Traveling Philippines: Tagaytay, the wedding destination

#patatim2020

Last week, I took a 5-day trip to Tagaytay + Manila. And I just really would like to say that it is a miracle that I am actually posting about a trip ONLY  a week after it happened. This is rare. Please enjoy this moment with me. *proud smug I do still have to post about the trip a month prior to this one. But that can wait. I want to enjoy the memories by myself a bit longer.

 

When I told some of my friends about attending a wedding in Tagaytay, almost ALL of my Filipino friends told me, “Yeah, that is the typical place to go for a destination wedding.” Why? It is so very near Manila. It is a 2-hour drive and has such beautiful scenery. Yes, including Taal Lake and Taal Volcano (which erupted, but more about that later). This wasn’t my first time in Tagaytay. I’ve been here 12 years prior during a trip in college. Tagaytay was less developed then and I did a lot of sightseeing because it was a group tour for our class. So, I was pretty excited to see the area, plus, it is the first Filipino adding I’d be attending.

My friends back in the Philippines don’t usually invite me to their wedding because of many reasons. 1. I’m far away and they can’t pay for my ticket and at times I can’t pay for MY ticket. 2. They’ve forgotten about me being away for so long. But mostly 3., my best friends aren’t married yet.

 

So let me divide this into two portions: my first experience in a Filipino wedding and my first volcanic eruption experience. Yey!(?)

 

 

The Wedding

#patatim2020

 

#patatim2020

My brother and I are friends with the groom, how we met him is a long story. We met through an online game (Ragnarok), met each other personally almost 10 times. Have been friends for 15 years. I will leave that story at that. I’ve met the bride a few times as well, with and without the groom. Both of them make such a lovely couple. *wipes tear away

Who would have thought to invite friends they’ve met online, right?  However, during the trip I quickly realized how much of a special place these people have in my heart. They’re like my childhood friends. We practically grew up together.

 

And back to the wedding. As you will see in the pictures, it was a grand wedding. Filipino weddings are very western. Korean weddings are quite short. 30 minutes to an hour at most. Read this post if you are curious. For this wedding, we stayed for a full 9 hours. And I know some countries celebrate for days! I think I’m good with 9 hours. The dress code was the most challenging for me. Guys had to wear a black tie suit and the ladies, LONG EVENING GOWN. Na-stress ako. (I was stressed.) I rarely dress-up so it was fun and panic-y at the same time. At the end of it all. I looked G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S. (Scroll down…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a bit more, I’m shy.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#patatim2020

 

 

 

The wedding proper.

 

Church Wedding #patatim2020

They have a wedding ceremony at a church. Usually Catholic because that is the biggest religion in the country. Some couples get married at the beach, forest or at the edge of a cliff just in case one of them says, no at the last minute. Anything is possible.

#patatim2020

#patatim2020 got married in a church and the lovely reception was in a beautifully decorated grassy lawn area (I don’t know what to call it, ok?). Dinner was buffet style, followed by some games. Hunger games (yes), to determine which table number got to eat first. Then some bachelor games that NO ONE expected because #patatim202 handpicked a few beforehand and didn’t TELL us (my brother) about it but it was so much fun. There was a dance with the groom and mom, bride and dad.

After a few moments, they showed us the highlight pictures from the wedding. THEN CAME THE SAME DAY EDIT VIDEO, OH. MY. GOODNESS. According to our friend who went to the wedding with us, “we were fan-girling” because it was so nice. Wish there was a link to it already but they’re not posting it yet, so… *looks at Tim*

 

My heart was full at the end of the day. If I had a regret, which I slightly do right now, it would be more about not being in the moment more during that time. (I was on my phone playing a game, because… reasons. Sorry Marci.)

#patatim2020

Congratulations and thank you for inviting us once again, Timothy and Patricia. Kayo na. Walang makaka-talo sa inyo. Lol.

 

Tagaytay and Taal

Bag of Beans Tagaytay
(The view of Taal Lake from Bag of Beans (Athena), Tagaytay)

 

This section will include EVERYTHING about the trip to Tagaytay excluding the wedding. Practically, we didn’t really do anything much. We left Manila at 5AM to avoid the world famous Manila traffic and the vehicles were on color(number)-coding that day. We were up by 4AM and rushing about. Exciting. (Thank you Marcial for driving. Huhu. You da best!)

I can’t say a lot about the food in Luzon in general because personally, I think food in Visayas and Mindanao is much better. #truthhurts #sorrynotsorry

 

 

Bag of Beans, Tagaytay

 

But THIS. ONE. RESTAURANT. Bag of Beans, HANDS UP AND DOWN TO THIS RESTAURANT. Not only was the view awesome, overlooking the Taal Lake and had an elegant design. The food was really good. I know I can’t tell just by eating there once but their breakfast was superb. There are four branches in Tagaytay alone and one in Batangas. And I think we went to the Athena branch. Hundred twenty percent recommend that place.

 

Starbucks, Tagaytay
(At the terrace of Starbucks, Tagaytay)

 

It was a rainy first day in Tagaytay and instead of hiking at Taal or going to the People’s Park; we decided to hang-around in the terrace of a 24 hour Starbucks overlooking the Taal Lake. Say what? It was raining on and off and we couldn’t see Taal at all then see it really clearly but it was indeed such a beautiful day, as well as an awesome time. We practically spent 4 hours there, waiting for our Air Bnb to be ready. We were slowly dying but it was all good. *reversed smiley

By the way, keep in mind that there is a VERY LONG LINE during the weekend (from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) at this Starbucks.

 

Starbucks, Tagaytay
(View of Taal Lake from Starbucks, Tagaytay)

 

Then we went to the Ayala Mall. Yes, there IS NOW A MALL IN TAGAYTAY. Say what, again? It doesn’t have a lot but there is a grocery, 7-11 and a few other shops. It was also right beside our Air Bnb so that was awesome. I do want to share where we stayed but aside from the terrace where we could hang and the cozy vibe the place gave. The place wasn’t thoroughly cleaned so I can’t recommend it.

 

The Eruption

Taal Volcano erupted at 1PM on January 12, 2020 (Sunday). Right before that moment, we were having the worst brunch experience at this restaurant (my friends were so pissed I was scared). We left Tagaytay at 1:30PM after stopping by a few souvenir places and arrived at Manila at 5PM. We met the groom of the wedding the day before for a quick snack and catching up until we started reading the news alert that Taal Volcano erupted. All of us were, “WHAT?” Yup, no kidding Thomas Edison. We missed the eruption but we had no idea. (The dessert place was called Wild Flour and their APPLE PIE was superb! Go!

When we started walking in the streets towards our dinner appointment, we felt the ash falling on our faces and body. It was a surreal experience. My brother didn’t believe us. After a few hours the alert level quickly rose from level 2 to 4. Meaning: the volcano can erupt within hours or days. Scary. So all flights were cancelled. Annoying. We were flying out the next day at 5:30PM. *face palm. Then at 9PM, the ash fall became so bad we had to use umbrellas. The volcanic ashes liked to stay on our hairlines and even lingered on eyeglasses. My friend with a weak lung kept coughing.

 

Volcanic Ash
(Volcanish Ash fallen on the streets)

 

My friends were teasing us about our flights being cancelled. And lo and behold the next day a LOT of the flights were cancelled. All domestic flights were cancelled. Flights to Hong Kong, and other major airlines such as Asiana, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific cancelled their flights. (We were flying with Cebu Pacific). One time, a flight was flying to Manila but had to turn around because of low visibility. Airport operations thankfully started again at 11AM that day. Our flight was slightly delayed by 30 minutes. Our flight wasn’t cancelled and was able to come back to Seoul.

That was an emotional roller coaster.

 

So…

The experience was an eye-opener for me. The fact that we merely missed a volcanic eruption. Or the surreal volcanic ash experience. But how much God favors His sons and daughters and how He answers prayers. That trusting Him despite all circumstances, gave me so much peace. I know I am one of the lucky few who were able to fly out on schedule. I know there are still victims and evacuees who are in need of shelter right now. It’s not to say that I am more blessed than others. No, that is not it. But I can definitely say, as someone who suffers from anxiety. That God is faithful and He saves. As long as His Perfect Peace is within us, there is no external circumstance that can disturb us.

My prayers are with the victims. Let’s continue to pray. My friends tell me that the situation is still on-going. Not only are people in danger but also plants and animals. It is truly heart breaking. Here is a timelapse video of Taal Volcano erupting. I failed to find the article that explained why Taal Volcano is so dangerous despite being one of the smallest volcanoes in the world. The crater of the volcano has a lake and that allows the volcano to steam. Thus, spewing ash up really high.

 

Despite all circumstances, keep prayin’ and keep walkin’.

Photography. Writing. Emotions. Christian. Not the typical Live. Love. Laugh blog but I hope to bring some joy into anyone who reads my words and sees my pictures.

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