The rolling hills and valleys of Canyon Woods Resort Club offer very picturesque views of Taal Lake and Volcano. Taal Volcano is calm now, and you couldn’t tell from looking at it that it had recently erupted, spewing forth columns of ash and has been causing much havoc for a month in the region and beyond. The peak of the volcano has been somewhat reshaped, flattened say longtime residents. The high-end resort and residential property of Canyon Woods was largely undisturbed by the ashfall due to a stroke of luck, a combination of location and the weight of heavy ashfall not reaching its literal heights. On the way to the resort, passing by the towns of Talisay and Laurel, things are going back to normal although there are still telltale signs of the ash, a grey film lining the walls of commercial establishments and coconut trees remain bowed, weighted down by it.
The Indoor Clubhouse at Canyon Woods was also the site of the recent media event where mayors from the towns of Laurel, where Canyon Woods sits, and Agoncillo, went to reassure the media to inform the public that Batangas and Tagaytay are raring to go back to business. It seems that public hesitation is still there, but Phivolcs downgrading the alert level from a 3 to 2 does a lot to reassure tourists that it’s safe to go back to Batangas and Tagaytay.
Mayor Joan Amo of Laurel, Batangas said that only two barangays in Laurel were affected and they are even preparing for the June 21 Tilapia Festival in Laurel. “Handa na at talagang ligtas at kaaya-aya,” she said of her town. In those two barangays, Gulod and Buso-Buso, 164 houses were totally damaged, and 300 plus were partially damaged. The stakeholders of Laurel have pledged to build houses for the 164. In fact, at the benefit dinner held at the Peak Hotel Ballroom, these stakeholders were pledging to finance the houses. George Go, Chairman of Canyon Woods, himself, pledged the cost of 10 houses. The low-cost houses are to cost P50,000 per unit. According to Amo, 100% of the cost will come from the fund of the stakeholders. The government will shoulder only a minimum amount, she said. Mayor Amo informed that their office will not accept cash, but that donors should pay the money directly for the materials for building the houses. This “bayanihan” endeavor is an undertaking of the Canyon Woods Cares initiative.
The town of Agoncillo, the hardest hit among the towns, is not as lucky nor has as many resources to draw from as neighboring Laurel. Laurel has a fund because of investors in the commercial properties of Canyon Woods. Even the newly built Twin Lakes is also under the municipality of Laurel. Agoncillo has to rely on the national government said Agoncillo Mayor Daniel Reyes because they do not have stakeholders. Agoncillo counts 1,400 houses damaged and needs a lot of help.
Canyon Woods Resort Club’s hilly terrain and lush forests have made it a favorite weekend home for many. Casual visitors can stay at The Peak Hotel and enjoy the vast, lush greenery of the property, but if you’re the sort who has to be constantly connected, you may have to check that at the door because there’s no wifi and data signal is hard to come by, so you’ll be having an imposed digital detox. It’s still a pretty cold February when we stayed, so the erratic hot water system could be a problem for some and maybe not so much for others. But the views really transport you. I woke up at 5 a.m. and the view from the balcony, a fog covered forest of trees, a layered expanse of mountain terrain, atop which sat the city of Tagaytay, seemed like a dream.
Club Member and self-described Weekend Resident Mike Chanco said he has many plans envisioned for the improvement of the property. Perhaps a zipline connecting the Outdoor Pavilion to the Peak and the Clubhouse, which now entails a short drive via car or golf cart. The Outdoor Pavilion is the site of numerous features and is a popular site for Team Building. There’s a Multi-Purpose Sports deck where you can there are different courts for Basketball, Volleyball, Squash, Badminton, and Road Tennis. Chanco also mentioned they have plans to revive the Bowling Alley. The mini-golf is also under renovation.
The pavilion also houses the outdoor playground and pool, a man-made lagoon. The lagoon is fronted by a series of cottage apartments that Chanco said is often used as a shooting location for many ABS-CBN shows that call for scenes set abroad, particularly San Francisco. The outdoors are often used for Team Building activities with tire swings and a hanging bridge. It’s lovely to walk here and feed the ducks, or were they geese?
Canyon Woods is also a Bird reserve, with Chanco pointing to a small hawk and a blue kingfisher. There are over 20 species of birds in the area. A lot of retirees have shown interest in the area because they say it reminds them of Europe, although I think it’s more “Colorado” with the log cabins and mountain terrain. I guess wherever it transports you to, it’s always one to the abounding beauty of nature and also uniquely a product of Batangas and Tagaytay.