Last weekend, my PDE batch 33rd in UPSE were invited by our then batch adviser and our wedding sponsor, our Ninong Prof. Ruping Alonzo, to visit them and their house at Tagaytay Midlands. Two of my batchmates came, Cynmthia and Joey. I brought my wife Ella and our baby, Elle Marie. We hitched with Cynthia, she was driving a Ford Everest, wow!
From SLEX, we took the Calamba-Batino road. It's less scenic, the roads are narrow, lots of humps, but so near. Before you knew it, you are already in Midlands. There's another route going there, via Sta. Rosa exit, but you have to pass through Silang, then Tagaytay, then go up to Tagaytay Highlands, go down to Midlands. The Batino road is shorter by around 14 kms., quite a lot of savings in time and fuel.
Before we went to Sir Ruping's house, we toured the whole area, watching the beautiful vacation houses. The streets there are named after condiments like Basil, Mint, etc. There are more vacant lots than houses, though I think it won't take long and the place will be teeming with more new houses.
Ninong Ruping's house is cool -- fresh air, clean surroundings, neat interiors, 2-storey, the window glasses are wide. You don't need electric fan or air-con and you don't need lights, the glass windows allow ample sunlight. They have a butterfly house/net with lots of colorful flowers. Ninang Mel likes some gardening.
The couple brought us to Tagaytay Highlands for a tour. We visited the nipa cottages, some accommodations there are affordable. There are 2 swimming pools, one each for adults and children. Then we went to highlands country club. It's beautiful and spacious. In front of it is a wide and clean swimming pool, an arch footbridge over the pool, artificial waterfalls on the sides, a view of the log cabins/houses and golf course on the other side. We obviously took lots of pictures.
Then we went for an ice cream at a small pond where people can rent a fishing rod and catch tilapia. Whatever you catch, you can bring them home, no need to pay them. Problem is that the fishes are small, so people normally throw whatever they catch back to the pond.
Near the pond is the chapel, it's cool too -- circular, like the UP chapel, but this one's smaller; all wood structures, the roof is cogon, the benches are those solid wood. The Jesus on the cross is also made of wood.
A few meters away is the horse-back riding oval. The horses look healthier and taller than the horses in other resorts at Tagaytay proper.
Then we went to the tallest part of Highlands -- a restaurant perched atop a narrow but tall hill. From the top, you can see the high-rise condos and log cabins of Highlands, the bright-colored houses in the Midlands, on one side, and Taal lake on the other side. And here's the killer: the wind there is so strong and cold, those who did not bring a jacket have to stay away after sometime. My baby enjoyed the strong wind so much!
From there, we went for a brief train ride, steep downhill, from highlands to midlands, it's free! We sat in the front car or train, it's a bit scary looking down the steep downhill as the train move downwards. Three minutes later, we're at the midlands clubhouse.
We were supposed to ride the cable car too, but they did not operate it that day, the wind was strong for the cable cars, Sayang.
From there, we went back to Ninong Ruping's house. Other friends from PDE batch 37th who joined us brought lots of food, so we had a heavy afternoon snacks. Some just sat or played around in the open grass area in front of the house, others stayed inside. It's very comfy whether you're inside or outside the house. My baby enjoyed it outside.
The sun has already set when we bid goodbye and profusely thanked the couple for the invite. Prodded upon by the kinetic energy released by the 4 bottles of beer in my brain, I gave an extemporaneous brief speech, something like, "dahil sa kabayanihan ng mag-asawa, tayo ay sumaya!" Heh, corny. I didn't say that. I said,
"In the absence of the real and biological children of Sir/Mam Ruping-Mel (their 2 kids are now US-based, have their own families there), the social and academic children are here, coming from different points of the country to express great pleasure for the hospitality of the couple. We enjoyed the place, the tour, the food, the kindness. Bring in the band!" Hehehe.