Some people thought I was crazy to go back home to the Philippines for only five days. However, my sole purpose in going home was to actually see my parents and my family whom I have not seen in five years. It was not a leisurely travel, it was more of a self-vindication if I may call it that.
With the quarantine rules still in place at that time, I spent majority of my time in a hotel room and at home to complete the isolation process. Therefore, the time I spent outside of this was all in between important appointments or when my parents were sleeping (in a total of five days). My mother does not sleep well at night, hence she was asleep most of the day. My father also took naps in the afternoon, so I took this opportunity to spend some time to explore.
Thinking about it, despite the short five days that I spent back home, juggling between caring for my parents and running errands, I managed to visit a few beautiful places in my home town of Zambales and the capital. Luckily, I didn't have to travel far and to spend loads of money to see beautiful things. My town has evolved really rapidly in the last few years that people will no longer run out of places to go to. Unfortunately, five days was obviously not enough to visit all of them either. Regardless though, I am still grateful that I managed to see a few of the places that often get mentioned by my niece and nephew during family video calls.
1. Venice Grand Canal- McKinley Hill, Taguig
- Having been to Venice in Italy twice, I appreciated the idea of the Venice Grand Canal in McKinley Hill. It gives you the essence of one of the most romantic places in the world. The canal, the gondolas and the makeshift of Rialto Bridge gave me a little bit of the Venice vibes. It's actually a good opportunity for some people who may not be able to travel, to at least experience how it's like to be in Venice. Well, sort of.
As much as I enjoyed walking along the canal, I was not impressed with the choice of restaurants- probably because I had other restaurants in mind that were unfortunately not within the area. We opted for a Chinese restaurant which was okay-ish.
2. Bonifacio High Street - Bonifacio Global City Fort, Taguig
- After Venice Canal, we headed to Bonifacio High Street for a short stroll. It's always an advantage to have a bestfriend who lives in the capital and knows the ins and outs, because we were able to optimise our time. I loved the tree-lined Bonifacio High Street because of its lively vibes and the good selection of cafes and restaurants. In fact, we regretted not eating here, but there is always a next time. But at least I was able to buy my Baked Purple Chizu from FRNK Milk Bar - one of the things I wanted to try whilst in the country. The kids however, preferred Starbucks.
3. Casa San Miguel- San Miguel, San Antonio, Zambales
- Since Keith passed, every vacation to the Philippines is no longer complete without visiting Casa San Miguel. This is the place where Keith and his Adings spent most of their weekends when Keith started painting and learned to play the violin. This time though, my visit to Casa San Miguel was extra special because I was able to visit with Keith's friends. It was really heartwarming to see them all grown up and working towards starting their professional careers. I was very happy listening to them exchange stories, reminiscing their time in Casa. They would say things like, "this was where we used to play". A lot of things have changed since my last visit, but it is still a beautiful and special place. They now have the Cafe Virtuosi and also Bed and Breakfast. So, if you are reading this and looking for a place to visit and stay in Zambales, I would recommend Casa.
4. Subic Bay Yacht Club- Rizal Highway, Subic Bay, Zambales
- On the day of my pre-departure COVID swab, I took the opportunity to explore Subic Bay a little bit more. So, after my swab, we headed to the Subic Bay Yacht Club for lunch. Actually, this was our second choice because the other restaurant we wanted to go to was closed. To be fair, the view was beautiful and refreshing, but our experience at the restaurant was unforgettable for the wrong reasons. The service was unbelievably slow. We opted for the à la carte menu instead of the buffet, which perhaps was a mistake. Our food came after an hour only to be informed that they actually didn't have the salmon that my nephew ordered. So, we had to wait for another 30 minutes for his food to arrive. Although the restaurant experience was not that good, at least we got to enjoy the view.
5. Linasin Trapsi Resort - Linasin, San Felipe, Zambales
- I am going to say this not because the family who owns the resort is our relatives, but because it is true. Linasin Trapsi Resort is a must visit in San Felipe, Zambales. This was the first time I actually visited the resort and I was very impressed by how beautiful it was. They were still doing some improvements when we went, but I saw new photos of the resort recently and it is now even more beautiful. At Linasin Trapsi resort, you get everything you need to relax in one place, especially if you love the water- they have a pool, the river and the sea. I will definitely go back and perhaps stay the night next time. It would also be nice to bond with my father's side of the family- one thing that we have not done in decades. At least this time, I was able to see my Uncle and Auntie, and two of my cousins. So, if you are now planning for your summer escapades, think of Linasin Trapsi Resort. You will not regret it.
6. Coastal Road- Sto Nino, San Felipe, Zambales
- Perhaps one of the best things that happened in my hometown in the recent years is the development of the Coastal Road. I really enjoyed running there and watching the sunrise. I know I am biased, but we have (some of) the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets and I have some photos to prove it. 😉
- I love the fact that my niece and nephew also love food just like I do, and they love Korean food. So, on the day of my flight back to London, we dropped by Seoul Sky 100 for lunch. I have not dined in a revolving restaurant before so this was a new experience for me, and it was a very good one indeed. The view from the restaurant is to die for. We booked the perfect time as we were able to watch the beautiful sunset. The food was great as well as the service. Actually, the owner of the restaurant was very gracious that he went to every table and asked if everything was okay and if the food was good- a gesture I always appreciate.
Five days indeed was very short but to be honest, it was one of the best five days I've ever spent back home. I guess the essence of this short trip was knowing my purpose and sticking to it, prioritising things and spending time wisely.
I am very grateful for this answered prayer and I feel better that I have seen my parents, although I would have loved to spend more time with them. God-willing, I will be able to go back again this year.