The International Writers Magazine: Philippines
Tagaytay - Paradise Found
Fred C. Wilson III
Philippine resort city of Tagaytay is as close as you can get to a paradise on Earth. The place is a virtual Shangri La. I’ve had the pleasure to have to have visited Tagaytay four times. Once you go there you’ll be a better person for it. The grandeur of the place is astounding! It’s sheer beauty is matched only by its serenity.
The weather’s usually a balmy 78 to 80 degrees thanks to the resort’s high altitude. The food is of exceptional quality, lodging is palatial, most things are affordable and during my visits the sun always shown. You won’t go broke living like a king/queen for a weekend. Tagaytay is one of the few places anywhere where you get a lot more than what you paid for; it’s not cheap but definitely affordable.
Unlike the urban areas of the Philippines the air quality in Tagaytay is clean and devoid of pollutants unlike Manila, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sao Paulo or other musty metropolitan areas. Tagaytay is virtually crime free, at least it was when my wife, our extended family and I were there last.
Tagaytay’s no stranger to seasoned travelers. Why Tagaytay instead of Honolulu, Bangkok or perhaps one of those pretty New Zealand destinations? Once you visit this very special place you’ll know why. With every room you get a grand view of the mountains, the nearby rain forest, the many fairy tale like buildings that comprise this paradisiacal resort, the Olympic swimming pool, overhead cable cars and a whole lot more; but I repeat you gotta’ go there to see what I mean.
Tagaytay has prices to fit everyone’s budget. With prices ranging from $60 and up per night you won’t sleep on the ground unless that’s your choice. The luxury resort has a wide assortment of amenities. There’s the Tagaytay Highland 18 hole par 72 gold course, a number of swimming pools, jogging and hiking paths and the food; four star dining featuring restaurants with cuisines from a variety of Asian cultures; Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino take your pick. Most restaurants are housed in separate buildings.
I love to eat as you probably know from previous articles. When we were there I spent a large part of my time eating, drinking a lot of those fancy cocktails; you know the ones with the umbrellas sticking through cherries; yeah those the ones; I did a lot hiking—didn’t swim much; I did that when I was in Palawan.
Tagaytay has a branch of the ‘Casino Filipino’ franchise for the serious and occasional gambler; Black Jack, Roulette, the Slots just name your game its’ all there. Reader I never gamble but I love the ambience of casinos; it’s the glitter, bells going off, the lights, the sound of people having fun, pretty cocktail waitresses taking cash, credit cards and selling drinks to the players and of course the food. My personal take on gambling; I figure if you want to waste money, stand over a toilet, throw your hard earned cash in the bowl and flush your money away.
My wife used to love the gaming tables. I use to enjoy seeing her have fun. When my wife used to gamble big time she’d let me stand behind her and monitor her game. I’d encourage her to play long enough for her to triple or quadruple her winnings then leave the machine and cash in her bucket full of coins. For eight consecutive casino visits she won eight Jackpots; four casino victories here in Chicago and four in the Philippines. It was on her ninth try when her luck ran out. She told me to get lost along with a bunch of colorful expletives I can’t mention in this article; I did. Since then she’s yet to win more bucketfuls of money and always comes home broke.
If you’re spiritually inclined there are two chapels that offer daily Mass and various other religious services for non-Catholic denominations upon request. Pray, play or both this resort has something for you. I think there’s a meditation center if you’re the transcendental type but check it out in case I might have missed something.
Back in the day when I was a kid, I’m 70 now, I used to do a lot of hiking. Some of the finest trails in the country have their origin at Resort Tagaytay. Why origin; because the hiking trails may start at the resort but sometimes end miles away reaching far into nearby villages and cities. If you’re an avid hiker like I used to be please exercise caution when visiting Tagaytay. If you’re considering hiking Tagaytay; stay within the resort’s boundaries. Aforementioned in a previous article about this fascinatingly beautiful archipelago the Philippines can be a very dangerous place; watch your ass!
Tagaytay’s an artist/photographer’s dream come true. With literally thousands of first-class photo-ops, a wide assortment of subjects an artist/photographer could retire there and never run out of ideas or subjects in many lifetimes. I took a lot of pictures. The resort is fertile ground for writers who seek solitude from the mad rush of urban life. If it wasn’t for the prices Tagaytay would make an ideal art colony and writer’s retreat. The resort is the place to connect with Nature and with yourself.
Tagaytay was once the scene of some high times during the despotic Ferdinand Marcos regime. You can see the unfinished home-away-from-home of the late tyrant perched high on a mountain top from any vantage point at the resort. Though I’m not a liberty to lambaste the dearly departed despot like I want, it is believed that the money he stole to keep the place going was a key factor in bringing about his ignominious demise.
|Tagaytay City lies on top of Tagaytay Ridge a full 640 meters above sea level. It’s the highest point of Cavite province. The ridge provides an excellent view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano; both are in Batangas province. Taal is one of the most active volcanoes in the world; like one of my ex-wives Taal is always blowing its top. Hawaii’s Mona Loa is one of the few active volcanoes that rival Taal in terms of violent activity. Tagaytay City is in the Province of Cavite on Luzon Island and around 56 kilometers south of Manila. 120 degrees 56’ longitude and 14 degrees 6’ latitude
The city overlooks Manila Bay on the north, Taal Lake and Volcano to the south, Laguna Bay to the east. How to get there from Manila’s easy. This resort city is linked by the National Highway which connects Metro Manila, Cavite, and Tagaytay.
Another word of caution; DON’T DRIVE! Whenever we’re ‘back home’ (Philippines) we hire only the pros. If you decide to brave it in the Archipelago and get into an accident beware of the other driver. Extortion is endemic in the Philippines; again hire a professional driver.
If your thinking about doing a bit of overseas investing; Tagaytay City is one of the choice spots in the Philippines. It has vast resources and possesses tremendous potential for development especially in the nation’s top two money makers: TOURISM and AGRIGULTURE. If you've got the money Tagaytay’s the place to spend it. With great weather year round Tagaytay’s comfortable. Flowers bloom alongside roads and ridges; nearby mountains are swathed in green, the air’s fresh and the scenery’s well…what can I say? There’s over 60 convents and religious congregations, plenty of choice hotels, convention centers, and a lot of open grasslands that typify calmness making it ideal for meditation, contemplation, and other spiritual and cerebral exercises.
During the Revolution of 1897 and subsequent Philippine-American War Tagaytay was a haven for revolutionaries and Philippine Army regulars. During World War II the American 11th Airborne Division parachuted military supplies and personnel to Philippine liberation fighters as a prelude to the Liberation of Manila from the Japanese. Here’s a time line focusing on some vital times in the region’s history:
In 1749 Taal Volcano destroyed the town of Taal, the former Sala, and a large portion of Tanauan.
In 1754 Taal Volcano again burned down the three previously mentioned towns only adding a fourth to its list-Talisay.
1911 Taal Volcano really let go! 1334 people were killed and the ashes from this violent eruption even reached Manila!
By 1937 developers started to take the Tagaytay seriously as a potential tourist attraction when heavy construction begun to build roads and other structures in the area.
200 more people were killed when Taal again went on a rampage in 1965.
In 1979 Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos erected the Palace in the Sky as a guesthouse for the late President Ronald Reagan who never showed up. Now this extravagant villa is known as the Peoples Park in the Sky.
1992 Mayor Ben Erni started wooing investors to Tagayay City.
It’s hard to believe such a beautiful place could exist in amidst squalor and abject poverty outside the resort but money does make miracles. Planning a trip to Asia? Include Tagaytay on your itinerary; here’s how you get there:
Well here it is; have fun, be careful and don’t travel to the Philippines by your lonesome, but if you do have people you can trust meet you at the airport.
© Fred Wilson November 2014
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