Day One: Lunch at Taalena Restaurant & People’s Park in the Sky

View from Taalena’s Restaurant overlooking Taal Volcano Island that sits in the middle of Taal Lake.  (Batangas, Philippines 2011)

We started out our day with a great meal at Taalena’s Restaurant.

I did some research prior to our travel and found that Taalena was well-known for Tagaytay’s specialty dish, tawilis.Tawilis or Freshwater Sardinella is a fresh water sardine found exclusively in the Philippines. Boy, it was yummy.


Tawilis with atchara (pickled carrots and green papaya) and fresh tomato slice garnish

In addition to the wonderful menu, the view was absolutely breathtaking.  So, we decided to sit out in the open patio-style dining room and take pictures while we waited.  We were practically the only ones there!

Taalena’s open patio style seating overlooking Taal Lake

Us, Filipinos have a phrase “Takaw tingin”  The exact translation in English is “selfish look”.  It really doesn’t make any sense.  It really should be hungry eyes.  We use this phrase when we feel like ordering every dish off the menu.  It took a lot of will power and decisiveness to limit ourselves.

Ultimately, we shared an order of tawilis, a clay pot of sinigang (hot and sour) soup with shrimp and kangkong (watercress), tortang talong (sauteed egg-battered eggplant), a glass of mango shake for me and a glass of pineapple juice for the mister.

After lunch, we decided to explore People’s Park in the Sky to take in more scenery and just let time fly by.  We took another tricycle ride which dropped us off right at the foot of the hill.  We paid the entrance fee P15/ person and had a field day trekking up the hill.  There was a jeepney that traveled up and down the mountain.  There was an additional cost to hitch a lift but we decided to walk up, burn some of our delicious lunch and take advantage of the lovely view from different angles while climbing up the hill.

From what I’ve read, People’s Park in the Sky is where former President Marcos had a grand palace once known as the “Palace in the Sky”  built to cater to U.S President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.  The home had several floors and has a grand view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano Island.  Unfortunately, the building is now derelict with crumbling concrete walls and dripping water everywhere.

There is a grotto and a wonderful plaza with a grandstand in the middle of a garden.  Vendors occupy stalls built on one of the lower floors of the building and a small canteen.  I don’t know what they had to offer since we’d just eaten.  We just walked around and enjoyed the clean fresh air overlooking the Crosswinds Tagaytay complex.

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