a-wandering wednesday: batangas, philippines

the first a-wandering wednesday post!

our first stop in the philippines when we left manila was the province of batangas, where andrew's family is from.  the road from manila to batangas winds through the mountains and tiny towns, including the town of tagaytay.  it is dotted along the way with roadside fruit markets and food stalls. (sidenote: i totally fell in love with the various food markets we visited throughout the philippines and will be devoting a future post to them)

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the town of tagaytay overlooks the stunning taal lake, in the center of which is the second most active volcano in the philippines - taal volcano.  unfortunately, the lake was too rough for us to take the boat trip to the volcano and trek it, but the views from the ridge above more than made up for it!

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batangas was a particularly special portion of our entire trip, as we explored the area where andrew's mom, titas (aunts) and tito (uncle) grew up, visited their childhood home and other relatives who still live in the area, and heard numerous childhood stories.

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these lovely ladies are all cousins and grew up together.  if you have a chance to visit lemery in batangas, i highly recommend a stop at ian's restaurant - owned and operated by some of the ladies pictured below - for some delicious pancit (filipino noodle dish) and bulalo (beef marrow soup).

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one of my favorite parts of the philippines were the jeepneys - a popular form of public transportation that has become the unofficial symbol of the philippines.  originally converted from old jeeps left behind by the u.s. military and found only in the philippines, the jeepneys have evolved into practically an art form.  individuals decorate their jeepneys in bold colors, quotes, and artwork so that each one is unique and a reflection of the owner.  they are crowded, un-airconditioned and utterly joyful in their sheer exuberance.

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batangas faces onto the south china sea, with lovely black sand beaches and comfortably warm, calm water.

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on the way back to manila, we made a quick stop in the town of taal to see the magnificent basilica de san martin de tours - the largest church in the philippines.  construction on the church began in 1754, after the original church was destroyed by an eruption of the taal volcano.

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