Going on a epicurean tour with the Southern Tagalog Kulinarya Caravan
Discovering the food landscape of a place is like discovering its soul. We get to know a destination not only for its beauty but also for the gastronomic adventures that a place has to offer to its visitors.
Early Morning in Aguinaldo Shrine
And you need not go far to experience this, as we discovered quite a few in our Southern Tagalog Sojourn about two months ago.
Last April, I joined fellow travelers and foodies in an organized tour called the Southern Tagalog Kulinarya Caravan. A culinary toured organized by the Philippine Tour Operators Association, the trip showcased not only the historical and cultural spots of Southern Tagalog, but also the unique culinary offerings of this region.
It has been more than two years since I last updated my food blog. I purposely avoided joining restaurant invitations and reviews to give myself a favor and probably help me reach my target weight.
But I decided to join this caravan because it was different from the typical restaurant review invites. This food adventure included visits to tourist spots in the area, and I wanted to discover the culinary wonders of Southern Tagalog – It’s the region where I grew up in and where my roots came from.
Journeying to Kawit, Cavite
It was early morning when everyone gathered at the Mall of Asia parking lot. Since it’s a caravan, participants were subdivided into different cars that were taking us to our destination. With PHILTOA President Cesar Cruz driving the lead car, we passed the Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) and reached Kawit, Cavite way ahead of our schedule.
The Balcony of Sinners at Aguinaldo Shrine
Our first stop was at Aguinaldo Shrine, our first passport stamp of the day. We proceeded to the garden area of Aguinaldo Shrine for our Magdalo Breakfast. We sampled some of the local food of Kawit, which is believed to have been served during the gatherings of the Katipuneros of Cavite.
The Magdalo Breakfast was interesting. Aside from the usual Tinapang Bangus, Salted Egg, Fried Rice and Longganisa, one surprising dish that caught my attention was Calandracas, a popular soup recipe in Cavite. Its taste reminded me of the traditional creamy sopas, except without the macaroni noodles. Calandracas gets its natural sweetness from the pechay, potato, carrots and squash that it comes with.
Touring inside the Aguinado Shrine Museum
Our breakfast was followed by a tour inside the Aguinaldo Shrine. Our tour guide, one of the immediate descendants of Emilio Aguinaldo, showed us around the place. One of the highlights of our tour was hearing the Spanish version of the Lupang Hinirang, which was played while everyone was inside the beautiful house of the Aguinaldos.
St. Mary Magdalane Parish Church
After that, we went to St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church, which was just a stone’s throw away from the shrine. Before we proceeded with the tour, women from a local organization performed a beautiful Karakol dance in front of us.
Altar of St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church
The St. Mary Magdalane Parish Church, rebuilt after being destructed by the Philippine-American war, is a declared Historical Structure by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and is considered one of the most beautiful Roman Catholic churches in Cavite. General Emilio Aguinaldo, the president of the First Philippine Republic was baptized in this church in 1969.
After visiting the Kawit Church, we proceeded to Rosario town in Cavite to visit one of the makers of the famous Salinas Tinapa. Rosario is along the coastal area of Cavite, making it a top producer of marine products.
Here, there are fishponds teeming with bangus, tilapia, crabs, prawns and other kinds of cultured seafood. Aside from cultured fish, Rosario also produces Tinapang Salinas or the smoked fish. A small barangay in Rosario started this exceptional way of tinapa processing, making Rosario known as the Smoked Fish Capital of Cavite.
Seeing more of Cavite towns and its rich culture
After seeing the production of Salinas Tinapa, the caravan proceeded to Tejeros Casa Hacienda. This hacienda is known in history books as the site of the Tejeros Convention, where General Emilio Aguinaldo was elected President.
We toured the area, including the ruins of the old building, with underground tunnels that historians say were used as escape routes during the war.
Casa Hacienda de Tejeros Underground Tunnel
After our short tour at Casa Hacienda de Tejeros, we sampled their local pancit and my newfound favorite Puto Rosario. This unique kind of puto is also known as Bibingkang Salinas, since it’s made of thick rice cake topped with cheese and salted eggs – just like the favorite Christmas merienda treat.
After Rosario, the caravan’s next stop was the Holy Cross Parish Church and Convent in Tanza. Also known as Tanza Church, the Holy Cross Parish secured its place in Philippine history when General Emilio Aguinaldo and General Mariano Trias took their oaths here as President and Vice-President of the Philippine Revolutionary Government in 1897.
Declared as a national historical landmark, the convent adjacent to the church has a life-size exhibit immortalising Aguinaldo and his men being sworn in before a crucifix. The three original church bells, cracked and damage due to age, are displayed outside the convent.
We then proceeded to our second stop for our passport stamping – the new Indang Municipal Hall, recently built and facing a beautiful view of the town. The town of Indang is famous for its Kalamay Buna, a thin version of Kalamay famously made in Brgy. Buna Lejos.
Garden Salad at Balay Indang
Lunch was served at Balai Indang, where they fed us with garden salad, roast beef, chicken barbeque, spring rolls. Ending our meals on a sweet note, we had bananas caramelized in sugar.
Arroz Caldo of Nurture Spa Village
Our last stop was the Nurture Spa in Tagaytay City, where we went on a short tour of their herbs and spice garden. Afterwards, we were served a steaming bowl of their famous Arros Caldo, a popular Spanish-inspired Pinoy porridge that can be enjoyed any time of the day. Perfect for the chilly Tagaytay weather!
It was almost dawn when we proceeded to our respective accommodations to leave our bags and head to Hotel Monticello for our Bulalo Dinner. The hotel’s version of Bulalo was really good; not swimming in oil since the meat is separated from the broth.
After dinner, we headed back to our respective hotels to rest and prepare for our early morning call time. More adventure awaits for our next day!
The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), Inc. is a non-stock and non-profit organization of DoT accredited tour operators and allied members actively involved in the advocacy of responsible tourism. For inquiries about upcoming Island Philippines Fun Caravan schedules please contact Tel. Nos.: (02) 812 4513; (02) 822 6964 | Fax No.: (02) 817 4608 | Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.philtoa.com.