Manila and its ironies. The city is both charming and chaotic which can be a challenge to new travelers in the country. The superficial grime and bustling streets can be intimidating but find time to see past it and discover Manila’s true character beyond skin-deep. And what a better way to start is staying at the heart of city, Waterfront Manila Pavilion. A 50-year old hotel in Ermita brimming with history yet keeping up with the modern times. An iconic witness to the ever changing city.
In a span of a decade, I can say I am seeing how Batanes transform. Recently, accommodations are on the rise to cater to the increasing number of tourist in the country’s smallest province up north. While new ones are being built or old homes converted into homestay, a long-time establishment asserts its place in Basco. Pension Ivatan, a small hometel with a restaurant known to serve Ivatan cuisines is already considered an institution. I have seen the trend of dining options come and go in Batanes but this is one of those that has stayed ever since I remember.
Our second day in Nueva Ecija began in Cabanatuan City, with a filling buffet breakfast courtesy of Harvest Hotel. One by one, we lined up for eggs, daing na bangus, batutay, and other breakfast staples. The taho station also got us excited.
The two variants of batutay they served – garlic, and sweet – were just too good to pass up on. And as it were, I had way too many, which was just as well since our schedule that day was jam-packed.
I think the world already knows what happened to Tacloban, Leyte more than three years ago (November 2013). Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated Tacloban and the surrounding areas putting the region on a global spotlight. Pre-Haiyan, one of the fanciest seaside resorts stood in Palo, The Oriental Leyte. It received the brunt of devastation being located by the beach. But three years would be more than enough to pick up the pieces. Along with the province and the city getting back at their feet, the Oriental Leyte was rebuilt. Last November 2016, the hotel opened its doors again, softly to the public.
It was a calm morning. Subtle purple hues dominated the sky. I made my way to the segmented stairs leading to the topmost viewing deck atop the rock where this private resort was named from, La Roca Villa. It was only in this morning light when I can truly appreciate the place. From this higher vantage point, I could see the Greek-inspired structures of the resort. White washed walls, blue domes, a pool and the low-tide shores filled my view. Immediately, Santorini came into mind.
There is so much action happening at San Juan Beach, La Union. The surfing, the chill night life and interesting eats in the area. Right smack at the center of it all is our lodging, Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa. A luxury Filipino-Balinese inspired resort facing the famed shores of San Juan Beach. This was our home for a night during our Lakbay Norte leg in La Union.
Makati is a prime location in Metro Manila. If you’re travelling and looking for a place to stay within this city, initial impression would be that it would be expensive. A bed alone at one of the hostels can cost Php 500–700 alone. But if you have a little more budget and yearning for more space than the four corners of a bed, it is worth checking out Jupiter Suites in Bel-air Makati. More than a decade of experience is its charm and ridiculously huge rooms as one of its key appeal.