Tag Archives: Batangas

Family Fun in Calatagan

Family Fun in Calatagan
by Danny Tariman

Batangas province in the Philippines is one of the provinces blessed with many scenic coves and wonderful beaches. My family had been to most of these, but the province does not stop surprising me with new and “unexplored” beautiful places to go for family bonding.

The quiet beach we 'discovered' along the Calatagan coastline.
The quiet beach we ‘discovered’ along the Calatagan coastline.

After searching for new destinations, we decided that this weekend, we will go to another beach front resort we have not visited yet – the Aquaria Beach Resort in Calatagan, Batangas.

A view from the top of the Aquaria Beach Resort
A view from the top of the Aquaria Beach Resort

We left the city at about 5 o’clock in the morning to beat the traffic, and also to have more time in the beach. We drove through South Luzon Expressway, and turned right for Tagaytay. It was an easy morning weekend drive. (I had been disappointed to drive in Tagaytay lately, because on weekends, traffic is just unbearable!)

From Tagaytay, we drove further down towards Nasugbu and turning left at the last junction going to Calatagan. I always wanted these kind of drive: out-of-town, country driving. It refreshes my soul as I see the beauty of nature on both sides of the road.

Upon our arrival at the resort, we were greeted by this grand pavilion which houses the front desk. From all angles, you will know that this resort is out of the ordinary: well-appointed guest couches, impressive check-in counter, well-organized staff, and really stunning entrance with well-trimmed greens.

The entrance of the beach resort
The entrance of the beach resort

Past the pavilion is a stunning beauty of its swimming pool complex! Kiddie pool with fountains, arching foot bridge over the pool (good for photo shots!), a giant slide, and more! I was really surprised of the beautifully designed swimming area!

But our first priority was the beach. And so we walked for about 50 meters past the pool and wow, an expansive length of beach cove and placid ocean greeted us. We thank the Lord for the good weather: the sea was so calm, no rain, and with overcast skies.

Another view from the top. Note the beach front at the upper side of the photo.
Another view from the top. Note the beach front at the upper side of the photo.

We had a good time frolicking on the beach, and the almost flat seabed. We can walk at a distance without the danger of drowning. However, sea urchins abound during the time of our visit. If you plan to go, wear beach footwear to avoid being stung by this urchins.

And oh yes, we enjoyed the ride on giant slides at the pool area. Rides goes in tandem – 2 persons in one big-sized “rubber boat”. So I had many rides: first with my wife, next with my son, then my daughter. It was really exhilarating. Haha!

Me and my son gliding through the giant slide
Me and my son gliding through the giant slide

The pool complex is an awesome attraction from any angle you look at it: the snaking “river” pool with arched foot bridges, the nature-like waterfalls in the middle, the kiddie pool with many fountains and rides, and of course a small lap pool for swimming. With well-appointed cabanas and greens the place is indeed a cut-above-the-rest. Don’t forget to take a photo from the top of the slide: the view is fantastic, truly awesome!

The beach-front restaurant offers delectable Filipino dishes. In this visit, we just ordered the “family package” which includes many of our favorites: grilled fish, grilled squid, fried chicken, grilled pork belly, and many more. It also has the famous halo-halo, and other deserts.

Will surely come back for another weekend retreat for my family!

A family photo at the swimming pool complex.
A family photo at the swimming pool complex.
A view from another angle of the swimming pools.
A view from another angle of the swimming pools.
My family at the beach-front cabana.
My family at the beach-front cabana.
At the beach-side restaurant with our family friends from Papua New Guinea.
At the beach-side restaurant with our family friends from Papua New Guinea.
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Starting the Year With an Adventure in Lobo, Batangas

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.

The inifinity pool of Punta Verde Dive
The inifinity pool of Punta Verde Dive

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.

The beach fronting Punta Verde
The beach fronting Punta Verde

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.

The stair connecting the infinity pool, restuarant, & cottages on the hill, and the beach below.
The stair connecting the infinity pool, restaurant, & cottages on the hill, and the beach below.

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.

Our lunch at a cottage in front of the pool: a homey experience
Our lunch at a cottage in front of the pool: a homey experience

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.

My family trek to the falls
My family trek to 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.

The final stretch of the trek -- a short hanging bridge to the natural pool
The final stretch of the trek — a short hanging bridge to the natural pool

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!

The main dining hall of the resort with a good view of the ocean
The main dining hall of the resort with a good view of the ocean
My wife & daughter strolling on the "dry" seashore
My wife & daughter strolling on the “dry” seashore
The natural pool with the falls at the back.
The natural pool with the falls at the back.
My family inside the private museum
My family inside the private museum

Revisiting the Marine Gardens of Lobo

Revisiting the Marine Gardens of Lobo
by Danny Tariman

My family had been to this beach front resort a few months back. We liked the beautiful marine garden which is just a few meters from the shoreline.

This time, we planned to stay overnight to have more time to enjoy the beach, the underwater marine gardens, and the sea breeze in the evening.

The pristine marine gardens just few meters from the shore.
The pristine marine gardens just few meters from the shore.

It was a much easier drive from the city: we passed by South Luzon Expressway, continued our highway drive via CSTEx (Calamba-Sto Tomas Expressway) and on to the STAR Tollway. We exited at Ibaan. From the highway, we turned left to Ibaan town then left to a “less-known” road to Lobo.

We liked this route: only few cars pass by this secondary road to Lobo. From Ibaan town, it took us only 1 hour flat to Lobo town, which is about 30-45 minutes travel time savings compared to Batangas City route.

Along this route, we passed by La Farge cement plant. From here, it was all zigzag up to the town proper. [There is also a long zigzag road via Batangas City.]

The Lobo beach in the morning.
The Lobo beach in the morning.

Leaving our home at 12:30pm, we arrived almost 3:30pm because of a funeral convoy we passed along the road, which slowed down our travel by about 30 minutes.

We were welcomed by the homey smile of Lea, the resort administrator. [You may reach her by mobile phone at 0932-326-3390. Tell her you got the number from this blog.] Immediately after settling down, we were offered our afternoon snacks. Just the right timing because we were all famished from the quick early lunch we had and long trip.

We promptly went to explore the marine garden because it was low tide. It was just a few meters from the shore. It was an amazing sight: all sorts of corals – from soft to hard, in various shapes and colors. We enjoyed viewing these, with our son explaining to us the names and other details of each specie, while our daughter took photos.

My daughter snorkeling in the marine garden
My daughter snorkeling in the marine garden

We also saw a baby octopus, a clam which attached itself to a rock, and many others. Wow, it was like snorkeling in a knee-deep water! You don’t have to swim actually.

Before retreating from the shore and swimming, my son and I gathered some dried wood from the beach to be used for our bonfire later in the night.

Come evening, we had our dinner prepared by the resort’s restaurant. It was a plateful meal composed of chicken barbeque, mixed vegies, rice, and desert. Nice one!

After our dinner, my son and I started to fire the dried wood we gathered earlier, while my wife and my daughter prepared the sausages and marshmallows on stick for roasting on the bonfire.

The bonfire was another experience for us family. While we enjoyed together cooking the sausages and mallows on “live fire”, we enjoyed much more eating it! Haha!

My family gathering around the bonfire,  broiling sausages
My family gathering around the bonfire, broiling sausages

Later in the evening, we strolled on the shore. The moon was very bright; it was almost full-moon. We took some night photos; thanks to my son’s SLR camera, the shots were really nice even without the flash, it fact it was much better shots!

An evening shot (no flash)  under the moon light.
An evening shot (no flash) under the moon light.

The following morning, the sea was so calm, and the water very cool. It was a lovely morning view!

After a quick breakfast of eggs, meat loaves, and fish, with hot coffee and hot choco drink, we immediately went back to the sea. This time, the sea was rising to its high tide. It was perfect for snorkeling!

We covered almost half of the width of the shoreline snorkeling at chest-level water. The underwater views was just great! The marine gardens we saw during low tide, were much more alive with fishes swimming around. Truly wonderful!

The beach just before sunset.
The beach just before sunset.

We withdrew from swimming at about 9 o’clock, and we just stayed on the shores until 10. I was just lazing on the sandy beach, enjoying the relaxing moments.

What a wonderful family time! Until next time, Lobo!

More of the marine garden
More views of the marine garden
Another shot of the beautiful underwater garden
Another shot of the beautiful underwater garden
A scenic view of the beach at night (photo taken without flash on an SLR)
A scenic view of the beach at night (photo taken without flash on an SLR)
Outdoor adventure, my family's favorite past time
Outdoor adventure, my family’s favorite past time
Close up shots of sea creatures taken from the marine garden
Close up shots of sea creatures taken from the marine garden

Frolicking in Matabungkay Beach

Frolicking in Matabungkay Beach
by Danny Tariman

Philippines never runs out of good beaches to roam around. My family is always on the look out for places discover. We are always on the go for adventure trips.

The stretch of fine sand beach in Matabungkay.
The stretch of fine sand beach in Matabungkay.

This time, we go to a nearby destination, the Matabungkay Beach in Lian, Batangas. It is quite near from Manila. In about 1 ½ hours drive through the cool Tagaytay City and down to the scenic roads of Nasugbu. The road is quite simple: when you reach the Nasugbu junction, turn left to Lian, straight ahead, then right to Matabungkay Road.

We checked-in at Matabungkay Beach and Country Club. It is a good resort that had seen its glorious days: nice reception desk within a large pavilion, a spacious restaurant on its side, the hotel building with many rooms, a big landscaped courtyard. Really good!

A passing passenger ship viewed from the resort.
A passing passenger ship viewed from the resort.

The resort facilities include a good-sized, clean swimming pool that connects you to the beach front. Lining the pool are huts with chairs where you can relax and eat. Indeed, it was a relaxing day for my family to stay in the pool when the sun was at its hottest. The ornamental plants all over the place adds beauty and relaxing atmosphere to the resort.

From the beach, you can see big ships passing through Batangas province. During our tour, we saw this big ferry that, I think, is bound for the Visayas.

The beach has fine and greyish sand. We had a good time playing frolicking on the long stretch of sand. Since it was not a peak season for beach bummers, we had the luxury of privacy, and do anything we want – running around, playing with each other, and other fun activities.

The beach all for our selves.
The beach all for our selves.

The seabed in front is almost clear – not much sea weeds. For those of you who are scared of sea creatures, this is for you. My son who likes to explore the shallow sea for anything to put in his aquarium did not find much. Ha ha! But it’s a nice beach front. The fact that the slope is almost flat, there is less risk of drowning in the deep.

There is also a well-crafted bamboo raft in front of the resort. I believe if you want to use it for some “on-the-sea” fun, this ideal. You can dine and snooze in the middle of the sea.

A raft floating near the shores of Matabungkay.
A raft floating near the shores of Matabungkay.

A good beach to go near the Metro!

My family beside the pool. A truly relaxing afternoon.
My family beside the pool. A truly relaxing afternoon.
Myself, frolicking on the shore.
Myself, frolicking on the shore.
At the gardens of the resort.
At the gardens of the resort.