Seemed too comforted by hotsprings and resorts in our baluarte, we went a little far by 2 to 3-hour drive to the shores of Laiya in San Juan, Batangas. The recall about Laiya became stronger when Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo held their private wedding reception in one of the resorts there. Among the almost equally beautiful choices, we opted to stay in Sabangan Beach Resort after the gathered comments and checking of online reviews. And it turned out that the choice was so worth it, in terms of getting a reasonable package and the food that I consumed, errr, the experience we savoured.
Filipino style cottages. We were a big group, hence, we booked three months before our intended stay. We rented one of the loft cottages which has three double sized beds both at the ground and second floors and a two-bedroom beachfront bungalow. While some resorts offer a Balinese style of rooms, most of the time I prefer to stay in well-maintained pawid (nipa hut) styled accommodations because I rarely experience that.
Beachfront joys. I really enjoyed being strategically housed in the area where I did not miss the big actions going. Just a peek from the balcony gave us the breeze, the sunrise, sunset, and all the other activities which can be summed up as people watching (others call it boy or girl watching; remember that old joke of being a boyscout or girlscout?). At night, I especially enjoyed recalling my younger years as I eavesdropped, errr, overheard the chit chats of my younger companions about life and all its intricacies, curiousities, fascination while some of them were taking turns in playing the guitar. They were up past midnight at the parasols steps away from the balcony of the bungalow we stayed in. And I must mention that the starry, starry nights still appear in the province.
(Our own version of star and the moon at night; it was post-Christmas when we visited. I think that the combined water splashing, giggling and audio from the guitar were the unbeatable consolidated music in each of our two-night stay.)
In the morning, we always gathered to our group’s “main house” which is the loft cottage. I would join my elders at the narra (dining) table at 5:00 AM chatting about anything while sipping coffee. And not too long when everyone was awake, the teens were giddy about the activities for the day while the kids main goal was to “invade” again the pool which was steps away from our loft. One of the nice things about coming as a big group was the feeling of entitled exclusivity because as we approached one area, take the pool for example, it seemed like we were invading it. I know that was good and bad to a certain extent. Hence, the wake-up call is to always put ourselves in other’s shoes.
The rural zone atmosphere. I liked really that the resort provides a rural living feel that after the excitement over beach sports, kayaking, snorkeling, jetskiing, (the timeless ) banana boat riding, and the like (and don’t forget that you can also hike Mount Daguldol, we didn’t try), there were areas to rest our tired feet and body. The rocking chairs were a favorite. The patio was festively decorated that time since it was post-Christmas and I assume that the chime-shells were being periodically placed there.
Free buffet breakfast and dinner. Everyday. One of the things that appealed to us when we were choosing the resort was it allows its guests to cook or at least bring food. Each accommodation type is equipped by cooking facilities/kitchenette. They also provided supply of purified water (there’s a water dispenser) everyday. Although the utensils were also covered, we brought our own rice cooker, plates and silverwares (or I should say disposable stuff to make the washing of the dishes easier). Although we knew that a complimentary breakfast is available, a free dinner was surprisingly covered, too.
Alright, free breakfast and dinner… and it was buffet. They served the silogs (sinangag or fried rice at itlog or fried egg combos), liempo and other dishes that for once I wanted to tell them that the package was really generous. Na hindi ba sila nalulugi? (Aren’t they shortchaged?) By the way, all the meals they served were delicious and fresh. There was that day I was really excited about the day’s dishes that I peeked in at the grilling area. Hahaha. Normally, seafoods were on. But my best eating discovery that time was the combination of kalamansi (Chinese orange) and tuyo (corned fish). A must try.
Cooking our own food. We prepared a menu for the entire duration of our stay and with the assumption that we would go to talipapa (market) early in the morning to buy the raw stuff. The kitchen personnel also offered to do the marketing for us. However, we liked the other option which is to buy the fresh hatch from the fishermen at the same beachfront at early morning.
Walking up became more exciting. Aside from experiencing the unbeatable radiance of Philippine’s sunrise, I got to do people watching in a more serene way and of things that reminded me of so many things like seeing (and buying) from the taho and bread vendors, with that unmatchable announcement-shouting of “tahooooo!”(soy/beancurd pudding) and “tinaaaaa-pooooooooy!” (instead of tinapay/bread).
The early patrons catch the bigger fishes. Together with my mother and aunts, we joined the other guests (even those from neighbour resorts) in checking the fresh hatch. To see and the touch the dancing fishes (which later on served as our lunch) were really a refreshing experience. The video that I took still amazes me.
It is always a delight to spend time with the people dear to us. The concept of togetherness and the family ties among Filipinos is so remarkable that it doesn’t matter where but how we are spending it. It’s a bonus to have been blessed to share another experience in another sand, soil and water — matched with a good (and don’t forget it was free) buffet meals. Simple joys are priceless.
Sabangan Beach Resort
Laiya, San Juan, Batangas
Landline: +63 2 9149640
(Click here for details on how to get there/driving directions)