Starting the Year With an Adventure in Lobo, Batangas
by Danny Tariman
Most of the time, my family would just be at home to welcome the entry of the New Year with the usual Thanksgiving Prayers and Noche Buena (a midnight meal to usher the coming year). It is usually noisy – with the firecrackers and fireworks – all over the place. After the noise had died down, smoke and smog covers the entire city.
This time, we decided to make it different. We wanted to celebrate it quietly, and still with the family tradition of bidding goodbye to the ending year with thanksgiving prayers, and welcoming the coming year in prayers. We will do it in a beach!
Wow! We are all excited to have a different way of celebrating the New Year. We booked for an overnight stay in Punta Verde Dive Resort in Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas.
We left our home in the city at about half-past-six in the morning. It was an easy morning drive. We passed by Ibaan town driving through a deep ravine and a steep climb along the way, and then about one hour zigzag drive going to Lobo town.
The more challenging drive was after the Malabrigo lighthouse where the incline was maybe 50 degrees! Wow, I felt my nerve pounding! Haha! But thanks be to God, we made it going down, and up again on our return! From the steep paved road, it was an agonizing 3km drive on rough, unpaved roads.
We reached the resort at about 9 o’clock. Just about the time we planned to arrive. It was low tide on our arrival. We can view the sea bed almost dry. The view is awesome! Blue skies, merging with the blue ocean. With an infinity pool in front of the restaurant, it was indeed a marvelous scene.
We checked-in at an air-conditioned cottage, few steps down from the pool. It got a good beach-front view. It was quite spacious for a family of 4. It was clean and fresh, with balcony facing the ocean.
Going to the beach is another story, as the cottage seats on a cliff. I didn’t count the steps going down, but it is easily about 100 steps, on a well-paved, stone stairs. The staircase is really very nice, well-crafted.
When we reached the shores, it was as we expected, a bed of rock with literally different creatures. Just what my son wants! So that he can find living animals he can bring back home for his marine aquarium.
We were not disappointed. We saw not just 2 but 4 anemones lying on the rocks. My son tried to get one, but the animal was so stuck in the deep recesses of the rock. He can’t pull it out. We tried another, same thing. And still another, and again failed. Hehehe! My son just admitted the fact that he can’t get it without hurting the thing, so we left without the anemone.
We were able to collect a number of corals. All were very colorful. And even a live blue star fish. All of these are still alive in our marine aquarium, as of this writing.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a swim at the infinity pool – which gives an illusion that the pool and the ocean are seamlessly connected! Really nice.
And oh, the meals! The serving was very generous! The food was done home-style cooking and was served ‘family buffet’ on table. In all the three meals (plus the fourth one, the last) were were all very full. It was like eating at home with a good scenic view of the infinity pool and ocean in front of you.
On the midnight of December 31st, we did our family tradition of thanking the Lord for the blessings of the past year and praying to another blessed year. It was quiet. But not really. There were some little crackling here and there, but it was not as noisy as in the city. We can view from our balcony the fireworks at the opposite side of the sea – which is Puerto Gallera in Mindoro. There was a sporadic lighting of the skies because of fireworks.
The following day – which was Janaury 1st – we went to trek to a falls nearby. The information brochure says it is a 45-minute walk, but we made it in 60 minutes. Haha! It was an easy trek, mostly at the river bank, with a short ascend when we were near the falls.
The final part of the trek was to cross a hanging bridge, giving us a good backdrop for a photo-ops. We reached this natural pool with water falling gently from the rocks above. It was truly a refreshing view. I couldn’t resist dipping myself in the cool flowing river. It was very cold, and invigorating. Some more photo shoots and then we hit the trails again back to our accommodation.
Back in the resort. We had a final experience of getting to view the inside of the resort’s private museum. A must for visitors. We saw old photographs of Manila and key cities of the Philippines, some old and rare photos of Philippine country-side, antique bayonets collected from all over the world, among others.
A truly different way of celebrating the New Year! Thank You, Lord!