Somewhere among the clouds lie the highlands of Tagaytay, green and misty, 2 hours away from the busy city life of Manila, the capital. It is here that I spent the weekend, treated to a gorgeous view of the Taal lake, and among people so warm and friendly that it almost felt like home.
The trip was sponsored by Accenture, for a 3-day Student Leadership Conference (SLC), during which all of Taal Vista was filled with what I believe to be some of the brightest minds in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me that despite our geographical remoteness, the journey we undertake as students tends to bind us in no time at all, like we were always in it together. The SLC was styled with seminars conducted by senior Accenture executives, and intersparsed with team activities that made me feel like a college freshie again!
The highlight of the stay was the post-conference bonding with students from different parts of the Philippines, including Baguio, Cebu and Manila. It took me less than a day to become a fan of the Filipino culture, and it took them less than a day to appear as though they’ve all known each other forever! I admire how Filipinos are so supportive of each other, so full of life, so hospitable, and despite the language barrier, so welcoming.
I spent my last day sightseeing around Tagaytay. Low visibility due to the mist and clouds made a boat-ride to the Taal Volcano too unsafe, so we had to settle for People’s Park in the Sky, apparently the highest point in Tagaytay. It is the unfinished mansion of a former Filipino president, and offers a captivating view of the city and the volcano. The Picnic Grove, our second sight-seeing destination, is a family hangout, much like a mini park. I’m still thrilled by our Zip Liner ride there, a non-automated ride over the forest; it’s the closest I’ll probably ever get to flying!
On another note, this trip made me realize how Slumdog Millionaire has shaped people’s perceptions of India. Everyone seems to have watched the movie, some have memorized the lyrics to Jai Ho, and largely, most imagine India entirely as depicted in the movie. I even got asked if kids in India really jump into poop! If you’ve ever wondered, I’d like to direct you to this Slumdog review by my friend Pranav, or this one, by another friend, Varun.
Anyway, it was a quite a weekend, with my first gambling visit to a casino and my first encounter with San Miguel. I’m still beating myself about not staying longer and travelling, but hopefully, there will be a next time.
Till then, Sige!
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I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.