Taal is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines, and it is home to the oldest church in Asia. Recently, I had the chance of joining Mr. Pio Goco’s Taal Heritage Town Food and Walking Tour.
Before the Taal Tour
I did not ask too much about its details. I guess I was not too interested in what the tour was exactly. I was simply too excited about being a tourist in my own province.
A day before the tour, however, I learned that around 28 Japanese exchange students will be joining the tour with us. Kevin, a former schoolmate who happens to be a friend of our tour guide, Mr. Pio Goco, asked me how my Nihongo was. I only know very little of it from my dad’s blue Nihongo book when he lived in Japan to study for a few months. 😂 On the day of the tour, I discovered that two of Mr. Pio Goco’s friends will be joining as well. The more, the merrier, as they say.
Things I loved about being a tourist in my own province
Seeing old houses again may have been my motivation of joining the tour but at the end of the day, I realized that Taal gave me more than just another peek at old, wooden structures. With Mr. Pio Goco’s tour, I experienced Taal’s history, food, faith, and heritage. Here are 4 things I loved about being a tourist in my own province.
1. I got the chance to know the place better.
Remember those scenes in a romantic film where couples would go on a few dates to get to know each other better before actually falling in love? Well, that is exactly what this little and humble town did to me.
I know Taal. I am quite familiar about the old houses there, that longganisa is a specialty, and that people get the best fabrics from the town but I guess I have not yet fallen that deeply in love with the place yet until that tour on a Sunday. I learned a few more stories I have never heard of before, and experienced things I have never done in Taal before.
2. I got to discover new things.
The tour allowed me to discover stories passed down from generation to generation from our tour guide who was the perfect man for the job. He does not simply tell stories about Taal. He also lets you imbibe the culture in a simple day tour.
Pio Goco was a descendant from the family of Illustrados, the elite ones during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. He is the son of Raul Goco, the state’s Solicitor-General during former President Fidel V. Ramos’ leadership. His family owns the Goco Ancestral House at the heart of Taal.
Here is one of my favorites among the tales he shared:
- Old houses in Taal do not always have mumu (ghosts). Back then, the garbage of every house is kept in an imburnal, the area near the house where trash is kept and covered in soil. At the lower part of the house, there is a door going to the imburnal. To prevent children from going into that dirty area, adults say there are ghosts in there. Hence, old houses today are depicted as always having.
Another thing I discovered in this tour is the development the museums-old houses had. Most of them now have air conditioning units, and informative and engaging pieces on the walls.
3. I made new friends.
It was my first time to join a tour where I really do not know who the other joiners are. The adventurous part of me has always wanted to do that. (Thank you, Kevin and Kabatang, for booking the trip!)
The tour introduced me to Ms. Lisa Bayot, founder of BINHI English Literacy Foundation Inc., Ms. Miles Po, founder of Pixel Media, Inc., Japanese students from Sōka University in Japan, and professors from University of the East.
4. I experienced the town anew.
One more thing I loved about being a tourist in my own province was the chance to experience Taal one more time.
Our tour began with a trip down memory lane. We had lunch in a manner Illustrados dined during their time sans the Filipiniana costumes and slavery. We used the Goco family’s precious tableware. Yes, the ones his mother displays in the aparador (cabinet). I was so scared that I would drop them at the buffet. 😂 We also visited the houses of Apacible, Agoncillo, and the Basilica de San Martin de Tours. Purchasing some of my favorite foods at the market completed my tour of Taal.
Taal Heritage Town Tour by Pio Goco
Mobile: (+63) 917-373-7346
Length of Tour: Around 6 hours (11AM-5PM)
TOUR FEES: (inclusive of lunch and museum entrance fees)
Php 1500 per pax (7 pax and below)
Php 1380 per pax (8 pax and above)
Php 1300 for students and seniors