Roughly two hours away from Manila is Tagaytay City, one of the most famous summer (and weekend) destinations in the country (particularly for Metro Manila dwellers).
It is home to some of the most iconic tourists spots and favorites like People’s Park, Picnic Grove, the old Palace in the Sky, and of course anything from the Good Shepherd store (yes, their ube jam and angel cookies are the stuff of sweet dreams).
Tagaytay is also the go-to place for weekend getaways for its generous offerings of sights to see (just driving along Sta. Rosa Road leading to the city center offers a majestic view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano), souvenirs to buy, and food to savor.
By now, after years of road trips with friends and family to this part of the south, you must’ve already memorized Tagaytay like the back of your hand—places to visit, restaurants to eat in, where to get the best bulalo (beef shank stew), or where to buy your pasalubong. But fret not, here are a few new things you can explore—or rediscover—in Tagaytay that will instantly become your new favorite go-to’s.
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Ramon Orlina is one of the most celebrated glass artists around the world. Formally trained as an architect, he ventured into the arts after earning his degree. When he came upon scrap materials from a glass factory, he wondered what he could do with it. With no one to teach him the basics of sculpting glass, Orlina created his own methods—methods that have yet to be replicated today.
Orlina believes glass depicts his own character when it comes to creating works of art. The transparency of the glass allows him to play with textures, layers, lighting, and images unparalleled by other media.
After nearly three decades of honing his craft, Orlina has made a name for himself here and abroad. His works of art using glass and crystals have earned him numerous accolades and citations from international organizations and competitions. In 2006, he was awarded as one of the Ten Outstanding Filipinos (TOFIL) for his contributions in the field of arts.
In 2013, Orlina turned two townhouses overlooking the breathtaking Taal Lake into a museum to house his translucent masterpieces as well as artworks by his contemporaries and budding artists. Aptly called ‘Museo Orlina,’ the museum has a four levels and a garden with an amphitheater. Each level named after Orlina’s children, Naesa, Ningning, Anna, and Michael. On the Michael Roofdeck is Greenbean Cafè, a modest restaurant serving meals, snacks, and beverages.
The Naesa Level houses several paintings and the Reflections Gallery by the Paseo Gallery. Guests can go through the Naesa Level to head outdoors to the garden where several sculptures from fellow artists abound.
The second level is called Ningning, where Orlina’s sculptures made of glass and other medium are displayed.
Anna, the third level, contains photographs of Orlina’s famous commissioned and award-winning works in the Philippines and abroad.
A visit to this museum would make for a quiet and relaxing afternoon. The colorful glass artworks—with intricate details, surfaces, textures, and dimensions—is a sight to behold. Pro tip: Make sure to visit in the afternoon, when the sun hits the side of the museum, illuminating the glass artworks displayed by the window.
An entrance fee of PhP100 per person is required upon entry.
A Mediterranean experience
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of accommodation options in Tagaytay for every traveler and budget imaginable. However, if you’re looking for something different, check in at Estancia Resort Hotel.
When driving along Calamba Road, Estancia is impossible to miss—just look out for the white Grecian structure by the ridge-side.
Taking after the simplicity and sophistication of Greece, Estancia’s interiors—from the foyer to the hotel lobby to the newly renovated rooms—are pleasing to the eye and invites guests to come in and relax like Greek gods.
Guests have several choices when it comes to Estancia’s rooms, which can comfortably fit a couple, a family, a bunch of friends, or a solo traveler seeking respite. All rooms also have a stunning view of the Taal Lake. Just imagine waking up in the morning, stepping out to the balcony and soaking up the pristine beauty of this untouched part of Tagaytay.
All guests are also entitled to use all the amenities and facilities within the humongous property, like the sauna, jacuzzi, two swimming pools (one indoor and one outdoor, facing the scenic Taal Lake), and the entertainment lounge where guests can enjoy billiards, table tennis, foozball, and the proverbial staple in all Filipino celebrations—the videoke.
The staff at Estancia are also courteous and well-trained. Their front desk offers assistance 24/7 and they will even offer to drive you to your room (yes, the property is that big). Should you have any questions about getting around Tagaytay, they’d be more than happy to share a tip or two with you.
After completing the first and second phase of the massive overhaul that Estancia is currently undergoing, the third phase includes modifications of the menu offers at Benedetto’s, Estancia’s in-house restaurant. With the help of their innovative chef-consultant and hardworking kitchen staff, Benedetto’s now offers mouthwatering dishes like sumptuous Beef Salpicao; a reimagined Sinigang with Crispy Pork Belly, Calamansi Syrup, and Deep-fried Kangkong Leaves; and lip-smacking Gamberetti Aglio Olio pasta dish. Worried about walking back and forth from Benedetto’s to your room? Don’t worry, just let them know and they’d be happy to serve your meal in your room.
Away from the busy city center, Estancia Resort Hotel offers a quiet place to relax and reconnect with your loved ones (or yourself), yet still have the rest of Tagaytay just a few minutes away.
Unsolicited advice, pleasant surprise
As a child, I used to spend my summers in Tagaytay in my aunt’s house. My father would take me and my sister and we’d walk around the rotunda, which used to be barren, save for the sunflowers and weeds abounding in the open fields (which is now being turned into a condominium slash mall). I have a lot of fond memories of spending time with my dad in Tagaytay, so it will always have a special place in my heart.
Having known Tagaytay as much, I never really bothered asking tricycle drivers for suggestions on where to eat or where to go. But during this particular weekend, for some reason, we heeded our driver’s suggestion of going to Crosswinds all the way up in Iruhin (on the way to People’s Park, a good 15 to 20 minutes away from the city center).
He dropped us off, and immediately, we saw one of the most famous coffee chains in Manila right in front of us. Disappointed at our driver’s suggestion, we decided to walk a bit further into Crosswinds and happened upon Cafè Voi La where I had the best Salted Caramel Cheesecake of my entire life. Hands down, I would drive all the way back to that spot just for another slice of that piece from cheesecake heaven. So, in the end, we thanked our driver for taking us there.
The point is, there’s always something new to explore in Tagaytay—even for regulars like me. The trick is to be open minded and willing. After all, Tagaytay is best explored beyond bulalo, beyond Taal Lake, and beyond the usual.
By CHING DEE