One of our most memorable trips this year was with Urban Sketchers Kyusi at Taal town, Batangas. In celebration of the 450th anniversary of Taal, the municipal government invited USK QC to “Guhit ng Pamana“, a sketch walk of the heritage houses during their El Pasubat festival. The heritages houses were all open for viewing. This was a delight for us interior designers (Hannah and I).
Hannah and I weren’t supposed to go actually. But when they said that the budget for the weekend trip was around 3.5k per person, it wouldn’t really put a dent on our wallets, so we went. Inggo was also there to accompany us but he slept all day at the hotel. Some sketchers opt for the day tour and went home after all of the activities. We booked a hotel named Paradores del Castillo for us three. We’re also thankful that USK QC rented a van so the travel time was smooth sailing. The photo below was one of the first architectural elements we found at Taal. Beautiful wrought iron gate!
We first had a brief introduction of the Taal town at the second floor of the city hall. They provided some local snacks – the one below is called tamales (but not the Mexican kind!). It was really good. The coffee they provided was barako coffee – also known as the liberica variant of coffee beans known in Batangas. We immediately asked the staff where could we buy this. They said they just bought it at the nearby palengke.
After that was sketching time! The photo above is my first painting for the day. This is Casa Maria near the plaza. Take note that we had around 16 heritage houses that we could visit and sketch. Hannah and I liked the striking blue color of the windows and the upper part of the house. We only had a few hours to finish to sketch because we had our first latag at Escuela Pia – the Taal Cultural center. This was also the venue for lunch. They served us local specialties for lunch – specifically tawilis.
Above is a photo of the largest church in the Philippines – the Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, also known as the Taal Basilica. We did not get to view the interior as there was a wedding. The rest of the day, Hannah and I explored the town with the other sketchers. We got to tour the Diokno ancestral house and managed to sketch the exterior at the karinderia in front of it. Mine was not perfect, I only noticed it after the photo.
A funny moment during this sketching session was when we managed to attract the attention of the locals. They were intently watching us and some even did a blow-by-blow of the painting process. They also said some morbid jokes, that some houses are haunted because someone was stabbed by a balisong. We heard that a lot on this trip HAHA.
As an interior designer I really appreciated the preservation of the heritage houses. We have so much culture that needs to be protected. We had our second latag of the day at a museum, then went back to the city hall after. All sketchers received a balisong from the local government. How cool is that?! After that, we went back to our respective hotels to rest. We had dinner at Don Juan Boodle House. Everything was delicious here!
Above – is the the second floor of our hotel. These are just displays of Philippine furniture. Sitting was not allowed sadly. Below – after our delicious breakfast and our trip to the palengke for pasalubong shopping, we still had time before our meetup with the van group. Hannah wanted to sketch another house, this was Villavicencio house. I didn’t bring any art materials this time around, but Hannah lent me hers anyway. So I had no choice but to sketch!
I really liked this house and the white bougainvilleas in their garden. Would have loved to see the interior but sadly it was closed on Sunday.
I only had one photo of our latag session and it was blurry! But most of the photos and artworks are available at Urban Sketchers Quezon City IG page. I could say this is one of my highlights of the year – travel, sketching, culture, food. I loved everything about it. Hoping that we could go back again next year so we could sketch the rest of the houses.