Now that quarantine measures have finally eased, following the fewer number of new COVID-19 cases by the day, it’s time to revisit travel goals set aside. Start simple, with a venue that is accessible by car (road trip!) and promises awesome views as well as an absorbing backstory.
Here are five reasons why you should visit Taal Basilica in the town of Taal, Batangas:
It’s close enough.
Approximately 110 km south of Manila, the Taal Basilica is a towering example of Baroque architecture. It is located on a hill in the third-class municipality of Taal. (Read: ‘More Fun Awaits’ Travellers To PH Destinations- DOT)
It’s the largest church in Asia.
Declared a national shrine in 1974, the Taal Basilica stands 88.6 meters (291 feet) tall and 48 meters (157 feet) wide.
There is much to see inside.
Besides its impressive exterior, the basilica boasts higher-than-high ceilings, intricately hand-painted trompe l’oeil, and a bell tower with a view of Taal Lake and Balayan Bay. (Read: Catch a glimpse of Philippine history with these heritage houses in Taal, Batangas)
Its patron saint is inspiring.
Taal Basilica is canonically known as the Minor Basilica of St. Martin of Tours, named after Taal Town’s patron saint. Prior to his becoming the bishop of Tours, France, Martin was reluctantly recruited into the Roman army. At 23, he refused a war bonus and referred to himself as a soldier of Christ. Indeed, there are numerous artworks depicting Martin as such. Paintings show him on horseback, cutting his cloak of red into two and giving the other half to a beggar.
St. Martin of Tours’s feast day is on November 11. He is the patron saint of soldiers and the poor.
It’s near other places of interest.
Taal Town isn’t called a heritage town for nothing. After exploring Taal Basilica and saying a prayer of thanks, visit the neighboring Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay, then check out the ancestral homes of Marcella Agoncillo (aka the principal seamstress of the first official flag of the Philippines), Don Leon Apacible (the Batangas judge-turned-Katipunero), and Casa VillaVicencio (the secret meeting place of Andres Bonifacio and General Miguel Malvar).
Batangas is currently on Alert Level 2 status until November 14, 2021.