here i am trying to do everything in just two hours ...
sana kayanin ko, Lord. my friend Jesus
By Bennet Amoroso (this is the first original draft written 8:30pm sept 30 2011)
(a work-in-progress, please send me your comments so as to improve this. Thanks)
What is special and unique in the town of Taal aside from its awesome ancestral houses?
Taal, a town in the Philippines founded in 1572 (just a year after Manila was founded), is not just a heritage town known for its “frozen-in-time” collage of preserved old houses. What makes Taal a more fascinating place to visit are its many amazing stories and fascinating histories proving the indomitable and undying spirit of the heroic Filipino people. This town consistently attracts both serious historians and light-hearted researchers, who are in search of the roots of the Filipino people. Taal also enthralls the curious adventurers because of the many colorful stories and legendary exploits of heroes and heroines who lived in Taal and plotted revolutions, who at daytime walked clandestinely in disguise on its streets, and at nighttime skirmished with the colonizers in its dark and narrow alleys.
Ask old folks in Taal and they will also share to you something about secret tunnels inter-connecting old big ancestral houses with that of the dungeon in the Taal basilica (the biggest Catholic Church in the Orient). Some may even confide to you about a secret passage linking the Caysasay Church with that of the basilica, passing underneath the miraculous Sta. Lucia Well and the San Lorenzo Steps (125-steps of piedra-tsina). Indeed, interwoven in its being an ancestral heritage town are stories about something mysterious and unexplained tucked beneath its many numerous built-structures of old houses, old churches, old wells, old stairs, and old cemeteries.
Of course, like that of other old heritage towns in the Philippines, all its imposing and awesome structures may have been built by the old rich in the economic boom of the world trade circa 1800s (shortened trading route due to the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869), especially 1887 to 1889 when Batangas became the only source of coffee beans in the world (coffee plants in other parts of the world were destroyed then by a viral disease). But again, unlike other towns, Taal has more historical stories to tell everyone aside from its being a tableau showcase of an aristocratic heritage town.
Taal’s heritage of built-structures are testaments about the resilience and heroism of the Taalenos as Filipinos. Its trading relationships with the Malays, the Chinese, the Hindus, and some Europeans, even before the coming of the Spaniards, speak more also of its already civilized culture in the settlements along the Pansipit River, near the Balayan Bay, and in the lakeside barangays of the Taal Lake, even before the coming of the “discoverer Kastila.”
Taalenos are also one-of-a-kind group of native and original Filipinos, speaking the original Tagalog of the taga-ilog folks along the Pansipit river. Their unique character were formed by their frolicking with the waters of South China Sea, the Pansipit river, and Taal lake, and forged in their love/fear flirting relationship with their own petite yet treacherous Taal volcano, the smallest one in the world. No other groups of Filipinos have been bonded together by a shared-experience of resisting foreign invaders while pledging peace-pacts with the tempers of its own local volcano.
Ever resilient, heroic, and with a deep sense of filial piety, this unique group of Filipinos always brought along with them their well-preserved culture, heritage, and identity, as they transfer from one location to another ... perhaps knowing that their future generations will someday story-tell about their many shared experiences. The present location of Taal is its third one after transferring from its second location, which was buried by the lava and submerged by the rampaging waters of the Taal lake, in the 1754 devastating eruption of Taal volcano. This second location of Taal was the former capital of Batangas in 1732 bustling then with trade and cultured sophistication beside the Taal lake.
The almost-totally buried ruins of the original St. Martin of Tours basilica will attest to this legendary town of Taal formerly located beside the Taal lake.
Those who are intrigued by the resiliency and adaptability of Filipinos worldwide must visit, live for a while, and befriend the heritage town of Taal (now on its present location) because its old houses, old churches, old cemeteries, narrow streets/alleys, hilly contours, winding river, lake, volcano, and its nearby Balayan Bay (South China Sea) have loads of stories to tell about the roots of the Filipino nation. The pattern of the stories all point to the Filipinos’ indomitable willingness to survive, to adapt to its environment, and to be faithful to its Filipino identity wherever you will find them scattered worldwide. There must indeed be some sort of a secret behind this Filipino resilient spirit.
Visit Taal. No, better still, be intimate with Taal because its classic, elegant, and grandmotherly character might just whisper to you the secret behind the greatness and resiliency of the Filipino people. This secret awaits you just after a leisurely two-hour drive from Manila via Tagaytay or Lipa.
TAAL TOWN PROFILE
Taal is a heritage town in Batangas, Philippines bounded by the Batangas towns of Sta. Teresita, San Luis, Lemery, and San Nicolas; and the water bodies Pansipit River and Balayan Bay. It belongs to the CALABARZON (Region IV-A) and the First District of Batangas. According to the latest census, it has a population of 47,014 people and total land area of 2,976.42 hectares. The first census in 1903 recorded a total population of 17,525. In 2007, it was 41,352, therefore growing at 2.33%. Mayor at present is Hon. Michael D. Montenegro.
Taal has two seasons: dry from November to April, and wet during the rest of the year.
Main cultural events held yearly
Big processions in Taal are held around November 11, feast of St. Martin of Tours; December 8, feast of Our Lady of Caysasay; and during the town fiesta on December 9 in honor of Our Lady of Caysasay and St. Martin of Tours.
The Feast of the Virgin of Caysasay - The feast is celebrated on the 8th day of December every year, the day when Fernando Quiroga y Palascios, then the Spanish representative of Pope Pius XII, celebrated the solemn canonical coronation of the Virgin of Caysasay in 1954. This miraculous statuette is only eight inches (203 mm) high, bearing signs of long immersion in water, but garbed in exquisite robes.
Lua - The traditional Lua is a declamation in the vernacular recited by a maiden to honor the Virgin Mary or a boy in praise of a male saint like St. Martin of Tours.
Local products and delicacies
Weaving and embroidery of piña barong and camisa were popular home industries. Later local embroidery include curtains, piano covers, pillow cases, table cloth, table napkins and bed covers all of which added luster to the fame already earned by Taal embroidery.
Some of the other products produced in the town are: Burdang Taal (embroidered cloth made out of pineapple fiber and other natural weaves), balisong (fan knife), and various food treats such as the panutsa (peanut brittle candy) and suman salehiya (sweet sticky rice).
Popular Filipino dishes that originated from Taal are: Adobo sa Dilaw (Turmeric-Adobo), Sinaing na Tulingan, Tapang Taal, Fried Tawilis, and Sinigang na Maliputo.
These products are produced at the backyards of homes with mastery and skill handed down through generations of experience and craftsmanship.
THE PRE-SPANISH TAAL
The descendants of the Bornean settlers in Panay spread out to the neighboring islands, where they founded more settlements, one of which was Taal. In due time, they came to be known as Bisayans after the Bisayan tribe in Borneo, to which their ancestors belonged.
The colonies founded by Datu Dumangsil and Balensuela in the Taal region prospered in the plenitude of time. The settlement was called Taal due to the presence of Taa-lan trees in the Pansipit River.
Their descendants spread out in two groups - one group colonizing the region of Laguna de Bay northwards and the other, penetrating southward settled the northern Bicol Peninsula. Those who remained in Batangas and the Laguna de Bay region became the Tagalogs ("people of the river"), which their original language (a mix of Central Philippine languages, Kinaray-a, Old Malay, Sanskrit, Chinese, Arabic, and other Borneo-Philippine languages before the Spanish period) evolved into pre-Spanish Tagalog or Batangas Tagalog.
Taal, which means "indigenous", is considered the center or origin of the Tagalog language. Taal back then was called Bonbon like its lake.
TAAL TRANSFERS FROM ONE LOCATION TO ANOTHER (Along Pansipit River, Beside Taal Lake, By the Sea and River)
Bringing along its heritage and gathering life-stories along the way ... Taal transfers from one location to another. Is there a fourth location for Taal? Read on.
FIRST LOCATION ALONG THE PANSIPIT RIVER
Before the coming of the Spaniards, the long stretch of the Pansipit River starting from the Balayan Bay (part of South China Sea) had clusters of fishermen, part-time traders, and nearby farmers as settlers. These “original Taalenos” also lived in a much bigger area, the Sitio Balangon, which was up and near the mouth of Taal Lake.
Sitio Balangon was the main trading area. It was also strategically located near Taal Lake, far from the sea, so that in a moat-defense system the natives who were living on both sides of the Pansipit River can guard it. Dishonest and unfriendly traders, pirates, and potential invaders rushing from the sea were oftentimes ambushed along the river to guard this inner main trading area.
On their first reconnaissance sorties to visit the Sitio, Juan de Salcedo and his men of Spaniard-soldiers had a fearsome experience of being rained upon with poisoned arrows along the Pansipit River. The pre-Spanish Filipinos seemed to be experts in concocting poisons extracted from the skin of exotic animals and saps of wild plants.
However, through lavish gifts and friendly persuasions, the poisoned arrows of the natives finally yielded to the gunpowder of the invaders. With this, another blood compact ritual might have been celebrated at the Sitio to finally welcome the Spaniards.
The Spaniards founded the town of Taal in this Sitio Balangon in 1572. Unfortunately, this was also the invading season of big time seafaring pirates like the infamous Chinese Limahong and the annoying small teams of commando-like Moro pirates, that in just few years the Spaniards decided to transfer in 1575 this original Taal’s poblacion called Sitio Balangon to a new place beside the Taal Lake. This second location was more secured and almost unreachable by the pirates roaming the South China Sea.
Taal volcano then must have been also in its most picture-perfect and sultry poise and its lake so serene when Spaniard-soldiers and some friars along with native Taaleños built in 1575 the second location of Taal. It is safe to assume that they were not building from nothing because most probably there were already pioneering natives living on the lakesides of Taal when they came to construct the bigger structures for the new poblacion of their new Taal.
SECOND LOCATION BESIDE THE TAAL LAKE
(note: the first location and second location, geographically stating, may just be the same “one location” of Taal, because it was only the poblacion or centro which was transferred to another location belonging to the same large area. Essentially, the “second location near/beside the Taal Lake” was actually just a part of the original “first location” called Sitio Balangon)
From 1575 up to the early 1700s this lakeside town of Taal prospered so much, that in 1732 it became the capital of Batangas (Balayan was the capital of Batangas before 1732). Trading must have been brisk and very dynamic in this town because according to some locals in San Nicolas town (the present name of the second location also called the “Old Taal”) there was once a secret route going direct to Laguna De Bay from Taal Lake. So some boats from Balayan Bay were entering Pansipit River to barter, trade, and deal with the natives along Pansipit River and to the lakeside capital of Batangas, then off they went direct to Laguna De Bay through a a secret passage (might be a lakelet or smaller river) connecting Taal Lake to the bay in Laguna. Almost all traders and travelers who enjoyed shortcuts to speed up or cut down on travel time obviously preferred this route.
On the first ten years after Taal was founded, the population around the lake of Bonbon (the pre-Spanish name of Taal Lake) was around three thousand four hundred baptized souls. The actual number was larger considering that only the baptized then were counted. Those not yet baptized were considered “bodies without souls” so they were not yet counted as members of the local population.
Bonbon. When Spaniards described then the provinces surrounding Manila they stated it as Panpanga, Pangasinan, Ylocos, Cagayan, Camarines, La Laguna, and Bonbon y Balayan (batangas province is referred to as Bonbon y Balayan). They also called the entire province of Batangas before as the province of Bonbon, which contains the villages of Batangas, Galbandayun, Calilaya, and the lowlands of Balayan. Bonbon is synonymous with the lake, the volcano, and the settlements near or beside the Taal Lake.
In 1754, a series of eruptions of Taal Volcano destroyed and buried this town. Part of the town was also submerged in the lake. The ruins of the original Taal Basilica is a reminder of this destructive 1754 eruption, which completely destroyed this prosperous town of Taal, the former capital of Batangas. (Batangas City became the capital of Batangas in 1755 onwards).
Survivors evacuated to a new place (the so-called third location) approximately 13 kilometers away on the hilly portion above the sitio of Caysasay. This time beside the Pansipit River again and along the shores of the Balayan Bay. There were already some people living here before the evacuees came in 1754-55 because very near it and down below its slopes, in 1603, a miraculous statuette (Our Lady of Caysasay) was fetched in the river. An arch above a miraculous well was put up in 1611 where she was found again and near this vicinity, a church was also built in her name in 1639.
THIRD LOCATION BY THE SEA AND THE RIVER
This third location of Taal is the present Taal.
Bounded by the Batangas towns Sta. Teresita, San Luis, Lemery, and San Nicolas and water bodies Pansipit River and Balayan Bay, this present location of Taal can be reached from Manila via Tagaytay or the city of Lipa.
The book, Taal (by Paulina Gahol Orlina) has this to say
Coming to Taal by way of Tagaytay ridge provides a panoramic view of the lowest volcano in the world and its glassy lake, while via Sto. Tomas thru Cuenca provides a the travelers an insight to the livelihood of the people of Batangas …
Once in town, a newcomer finds a pleasant surprise in the place and its people. For in Taal, one finds a scene different from typical Philippine towns where the country side is lined with nipa huts and light-framed houses. On the sloping terrain of the town stand impressively large and massive buildings – from the reputedly biggest church in the Orient to the old big houses that have outlived the wear and tear of elements. The throbbing historical background of 400 years, the monuments that bring forth memories of an interesting and colorful past, the singsong to almost harsh intonation of the inhabitants, the quiet yet busy atmosphere that the town exudes – these are the characteristics that make Taal outstanding and different from any other town in Batangas, if not in the country as a whole.
The present location of the legendary town-on-the-move is best described also in the book, Batangas Forged in Fire (by the Ayala Foundation).
The hill town of Taal is one of the few surviving nineteenth century Philippine towns where a significant number of public and religious structures and private residences dating from the Spanish colonial and American eras remain in their original form. It is among the most beautiful urbanscapes in the country, considered one of the two best-preserved Spanish colonial towns in the Philippines, and a veritable icon for the heritage conservation movement in the country.
Now fronting the very sea with its pirates, the people of Taal erected forts and watchtowers to observe the sea and warn the people. One such fort still stands in ruins in Cuta, Nagpulok, and another in Lozada, Lemery (Lemery was originally a part of Taal).
In this third location of Taal, the town survived the following:
Wars (small-time and sporadic battles against pirates and the Dutch, big strategic wars against invaders and colonizers like that of the Spaniards, Americans, and the Japanese)
Small-pox epidemic (in 1761 and 1774)
Cholera epidemic (1820)
Locusts (1804 and 1819)
Massive fires (1797 and in 1825 when 61 houses were burned, in 1841 when houses in three streets were razed, 1862 when half the town with Lemery was destroyed)
Earthquake (in 1852 which destroyed the altar of the basilica and the two towers of the Caysasay church)
Survived it did and as if protecting itself to the fault, the town preserved or tried its very best to preserve its built structures and outlive the attack of the elements. Like a battle-scarred veteran, this “New Taal” endured everything from the volcano and sea pirates to calamities and epidemics and yes, even the human quirk to destroy its past and rebuild from nothing.
Hence now, you can walk in and around a huge town-size visual-aid called Taal and remember the glorious and heroic past of the Philippines in its entire historical timeline.
Must-see and must-experience places and spaces in Taal:
The huge and imposing Taal Basilica (San Martin of Tours Basilica), said to be the biggest Catholic Church in Asia built starting in 1755
The quaint Our Lady of Caysasay Church (1639) which houses the miraculous Our Lady of Caysasay statuette (the Lady is also the goddess Ma-chu of the Chinese)
The old churches (visitas) in Brgys. Balisong and in Bagumbayan built in the 1800s
Marcela Agoncillo Museum (the ancestral house of Marcela Agoncillo built in the 1780s)
Casa Villavicencio (the pre-1850s ancestral house of Don Eulalio Villavicencio and Dona Gliceria Villavicencio, the godmother of the Revolution, restored in the 1990s by the fourth generations of Villavicencios led by Mr. Ernie Villavicencio and his wife Ria Benedicto-Villavicencio)
The 1870 Wedding-Gift House (the Victorian-colorful wedding-gift house built by Don Eulalio as a gift to his wife Gliceria on their wedding in 1872)
Gregorio Agoncillo White House (the ancestral house of the nephew of Don Felipe Agoncillo, an 1850s heritage house with a 1910 façade evoking memories of the American colonial period)
Leon Apacible Museum (the ancestral house of Leon Apacible, the treasurer of Emilio Aguinaldo, founder of freemasonry in Batangas, built at the turn-of-the-century but renovated in the 1940s to showcase the Art-Deco architectural style of the period)
Galleria Taal (built in the 1870s, the ancestral house of the Ylagan-Barrion family, now is a museum of rare historical photos and cameras, the largest collection of vintage cameras in the Philippines)
Villa Tortuga (Another old ancestral house with something unique to offer, guests may wear colonial period costumes and enjoy traditional Taal dishes in a colonial- period setting. Fashion designer Lito Perez and pianist Rogie Reyes “conduct” the “trip in going-back in time”.)
Sta. Lucia Well (an icon of Taal, the arch constructed in 1611 to commemorate where the Lady of Caysasay was found again. The water in the well has healing properties)
San Lorenzo Steps (a 125-step stairs going down to the Our Lady of Caysasay Church built in the 1850s of piedra-tsina and batong songsong)
Escuela Pia (built in the 1850s as a school, now as the cultural center of Taal)
Casa Real (an 1846 structure, now the municipal building of Taal)
FOURTH LOCATION OF TAAL?
For us Filipinos still in search of our true identity … Taal town must be “marcotted and nurtured” in our hearts. So that wherever we move around, she is in us. Nasa saating puso dapat, sa ating mapusok na mga paggala sa mundong ito, ang bayang Taal ng Pilipinas na magiting ring nagala.
When forgetful of your roots … visit Taal, commune with the glorious past of our heroic Filipinos, and stir-up your own family-tree histories.
THE WAR YEARS IN TAAL
KATIPUNEROS AND REVOLUTIONARIES IN TAAL WHO FOUGHT AGAINST THE SPANIARDS THEN AGAINST THE AMERICANS (1892 to 1902)
Many Katipuneros walked the streets of Taal, hid in their dark and narrow alleys, and visited, rested, slept and met fellow revolutionaries in the house of the Villavicencios to also consult, be cared for, and plot the uprising with the Godmother of the revolution: Dona Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio. ‘
The Villavicencio couple joined the movement as early as 1892 (ahead of Emilio Aguinaldo who joined it in 1895). So at the early planning stage of the revolution, it was reported that the Supremo himself, Andres Bonifacio, together with his Katipuneros and other early pioneering leaders of the movement met at the house of the Villavicencios (now the Casa Villavicencio) to plan with and request for funds from the Villavicencio couple. They oftentimes came clandestinely disguised as sabungeros. If only the gallenerias (the roosters’ coop beneath the pew-like bangko) can speak to us how they were used as props, too.
The glorious Taal then must be a well-known hub and meeting place for many honorable men and their fighting cocks that anyone can practically be anonymous amidst their noisy banter in the noisy cockpit. Among those “seen” disguised as sabungeros were Andres Bonifacio (the founder of the Katipunan), Feliciano Joson, Vito Belarmino, Miguel Malvar, Eleuterio Marasigan, and Felipe Calderon.
The Villavicencio couple contributed everything, their wealth, their lives, and their sacred honor for the revolution. They donated their ship Bulusan as the first battleship of the revolutionary movement. Dona Gliceria not only organized the Batalyon Maluya (Maluya is a place in Calaca, Batangas, thus their hideout and camp, too) but by herself led it also in some battles, she a gallant and aristocratic warrior riding a horse.
Don Eulalio went to Hongkong and donated a substantial amount of money to Jose Rizal for the publication of propaganda materials. The couple was also active in the distribution of these subversive materials in Batangas. This could be one of the reasons why Don Eulalio was imprisoned in Fort Santiago, probably tortured, and died just few months after he was released.
Juan Luna painted a portrait of the couple. These (nice reproduction copies) can be viewed at the Casa Villavicencio.
Other Taalenos / Taalenas who were born in Taal and were revolutionaries in the war years of 1892 to 1902:
Felipe Agoncillo, lawyer, the First Filipino Diplomat and husband of Marcela Agoncillo.
Marcela Marino de Agoncillo, the one who sewed the first Philippine Flag in Hongkong.
Ananias Diokno, was the only Tagalog General to lead a full scale military expedition to the Visayas against the Spanish forces.
Vicente Ilustre, elected Director of Diplomacy in the Central Revolucionaria de Hongkong and had doctorate in law from the Universidad Central de Married. He married Rita Villavicencio.
Others are Martin Cabrera and his brothers Leonardo, Mariano, and Aguedo.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR
The violent war raging, the people of Taal survived by harassing the Japanese, as guerillas; and gaining some income, as peddlers.
The book, Taal (by Paulina Gahol Orlina) chronicles the war,
Taal menfolk did not wait for the Americans before they took action against the invaders. Former members of the USAFFE formed themselves into a group which became the nucleus of the resistance movement. They were first known as the Volcan Regiment, later as the Kanluran movement. Then they attached themselves to the 11th Airborne and the group thereon was known as the Blue Eagles.
Another group of guerillas was the ROTC Hunters. This unit belonged to the 2nd Batallion under Major Ramon Zagala. Among the Hunters were Capt. Rafael Zagala, 2nd Lt. Pedro Lasala and Bono Luistro. The women folk too were recruited under the command of 1st Lt. Emiliana Noble. The women put up a hospital in the Public School Building No. 1, and took care of released prisoners of war. The hunters celebrated the end of the war with a victory ball in June of 1945.
There was no other means of transportation except the calesas, but truly resourceful persons like Vicenta Orosa Jr., Aurelio Noche, and the Baleros brothers made use of native alcohol and charcoal to run their trucks. Other Taalenos peddled their wares as far as Manila and most of these were in the form of embroidered materials made by the women of Taal. Those who were left with with stock of American embroidery materials easily became rich. Cigarette making was most profitable. The Castillo’s “Tiger”, Lualhati’s “Aguila”, Vergara’s “Diamond” and Mendoza’s “Golden” were only a few of the many cigarette brands which found good markets in the city and in other towns. Cassava drying also proved a profitable business for it found a ready market in Manila where it was made into flour. From this product originated the famous Tino Castillo’s “Franconian” siopao which people still remember to this day.
In the last days of the war when going to Manila had become dangerous, the menfolk of Taal braved shrapnels and bullets in order to bring business to the town. They brought back jewelry, pianos, and genuine Philippine money.
Something tragic about the Barrion family happened near the last days of the war. The Japanese on retreat, killed a lot of civilians along the way. One of the most unfortunate was Vicente Barrion. His wife and six of his children were all bayoneted to death by the Japanese. Only his daughters and son, Milagros, Nita, and Jose survived their wounds and lived to tell the tragic tale.
A bridge was built on the place of the massacre. The survivors, as a sign of forgiveness, named it “The Bridge of Peace”.
THE PARISH OF TAAL
Fr. Martin de Rada in 1572 established the first Christian mission in Batangas on the shores of Lake Bombon. He was probably instrumental in choosing St. Martin of Tours, his namesake, as the town’s patron saint.
The first missionary was Fray Agustin de Alburquerque, who bears the glorious name “apostle of Comintan.”
From the book, Batangas Forged in Fire (by Ayala Foundation),
The responsibility for moving Taal to its new site near Caysasay fell on the shoulders of Fray Martin Aguirre, parish priest from 1753 to 1756. Hurdling countless bureaucracies, he effected the resettlement in 1755, and forthwith commenced laying the foundations for the new church and convento … The church was furnished with a retablo mayor, bells, and silver ornaments by the next parish priest, Fray Gabriel Rodriguez (1777 – 1805), who also commissioned the patio, cemetery, school, and fountains in the town … Fray de Castro described it in 1790: the spacious and majestic church had coral stone walls two varas (about two meters) thick.
In 1854, Fray Celestino Mayordomo (parish priest, 1847 – 1857) requested approval to construct a new church … The plan was prepared by Estevan Nepomuceno Transfiguracion of Manila, who most probably was the son of the artist Juan Serapio Transfiguracion Nepomuceno. Father and son were acknowledged for illustrating the classic Les Philippines (Paris, 1846) by the Frenchman Jean Mallat.
Fray Mayordomo was succeeded by Fray Marcos Anton in 1857 … he procured the services of the Manila architect Don Luciano Oliver, who had designed the twin towers of San Agustin in Intramuros (1854) … According to oral tradition, adobe blocks were quarried from Cawit along Pansipit River, and then carried uphill to the church site. Women and children brought up the sand from the seashore. Water was kept in a large pit in Barrio Balisong and channeled to the workplace.
The monumental church was inaugurated in 1865, although work would continue until the 1880s. Construction of the second level was directed by Don Rafael Janin, a Sevillan architect based in Manila. The stately façade is built along Ionic lines; two rows of twin columns bear solidly carved molave capitals. Twin towers over the façade were planned, but the only one that was built around 1883, collapsed in 1942.
The church was declared a National Shrine in 1974.
No massive construction and deconstruction happened after 1974.
There is a time for everything, thus the right season to preserve and restore.
The words “preservation and restoration” are contentious words in Taal in the 1990s and mid-2000s. But beginning in 2007, circumstances are already uniting the people of Taal at least on how to really restore and preserve the heritage town. With this as a more profound basis of unity, other issues will surely be solved, as there is now a higher purpose in uniting people than that of personality quirks and through self-serving political ambitions.
Since 2007, the Local Government of Taal, the Church, and the civil society of Taal (informally represented by the volunteers of Taal Active Alliance Legion under the leadership and encouragement of Mr. Ernie Villavicencio as chairman) are now working hand-in-hand in the preservation and conservation of this heritage town.
Msgr. Alfredo Madlangbayan has also his tireless and energetic enthusiasm of restoring the Taal Basilica. Blessed with the charisma to unite people, financial help from everyone and everywhere are pouring in to fund his many projects.
The LGU, headed by Mayor Michael Montenegro is very supportive also of heritage conservation. Months ago, its El Pasubat Festival opened for public viewing 16 heritage houses in Taal (first time in local history!). This will be a yearly affair, among other heritage conservation projects of the local government.
On November 11, 2011 (11-11-11) at exactly 11am, that should be four elevens 11-11-11-11, a new set of melodic and commanding church bells will be installed and rung for the first time at the Taal Basilica. The pealing of the new bells, imported from France, will signify another milestone in the local heritage history.
FAITH, like the common heritage of people and their stories of shared-experiences, UNITES!
REFERENCES AND PHOTOS, TO FOLLOW.