Firstly I should say do not let this put you of visiting People’s Park in the Sky Tagaytay, as the view is absolutely stunning and has to rank as one of the best views I have ever seen.
Looking out over Lake Taal and the Taal Volcano is breath-taking, even on the other side the view towards Dasmarinas is also stunning, you just have to blank out the rusted scaffolding and the unfinished building behind you which spoil the experience.
On my first trip to People’s Park in the Sky Tagaytay I presumed it was a viewing area for tourists that had never been finished because of lack of funds, however this is not the case.
To understand the reason People’s Park in the Sky Tagaytay looks a mess we first need to look at the history of it and a bit more about Mount Gonzales the mountain on which People’s Park in the Sky Tagaytay is built.
The History behind People’s Park in the Sky Tagaytay
The wife of the late President Marcos decided she wanted to build a mansion on Mount Gonzales also known as Mount Sungay.
Many articles state “Imelda Marcos decided to build a mansion on top of Mount Gonzales” this is not strictly true. Because the Palace in the Sky as it was known at the time was not built on what used to be the top of Mount Gonzales.
Mount Gonzales Reduced in height
Mount Gonzales used to be 752 metres (2,467 ft) above sea level, it is now only 709 metres (2,326 ft) above see level.
For hundreds of years the sharp peak of the Tagaytay Ridge was used for navigating when sailing around Manila bay, it was easy to spot because it had rock formations on the top that looked like horns, hence the name Mount Sungay. Sungay in Tagalog means horns.
So what happened to the top of Mount Gonzales
At this point you might be wondering if the top of Mount Gonzales was lost because of volcanic activity in the area, but that is not the case.
The top including the horn like rock formation was removed by order of Imelda Marcos to build her Palace in the Sky.
Who owned Mount Gonzales
The mountain was owned at the time by the government and the Bureau of Air Transport had a radar station on the summit of the mountain.
In 1979 work started to remove the top of Mount Gonzales so that Imelda Marcos could build her mansion on it.
Removing the top was not easy as roads had to be built for access to the top.
US President Ronald Reagan link to People’s Park in the Sky Tagaytay
1981 the building of the Palace in the Sky finally began, after they made farmers that lived on the mountain relocate away from the mountain,
US President Ronald Reagan announced he would be visiting the Philippines sometime in 1983 and it was decided by the Marcos administration that they would impress him by accommodating him in the Palace in the Sky which they were building in Tagaytay.
As it turned out Ronald Reagan never visited the Philippines so did not stay at the Palace in the Sky in Tagaytay.
Maybe it is a good thing Reagan did not visit in 1983 as the Palace in the Sky was not even completed by 1986 when the People Power Revolution happened and Marcos was overthrown.
So why is People’s Park in the Sky Tagaytay still a mess today?
The reason is it became a symbol of the Marcos administration’s excess, a monument to a lifestyle built on arrogance, excess and greed.
Should you visit People’s Park in the Sky
Yes without a doubt People’s Park in the Sky is worth a visit.
Stunning views from People’s Park in the Sky
No matter what direction you look in the view from People’s Park is stunning and the view over lake Taal looking into the mouth of the volcano has to rank with some of the best views in the world.
The fact it is also easy to access is a great plus, it is very rare that you can see a view like the view from People’s Park without a lot of climbing, but there is no need to climb to get to People’s Park in the Sky. You can get there by road and get Jeepney from the car park to the top.
Rather than driving yourself I would highly recommend using Tagaytay Taxicle Service who provide tours of Tagaytay in their Tuk Tuks (Bajaj RE). The ride in these comfortable vehicles with open sides give you a feeling of being closer to nature, you feel more part of the beautiful scenery than you do in a car and I am sure the driver knows far more about the history of Tagaytay than I do.
My personal opinion on People’s Park in the Sky Tagaytay
While there is no doubt the view makes it well worth a visit, the lack of facilities where you can get inside and get a drink and something to eat is a drawback. It can be very cold at the top at times, and also know for sudden downpours of rain, while you can find shelter from the rain there is no where to sit and have a coffee while waiting for the rain to stop.
There are too many stalls all selling almost identical cheap tourist tack, and the staff trying to sell to you as you walk past become annoying. I am not saying the stalls should go but maybe they should have more control over them so they are not selling all the same thing.
A restaurant which you could sit in and look at the view could easily be built and would add a lot to the place, it would help attract more people and could be done in a way without interfering too much on it being a symbol of the Marcos administration excess.