“You’re the weirdest Batangueno I have ever met!” declared my friend Andre after learning that I didn’t know how to swim. We were on the way home.
“Wow, jumping to conclusions,” I objected.
“Well, for starters, you don’t have the accent,” he explained. “Batangas is known for beaches and dive sites; you don’t even know how to swim. Batangas produces the best beef in the country; you dislike beef. Batangas is home to kapeng barako; you’re not a coffee fan. You haven’t even been to the Taal Volcano.”
Hmmm. As hard as it was to admit, he was right. (Except for the coffee part. I love Kapeng Barako.)
But that single declaration from a friend who always told me the most brutally honest words had a huge effect on me. It got me thinking about and reflecting on my being Batangueno. I always say that I am a proud Batangueno but I started to wonder how much of Batangas I had explored, how much of the culture I truly appreciated, and how much of our heritage and history I was familiar with.
I spent most of my life in Batangas, in the small town of Lemery. I had traveled to many islands in the country, from Ilocos to General Santos, and even abroad a couple of times. Admittedly, other than neighboring Balayan, Calaca, Lian, and Taal, I had not “experienced” other parts of my home province. Such a shame.
After that conversation with Andre, I quietly planned a trip to Batangas. I wanted to see, really see, and experience other municipalities and cities, not just the usual passing-through journey. One weekend. A good start. And so it happened.
These are just some of the places we visited in the three days that we toured Batangas. I will be narrating my experiences at each place in detail on my travel blog. I just need to find time to write.
So, does this weekend trip make me a better Batangueno? Hmmm. Maybe. I don’t know. But I’m sure of one thing — Batangas is more beautiful than I imagined. And it made me prouder.