Friday, March 23, 2012

A Walk Through Tagaytay City

To get a better grasp of a place, I walk. It’s not for everyone—many of my friends would rather ride a pedicab or jeepney, even for short distances, than hit the pavement. Add the lack of sidewalks, heat and pollution, and the mad onslaught of vehicles make adventure on foot quite challenging. But I was determined to know Tagaytay City in my own terms, and thus, armed with two hours of alone time I started my trek from Tagaytay Rotunda facing south. I then turned right and walked along Nasugbu-Tagaytay Highway. I had one thing in mind: eat fried tawilis (freshwater sardines) at Josephine’s Restaurant. Anything I’d encounter along the way would be a bonus.

On the highway’s left is prime real estate: it affords a breathtaking view of Taal Lake, the third largest lake in the Philippines, and the similarly named volcano in the middle of the lake. Many hotels and restaurants line this area. Tagaytay City, two hours by car from Manila, is also known for its cool climate, making it an accessible escape from the heat of the capital.

It’s supposed to be summer in the Philippines, but because of intermittent rain for the past few days, Tagaytay was chillier than usual. Flowers were abloom, not only in the makeshift stalls along the way, but in empty lots and along the road, making the walk quite pleasant. There were several stalls selling various fruits, among which were the diminutive and aromatic seƱorita bananas (musa acuminate). I passed by Lourdes Church, trendy restaurants in white, and two places I made a mental note to visit: the Greek tavern Manos and the Inn at the Cliff-house complex. I lost track of time, and was getting quite winded, when I espied Josephine’s, just in front of Summit Ridge Hotel. Mission accomplished. For more on the fried tawalis, visit my food blog.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Manila Hotel—Always a Treat

I always look forward to checking-in at the Manila Hotel, the oldest premier hotel in the country located at the center of Manila Bay. There was a time it lost its luster, but now after some renovation, it has regained its lost glory. Aside from the usual hotel room conveniences, I love the details used in its rooms, such as capiz (mother-of-pearl) shells, baroque elements, heavy dark wood—it’s like staying in an old Filipino ancestral house, which is described as a mix of indigenous and Asian designs and construction and colonial European architecture.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Traveling Alone

I don’t mind a day of solitude—that’s how I recharge. I usually doze off, read, or watch TV the whole day. There was a time I spent Saturdays in bed. At first it struck me as odd, since I usually spend the workweek bound to the workstation, and if I were catching up on sleep, I don’t need to be prone the whole day. But eventually I let it go—who am I to question my body’s wisdom? Rested and refreshed, I put on my public persona for the rest of the week, ready to engage at work and other social interactions.

Cocooning or staycations, those things I know. Traveling alone would be the next logical step, but it was not something I sought out. It came by accident, when a group vacation to Boracay in November two years ago fell through the cracks, and with roundtrip fare paid, I decided to give it a go, solo.

Had I known the advantages of traveling alone, I would have tried it sooner. Everything in my own terms—a control freak’s dream come true, limited only by time and budget. I booked a hotel to my liking—I don’t mind splurging on my holiday digs. Staying in or venturing out—it’s a treat either way. Since I set my own pace, I can choose to wake up early or stay behind the covers. I also didn’t mind the occasional downpour—I love the rains; nor dining solo, since I’ve been doing this for most of my adult life.