Tagaytay City, Philippines

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.

View of the Taal volcano from the hotel
View from the hotel, overlooking the Taal volcano - A volcano within a lake within a volcano within another lake!
The clouds kissing the Taal volcano
The clouds kissing the Taal volcano

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!

View of the city from People's park
View of the city from People's park
Jeepney, a popular mode of transport
Jeepney, a popular mode of transport

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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  2. Kit Monisit says:

    Hello Shivya! I see you’re really faithful to your blog. My blogs come in stops and starts haha! 😀 I just read the movie review, which was quite opposite from what I thought. Well, anyway, Slumdog was quite an eye-opener for many of us here. I agree with Pranav that it doesn’t portray all of India. At least it gave us a digestible portion of India. I’m sure it whets the appetite of those who’d want to learn more about India. 😀

  3. The volcano looks very majestic. A boat trip would have been wonderful.
    And Slumdog….hmmm…that movie seems to have pulled back India to the snake charmer era.

  4. hi! shivya, can u give me suggestion were to stay in tagaytay,place were i can relax yet economical. I had a plan to go for an overnyt relaxation just on my own. Im not familiar with the place but i think i will enjoy the scenery of Taal…. Thank

  5. wow! gorgeous pics! next time, i’m going there! 🙂 my pics from manila/san pedro are mostly people ;), if you’d like to see, give me a shout out.

    “admire how Filipinos are so supportive of each other, so full of life, so hospitable, and despite the language barrier, so welcoming.”

    100 times yes. the people were so amazing, and i know exactly how you felt. the culture is just one where everyone can feel right at home. i loved the food too! did you try the halo halo? sooo good. i made so many new friends…it was beautiful!

    and yes, Slumdog millionaire was everywhere, with most people in Manila telling me that they liked it because it felt like it was describing their own world too, to a certain degree. Manila, for instance, was a lot like India, except cleaner and more organized and the slums were not right out everywhere. we had to go out of our way to see the slums. It was interesting, in that sense. I had a chance to work with a lot of centers/orphanages for street kids, which was also interesting…i wonder how these centers work in India now, the ones in Manila are really great.

    its funny that we were there at the same time! im glad we both had such a great time! 🙂

  6. @ Kit: Bum time = blog time 😀 And of course, you have to come to India to see all of it! Now that you have someone to show you around, I hope you’re already planning a trip!

    @ Amit: ‘The snake charmer era’ – exactly the description I’d been looking for!

    @ Varun: 🙂 Here’s an idea. The weekend is 3 days away! Plan a trip 😀 I’m already planning a 2 week trip around Bangalore and Hyderabad. Too excited! Oh, and I’m adding your slumdog review to my post. As many perspectives as I can get.

    @ Vishesh: Thanks 🙂 Yeap, loads!

    @ Iyn: Um, I’m not too sure since I was there for only three days. Taal Vista is one of the more posh hotels. Try wiki travel. It has a bunch of suggestions. Try picking a place that overlooks the Taal volcano. I’m sure you’ll have a great trip 🙂

    @ Docmitasha: I was hoping to see some of your pics on your blog, but that has been untouched for a month! Wow, you saw a whole other side of the Philippines. Must’ve been really awesome! I wish you weren’t going back to the US so soon so we could plan our second trip there together!

    @ Vaibhav: Thanks 😀

  7. Ya! I have a long weekend coming up and am planning something out. Drop me an email when you are in Bangalore. We can catch up if both of us are free.

  8. @ Varun: Wow, where are you heading? Yeah, sounds good. I’ll be in B’lore until June 1st week. We should definitely meet up 🙂

  9. lightfellow says:

    Hey Shivya, it’s Jude here. Chanced upon your blog from Facebook and I’ve got to say I agree with what you have to say with the SLC peeps. It’s been really great fun. I’ve wrote something some time back and it’s similar in the way I feel for them:


    Ignore the other posts though, they are mostly nonsensical ramblings on my boring life. XD

  10. @ Jude: Welcome to the shooting star! I’m heading over to your blog now to revive those SLC memories 🙂

  11. Glad you enjoyed. 🙂

  12. nice one! i also enjoyed my trip to tagaytay last dec. 2007.. it was awesome..

  13. Hi guys, a Pinoy (Filipino) here. It’s nice to read that a lot pf people enjoyed their stay here in the Philippines. I am a big fan of Danny Boyle way back when I first saw Trainspotting and when he made Slumdog Millionaire, I became a greater fan. Instead of looking at India in a negative way (like how to film “seemed” to project) I realized that there is more to India than the slums that it has. Now I’m hoping to go there soon and see it for myself.

    @ docmitasha: I agree with what you said about Manila being a lot like India. I was able to compare both cities when i saw SD. Kids here in Manila are being used to beg on the streets too you know. I always thought that it was just here that it is being done.

    @ lyn: Check out http://www.tagaytay-hotels.com It’s a list of Tagaytay hotels and you can check out the room rates of each hotels. You’ll find the cheapest and the most expensive ones.

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