Batangas Province: A Bit of Paradise
Experience a bit of paradise in the villages and towns of Batangas province because that province never ceases to amaze its visitors and even its locals for its captivating beauty. The province is bounded in the west by South China Sea, in the east by Quezon province, in the south by the Verde Island and Laguna and Cavite province in the north. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations near Metro Manila.
Its land area is 316,580 hectares, mostly rolling and the rest are hilly and mountainous. The province is used to occupy a large area for it still comprise the now province of Batangas, south eastern part of Laguna, Marinduque and Mindoro and its name is no yet Batangas but Balayan. Its capital is the town Balayan.
By 17th century, Mindoro and Marinduque become separate provinces and by 1732 the capital becomes Taal. It was in 1754 that capital was again transferred to Batangas province thus the province is now named after the new capital town.
The locals are known as Batangueños and they are famous to be strong, adventurous, hospitable, friendly, hardworking and business minded. They have the reputation to be brave especially since most locals have their own “Balisong” a Philippine handmade knife which you can only find in the province. Also, you can find here the famous Kapeng Barako, a strong coffee which is considered fit for strong men.
The province is blessed with a cool climate, it experiences dry and rainy or wet season. The rainy or wet season is from May to October and the rest of the year is dry season. March is the driest month of the year, February the coldest month and May the hottest month.
Base on records, it is the least place visited by a typhoon in Luzon. Its location is what makes it less prone to typhoon. It is in between two mountains, the Mount Makulot and Mount Malarayat which protects the province from any typhoon.
Major product in the province includes Pineapple. It is not only the fruit that is consumed but the leaves were being processes to make cloth which is known as “gusi”. This is the material use to make Barong Tagalog which is the Philippines national costume.
Another thriving industry is their livestock industry. They are known for their cattle, they are famous to have the best species of cattle in the country. Their cattle industry is really that popular that every week an auction is being held in municipalities of San Juan as well as Padre Garcia.
They are also known for its fan knife known as the “balisong” by the locals. Every Batangueño is famous to have a balisong around so that one would not want to mess up with them.
Since the province is near the sea, it is expected that most livelihood of the locals depends in fishing. Fishing plays an important role in their economy. They are known for its small tuna although they refer to it in various names like Bonito, Tulingan to mention a few.
Aside from the China Sea as good venue for fishing, they also have Taal Lake which also provides them with plenty of freshwater fishes. The lake has plenty of freshwater sardine, Bangus or milk fish, and Tilapia.
Another plus for Batangueños is their production of local liquors which they call Lambanog and Tuba. Another major industry is sugar. They are not just popular for their sugar but they are famous too with coffee one of which is their Kape Barako.
Other products they have include mosquito nets and blankets; Batangas novelty shirts, furniture made in bamboo. Another big plus is the presence of International port, the Batangas International Port where most goods from Southern Philippines and even from other parts of the world enters.
Immunization or vaccination is not really a must if you visit the Philippines but it is highly recommended for protection against viral diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Diphtheria and Tetanus. These diseases come and go in some remote areas so for your health safety it is better to have the vaccination.
Malaria is another disease that is present in some parts of the province, although it is not a major health concern still it pays if you take precaution against it. The best thing one can do is to wear long sleeves clothes and wear socks especially at dusk and dawn since this is the time when mosquitoes are quite prevalent.
Base on records, the most common sickness that travelers often encounter when traveling is Diarrhea. Tap water is not that safe to drink so be sure you have ample supply of bottled water and this is readily available throughout the province.
Another source of Diarrhea is the food. Eating at roadside cafeteria or stalls can be a reason so make sure that the food you are eating is thoroughly cooked food. Avoid drinking fresh milk since their milk is not pasteurized.
If in case you get sick while on the road, you can readily buy medicines in the local pharmacies which are quite equipped with minor illnesses. It will be best if you travel with your health travelers insurance since seventy-five percent of the clinics and hospitals in the area are private, so you can make use of your travelers insurance if in case you need to be admitted in the hospital. Expect basic facilities in health care facilities in remote areas while health care in major cities in the province is up to international standards.
Batangas City takes pride of its tertiary care hospitals which is efficient enough to handle medical emergencies or any medical procedures. Both government and private hospitals offers the same standard quality of health care. They only differ in diagnostic facilities other than that both have staffed qualified and professional medical practitioners.
Here are some of the hospital: Batangas Regional Hospital, Golden Gate General Hospital, Saint Patrick’s Hospital Medical Center and many more.
The center for education in the province is in Batangas City because of the fact that well known educational institution is found in the city. The four famous educational institutions include Saint Bridget College, Lyceum of Batangas, University of Batangas and Batangas State University.
Aside from the four prominent schools, you can also find Golden Gate Colleges, STI College Batangas and AMA Computer College.
Shopping is sure fun and the city’s largest shopping center is the SM City Batangas. It is a branch of the Philippines greatest chain of shopping malls (Shoemart). Other shopping center is Bay City Mall.
Electric. MERALCO or the Manila Electric Company distributes power to the whole Batangas City however Barangay Talumpok and San Jose Sico is catered by BATELEC II or Batangas Electric Cooperative II. There are other Barangays in the city that is still not reached with the two electric companies. Those towns not reach with the two electric company, they make use of a solar energy device.
Communication. The major telecom company that provides service is the PLDT or the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. The company provides fixed telephone line and internet access. Other telephone and internet service in the city includes Globe lines of Globe Telecom and Digitel Telecommunications. The former provides wireless broadband internet connection while the latter offers internet connection through DSL and dial-up.
Globe Telecom, Smart and Sun Cellular are the three largest mobile networks that have a nation-wide coverage which offers postpaid and prepaid subscriptions.
You certainly can find a residential neighborhood in every Barangay you encounter in the province. Most average to upper income families preferred gated communities which are usually referred to as subdivisions or villages. This community usually features a walled perimeter with guards in every exit and entrance gates. Most of these communities feature amenities like recreational centers, lighted streets, garbage collection and water. Some of the subdivision that exists in the city includes Verde Island Villas, Greenwoods South, Golden Country Homes, Lourdes Village and many more.
Peace and Order
In general it is a peaceful province, their police have done a good job in maintaining peace and order. They provide a good deal of security. You can find checkpoints and police stations in every strategic location in the province. There is little threat for any road ambush so traveling around the province is not threat to foreigners.
However, tourists should be extra careful when in major cities like in Batangas City where you can find some elements of crime although it is not violent in nature. Cases of such crimes only involve petty theft which can be easily avoided if you are careful with your things. Just do not leave your things unattended and do not wonder off to some dark sections in the town.
City Police Station is at P. Burgos Street and to ensure safety of the locals there are police precincts and sub-stations in every Barangay to response to any emergency.
Tourist going in the Philippines can bring up to two liters of alcohol, four hundred cigarettes or two hundred fifty grams tobacco without paying any customs duty. If you are carrying more than $3,000 this should be declare at the customs desk upon arrival and upon departure you can only take 1,000 php out of the Philippines. Pornography, gambling and narcotics material is strictly prohibited in the country.
Important Things to Remember
- If you are invited in the home of locals, consider a few social rules. Do not come early instead try to arrive later than expected since this is the normal thing.
- Dress right for Filipinos does judge you on how you look and dress.
- When meeting someone, greeting should be formal and the eldest person present in the room should be greeted first with a handshake for both man and woman alike.
- If you are meeting someone then expect to be meeting the rest of the family since most social interaction is conducted with family members, so get use to it.
- Bring flowers or any small token to the host as compliment.
- When it is time to eat, always wait for the host before you sit since there might be a seating plan. Do not start eating not until the host invited you to. Get ready for a buffet style since this is the most common for family dinner.
- As a visitor expect to be fed more. That is a sign of hospitality so try in small portions everything that they offer you. Batangueños love sweet foods so expect a lot of it in the table.
The province is a place worth to be explored by every tourists. It is one place where it is full with things to do and see. You will discover its culture and history as you encounter the old Spanish colonial buildings which are up to now still in existence. It is blessed with so much beauty one cannot help but be amazed.
Among the old churches that are found in the province, one stands out and that is the San Juan Church in Batangas City. This church was built year 1788 by the Augustinian Friars. Another historical attraction is the Punta de Santiago Lighthouse. This lighthouse has been in existence since 1890.
Indeed the province has its own share of natural and cultural attractions that keeps travelers busy all through out their visit. Some foreigners even decided to move in the province for good. You will be amazed to see some of the Spanish period towns here and they are one of the best so far in the Philippines. Witness the grand Spanish architecture that you find in some of the 400 year old buildings in Batangas.
When it comes to natural attractions, the region certainly does not lack of it. They have some of the best beaches in the country and one of that is the Matabungkay Beach in the town of Lian which is along the South China Sea coast. You can do a lot of water activities here and they offer bungalows for accommodation.
Their beaches are not just the ones they are proud of but their majestic mountains fit for climbing is definitely awesome. One of the highest peaks and a favorite of the mountain climbers is Mt. Maculot. The famous Taal Lake and volcano is also a sight to see. Other attractions that you do not want to miss includes their submarine garden, Their natural hot springs like Mainit Hot Spring of San Juan; and their waterfalls like Tingga and Ilijan which is situated right at the heart of Batangas City where they developed a swimming pool at the base of the falls.
The Philippines is known for its festivals and its grand and colorful celebration. The province has its own festivals which they celebrate every year. The following are the festivals that the Batangueños celebrate grandiosely – Foundation Day of Batangas, History and Culture Consciousness Week; Harana, Stations of the Cross during the Lenten season, National Arts Month, Tapusan Festival, Birth Anniversary of Late President Jose P. Laurel, Pabasa ng Pasyon, Carera de Paso, Holy Cross Festival every May, Parada ng Lechon every June 24, Subli-an sa Batangas every 23rd of July, Buwan ng Wika, Foundation Anniversary of Lobo, Birth Anniversary of Gen. Malvar, Anihan Festival, Paskuhan sa Maraykit, Fluvial Procession at Pansipit River ever December and of course their Coffee Festival.
By Boat. There are large ports where boats travel from any destination in the Philippines is possible. There are huge ferries which they call RoRo and this does not accommodate passengers only but vehicles too. So for those who want to bring along their vehicles with them then you can. The ferry terminal is the major area for sea travel so expect it to be crowded especially during holidays.
By Air. For foreign tourist the entry point is in Manila to NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport). From the airport you can get to there by land which is about eighty miles from Manila which means it is about two hours and half ride away.
By Land. Air-conditioned buses are available to travel from Manila to Batangas and vice versa. Private bus companies like Batangas Express Liner, Tirtan, BLTB and Jam are just a few who service the route. Once you get to Batangas city, for getting around you can ride a jeepney to take you to your destination. If you are taking your own vehicle then the route through South Luzon Expressway is the best way for you. You can also find direction signs along the highway and it is in English.