Recovery of ash-blanketed Taal Heritage Town may take at least a month — tourism officer
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - January 30, 2020 - 6:30pm

TAAL, Batangas (Update 1, 5:03 p.m.) — It would take the quaint Taal town in Batangas one month at the very least to recover from the volcanic eruption that “gravely affected” the tourism-dependent municipality.

Taal Heritage Town is dubbed as the “Vigan of the South” because of the preserved and restored ancestral houses that line its streets. It is also home to centuries-old churches, one of which is the largest Catholic church in Asia.

Noribelle Gardiola, Taal tourism officer, said the ash unleashed by Taal Volcano blanketed the whole town and shut down tourist destinations and commercial establishments.

Four days after the residents were allowed to go home, townspeople are still cleaning their ash-covered surroundings. Several people were seen shovelling deposits of mud on the roadside, while others were sweeping their rooftops and flushing thick layers of ash with water.

“Wala pa pong nag-ooperate na kahit na anong tourism establishments, especially merong lockdown for a week and ‘yung buong municipality [ay] gravely affected by ashfall so hanggang ngayon nililinis pa ‘yung mga ancestral house,” Gardiola told in a phone interview.

(No tourism establishment has operated yet, especially because there was a lockdown for a week and the municipality was gravely affected by ashfall so we are still cleaning the ancestral houses.)

She added no structure was damaged except for the Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay, where cracks were seen.

State volcanologists announced Sunday that a massive blast no longer appears imminent. 


Gardiola said it would take one month “at a minimum” before the heritage town’s normal operations go back to normal.

“Madumi pa rin siya at di siya ganun ka-safe if ever na pupunta ang tourist. Di nila ma-e-enjoy ‘yung pag-to-tour. So ang sa tingin ko pinakamabilis na ‘yung one month bago maka-recover na meron na ulit tourist na mag-visit sa Taal,” she said.

(It is still not clean and it is not yet safe for tourists. They will not enjoy the walking tour. I think at the very least one month before the town recovers and tourists will visit Taal again.)

The tourism officer added several establishments have sought assistance from the local government for the cleanup.

In the case of Taal Villavicencio Wedding Gift House, the cleanup may last until mid February.

“The biggest task is to clean up the ashfall that has accumulated from Taal Volcano. In order to clean up all streets and houses for the air to be safe for the visitors, we probably will continue the cleanup until middle of February, after which we will start reopening our house safely to the public,” the management told in an online exchange.

Taal Villavicencio Wedding Gift House is a Spanish colonial stone house in Taal famous for its Victorian interior. The house was built by Eulalio Villavicencio to his wife Gliceria Marella Villavicencio as a wedding gift.  

‘Vigan of the South’

Visiting Taal town is like stepping back in time, thanks to its ancient churches, rich history and rows of old houses and museums.

Around 5,000 tourists visit Taal Heritage Town monthly, according to the tourism officer. The volume of visitors is higher during the annual Pailaw sa Taal in December and Holy Week.  

The Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, said to be the largest church in all of Asia, is found in the town. Just a few meters away from the church is Escuela Pia, considered to be one of the oldest educational institutions in the country.

Tourists who visit Taal flock to vintage camera museum Galleria Taal, Casa Villavicencio, Goco Ancestral House, Agoncillo Mansion and the Ancestral House of Marcela Agoncillo, the maker of the first Philippine flag.



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