The brick made from corals that forms the present ruins of Taal Church in the town of San Nicolas.
San Nicolas. “Estamos en el siglo XVIII”. After learning of the history of the Alitagtag and its venerated cross, we drove to the San Nicolas, a town by the Taal Lake. Since it was raining, Señor Rivera took advantage of the weather to explain to us that this lake was moody, it gets darker when it rains and of a ‘kingdom of mermaids’ believed to be found there. Anyway, it would still be hard to dive this lake because of the sulphuric emissions from the floor of the lake that at 7 meters deep one could be swimming in the midst of dark waters. San Nicolas used to be a barrio of Taal and in this small town, we saw the ruins of the old Taal Basilica, the structure itself very close to the lake. After the eruption, the town has to be moved to a higher place leaving behind the ruins of the past, which has been miraculously preserved for the future generations to see.
The topic went to the polo y servicios. Were the Filipinos forced to work? No, polo is not slavery (otherwise, the fierce Tagalogs could have slashed the ‘arrogant frayle’ into two). Faith and the catholic culture of that time made the townsfolk magnanimous, building enormous churches, monuments of the Faith, monuments of the triumph of Christ the King. Polo is not slavery, it is the bayanihan. It is also interesting to note how the Tagalogs did not know the art of using stone to construct a building. The Chinos cristianos did taught us this wonderful art and they themselves have contributed largely to such beautiful old churches.
Here we also learned how Taal was connected with the renowned Galleon Trade. When Salcedo arrived in this area, he saw chinese men tied to bamboo post, about to be skinned by babaylanes. Their skin would later be used as body covering (like clothes) pierced with feathers. The conquistador rescued them and sent the freed Chinese men to Manila, where they were helped to return to their country. Months later, they returned with hundreds of Chinese ships, loaded with porcelains and silk. Governor General Legazpi thought that these products be better sent to Spain. Here started the Galleon Trade, where ships would travel from Manila to Acapulco, Mexico. When it returns to Manila, it brings a lot of gold and silvers which turned the Philippines to a prosperous state.