It’s hard not to find yourself in Tagaytay time and again, especially if you live in the southern half of Metro Manila. It’s up there in the mountains. It’s got some nice views. It’s cooler than the “lowlands”. It’s got an exciting food scene. And best of all, it’s less than two hours away.
And now, it’s also got what is said to be the country’s highest amusement park. What used to be the horse-back riding stable beside the Taal Vista hotel has now been converted into the Sky Ranch – part amusement park, part (future) restaurant cluster, and part…uhm…ranch. As of June 2013 it’s not yet complete, but there are already a few rides, and a short horse-back riding circuit, so it’s still a ranch…somehow.
The highlight of the sky ranch is a large ferris wheel called the Sky Eye. It’s the tallest wheel in the country, and with Tagaytay being more than 2000 feet above sea level, it’s the highest one as well. I’ve been to a few big wheels, and to be honest there is really nothing “overwhelming” about the Sky Eye, but what makes it a bit unique is that it sits on the edge of a ravine. Not that it’s in danger of wheeling down the slopes at any time, but it sits close enough that you get the feeling that you’re much further from the ground than you actually are. Like other big wheels, one ride in the Sky Eye will take you to just one full rotation, each taking 10 minutes.
Here’s another crowd-drawer in the vicinity of Tagaytay. Though technically it’s in the fringes of the municipality of Nasugbu, it is normally considered one of Tagaytay’s main attractions. Unlike the Sky Ranch, the Caleruega has been here for quite sometime, and its popularity hasn’t waned since it was first shown to the broader public in a Globe advertisement almost a decade ago.
A property of the Dominicans, a religious Catholic congregation, the Caleruega is primarily a place of prayer, but it’s also one big garden. It hosts retreats, and is also a popular place for weddings, but for many, it’s also a place to get that rare quiet moment, and that fresh mountain air, on weekends. The centerpiece of the property is a chapel perched on a hill, called the Transfiguration Chapel. Small, colorful and well decorated, the chapel makes a scene worthy of a painting. That, and its well maintained landscape, keeps drawing crowds after all these years.
* All photos taken last June 2013, using an Olympus EPM-2 with M. Zuiko 14-42 IIR.