Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Weekend Getaway at the Lighthouse Marina Resort

the author by the veranda with the scenic beach view behind.
Glittering sun, stretches of emerald blue-green sea, powdery silvery sands and magnificent sunsets…the combination is indeed inspiring.

The Towering Lighthouse overlooking the South China Sea.

Designed and created by Palafox Associates, The Lighthouse Marina Resort is devoid of grandeur and massive multi-floor layered structure of a typical five star hotel. It simply is impressively elegant on its own. Strategically located along the marvelous scenic bay area of the Subic cove in the province of Zambales. Its proximity and leisurely accessibility from the hustle and bustle of the Metro is just an hour and a half drive from the North Luzon Expressway access point in Balintawak. 

Conveniently situated along the beach front at the end-stretch of Waterfront Road directly facing the imposing cove with the grand panoramic view of the forested mountains of Morong, Bataan to the left and the Zambales mountain to the right.

The Lighthouse is an excellent place to laze, relax, unwind, enjoy, contemplate and savor the leisurely life. It was conceived to exclusively cater to the discriminating and whose yen for life is only the best. The Lighthouse is committed to offer only what is expected: exclusivity of the place, friendly and personal service.
Kyle on a super comfy King-sized bed.

The picturesque sunrise taken at the veranda.
the author at the floating bath tub at the suite.

It has 34 rooms (7 suites and 27 deluxe), function rooms that fit according to your needs, karaoke bar and resto-grill, al fresco dining, adult and kiddie pool Jacuzzi, broadband access in all rooms, Wi-Fi in public areas and the hotel had also been designed with PWD’s in mind, it had a handicap ramp and handicap toilet.  
We stayed in one of their aqua verdana suites where there was 42” colored LCD cable TV, as well as fully equipped mini refrigerator and mini bar. Upon opening the aqua terraces and verandas, the stunning bay view will be greeting you.  Kyle loved the ultra-comfort mattresses and lush pillows and fabrics our bed had. My Mom on the other hand, liked the fact that coffee and tea making facilities are in every suite rooms like the one we had. But I loved it best for its own Jacuzzi tubs (where I can take a bath while watching my favorite TV program) and private bath plus a rainforest shower head in a separated glass enclosed shower. 

The author with a 42" LCD cable TV. 

Chocolate lovers will be glad to know that there’s a chocolate night cap drink served, that’s aside from the welcome drink and fresh fruits.
The author's mom by the poolside.

The author with her nephew Kyle at Marina Complex.
If you want to embark on a rewarding journey of heightened leisure, The Lighthouse marina resort is the best place to go. Its snug, cozy, relaxing, and exhilarating ambiance is the perfect vacation destination for the whole family.

Lighthouse Marina Resort
Moonbay Marina Complex
Waterfront Road, CBD
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Zambales, Philippines

Contact (63) (47)252-5000
Tel/fax: (63) (47) 252-7545
Toll Free Manila Number: (63) (02) 711-0019

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary: Take the trek for a different kind of bonding!

The author on a hanging bridge. Do I looked scared? That's because I really am.
When we went up in Baguio City last year, we decided to go to the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary for a change. We've been to the City of Pines a couple of times and things had become quite monotonous: ride a bike, paddle a boat and mount a horse--so to make it extra special, we went to go trekking on the hilly terrain of the Sanctuary. 
The entrance to the woods.

My cousin Jamie Sanoy on top of the curved hanging bridge.
The cliff onboard the van going to the trail.
The best part is the hanging bridge. It is quite curve so we had to be really careful. The view had been perfect--stunning and we felt like boy scouts while we were touring the said place. There were 14 stations on the Sanctuary. The cosmic journey one has to take is quite steep, but definitely worth one's trip. 
The author in yellow shirt with Jamie (in red) and Arra Basilio and JV Sulit.

Yes, it's a hilly terrain and you have to go down to enjoy the view.
One will enjoy nature at its best. Communing with nature and in deep prayer will surely be experienced in Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary. They even had picnic areas but you have to bring in your food. Also be ready with a bottle of water in hand as the trek will surely make one thirsty.
Inside the caves before sun down.

Children should be accompanied by adults and everyone is to use caution due to the hilly terrain.
Going to the Cosmic Journey of the Sanctuary.

Here we come!

My entire clan takes a pose. 
Should you be interested to try this ecological journey/trail,  Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary is located on #25 North Sto. Tomas road, Campo Sioco, Baguio City
Call them at (074) 442-4602

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pining for Pine Trees at Crosswinds Tagaytay

One Pine day at  Crosswinds Tagaytay

Growing up, each time we went up to Baguio City, I remember my relatives would tell us kids to roll down the car’s window and enjoy the smell of fresh pine trees.  Nowadays, I am glad we don’t need to travel that far in order to enjoy the pine trees.

Tagaytay City offers picturesque spots all year round without the hassle of driving all the way to the city of Pines.  Crosswinds is an idyllic 100-hectare Swiss sanctuary in Tagaytay. The only pine estate south of Manila, Crosswinds is serenity for the soul, and a quiet feast for the senses. This modern leisure community is a development project of Brittany, a Vista Land company, and is positioned to be a peaceful, private and quaint getaway, with all the convenience of modern living.

The crisp scent of 20,000 pine trees perfuming the air and the majestic view of the rolling hills with sweeping vistas, offer a welcome treat to every age.  Relax in the impressively beautiful units aptly named “Crosswinds Resort Suites”, which rest on Crosswinds breathtaking vantage point.

Crosswinds Resort Suites is the ideal place to unwind and recharge. With its elegantly designed furnishings and special introductory price of 3,999Php a night, Crosswinds is fast becoming a favorite destination for travelers/weekends guests and vacationers.  All suite units are fully fitted with LCD TV, DVD player, mini bar, electric range, Chinaware, glassware, cutleries and kitchen utensils for those who prefer to cook. Hotel Services are provided by Hospitality International Incorporated so guests can be assured and enjoy concierge services, daily housekeeping and complimentary breakfast for two. In-room spa services are also available upon request.

Guest may use the pool or take long walks around trekking paths. Kids may enjoy the outdoor playground, the year-round Christmas store and Village. Future amenities are an event lawn perfect for weddings and product launches, a hilltop chapel, banquet hall with function rooms, and a Swiss village with gourmet cafes and restaurants.
At Crosswinds, the world seems to stop and take a breath. With panoramic views of nature, the quiet peaceful surroundings and the cool and refreshing climate makes this place a truly memorable one.

So if you’re pining for Pine trees and so much more, escape the city. With only thirty-minute drive from Makati, Crosswinds promises to invigorate your senses.  Go ahead, unwind and recharge, experience the magic at Crosswinds!
For bookings, call 856-9601 or email:
Or you could just log onto  for more information. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kampo Berde: Tagaytay-Alfonso Cavite's Latest Find

Wooden log villa in the midst of greeneries at Kampo Berde. 

The city of Tagaytay is known for a number of beautiful gardens--some are known; many are still hidden. Those that are still hidden get to the consciousness of the public through word of mouth. Take for example the lovely garden of Kampo Berde. Located in Baranggay Sicat, Alfonso, Cavite (yes, it is situated between Tagaytay and Alfonso Cavite), it is deprived of any indication that somewhere along this long and winding road is a paradise waiting to be discovered. This paradise is actually an events place, so, according to its owner Mrs. Cristina "Mama Solita" Villas, "you get to celebrate life in Kampo Berde".

Once you enter, trellises will greet you complete with a calming fountain to welcome your senses. The gurgling of the water mixes well with the cool breeze in the place. You look around and your emotion will be happily drown in admiration as this lush garden, is all yours to savor and enjoy. The leaves and flowers of the plants sway with the rhythm of the breeze.

In this lovely garden, bees and butterflies are common acquaintances and birds provide the natural ambient sound. These and more are included in the many memorable experiences of the people who have been to this events place. Celebrations held at Kampo Berde include weddings and wedding anniversaries, birthday parties, even baptismals and receptions. You could also coordinate with the owner if you'd like to bring in more caterers.

The garden is home to a lot of plant species. Walking around the garden gives one a paradisiacal feel. Your senses will revel at the sight of blooms pink and white angels, love and devotion, star clusters, poinsettias, tibus China, yellow bells etc.
The Nipa hut villas had double decks and private toilet and bath.
The events place of Kampo Berde is divided into three patios. There is the pathway garden that simply evokes grace and romance. The second part is more laid-back and had nipa nuts on them with a wide green space with a few trees and plants as the accent of the garden while the last one is an almost uphill terrain where the villas are located.  It resonates bliss amidst panoramic garden.
Moi at Kampo Berde's sprawling garden.
Well-manicured are the gardens in these patios. But upon closer scrutiny, you will delightfully find out that nature surely knows how to take its own course as there are some unruly branches and saplings that sprout here and there. Guests at Kampo Berde can also opt to rent the nipa huts perched on a garden.
Sanoy family happily smiling after an overnight stay at Kampo Berde.
When we went there, it felt like fiesta because there were colorful trimmings all around the place, making  you feel all the more welcome to come and commune with nature in this small paradise.

"We wanted to share our garden to the public. When my husband Danny acquired this place, it was his idea to turn it into a garden. We planted most of the things you see here. Even if the family lives in Makati, as much as possible we make it a point to visit Kampo Berde often to invigorate our senses," says Mrs. Villas.

"Seeing how Tagaytay has become quite popular for destination weddings, we started working our plans to eventually open this garden to the public. Aside from the fact that Tagaytay has a perfect weather for growing plants and flowers to bloom beautifully, we also thought that it would be nice to have a place designed by nature itself," recalled Mrs. Villas.
L-R: Michelle Villas (owner), the author, Cristy Villas (owner), Cecile, Jicelle and Jamie Sanoy.

Kyle on a hammock between the trees.
Just as my nephew Kyle did, he rested on a hammock and take an hour's nap to dreamland. This is the best time to put away all your worries and simply enjoy the scenic view and cool Tagaytay breeze.
My Aunt Cecile gamely posed infront of Machete.

The group's jump shot in the garden.
At Kampo Berde, guests are in for a treat in this paradise that has no fancy architecture--just plants and flowers to decorate the place and give people that elegant romantic feel. The best part? It's near one of the best wedding venues in this side of town, it's just a few minutes drive from my dream wedding venue--Caleruega Church in Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas and Sandari as well as other Tagaytay churches. So, where else can you find the best reception venue? Only here in Kampo Berde folks!
Jicelle and the author by Kampo Berde's grand entrance gate with trellises.

For more details and information regarding Kampo Berde, please get in touch with Mrs. Cristy Villas at 0917-8193899 or call +632 994-0681 (Makati). Purple Plum Fairy thanks the entire Villas family for inviting and accomodating us.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Taal Batangas: History Book Come to Life

I jumped upon at the chance to visit Taal, Batangas again after more than two years. Despite my frequent travels, I find it unfortunate that a common Filipino’s knowledge of Taal was limited to the overly popular volcano and the lake, and to the Internet.  When I told friends that I’m going home to Taal for the Holy Week, I got a lot of flak with raised eyebrows. Taal volcano’s level alert was raised to two, and people had been wondering what on earth was I thinking of?  I soon realized the misconception between my friends and I. In fact, most Filipinos who had not set foot in Taal might be thinking the same thing.
For the record, the Taal volcano is not part of the town of Taal. It is actually located in Talisay, Batangas. To get near the crater, one must ride a ferry boat. The laid-back town of Taal, on the other hand, can be found after the towns of Cuenca and Alitagtag in Batangas. It is also after the town of Lemery, if you’re driving from Tagaytay.
It is always different and more satisfying to experience the town itself. It is the South’s answer to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Vigan. Walking through the streets of Taal Batangas will bring you back to the time of your ancestors with Spanish-inspired houses abound. Talking to its people, appreciating it visually will make one learn more about its rich culture, history and heritage.

The old Spanish houses are common in Taal.

The author with nephew in front of the Basilica.

Old-Spanish Bahay na bato.

My grandfather’s side, the Ylagans were one of those who had built a “bahay na bato,” in the mid 1800’s. Our ancestral house proved to be a perfect introduction to Taal’s heritage. “Bahay na bato” in the southern region had the upper level of the house made of wood while the lower part is made of stone. And since television was not invented yet at the time, people amused themselves by watching other people pass by, so they had huge windows.
To give you a better idea, my great great ancestors had no less than Marcela Agoncillo (yes, the woman who sewed the first Philippine Flag) and Eulalio and Gliceria Marella Villavicencio (The Forgotten Heroine of the Philippine Revolution) as neighbors. The Villavicencio’s house was the refuge of Filipino soldiers and the secret meeting place of revolutionary heroes. I can’t think of anything cooler than that!
Nowadays, their ancestral houses are open to the public. It offers a sneak peek into the heroine and their family’s life in those days.  Unfortunately, cameras aren’t allowed in both houses, so I cannot use mine. You have to visit and see for yourself. But it is interesting to note that during those times, Filipinos have two living rooms. There used to be a level of intimacy between Filipinos then. If you are not a close friend of the family, you are relegated to the ante sala, which is smaller than the main sala. But if you are considered family friends or relatives, you get to sit in the main sala.

The Our Lady of Caysasay Church

There’s also the centuries-old Our lady of Caysasay Church. We were able to access the church via the San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps—that’s 125 granite steps. Nearby is the Sacred Well of Sta. Lucia. This used to be a brook where the Lady of Caysasay granted miracles and where a church was previously built. We could see the half-submerged church façade peering out of the earth.

Our Lady of Caysasay Church altar.

The original Caysasay church ruins at Sta. Lucia well.

The tarpaulin that says it all--El Pasubat festivities.

Embroidery shops also abound the area where one can customize wedding gowns and barong tagalogs made in pinya or jusi. Balisong knives are also sold in Baranggay Balisong in the town of Taal. 

Balisong knives are sold in Baranggay Balisong in Taal.

Embroidery shops abound the area.

Another embroidery shop...

Escuela Pia--the first school in town.

The Saint Martin de Tours Basilica.

The Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours located in the heart of the town is one of the oldest Catholic churches and undoubtedly the biggest church in Asia. It rises majestically amid patches of ancient ruins and a row of residential houses still aglow with old-fashioned splendor. Breathtaking even at first glance, the Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours cut an imposing figure, a clear testament carved in stone of both the imperial power of Spain and its unwavering faith in its church centuries ago.  The basilica is now in thick major restoration effort that started last year. 

Taal truly provides an opportunity to establish a deeper connection with one’s heritage. It is more than just ancestral houses, it is history book in itself, with each turn a story that left us enthralled and wanting for more.
For more information on touring Taal, email or call 0918-3155634.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Museo Pambata: Where Learning Begins and Fun never Ends!

Kyle happily sitting in a mini grandfather's rocking chair

Museo pambata is the Philippines’ premier children’s “hands-on” museum. Opened in 1994 and situated in a historical building in Manila, Museo Pambata offers learning experiences in an atmosphere of interactivity and entertainment. Museo Pambata’s philosophy is anchored on the belief that learning takes place more readily in an environment of fun, challenges and discovery. The museum’s sensory and tactile tools help children hypothesize, manipulate and experiment, test their ideas and stretch their imagination. 

A young boy reads a story for the Haraya Storytelling hour held at the museum.
Museo Pambata features “hand-on” exhibits to explore and discover various concepts while children play.
Theme Rooms: Kalikasan/Environment
Go nature-tripping in a simulated rainforest and seabed and be inspired to take positive action to preserve Mother Nature.
Maynila Noon/Old Manila
Take a whimsical journey back in time to the turn-of-the-century Manila! Put on clothes what your grandparents wore during that era, ride in tranvia, board a Spanish galleon, or step into a miniature cathedral and bahay na bato.

If you're lucky like we were, Anino Shadow plays 

kyle in a fireman's outfit within the play firestation.

The old helicopter converted into a "palipalaruan" playground for kids to enjoy.

Playing with some kids at the theme room.

Kyle was able to go behind the shadow play.

Donning a grandfather's clothes in the old era.

Mommy and I inside the mini bahay na bato.
Paglaki Ko/career Options
What do you want to be when you grow up? Discover possibilities and visualize yourself in a career of your own choice. Pretend to shop in a row of play stores and practice your entrepreneurial skills.
ANINO sa Museo
Light and shadows come to life as Anino sa Museo performs shadowplays of your favorite children’s stories, songs and rhymes.
General Admission is P100. Opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 8AM-5PM. Call 5231797/98 or visit
 I'd strongly recommend all parents to bring your kids at the museum. They'd surely enjoy and learn at the same time. It promises to be a great bonding time.