• 5 of the Best Summer Getaway Destinations in Nearby Provinces

    Here are more family-friendly vacation spots within driving distance from Manila.
  • It’s been a sizzling summer so far, and we mean it both literally and figuratively. As such, we find ourselves constantly finding ways to cool off—whether through ice cream, halo-halo, with some air conditioning or a quick shower. 

    (Related story: Top 10 Ice Cream Parlors in the Metro)

    Another way is to head out to locales near Metro Manila for some much-deserved R & R. With arresting vistas, family-friendly accommodation and refreshing dips in the pool or by the beach, you not only bond with the kids but you also get to appreciate the sun even more. 

    In this feature, we share with you five places that you can get away to, located just a few hours away from Manila. Real moms tell us about their experience:

     

    Destination # 1: Bataan

    Bataan

    Family: Mark Andrew and Sharine Lim, together with children Magnus Yuri, 6 and Titus Leon, 4

    When we first visited Bataan: February 2013 

    How we got there: We drove our own car. It takes about three to four hours.  

    What spots we checked out: 

    • The Shine of Valor, which was built to honor the fallen soldiers of World War II. 
    • The Pawikan Sanctuary in Morong, Bataan, near Mt. Samat. 
    • Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, about 30 minutes away from the sanctuary in Bagac, Bataan. 

    What we loved about Mt. Samat and the Shrine of Valor:

    • The climb up to Mt. Samat (entrance fee at P20 per person) was very exhilarating. We drove up to the steep top of Mt. Samat and the view was wide, clear and beautiful. The air was strong and cool even during mid-day. 
    • The shrine was built of shiny, tall and imposing marble and the landscape was impeccable. There was a tower with an elevator that goes all the up to the 36th floor and there you can get an even better view of Bataan. 
    • There was also a WWII museum at the Shrine of Valor which was new and educational. We read some of the memoirs/plaques that serve as reminders of the acts of heroism that took place there. 
    • In the museum, the kids showed huge curiosity over the different ammunitions and war pictures. Their father had a chance to tell them the story behind the struggle which they will hopefully remember and cherish.

    What we loved about the Pawikan Sanctuary:

    • What really impressed me was the knowledge of the people who managed the Pawikan Sanctuary. These volunteers have day jobs but when you listen to them, you can feel their passion and dedication to conservation. 
    • Entrance fee is P15 per person, but if you want to “adopt” a newly-hatched turtle for release to the sea, it would cost around P200 per turtle. We learned that the female turtles lay their eggs from November to December and the hatching happens between January and February.  
    • You can release baby turtles and the entire process is guided and monitored to ensure the safety of the turtles. It was interesting to learn that the turtles hatch on their own at those shores. They roam around oceans for about 50 years then they mate and hatch their eggs at the same shore. They have their own “GPS” to find the same spot! TIP: It’s best to visit during the hatching period, but of course, any other time is as good to learn about the turtles since there is a “mini-museum” there. Also, if you are planning to stay long, bring food that can be cooked by the staff.
    • It was fun to see the different reactions of the kids – they were at first afraid of handling the turtles then they got very excited as the turtles made their way into the sea. Everyone was cheering for their own turtles to catch a wave. Now whenever we read a story about turtles, they remember that moment and they know it by experience. 

    What we loved about Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar:

    Our family has always been fascinated with visiting old Filipino museums and houses so Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar was most ideal since it was rows after rows of old historical buildings. 

    • We stayed overnight at their biggest room for P4,500 for eight people. The rate does not include meals. Day trip rates at Las Casas Filipinas would cost P650 per person.
    • We enjoyed the guided tour where we learned about the history of the place and some interesting side stories to it. 
    • The children enjoyed looking and touching vintage pieces and they ran around the cobblestone streets. They also immensely enjoyed the pool which resembled a batis (natural spring) as well as the freshwater river that opened to the sea. The beach is beautiful and there were a lot of skim boarders just having fun on the shore. 
    • The pool near the river which opens to the sea is quite a sight to behold.
    • Las Casas is perfect for kids because there are so many things to do and see – from the houses and vintage pieces to being serenaded with Kundiman over dinner. If you get tired of running after the kids, let them stay at the pool or by the shore, then you can lie down and relax!
    • Overall, the place was clean and the beach was conducive for swimming. I have been to a lot of beaches but I would say Bataan has the best sunset and night skyline. No wonder the turtles have chosen that specific shore to mate and hatch. There is wisdom in their lineage. TIP: Eat mostly at roadside restaurants before going to Las Casas and maybe have one meal inside for the experience. Also, bring lots of snacks. 

    Why we’d recommend Bataan to other families and for kids: 

    I believe that you cannot teach children good values just by telling them; they learn, appreciate and eventually imbibe a sense of history and national pride when you make the stories real–when you show them the places and the faces, it becomes one long continuing story. You cannot emphasize caring for the environment until they truly enjoy being outdoors, when they see nature as their playground, when they relish being in the water and feeling the sand. 

    The wall of the shrine bears this inscription: “May this make you feel proud of being Filipino.” That’s what I felt when I saw the magnificence of the mountains, beaches and people of Bataan at one glance and that’s what I want my kids to feel as well.  I’m sure they will not remember all of the details but do bring them out and about. Take them away from screens and malls and I guarantee you they will one day thank you for it.

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    A trip to Bataan would be ideal if you can spare three to four days and if you can really go around the place. My expectations of the place were really low since there is not much publicity about Bataan but in hindsight, it was actually a complete vacation for the family.

    To see all photos from the Lim family's Bataan trip, view the gallery.

    Photos courtesy of Sharine Lim

     

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