The history of Tagaytay as a tourist destination began with an American educator’s vision.
In the late 1930s, Hammon Buck, the American Superintendent of Schools in Batangas, who resided in nearby Alfonso, Cavite, was among those who started buying large tracts of land along the ridge. Buck envisioned Tagaytay as a hill station like Baguio.
Buck then convinced men of power such as Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, American Governor-General Leonard Wood and Manuel L. Quezon to set up summer homes in the city. In the 1920s, according to researchers, Gen. Aguinaldo, who owned land in Cavite, often rode through Tagaytay on horseback.
This historical trivia is among many cited in the History Wall, an upgrade of a similar mural installed on the same wall in Taal Vista Hotel, which was unveiled to the public recently.
It was in 1939, not 1937, when Taal Vista Lodge started its humble beginnings as an inn on a hill overlooking Taal Lake and volcano. It was intended to be a second, if also closer, alternative to hotels in Baguio City as a summer destination. Pres. Manuel L. Quezon himself, who so loved Tagaytay’s cool climate, relaxing ambience and proximity to Manila, was among the lodge’s regular guests at the time.
In 1938, Tagaytay City had just earned its cityhood, following the growth and development of the mountain town during the American period. The following year, Taal Vista Lodge was on its way to carving a niche into the hearts of local and foreign tourists alike as the perfect place where one could enjoy a vantage view of the world’s smallest and also most tempestous active volcano.
The research team working behind what was once envisioned to be the 75th anniversary celebration of Taal Vista Hotel found this out to their surprise, according to former Cultural Center of the Philippines president Nestor Jardin, who collaborated with architect Paolo Alcazaren in planning and executing the landmark hotel’s History Wall.
The Wall, occupying one side of the foyer fronting the hotel’s Sampaguita ballroom, was formally unveiled Nov. 17 to the tune of classical music wafting in the background. The opening coincided with TVH’s lighting of its giant Christmas tree at the lobby as led by Ms. Elizabeth Sy while officially ushering in the holiday season.
The History Mural chronicles the heritage of Tagaytay City as well as that of the former Taal Vista Lodge through anecdotes and historic photographs. It is an upgrade of a similar mural installed on the same wall some years ago. Jardin says exposure to sunlight and the elements led to the wear and tear of some of the panels, signalling the need to have it refurbished and updated.
The newly re-installed History Wall is composed of eight large rectangular panels containing 32 blown-up pictures in either black and white or sepia tone sourced from historians, private collectors and news agency Getty. (firstname.lastname@example.org)