Chapel on the Hill/Labyrinth
A PIECE OF PEACE: It’s a charming circular chapel overlooking Batangas’ serene rolling hills. Chapel on the Hill, located inside the Don Bosco Retreat House compound in Batulao, Batangas is where you go to get in touch with your inner self. A popular wedding venue, the Chapel’s focal point is the striking stained glass sun roof near the altar.
A-MAZE-ING GRACE: The Labyrinth carved on the floor inside Chapel on the Hill beckons everyone to walk its sacred circle towards its very center. An inner journey or pilgrimage, it’s a living prayer done with a calm mind and open heart with a goal of reaching spiritual enlightenment and clarity.
INNER JOURNEY: Take off your shoes. Walk slowly on the path and focus your attention within. Once you’re at the center, look up directly at and bask in the glow of the stained glass panel, and be at peace.
LABYRINTH TIP: If you’re not sure how to do the Labyrinth walk, the Chapel has a step-by-step guide right at the entrance. Or ask for a printed copy from the office in the compound.
SIGHTS: Feast your eyes on this green zone that boasts rows upon rows of organic arugula, three kinds of lettuce, herbs, and other earthy edibles at the farm that supply the country’s well-known restaurants and hotels.
SOUNDS: The farm is alive with the sound of tweet-tweets (uh, no, that THAT kind), baa-baas, honk-honk (goose ‘bumps’, anyone?), quack-quacks.
SMELL: Need a quick caffeine kick without actually chugging a brew? Look for the coffee factory’s exhaust fan and start inhaling the highly aromatic freshly ground coffee. WARNING: Such acts are highly addictive and can elicit goofy smiles.
TASTE: Our all-time favorites—freshly brewed coffee; healthy tea selections; the surprisingly refreshing signature drinks of fresh basil lemonade and banaba iced tea; fresh salad bar with a variety of dressings; pizza and pasta dishes with Gourmet Café’s special sauces and toppings.
BRIEF STOPOVER: A two-bedroom bed-and-breakfast home owned by Dr. Joven Cuanang (the owner of Sitio Remedios in Ilocos Norte), Meteora stands boldly on the winding road leading down to Talisay, Batangas. Its whitewashed multiple view decks offer a grand view of the volcano and lake—perfect spots to contemplate nature’s wonders or have some peace and quiet.
ART SPACE: Meteora has a treasure trove of art pieces, including works done by sculptor Salvador Alonday, National Artist Bencab, and painters Tony Leaño and Jim Orencio.
Talisay Road, Sungay East, Tagaytay City; +63917 332 0217; email@example.com
Taal Yacht Club
Entrance fee: Php 100 per pax
Hut rental: Php400 per day
Boat rental: Hobie 16 (3,200 per day); Hobie 21 (Php4,200 per day); Get away (Php3,800 per day); Topper (Php 1,600 per day); kayak single (Php300/hour; Php800/day); Kayak double (Php400/hour; Php1,200/day)
Located right at the busy Tagaytay crossing, it’s a popular stop for those hankering for Pinoy rice toppings, with a great view of Taal lake and volcano to boot. For Php150 each, choose from these
all-time favorites: Bistek Tagalog, Kalderetang Baka, Chicken & Pork Adobo, Pinakbet, Adobong
Pusit, Lechon Kawali, and Pork Sisig.
BoB staples: Shepherd’s pie, steak and mushroom/kidney/gravy pies, pumpkin or cream of broccoli/cauliflower soup.
OH, FOR THE LOVE OF HERBS
If chewing on freshly picked herbs is your thing, go ahead and ask the Sonya’s Garden staff to take you on a mini-tour of their organic farm nearby. Don’t be shy, pluck out a handful of Italian oregano leaves here and a few thymes there, and start nibbling. Rub your palms on a bunch of rosemary and lavender leaves…and voila, two fresh-smelling hands!
HEALTH ‘CHICKS’: Vegetarian chicken, anyone? At Sonya’s Farm, our feathered friends have a super healthy diet of pineapples, berries and fresh dalandan juice daily.
SPA-TIME: Sonya’s signature massage in three words: Lines, circles and dots. Apart from the linear and circular strokes of the familiar Swedish massage and traditional hilot, the massage is also peppered by short but firm pressures not unlike shiatsu. Relaxing is an understatement; prepare to snore the hour away. A steaming cup of dalandan tea with basil and honey completes the whole experience.
Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite; +63917 532 9097; www.sonyasgarden.com
The iconic hotel’s famous photo-op spot that offers a great view of Taal lake and volcano is still there. But there’s a new reason to stay longer—the refurbished east wing with its fresh, contemporary rooms filled with warm tones further accented with citrus hues.
MORNING SPREAD: Crispy tawilis (freshwater sardine native to Taal Lake), fried rice, and tsokolate at Café on the Ridge courtesy of former Malacañang Palace chef Babes Austria make for an authentic Tagaytay breakfast.
Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City; +6346 413 1000; www.taalvistahotel.com
What’s the best thing about pigging out on Italian fare like pizza, pasta and everything in between so close to midnight? It’s the nurturing nature of its owner, Pholie Mastropietro, whose generosity goes beyond her delicious authentic Italian treats. Taking on the reigns running the restaurant after her husband and love of her life, Nino, passed away, Pholie is all heart both in the kitchen and in this thing called life.
SURPRISE! SURPRISE!: Thanks to Pholie’s secret dough recipe, the 5-cheese pizza when ordered for take-out still tastes great even the following day.
Ponds choked with water lilies, glass globes and ceramic frogs. Arched trellises teeming with flowering vines. Lush foliage all around. Paintings and sculptures hanging on walls. Interesting curios everywhere. This charming bed-and-breakfast and restaurant exudes a Bali-nesque vibe with its thatched huts and its garden suites’ rustic interiors. Imagine a cool, clear full moon night and you’re in this secret garden listening quietly, with drink in hand, to some poetry reading session and acoustic concert, while your eyes feast on the larger-than-life paintings all around.
SNACKS TO-GO: Banana-langka turon
SVD Road, Brgy San Jose, Tagaytay City; +63939 913 9097; firstname.lastname@example.org