacies, colonial houses and ancient churches, there’s just something about Batangas that makes it so unique, so endearing.
One weekend after cancelling our hike to Manabu Peak, we went on a completely unplanned road trip in Batangas. It was the kind of road trip I didn’t expect but I definitely enjoyed every minute of it. Allow me to share with you how it went out.
09:00 – The Morning Hunt For The Best Lomi In Town
When we speak of Lomi, there’s probably no other place it is most famous for than Batangas. Just like Bicol whose signature dishes are Laing and Bicol Express, Batangas on the other hand boast of its Lomi. Originally a Chinese dish made of rice noodles and egg soup relished with veggies and pork toppings, Lomi has now evolved and tasted more like the usual flavors of Batangas much like its Kape Barako. One would know it is the local specialty evident in the many lomi stands present in the province’s every corner that not having a single bowl during your visit is similar to not setting afoot in Batangas at all..
When it comes to Batangas Lomi, I probably haven’t known any other person who’s too obsessed with it than my boyfriend. Ian has always had his eyes on spotting the best Batangas Lomi. I don’t know what is it about Lomi that he’s all over it, like he craves for it more than he craves for anything else in the world. He would come looking and asking for Lomi wherever we go even in places where Lomi is obviously a bizarre. So I wasn’t at any level surprised that during our cancelled Manabu hike, he was all about having Lomi for breakfast.
Waking me from my deep slumber at 8:00 AM, Ian was so excited as his cousin who owns the house where we spent the night is going to drive us to his favorite Lomi House, which is situated within the boundaries of Lipa and Batangas City. I was still oblivious and completely puzzled to what was happening as he pulled me off the bed to freshen up. I was kind of lost thinking why are we going on a road trip when we were supposed to be hiking to Manabu Peak that very hour. Turns out he cancelled the plan without consulting me and let me sleep through the morning. His reasons were first, it rained hard the entire night so the trail must be muddy as hell and second, my toes were in bad shape, too swollen that I might not make it through the end of the hike.
I haven’t really had the grasp of the whole situation until the part where Ian said my toes were in bad shape. As I was mindlessly brushing my teeth, I slowly looked down and to my horror found one of my big toes badly swollen. Right there and then I knew where the pain that was bothering me came from. I quickly recalled I had my nails done the night before we headed to Batangas as preparation for the hike. What could have been a conscious effort to prep my feet up for the grueling task turned out to be a pretty bad idea. My big toe was murdered and there was no way I can hike up a mountain with that. I wouldn’t last the hike and that is a certainty.
As we drove off the highways of Lipa going to this mysterious Lomi House, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of bitterness for the cancelled Mt. Manabu hike. I had always wanted to climb that mountain and to spend a few good hours chilling while sipping a cup of alamid coffee. Guess I just have to put that plan for later while I let my toe recover.
We reached the mysterious Lomi House after 30 minutes of driving and almost getting lost. Man! This Lomi House must be something! Parked in front of it are quite a number of cars and I can already see many people inside it. Thirty minutes ago I was dreading the thought of having another bowl of that gooey noodle soup as I had tried several bowls of Lomi before and I didn’t like them at all until most recently during our hike to Gulugod Baboy so I was hoping real bad this one’s not a let down or I’m never having a single bowl of it ever again..
As we entered the little canteen, I was fascinated to see gigantic bowls being shared by several people. What’s even more amusing is this jam packed canteen only has noodle dishes on its menu, the lomi, miki and canton guisado but it must be pretty good given how its packed full that early on a Saturday. The dishes are sold in different sizes ranging from regular, big, jumbo, queen to family with 2 types of toppings, the single and double. I chose to have a regular sized Lomi with double toppings.
As soon as our orders were served, I knew I was gonna enjoy the delight that was in front of me. Regular sized bowl filled with the usual canton noodles soup topped with a mountain of sliced fried pork, pork liver and pork cracklings. To add flavor to it were the soy sauce, lemon and chili on the side. I normally don’t have an appetite for early morning binging but this one was an exception. Just a week before I had a bowl of Lomi which took me by surprise for the very first time in Anilao, then this time I was feasting on something better. Lomi is not so bad after all. I just have to find the best spots to enjoy it which made me look forward to hunting more Lomi houses.
10:00 – The Scenic Drive To Taal
After we filled our tummies full, we drove off to visit Taal. I didn’t expect much as we were just after buying Taal Tapa. While at the backseat listening to Adele on my phone, I couldn’t help but notice the road is kind of familiar. I tried real hard to remember where I’ve seen it as I was feeling an eerie sense of Deja Vu. I was already feeling creepy until I saw the familiar contour of a mountain that was the beautiful Mt. Maculot. In an instance, I knew we were on the roads of Cuenca leading to the more distant town of Lemery.
11:00 – The Unanticipated Visit To Taal Heritage Village And Taal Basilica
It’s amazing how the roads have interconnected one town to the other. I didn’t have the slightest idea that the roads leading to Cuenca would be the way to our destination which is the town of Taal. After almost an hour of driving, the scene changed from the greens to the more inhabited part of the town with the houses slowly turning from modern to a classic of designs. Few minutes after, we approached an arc welcoming us to Taal.
As we entered the vicinity of Taal, the houses this time are reminiscent of those in Intramuros and Vigan. I knew I was gonna visit Taal Heritage Village but I didn’t expect it to be this soon and unplanned. Adding to my surprise was the incredible work of architecture, the Basilica of St. Martin Of Tours or more commonly known as the Taal Basilica. Being the biggest Catholic Church in Asia, it also is the symbol of Catholicism in the region. But that’s not exactly the reason why I’m so ecstatic about seeing it. You know how I am to old churches and classic work of architecture. They simply are treasures to my eyes.
We went to explore first Taal Basilica. Man! This one’s a work of a genius. From the facade to the interiors, the entirety of it is just breathtaking. Plus up in the church bell tower found a panoramic view of Batangas, not just the nearby towns but also the seas and mountains that surround it. While marveling at the stunning view atop one of the historic churches in our country, I felt like staying there forever.
Almost an hour of exploring Taal Basilica, we went to see the local market, passing by the Heritage Village. The stretch of colonial houses at that time was kind of obscured as there was a Saturday market put up it its streets. It might be the case but believe me, the scene is still that of the Spanish era which got me all nostalgic.
After doing some window shopping, we finally saw what we really came for, the local specialty of Taal, it’s delicious tapa. Some vendors called for our attention but Ian’s cousin already has a his “suki” which saved us the time of shopping around. We each bought a kilo of both pork and beef tapa. Asking how it tasted? Jeez, I’m going back to buy me more!
Wanna experience the same kind of road trip? If you ain’t got a car then here’s how…
Commuting in Batangas is pretty easy. If you are coming from the Metro then I would suggest you go by this route.
- Going to Batangas – Ride a bus in Buendia/Cubao Station to Lipa. Alight in SM City Lipa. [Fare: P157]
- Going to Taal – From Lipa, ride a jeep going to Taal and alight in front of Taal Basilica. The Heritage Village, Agoncillo Mansion and Public Market are just a few walks away. [Fare: P35]
- Going to Corcolon Lomi House – From Lipa, ride a jeepney going to Cuenca. [Fare: P20] Watch out for the sign of Valentino Resort And Spa on your left. When you spot it alight the jeep and ride a tricycle going to Corcolon Lomi Haus. [Fare: P50/trike]. From the Lomi Haus, you can ride a tricycle back to the highway and ride another jeepney going to Lemery then to Lipa. [Fare: P50]
How much did this fun road trip cost us?
Well, we took this road trip on a car. Many thanks to Kuya Jojo. But I can still do you a summary of expenses if you are to commute going to these places.
Round Trip Bus Buendia-Lipa > P314
Jeep To Corcolon Lomi Haus > P20
Round Trip Tricycle Hwy-Corcolon P50/4 > P30
Lomi Reg Size Double > P60
Jeep to Lemery > P20
Jeep to Taal > P15
Entrance Fee Taal Basilica Bell Tower > P50
1 Kilo Tapa > P180
Jeep Taal-Lipa > P35
Total << >> P724
Going on unplanned road trips makes me cringe sometimes. It’s like I already got this uncomfortable thought of not ever liking the trip. But lately, spontaneous travels have kind of come a little more natural to me. I’m slowly getting the hang of it and I’m now starting to let go. The need for drafting itineraries doesn’t bother me that much anymore. I’m kinda loving letting go of extra baggage, of constant disappointments of not really seeing what I came all the way for. Instead, I’m becoming more accepting which makes me look forward to more out of the blue road trips.
Did you enjoy our road trip story? Make some noise on the comments box below and tell me your thoughts. Let your friends know about it as well. Be awesome and share.