2012 • 5 • 20
I was a warrior in the middle of a battle. With reliable weapons in my bag — meds, vitamins, paper napkins, and a bottle of water — I decided to go on an important journey back home. Not even the bad fever and runny nose, however, stopped a smile from slicing across my lower face when we finally passed under the arc that proudly screamed “Maligayang Pagdating sa Lalawigan ng mga Magigiting,” or, in English, Welcome to the Land of the Valiant.
Batangas — my hometown. Even when I have a bad case of cold, I still peek out the window and try to catch a glimpse of that “statement arc.” This trip was a product of an important personal crisis. The Poor Traveler, born and raised in Batangas, was a fool for not having explored much of his province. I had been to as far as Ilocos in the north and General Santos City in the south, and had gone abroad a number of times but it was such a shame that I had not taken enough time to appreciate my home. Although a proud Batangueno, I was guilty of ignoring the familiar. I was so used to Batangas that I forgot that many of the places I pass through, the things I experience, and even the food I eat contributed so much in making me who I am.
Even though I was supposed to be at home and getting some rest, I pushed through with probably the most important trip of my life. Combating a cold and all the nasty things that came with it, I declared that it was time to return to, well, the Land of the Valiant.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
How to Get There
Batangas is only two to three hours away from Manila depending on which part of Batangas you are visiting, which part of Manila you are coming from, and how heavy the traffic is. There are airconditioned and ordinary buses to Batangas. Four of the most common destination signs you will see displayed in front of the buses are the following:
- Batangas City — most of which pass through Sto Tomas, Tanauan City and Lipa City.
- Lemery — which pass through the towns of Cuenca, Sta Teresita, Alitagtag, and Taal. Most buses also pass through Tanauan and Lipa.
- Nasugbu — may take the Silang-Aguinaldo Highway route or the Tagaytay-Sta Rosa route
- Balayan — may also take the Silang-Aguinaldo Highway route or the Tagaytay-Sta Rosa route. Will pass through the towns of Tuy and Lian.
Here are some of the bus companies that travel to, from, and around Batangas, and where you will find their terminals here in Metro Manila:
- ALPS Bus – Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City
- CROW Bus – Espana, Sampaloc, Manila; EDSA, Pasay City
- JAM Transit – EDSA, Quezon City; Taft, Pasay City; Cubao, Quezon City
- RRCG Bus – Pasay City
- TRITRAN Transit – EDSA-Kamias, Quezon City; Taft, Pasay City
- Batangas Starexpress – LRT-Buendia
- KL CNG Transport – Cubao, Quezon City
I only know of three van terminals in Metro Manila and these vans take passengers to Lemery — LRT-Buendia, Makati; Starmall-EDSA, Mandaluyong; and Starmall-Alabang, Muntinlupa. I know that there is one terminal at Metropoint in Pasay City that houses vans to the Batangas province but I forgot its final destination — I took a van there going to Matabungkay in Lian, once.
If you have more information to add to this list, please post a comment and I will update this.
The closest commercial airport to Batangas is in Manila so you will still have to take the bus or shuttle if you’re coming from outside of Luzon by air. For more information, please visit the official website of Manila International Airports Authority at www.miaa.gov.ph.
Batangas City harbors an international sea port — Batangas International Port — which serves as the key port in the Southern Tagalog region. It is most popular among passengers going to and from neighboring islands of Mindoro (especially Puerto Galera) and Romblon.
Finding a Place to Stay in Batangas (Hotels, Hostels, Resorts)
If you’re touring Batangas, where to stay will certainly affect your itinerary. Not all places in Batangas have hotels or resorts, or are ideal for camping. Picking where to spend the night will dictate the flow of your trip per day.
Here are some of suggestions you might want to consider.
- If you wish to spend the night in the city, find a hotel in Lipa or Batangas City.
- If you crave an overnight stay at a resort by the beach, pick one in San Juan, Lobo, Calatagan, Nasugbu, or Lian. You might also consider one of the resorts in Anilao, Mabini.
- If you want to feel like traveling in time and experiencing how it feels to live in the Spanish era, there’s a hotel in Taal, smack in the center of the town proper just beside the town plaza, called Casa Punzalan Hotel that can give you just that.
- If you’re climbing Gulugod Baboy in Mabini or Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, you may choose to camp there.
Your choices will dictate how your itinerary will flow. Always take into consideration the accessibility and the proximity of wherever you will be staying to the other destinations you will be visiting.
For more accommodation options in Batangas, visit this page.
Places to Visit in Batangas
The following photos link to more information about these places and my personal experiences exploring them.
Other points of interest:
- Mt. Batulao, a 4/9 difficulty peak in Nasugbu
- Mt. Maculot, a favorite among mountaineers especially during Holy Week
- Mt. Gulugod Baboy, an easy climb in Mabini, Batangas
- Malabrigo Lighthouse, the other century-old lighthouse in Batangas. Located in Lobo.
- Fantasy World, a magnificent fairy tale castle in the hills of Lemery
- Sombrero Island, a white sand-strewn peak off the coast of Anilao
- Laiya, a long stretch of white beach in San Juan
- Ligpo Island, a family-owned island resort in San Luis
- Anilao, a spectacular diving site in Mabini
Where and What to Eat in Batangas
Not many people realize it but Batangas is also a food destination. The abundant natural resources — lakes to seas, farms and forests, seas and mountains — have enriched the cuisine of the province. Here are some of the restaurants you shouldn’t miss in Batangas and their specialties. Click on the photos for more info.
For a longer list of restaurants in Batangas, head over to this website.
Building an Itinerary
Batangas may be only a few hours away but creating an itinerary for a trip to this historic destination is no easy task. Batangas has so much to offer. Whether you’re looking for an adventure trekking the Taal Volcano or a gastronomic delight trying out the local dishes like bulalo and lomi, or an enlightening tour around its various historical sites, Batangas has something for you. The problem is that Batangas is HUGE. And it doesn’t stop there. Most of the province’s most popular and most interesting attractions stand so far away from one another. It would be a lot less difficult if you’re on a road trip, driving a private car but doing this tour using public transportation is tough and tiring. For example, if you’re main destination is the beaches of Nasugbu and you also wish to get up close and personal with the Taal Volcano or the churches of Lipa, finding your way to them is like solving a difficult puzzle considering the time.
With all the fantastic sites to visit in Batangas, a weekend is NOT enough. Unfortunately, I had only a long weekend.
This was our initial itinerary.
Day 1: STO. TOMAS, TANAUAN, TALISAY, LIPA CITY
05:30 am – ETD (Wait for bus along EDSA)
07:30 am – Malvar Museum and Library, Sto Tomas
09:35 am – Mabini Shrine, Tanauan City
11:00 am – Taal Volcano, Talisay
06:00 pm – Lipa Cathedral, Cafe de Lipa
08:30 pm – Check in at Hotel
Day 2: LIPA CITY, ANILAO
07:00 am – Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Chuch and Casa de Segunda
09:00 am – Breakfast at Casa Rap, San Jose
11:00 am – Anilao, Mabini (Check in at Resort, Lunch, Sombrero Island)
09:00 pm – Sleep
Day 3: TAAL TOWN, CALATAGAN
08:00 am – Taal Heritage Tour (Ancestral Houses, Taal Basilica, Caysasay Chapel, Balisong)
11:00 pm – Lunch at Don Juan BBQ, Taal
02:00 pm – Cape Santiago Lighthouse, Calatagan Beaches
04:00 pm – ETD — Travel back to Manila
To give you an idea on how much you’re going to spend to make a trip across Batangas happen, here’s a breakdown of my expenses during the 3D/2N trip that encompassed Sto. Tomas, Lipa City, Batangas City, Taal Town, and Calatagan.
P91 – Buendia to Sto. Tomas (Bus)
P187 – Bulalo (P375 per bowl)
FREE – Malvar Museum and Library
P8 – Sto Tomas to Tanauan (Jeep)
P13 – Tanauan City to Brgy. Talaga (Jeep)
FREE – Mabini Shrine Entrance
P13 – Mabini Shrine to Tanauan City Proper (Jeep)
P25 – Tanauan to Lipa Cathedral
P45 – Tricycle Ride (P30 per trip)
P190 – Cafe de Lipa
P20 – Casa de Segunda Entrance Fee
P50 – Casa de Segunda Camera fee
P35 – Lipa to Batangas City (Bus)
P70 – Diversion to Basilica (Tricycle)
P50 – Isaw dinner at Plaza Mabini
P205 – Cafe Milflores
P325 – Mac-ro Lodge (P650/room)
P1,327 – SUB-TOTAL
P11 – Batangas City to Balagtas (Jeep)
P17 – Balagtas to Casa Rap (Brgy. Banay-Banay, San Jose) (Jeep)
P130 – Tapang Casa Rap meal
P80 – Halo-halo (Casa Rap)
P17 – Casa Rap to Lipa City (Jeep)
P49 – Lipa to Taal Town (Jeep)
P2 – Caysasay Shrine to Lemery (boat)
P30 – Lemery to Balayan (Bus)
P10 – Trike to Balayan Town Proper from Highway
P125 – Trike to Ronco Beach Resort (P250/trip)
P1000 – Ronco Beach Resort overnight stay (P2000/room)
P1,471 – SUB-TOTAL
P125 – Ronco to Calatagan Bayan (with stop at Calatagan Lighthouse)
P38 – Calatagan to Lian (Jeep)
P25 – Lian to Palico (Jeep)
P30 – Trike to Kainan sa Dalampasigan
P305 – Kainan sa Dalampasigan
P15 – Kainan to Nasugbu Terminal (Trike, P30/trip)
P78 – Nasugbu to Tagaytay (Bus)
P616 – SUB-TOTAL
TOTAL – P3,414
Note that when I did this trip, I was with a friend. You can bring this cost significantly lower if you’re part of a bigger group. As always, I have to remind you that your spending habits are different from mine so please use this breakdown as a guide only, just so you have an idea on how much to prepare.
The Poor Traveler had been to a number of places in and out of the country but this trip is probably the closest to my heart. Batangas is my hometown and this tour gave me an opportunity to learn more about the place I was born and raised in. It allowed me to explore and understand my province’s physical and cultural beauty and, ultimately, myself.