Tag Archive: Tagaytay



Tagaytay has always been a favorite day trip and weekend destination. Just an hour and a half drive south of Manila. What new things can we do here? It wasn’t like we needed a new adventure. Perhaps we just needed to be someplace cooler where we can be together and be a family.

 

 

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We booked ourselves at Tagaytay Crosswinds Resort Suites. There are other new hotels in the area but we liked the idea of having our own condo-like suite where we can actually cook in. That meant doing our groceries in a nearby supermarket to buy steaks and chops, corn and rice. The not-so-little ones loved our steak dinner much and the idea that we can actually cook in!

 

 

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The suites are complete with kitchen essentials from rice cooker to frying pans. The elves watched TV while we prepared dinner. There isn’t much to do after, so we got busy with our iPads and iTouch after ūüėä. I skipped breakfast the morning after, choosing to have an extra hour of sleep. Breakfast was served in a hall in the next building. Hopefully, Crosswinds will have a new dining destination within its complex the next time we visit. That, plus wifi INSIDE the suites.

 

 

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You don’t get a view of Taal Volcano from your room nor anywhere within Crosswinds area, but you may enjoy an early morning walk around. Pine trees everywhere and the cool breeze make you feel you’re somewhere near Baguio. Since the hotel is right within Crosswinds (the subdivision), it’s more quiet and peaceful here. Of course you can always drive out to dine in any of the many bistros and cafes along the Ridge.

 

 

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Our family took advantage of this promo package offered by Club Balai Isabel last August. We fell in love with the place. The kids loved it. And the adults too. So when my friend asked me for a one-day itinerary to entertain a group of friends, it was a no-brainer to head back to this magical place.

Taal Volcano and Lake from the Pantalan @Club Balai Isabel, Talisay, Batangas

It makes for a wonderful day trip if one were to introduce the Philippines to foreign and balikbayan friends. Not too far from Manila, and a day well-spent viewing Taal Lake and Volcano from the shore (Talisay, Batangas) and from the ridge (Tagaytay City, Cavite). This is our one-day itinerary:

Mabini Shrine in Barrio Talaga, Tanauan, Batangas

On Our Way By 8am

Not bad. You don’t have to wake up extra early for this day trip. By 8 am, we were driving along SLEX , connecting to STAR Highway and out Tanauan Exit. All that in slightly more than an hour. As you exit out of STAR Tollway towards Tanauan, take the right turn towards Talisay. Along the way, you’d fine Mabini Shrine. This sprawling property houses the Shrine honoring the Sublime Paralytic, Apolinario Mabini. I have earlier visited this Shrine and dedicated a blog to the Brains of the Philippine Revolution back in the 19th century. This second visit cum stopover on our way to Club Balai Isabel took just 20 minutes max. Just a little bit of history for our Norwegian friend in the group.

Club Balai Isabel

Just In Time For Lunch @Club Balai Isabel

From Mabini Shrine, we took the lone road towards Talisay. It did not take very long to reach Club Balai Isabel. This resort complex offers much by way of activity to day trippers and weekend travelers. The more adventurous may even come much earlier to try the boat ride across the lake and trekking towards the volcano crater. The resort can make all these arrangements for you.

There was time before lunch to check out the chapel inside the resort. The 3 swimming pools. The Pantalan. From the clubhouse, we enjoyed an amazing view of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake. You can grab a bench by the shore or at the cute-sy Pantalan and feel the breeze while viewing fishermen out to harvest the famous “tawilis” from Taal Lake. If they get lucky, maybe there’s even Maliputo for lunch. We walked the lakeshore from the Pantalan towards the Marina near the Chapel and the bigger pool.

Club Balai Isabel

On our way back to the Clubhouse, we passed the Butterfly Garden, the Dr. Fish Massage area, the Spa, the Tennis Court, and the lovely villas , each of which has a splendid view of the smallest active volcano in the whole world. The view is enough to rev up our appetite. The stroll was a good exercise to take away the guilt from the sumptuous food to be had from the buffet table. The very accommodating crew of Club Balai Isabel makes for a very enjoyable stay in the resort. As I said, this is my 2nd visit. The last time, we stayed overnight. From the reservations to the waiter, to the gracious lady chef, to the store clerk, we were warmly received like old friends. I couldn’t resist shooting out an email to the Management just to mention this. The service orientation and culture of friendliness and courtesy are awesome.

This is not a paid advertisement. Or do they say advertorial these days? I am a paying client who had the pleasure of discovering Filipino hospitality and quality service from Club Balai Isabel, and I wish to share this with my friends who read my blogs.

Taal Volcano and Lake From Tagaytay Ridge

Zigzag Up Via Ligaya Drive Towards the Ridge

After Club Balai Isabel, we took a left turn and in no time found Ligaya Drive. From here, try looking up to where you’re headed. You are leaving the shores of Taal Lake to get up to Tagaytay Ridge to view Taal Volcano a second time , this time from above. It can get you a bit disoriented. Two views of the lake and volcano in a day? And between these 2 viewpoints is this zigzag drive passing ritzy villages and mansions with rooms with a view. I think it is just a 7 kilometer drive but it would seem like a longer drive as you are climbing up with ravines on your right. ūüôā

Up on the ridge, you have several choices on how best to spend the rest of the day. Oh, I’d never grow tired of Tagaytay. If you plan to stay way beyond sunset, there is a number of bistros with prices ranging from budget-friendly to extravagant. Check out some of these travel guides. If you want something really fancy, then dine at Antonio’s. You may burn a hole in your pocket, but if you are in a celebratory mood and can afford it, why not?

Fried Halo Halo or Turon?

Taal Vista Lodge

In our case, we chose Taal Vista Lodge. They have one of the best views, if not the best, from the Ridge and a restaurant which offers many choices on how to eat Filipino delicacies. They also have a lunch buffet, if you choose to do this itinerary in reverse.

Taal Vista Lodge

Some of us had our halo-halo the traditional way (cold, with ice shavings) or fried! Make no mistake about it, but fried halo halo it was! And then there’s the traditional turon topped with ice cream. Or turon with leche flan filling. Imagine that!

Lunch Buffet @Taal Vista Lodge

If you choose not to dine in Taal Vista’s restaurant, please do remember that the parking ticket is P100 per hour. Not bad if you just wanted to breathe in the air and savor the view from there. It is free if you have your parking ticket stamped in the restaurant.

Taal Vista Lodge

So there. If your foreign guests or balikbayans are hankering for day trips outside of Manila, here’s one itinerary for you. More itineraries to come! So, don’t forget to subscribe to this site to get updates. You may also find me on Facebook (Lifeisacelebration) where I post all my blogs from this site and from TravelBlog. See ya!


My friends are here on holiday and in their must-try list is dining at Antonio’s in Tagaytay. ¬†But which Antonio’s? ¬†¬†There’s¬†Breakfast by Antonio. There’s¬†Antonio’s Grill.¬†And there’s “the real” Antonio’s. ¬†

It was a no-brainer to decide which.    It was a fine day to delight in foie gras, tinto verano, minted veal cheeks, roasted bone marrow, escargot, and duck breast.  Lunch or dinner here is definitely a major, major treat.  The only major, major problem is deciding which dish to try.  And I have not even considered the problem of deciding which appetizers to try before the main entree.  

Chef Antonio was around hopping from table to table when we arrived. ¬†He made it “easy” for us to order our usual favorites while checking out some food discoveries and novel concoctions from the kitchen. He convinced us to try the Tinto Verano and promptly explained how easy it is to make: ¬†just a full-bodied Merlot, some soda, juice from 2 lemons, a few lemon slices to garnish and ice cubes for a cool drink! ¬†In ordering the¬†Roasted Bone Marrow, Chef Antonio didn’t have to convince us much. ¬†We were suckers for anything sinful ūüôā But it made us feel less guilty to hear Chef Antonio explain that he had a batch of medical doctors savoring this very flavorful dish and even ending up convinced that this dish is actually good for our health!

Tinto Verano, myEyeglasses, myMedications

And who can say no to Chanterelle ¬†Mushrooms with Braised Foie Gras gracing the top of this appetizer? Or ignore the escargot swimming in the finest olive oil and herbs? For sure, this lunch is a 3 hour affair to do justice to this lovely spread of appetizers, soup, salad, main entree and delightful desserts. ¬† After all, we need to digest and leave room for the equally savory (and sinful?) dishes and it would be an epic fail to leave a single morsel of food on the plate after each serving. ¬†Today, they served Roast¬†Tomato Soup and Antonio’s Mesclun Salad with Glazed Walnuts and Dried Currants. ¬† The Raspberry Vinaigrette is exactly how we hoped the salad to be dressed. ¬†

Chanterelle Mushrooms with Foie Gras+Tinto Verano+Escargot+Roasted Bone Marrow: And these are just appetizers!

I always agonize over the menu. ¬†Invariably, I end up ordering my fav¬†Roasted Duck Breast Infused with Truffle, Goji Berries, Seared Foie Gras served with Braised Red Cabbages and Mashed Potatoes. ¬†When it comes to steaks and foie gras, I trust only Antonio’s ¬†and Lolo Dad’s. ¬†As expected, Chef Antonio Escalante did not disappoint. For carnivores, you may also try Antonio’s Trio of Beef Medallion Gratinated with Assorted Mushroom, another morsel of beef (?) and a Lamb Loin. On my 1st time here, this was what I ordered, though I remember the trio to have a light portion of grilled seabass then along with the beef and lamb. The 2nd and 3rd time around, I went bolder with the Pork Knuckles (the finer , classier version of our Crispy Pata) served with sauerkrat and potatoes, and the Osso Buco. ¬†

Roasted Duck Breast Infused with Truffle with Goji Berries, Seared Foie Gras Braised Red Cabbage and Mashed Potatoes(my fav

Minted Veal Cheeks & Goat Cheese Ravioli on Creamed Crepes

This time around, ¬†we tried a novelty. ¬†The Minted Veal Cheeks and Goat Cheese Ravioli in Creamed Crepes was light, creamy, flavourful, delicioso! If you think you’d want to load up and try more appetizers and go easy on the main entree, ¬†this dish is just right for you. ¬†Oh, the steaks here are oh so good. If you have a big appetite and think you can survive loading up on all those appetizers, soup and salad, ¬†go ahead and let those steaks touch your lips. ¬†It is good for 2 so be sure to team up with someone.

Antonio's Desserts!

The intervals by which they serve the appetizers, soup, salad, main entree ring perfect. These guys surely know their stuff. ¬† They must have pored over books on how long it takes to digest food, or how long it takes before a new food subject can start up another conversation. ¬† We were just about ready to leave the subject of veal cheeks, duck breast, and lechon when we were given the menu to order our desserts. ¬† We all agreed we should each order a different dessert so we can try all. ¬†The Dark Chocolate Souffle with Cardammon and Creme Anglaise wins hands down. ¬†So with the Panacotta Sampler. ¬†What have we not tried yet? ¬†We ordered the Chocolate Mint Parfait , Felchlin Maracaibo Chocolate Terrine and the Grilled Sugar Cinnamon Pineapple. ¬† You can ignore that last one. ¬†Not that it wasn’t good, but it simply pales in comparison with the parfait and the choc terrine which was served with double cream and sprinkled with roasted pistacchios. ¬†Yummmmmmmy!

So, three hours was how long we took and enjoyed our lunch.  If you must eat here,  be sure you are in good company.  If not,  you may end up rushing through your lunch or dinner for lack of things to talk about.   And that would be a great disservice to how much effort went into every dish.   Besides, what is good food without good company?  

Postscript: We didn’t order that lechon. The group seated to the table next to ours did. Obviously, we couldn’t get our eyes off that carving table. ¬†Hmmm, perhaps next visit…………

Choices: Al fresco dining overlooking the garden, dining in any of the airconditioned rooms, or dining by the koi pond.


It took this long for me to think of blogging about one of my favorite places in my own country. Perhaps because I visit it too often, or I took its beauty so much for granted. Tagaytay holds many happy childhood memories for me and myfamily. Both my parents are from Cavite where Tagaytay is. And many weekends were spent here, in a neighboring town called Silang, Cavite where my grandmother used to live, long before it became a favorite tourist destination. From Manila, it would take about an hour and a half traveling south for 60 km to reach Tagaytay to view the “volcano island” inside a lake called Taal Lake, or Lake Taal.

Childhood Memories

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As a child, my ears got so used to many old folks’ stories about Taal Volcano where one finds a lake within a volcano within a lake within a volcano. Yeah, I know, it sounds redundant. Can you imagine me listening to all these stories and this line which has now become an adjective to describe Taal Volcano back when I was still of pre-school age? It appears Taal Volcano made up for its size by always threatening to erupt, as if drawing attention all the time. Records show it is the smallest active volcano in the world. And for good measure, the old folks back in the province recount to this day all their experiences with Taal Volcano’s mini-eruptions in the past until it was no longer news.

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The story goes that Tagaytay Ridge where one gets a perfect view of Taal Lake and Volcano was actually part of a bigger volcano until a major eruption hundreds or thousands of years ago. Originally a huge volcano towering 18,000 feet, many people don’t realize that it used to be one of the largest volcanoes in the world. Tagaytay Ridge is the rim of the volcano! Before it was “reduced” to its present size, Tagaytay ridge would have been only about a sixth of the way to the top of the volcano!! This caldera is now fringed with many tourist inns, hotels, restaurants and picnic groves. A major golf course and upscale community (Tagaytay Highlands) and a casino hotel (near Taal Vista Lodge Hotel) can also be found along this ridge. Most tourists make day trips from Manila to this place, missing out on an unhurried day of adventure which may include a boat journey across the lake to reach the volcano island (about 1,500 pesos or US $30 for the entire boat so you can split it among the 3 or 4 of you), a trek to the top of the volcano on a donkey (most recommended, unless you are very very fit but be ready to shed another US$10 per person), as well as trying out the many fine-dining and local restaurants in the area.

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A Mountain Resort? A Summer Retreat? Religious Retreat Center? A Garden Restaurant?

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Many years back when Tagaytay only had picnic huts available for rent to locals bringing in their own picnic baskets, the place was famous for its many retreat houses and prayer centers. The cool climate and the now-lost “rustic innocence” of the place made for a very meaningful weekend of prayers and meditation. The retreat houses are still there. And many retreat weekends are still held there. The popularity of the place has also resulted in many foreigners deciding to stay permanently and setting up their own restaurants and shops there. These days, one can make trips to Tagaytay to try out this new Vietnamese restaurant (Bawai), or this Austrian-German bistro called Chateau Hestia, a greek taverna, or a lovely garden restaurant called Moon Garden run by a Belgian. Taal Vista Lodge Hotel is a newly renovated hotel complex , Josephine’s Restaurant with its seafood delicacies still stands attracting both local and foreign patrons, the Discovery chain of serviced apartments runs Country Suites and I must say, serves the best lamb chops, and of course there is Sonya’s Garden and Antonio’s – 2 of the fine dining establishments in the area. My personal favorite is Antonio’s though that will set you back a good US$30 to $50 per pax. For local food, one can try Josephine’s (their buffet is a steal at only US$7) and Leslie’s (try their “bulalo” which is beef stew). As for the kids, there is Residence Inn and Zoo where you can spend an entire afternoon with small children. Lunch is also served in this place, a good way to spend an hour or two after checking out the zoo. Restless kids can go to a nearby playground while the adults enjoy their coffee after lunch, or simply wait out for the sunset while viewing the volcano.

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There is always something to do in Tagaytay other than just taking in the view. The more adventurous go for the boat ride and donkey trek. The prayerful spend their retreat weekends there and head back to Manila with emptied minds, restful spirits and re-energized bodies. The hedonists spend time in their favorite spas while their husbands play a round of golf in Tagaytay Highlands. The foodies try out the many food establishments, where the variety caters to every pocket range. The kids can check out the tigers, crocs, gorillas, etc in the zoo. Or simply rent out bikes or go horseback riding in the park.

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I live in Makati, the financial center of Manila. This urban jungle has its advantages and disadvantages. Thank God for Tagaytay. In under 2 hours, we can enjoy its breeze and open spaces. There is just no way we will ever grow tired of Tagaytay!

This is my entry to the PTB Blog Carnival hosted by Mhe-Anne Ojeda

on the theme My Hometown.


Read also my blog on same subject in TravelBlog.