Friday, February 26, 2010


It all started with a friend's blog.

Early part of 2007, I was ready to bring my kids to HK Disneyland. My older daughter was already 4 years old while my younger child was turning 2. I secured their passports, I already checked the most reasonable package available, I was about to file my VL form.

And then I read this friend's blog. "How well do you know your country?", she asked. "What places in the Philippines have you visited?", was her other question.

With these questions, our family's journey to know the beautiful Philippines began.

Tagaytay and Batangas proved to be a good place to start.

Accessible by car and just a few hours away from Manila, my children got to see one of the smallest volcanoes in the world. Although Fran was anxious that the volcano might go kaboom anytime, she nevertheless enjoyed our trip.

    (Taal Volcano)

Attending a meeting in Nasugbu, Batangas on a Sunday morning was definitely not my idea of quality family time. And so my husband and I decided to go straight to Punta Fuego after my meeting. Armed with bottles of sunblock, my kids had a blast swimming and playing and laughing.

A close family friend also invited us to Calatagan, a town away from Nasugbu. Playa Calatagan, with its spectacular view of the sea, infinity pool, and almost white-sand beach, had become one of our favorite places to go to.

(At Playa Calatagan)

(My younger daughter, Ina)

(My firstborn, Fran)

Subic had always been a favorite family get-away even prior to my daughters' birth. With two young children in tow, we learned to appreciate Subic even more. With all the family-oriented activities it offers, Subic is indeed a place to be!

Boracay, of course, was in our list. Having learned from my previous experience, we went there during the off-peak season. And boy, were we rewarded! We got to enjoy Boracay without the crowd and its market-like ambiance.


Cebu, or should I say, Mactan, was our next destination. Our stay in Shangrila Mactan was indeed a memorable experience. Unfortunately, with all the excitement, I forgot to bring my camera. We also were not able to tour Cebu. My kids were having so much fun in Shangrila so the tour was stricken off from our "things to do" list.

(This was taken late 2008 and Ina is so much taller now.)

After two months, we went to Davao for a 3-day vacation in Pearl Farm. My older daughter, Fran, even saw corals when she tried snorkelling for the first time.

(Do I really need to put a caption on this pic?)

We also got to see the magnificent Philippine eagle, the renowned orchids of Davao, the Crocodile Farm, and a glimpse of Mt. Apo from afar. Upon our return here in Manila, Fran brought some pictures of the Philippine eagle to class and showed them to her classmates!

A week after our Davao trip, the entire family went to Clark for the annual Hot Air Balloon event. My daughters' eyes were as big as saucers when they saw, up close and personal, all the magnificent hot air balloons. We likewise had so much fun flying kites somewhere in the area.

Palawan was our next stop. There was this island in Honda Bay where we swam with schools of fish. Of course, the famous Underground River was part of our itinerary. Unfortunately, Fran didn't like it so much because of the bats. Ina, on the other hand, had a blast.

(At Snake Island)

Ilocos is one beautiful place. With its beaches, particularly the Blue Lagoon; historical sites like the Paoay Church, the World Heritage townsite of Vigan, the Marcos mausoleum, Cape Bojeador light house; and the gigantic windmills, Ilocos had so much to offer to all kinds of tourists. Unlike me, Fran was even adventurous enough to climb way up to the top of Cape Bojeador!

(Blue Lagoon)

(At Paoay Church)

(Fran at Saud Beach)

(UNESCO Heritage Townsite of Vigan)

(Malacanang of the North)

(Cape Bojeador Light House)

Graceland Country Club in Quezon province proved to be an ideal place for a family with young children. It offers a variety of activities--from horseback riding to boating. We were even treated to a cultural presentation of Philippine folkdances!

(Graceland Lagoon at Nighttime)

Having heard a lot about Bohol, we decided to see the place which, according to my friends, is even more beautiful than Boracay. True enough, Panglao is Boracay without the latter's crowd. Of course, our trip wouldn't have been complete without seeing the famous Chocolate Hills and the tarsier! (My kids really had a wonderful time here that my entirely went back to Bohol last Feb 18, 2010.) 

(The Famous Chocolate Hills in Bohol)

(Man-Made Forest)

(The Tarsier and I)

(Pangloa Island - Bohol Beach Club)

Last November, we had our BDB -- Bonifacio Day in Baguio! We visited the Botanical Garden, the Strawberry Farm and the Mansion. Fran even tried the zip line in Camp John Hay. Burnham Park, unfortunately, was just too crowded for us. 

The girls loved Baguio so much that we decided to spend our New Year there!

(At Manor Hotel)

We've already made plans to go to Borawan Beach, Padre Burgos, Quezon this Holy Week.  However, we have to put on hold our travel plans for the year because I'm pregnant with my third child.

Yes, I want my daughters to know their country first.

Mickey can wait.


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