Welcome to the second part of my Taal Travel series.
Taal town, sometimes referred to as The Vigan of the South, is just a few hours’ drive away from Manila. It is one of the towns D and I go to for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. There’s a lot to see in Taal, from the historical and grand Taal Basilica, to the beautifully preserved vintage houses.
One of the vintage houses that we recently explored was the ancestral home of the Ilangan-Barrion family, the Galleria Taal.
It was built around 1870 by Domingo Ilagan and Maria Martinez. They had six children, and later on their daughter, Candida I. Barrion would pay off her siblings to gain sole ownership of the house.
Candida’s husband, Antonino Barrion, was a lawyer and delegate to the 1953 Constitutional Convention representing the 3rd district of Batangas. The family moved to this ancestral house in 1944, after their original home in Batangas City burned down during the Japanese occupation. It was Candida who lived the longest in this house, however, several years after she died in 1975, the house was neglected. In 2004, her grandsons Manny and Bobby Inumerable restored the house, and in December of 2009 it became a museum for vintage cameras and photographs and was since then called Galleria Taal.
The photographs displayed in the museum were taken in the late 1800s to 1900s. There were some photos that struck me and made me gaze at them longer – wondering how very different life many decades ago was. The guide explained that some of the oldest photos took an hour to complete, that was why the subjects did not smile as it would be quite tiring. I imagined I would not be bothered to pose for photos if I was in that era. It would have been such a painful task!
The vintage and rare cameras also caught my attention. I admire the passion of the camera collectors. I used to have a camera when I was in high school – back when rolls of films were still being used, and one had to be careful so as not to ‘expose’ the films otherwise the whole batch of pictures would be ruined. Back then, I would not know how the photos would turn out until I had them developed – and if they were good, I had to line up in the photo studio once again to have them ‘recopied’. Having a camera and taking pictures back in the 80s to the 90s cost a fortune – what more if one lived back decades ago! These were my thoughts as I admired the vast collection of cameras in the Galleria Taal.
After the tour, we checked out the Candida Cafe at the ground floor. The restaurant serves the specialty food in Taal, like lomi, adobo sa dilaw, tapang taal, sinaing na tulingan, suman and empanada. We had the restaurant all to ourselves, and it was quite amazing to look at pictures of Taal from long time ago. It felt as if we stepped back in time.
If you have the chance to drive to Taal Town, I recommend checking out the Galleria Taal. It is located on the main road, at 60 Agoncillo Street, 4208 Taal, Batangas.