I’ve always lived in the North. Save for the couple of years that I lived in Makati, I never really ventured south. It’s too far, I always say. I wince at the thought of having to travel all the way to Fort Bonifacio or the Mall of Asia. Last February, when we went to Tagaytay, we passed several budding real estate properties, I kept on thinking, “I wouldn’t want to live here; it’s too far!”
Verdana Homes and Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet changed my mind though. Apart from the plans for a new business center right in the heart of the south, Anton showed us the best that the south has to offer.
After a short presentation at Verdana Homes Mamplasan’s clubhouse, we set off to our first destination: Ilog Maria Honey Bee Farm. Established by Joel Magsaysay and his family, this is a working farm. The most impressive aspect of their farm is how they’re actively working to lower their carbon emissions. They use energy efficient electrical appliances, utilize solar energy and even store and re-use rainwater. Ilog Maria, aside from producing and selling honey, also sells beeswax candles, mosquito repellants, and organic soap — basically anything they can produce with honey.
From Ilog Maria in Silang, Cavite, we headed back to Tagaytay for our first major food stop: Bawai’s Vietnamese Kusina. This unplanned restaurant is run by the Tatlonghari family. Each dish is personally cooked by Bawai — Yong Tatlonghari – herself, and each dish is simply fantastic.
We were all full and content with our hearty Vietnamese lunch, but we were excited about our dessert stop. Just down the road from Bawai’s was Chateau Hestia, a garden restaurant surprisingly made from recycled cargo containers. We were welcomed by one of its owners, Johannes Zegethofer. Chateau Hestia specialize in European cuisine, and they even produce their own wines and spirits. We sampled their sumptuous desserts, and their homemade dalandancello — limoncello made with our local dalandan.
Satiated with our lunch and dessert, it seemed everybody in the bus drifted off to nap during the long ride to Yoki’s House. A bit disoriented, we stumbled down the bus and through the huge gates. The sight of the 30-foot golden buddha shocked us all awake. It wasn’t that it was huge; it’s quite unlike the buddha we’re used to seeing. While the usual buddha has a smile, this one has a huge grin! Yoki has a huge garden, that includes a hydrophonic garden where they grow different varieties of lettuce.
Next in the list was T House, Tagaytay. I don’t really know how T House should be classified. Is it a bed and breakfast? A guesthouse? An inn? A boutique hotel? No matter how it’s classified, T House lives up to its name — tranquility. There are different clusters of rooms, each decorated accordingly and beautifully. We were welcomed by their staff with a cool glass of the most unique shake I’ve tasted so far: kamias. It has a pleasant flavor and not as sour as you would think.
As the sun was setting, we drove to our final destination: Kanin Club at the Paseo de Sta. Rosa. Anton said we’re going to have a feast, and what a feast! Though we were full from eating all day, we couldn’t stop indulging in all the dishes that they put on our table. Kanin Club gives traditional Filipino dishes a unique Kanin Club twist that made them an instant hit, and guaranteed to make you reach for that bowl of rice.
This is certainly one of the best food tours I’ve joined. And this, apparently, is just a sampling of what the south has to offer. The strong sense of community and the proximity to Tagaytay makes living in the south very appealing indeed.