Tagaytay is a bustling tourist city in the south of Manila. It is a popular weekend spot for many in the metropolis and nearby provinces because of its milder climate and scenery, among others. The city is located in the mountains and offers a wonderful view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano (although these places are actually within the jusridiction of the nearby town of Taal, a town in Batangas province.
I can imagine Tagaytay as being an idyllic place once upon a time. Its hills and valleys were planted to coffee, pineapples, coconuts, and other produce. Even to this day, stalls offering fruits, vegetables and plants are common sights in the streets of the city.
The last time we were there this summer, we did see people tending their fields and their horses. Coconut groves could be seen on either side of the road.
Yet even then, this is a far cry from the city of just about ten years ago. These days, more exclusive (for the rich, that is) developments have been built in the area, especially in that part facing the lake. The roadsides boast of restaurants and hotels to cater to the needs of travelers to the city.
Tagaytay is a memorable place to me because it figured prominently in my professional life. Two of my most memorable works as a young lawyer involved this place. They were both about the legal aspects of real estate development. The first one was a pioneering development in the city. Mountaintops had to be leveled (with proper permits, of course 😉 so that a high end golf course, country club and housing facilities could be built. A cable car was installed to connect the places in this community. When the project was completed, it was a showcase of Western-style homes, such as chalets and log cabins, giving one the illusion of being in a place other than good old Philippines.
My other Tagaytay project aimed to be like the first one. However, this was in the early stages, i.e., land acquisition, and was mired in legal dispute. The parties could not agree on the price of the land and on the nature of the land itself. The buyer claimed that the land was mountainous and therefore could not be appropriated by the government for agrarian reform. The farmers, on the other hand, maintained that the land was agricultural because it was planted to crops. Therefore, the land could not be taken away from them. Of course, there was also the issue of whether the farmer were legitimate tenants or merely squatters in the land. It was an interesting time. I remember accompanying the government officials involved to prove my client’s – the buyer’s – cause. We walked up and down steep and slippery hills (it just rained) and beholding crop trees that the farmers claimed have been planted by their forebears. I left the Philippines before the case was resolved and I do not know how it ended, if it already did.
Many people cashed in on the real estate boom. Developers acquired big tracts of lands from the residents. I wonder whatever happened to those who have exchanged their land for a one time huge payment. I do hope that the payout ultimately lead them to a better life and that they also benefited from their city’s wealth.
I am linking with Jakesprinsters’ SUNDAY POST: FROM A DISTANCE. Thank you for coming by. 🙂 Please visit Jake’s place for great photos.
A blessed Sunday to you all.