Monday, May 21, 2007

View from Picnic Grove

A few kilometers east of One Destination is Picnic Grove. From Picnic Grove you get a view of the Taal Lake and Taal Volcano from a different angle.

Picnic Grove gives you a nice view of the Taal Lake and Volcano

The Grove itself is a scenic

While looking at the scenery from one angle is enough, if you are only planning to visit Tagaytay once, I recommend you go to several different viewing points to get different views of the scene.

From Picnic Grove you get to see the volcano from the lowest point of its cone

This lets you right into the crater of the volcano

Friday, May 18, 2007

When the Sleeping Giant Wakes

It is said that Taal Volcano was originally over 5km high and that the Tagaytay Ridge was once just the crest of the mighty volcano.

Taal Volcano has erupted 33 times since its first mention in Philippine History in 1572. Most of the eruptions were minor erruption sowing little devastation. But in 1749 a major eruption occured destroying the entire Volcano (Pulo) Island and the towns of Taal, old Sala and part of old Tanauan. Ashfall was witness as far as 60km away.

This was followed by an even more devasting eruption destroying the towns of Sala, Lipa, Tanauan and Talisay five years later in 1754.

Between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the said 29th, it began to rain mud and ashes at Caysasay [12 miles from the volcano] and this rain lasted three days. The most terrifying circumstance was that the whole sky was shrouded in such darkness that we could not have seen the hand placed before the face, had it not been for the sinister glare of incessant lightnings (History of Taal's activity to 1911 as described by Fr. Saderra Maso)

In 1911 another major eruption occured devastating Volcano Island and killing 1334 people. Ashes reached the City of Manila. The last major eruption occured in 1965, killing 200 people.

Taal Volcano is one of sixteen Decade Volcanoes in the workd identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas.

The Town of Talisay, Batangas today as seen from Tagaytay Ridge, Cavite. This town was destroyed by the eruption of Taal Volcano in 1754 (Picture from Digital Format).

Creation of Taal Lake

Taal Lake is situated in a caldera created by volcanic eruptions more than 100,000 years ago. A caldera is a volcanic feature formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption. A series of violent eruptions caused the land around the Taal Volcano, and the volcano itself to sink into the ground. The caldera formed was filled by seawater from the South China Sea.

In the 16th century, a series of violent eruptions landlocked what is now known as the Taal Lake, leaving a single river, the Pansipit River, as it sole connection to the sea. Several centuries of rain and waters draining out to the sea have diluted the lake's salt water and converted it into freshwater lake.

Taal Lake

Several marine species were trapped in this newly formed lake. As the Taal Lake desalinated into a a freshwater lake many endemic species evolved and adapted to the desalinization of the lake's waters.

One of this was the Sardine. The saltwater sardine adapted and survived resulting the creation of the worlds only freshwater sardine --- the Sardinella tawilis. The Sardinella tawilis is only found in the Taal Lake. Taal Lake is also home to the Hydrophis semperi, one of only two sea snake species that live entirely in freshwater. A few other marine species have also adopted to the freshwater.

Bull sharks were among the species that adapted to the freshwater, but local fishing caused this species to become extinct in the Taal Lake.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

View from Tagaytay Ridge

Located in the Province of Batangas, on the border with Cavite, is Taal Lake. Taal Lake is the not the largest lake in the Philippines, being the third largest, but it does have the distinction of being the the only lake in the country with its own volcano. On a small island, named Pulo , sits Taal Volcano. This active volcano gives this freshwater lake its high sulfuric content.

Taal Lake with Taal Volcano on the far right

Just to the north of the Pulo is the City of Tagaytay in the Province of Cavite. Perched on a steep ridge at an altitude over 600 meters over sea level, Tagaytay offers a breathtaking view of Taal Lake and the sleeping giant that it holds within. The cool clean mountain air is a welcome relief from the hot climate in the Philippines. Tagaytay, in my opinion, is the most beautiful places in my country.

View Tagaytay Ridge from One Destination

Being less than two hours from Metro Manila, the Tagaytay is my favorite hideaway when I need respite from the stress of city life. It is just near enough so that you can go there on a whim. The roads going there are good, making it is an easy drive. On several occasions I have packed my laptop and sought refuge in this serene place. Meeting a deadline is easier and more pleasant, over a cup of coffee in the cool crisp mountain air. Click the button on the browser, send the email on its way, and sit back and take your last view of the lake as twilight sets in while taking another sip of Starbucks Coffee.

Taal Volcano up close

If you are visiting my country, I urge you to take a one or two day stop in Tagaytay City. It is well worth the trip. From Metro Manila, it is just a short detour, if you are planning to visit the white sand beaches in Batangas and Mindoro. If looking at the sleeping giant is not enough, you can take a 20km trip to the edge of the lake and take a boat ride to Pulo Island. There you can get a look of the Taal Volcano up close. That I leave to the more adventurous types. Me, I am happy enough looking down at the sleeping giant from Tagaytay Ridge.

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