Metro Batangas is a minor metropolitan area of the Philippines, in Batangas province. The area contains 23% of the provincial population, and is a commercial, industrial and educational center. The area is entirely coastal, and houses Batangas Port, an important entry point to the rest of the Philippine archipelago.
Cities and towns
The metropolitan area is centered on its three major settlements.
- 1 Batangas City - The provincial capital of Batangas, a port city, and a university town, it is known for its rich history and culture, with a historic plaza and basilica, some ancestral homes, a Neoclassical capitol building, and its colorful festivals and devotions.
- 2 Bauan - Industrial and residential suburb, gateway to Mabini. One major landmark is a Catholic church housing an image of the Holy Cross created from a local species of tree.
San Pascual, another suburb, is sandwiched between Batangas City and Bauan, but it has no interesting sites, and is treated as part of Bauan for practical reasons and historical links.
- 3 Mabini - Commonly called Anilao by tourists, it is the birthplace of scuba diving in the Philippines.
- 4 Tingloy - Little island town with some off-the-beaten track attractions.
Metro Batangas houses many major industries, shopping centers and higher education institutions. It was once considered one of the nine recognized metropolitan areas of the Philippines, until it was reduced to the four major areas, Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Iloilo–Guimaras and Metro Davao. The area has significant growth enough to become a large metro area, but it is not certain whether Metro Batangas will be recognized again. Developments in the area remains horizontal, and it is yet to grow a skyline complemented by a mountainous backdrop, but it is found in the regional long-term plan.
The metropolitan area has over 625,378 people, the total population of constituent areas according to the 2015 Philippine census. Residents are mostly Tagalog and Visayan, with a Filipino Chinese minority. The area has a small expat community formed by ethnic Chinese, some Nigerians, and a few whites, but foreign tourists, primarily East Asians, can be encountered in the tourist areas.
This region administratively corresponds to the 2nd district and 5th districts of Batangas by law (the area corresponded to the 2nd district until 2016).
Travel between Manila and the southern Philippines by land and sea will entail travel through Metro Batangas, thanks to the completed expressway connection. There is a sufficient number of hotels to spend a layover before travelling onward on either direction. This area houses the second largest interinsular and international seaport in the Philippines and peak seasons (Holy Week, All Saints' Day, Christmas and New Year) can be the worst time to travel by ferry, so plan accordingly.
Batangas Port is the major point of entry by sea; RoRo (roll-on/roll-off)ferries, interisland ships, and motorboats serve this port. This is the sea transport hub to other areas outside CALABARZON.
There are two major bus terminals, all in Batangas City. Numerous bus routes from Metro Manila serve Batangas City; Jam, DLTB and Alps provide most service. Other bus operators are Southern Carrier (rebranded provincial service of RRCG, operates from Alabang), N Dela Rosa (from Alabang, some from Cubao or Taft/Buendia) and Supreme Transport (from Lucena via San Juan). Buses from Mindoro or Visayas also serve the area; those buses take numerous RoRo ferries on their route.
The region is reachable by road from any corner of Batangas, except Tingloy. The STAR Tollway runs from Santo Tomas through Lipa and ends at the roundabout in Balagtas. Jose P. Laurel Highway (Route 4) spurs off from Maharlika Highway in Santo Tomas and passes through Tanauan and Lipa and ends at the Poblacion of Batangas City; it is the toll-free alternative to STAR. Palico-Balayan-Batangas Road (Route 436) runs from western Batangas and ends at the same point where Jose P. Laurel Highway terminates. Batangas-Quezon Road (Route 435) runs from Tiaong, Quezon through eastern Batangas, and terminates at N4 in Balagtas. Only STAR Tollway is a wide divided highway; all others are undivided roads passing through residential areas.
Jeepneys form the backbone of public transportation in the metro. They are the cheapest way to get around the metro, but are cramped, with the risk of pickpockets. You can catch a jeepney from the bus terminals in Batangas City and practically bring you anywhere in the metro. Just look at the painted signs in the front and sides of the vehicle for their routes.
Jeepneys running routes in Batangas City and surroundings follow a route numbering and color coding scheme, but they are hardly used when asking for a route, and locals rely on their destination. Some significant jeepney routes are:
- Routes BP-02 Batangas-Alangilan and BP-05 Batangas-Balagtas (color code: yellow) provide a connection Grand Terminal and Batangas city proper, through the northern suburbs.
- Route BW-02 Batangas City-Bauan (color code: blue) connects either the Grand Terminal or Batangas city proper with the town of Bauan.
- Route BW-05 Batangas City-Mabini (color code: blue) runs from the Grand Terminal to Mabini, where it follows a counterclockwise loop through the municipality's main artery passing through the barangays housing the resorts. They no longer run to Batangas city proper, so to reach Mabini from there, take route BW-02 and transfer to BW-05 near the port (at the suburban barangay of Bolbok) or at Bauan.
- Routes BP-03 Batangas-Capitolio-Hospital (color code: white), BS-01 Batangas-Libjo and BS-05 Batangas-San Isidro (color codes: green) link Batangas City's two major commercial centers, the city proper and Pallocan.
Tricycles serves as the only mode of transport nearest to a taxi, and the only way to reach the other corners of the metro not served by jeepneys. In practice, they are a kind of share taxi, and you will ride with many passengers in the same route. The tricycle around Batangas City and area has a sidecar for two persons, but is not intended for large-build foreigners, so riding behind the driver is the best option if you are tall. Fares are very cheap, starting at ₱8, and can be expensive when used for long distances, so bargain with the driver before setting out.
The downtowns of Batangas City and Bauan date back to the Spanish era, so there are many narrow streets and on-street parking is limited. Traffic is slow and many streets are marked as one-way. With public transportation reaching most nooks and crannies, car travel is only useful if going off the beaten path, where you risk getting scammed on a tricycle ride, and you have to sit for over a hour on a crowded jeepney stopping at every village along the way.
Some significant sights in the region are its historical buildings and churches, but elsewhere, there are little to none to see
Batangas City's downtown has a renowned plaza dating back to the Spanish era, as well as the historical Basilica of the Immaculate Conception directly in front of it. Other sights are the ancestral houses of prominent local families, the provincial capitol building with its American-era Neoclassical architecture, and Monte Maria Batangas.
All major hotels have restaurants, and most malls have a bunch of them. The region also has lots of restaurants specialized in local cuisine like lomi (rice and egg noodles, akin to lar mee). Many local restaurants are clustered around the Pallocan and Diversion Road areas in Batangas City.
Batangas City has a significant number of hotels of almost all classes, from basic backpacker inns to splurge hotels having almost all the frills you may find in Western ones, except they are far cheaper than back home. Mabini and Lobo has a good number of beach resorts; Batangas City has a few seaside ones and almost lack them, but there are numerous inland resorts off the beaten path.
The region has relatively few traveller hassles, but watch out for pickpockets and beggars in the city. Tricycles drivers are notorious for overcharging unwary travellers, so haggle for an agreeable fare.
Most points on Batangas is reachable from the metro. If you are coming from the south, there are buses that will take you to Metro Manila or Lucena. You can hop into a jeepney to other major destinations of the province. Travelling on your own by car or motorbike is rather for the adventurous, with traffic jams, narrow roads, and aggressive drivers, but the surrounding regions are well connected by road.
To the south, Puerto Galera and Mindoro is reachable by RoRo ferry, fast craft or motorboat. Boracay, though closed for six months during 2018, can be reached by ship or by bus-and-ferry combinations via Mindoro (Calapan and Roxas).