Category Archives: Things To Do

Serene Escape to Club Punta Fuego, Batangas

As with any adventure, it started with an opportunity. A rare opportunity. While the past two Presidents have sadly ended the policy of long weekends, this year brings together a semestral break (perfect for the kids) and a 4-day long weekend (that brings in the parents and everyone who works to earn their keep). It’s traditionally a time to visit the graves and whisper some prayers for our dearly departed on All Soul’s Day. A sight to behold, really. Come to think of it, why do people bring alcohol and other favorite food of loved ones who have gone ahead? People would like to think that it’s for the dead. But as they say, a wake and all tradition pertaining to death is for the living, not the dead.

The drive to Club Punta Fuego is a perfect time to commune with nature and, if you happen to travel around All Soul’s Day, try establish that bluetooth connection with your loved ones from the other world. It’s a bit of a drive — under 3 hours if you pause to grab a bite and those selfies on the road (although that’s just a quick drive if you’ve travelled straight to Pagudpud, Caramoan or Misibis by land from Manila) — so you’ll have plenty enough time to reflect and talk to them.

How to Get There; Directions

Now, before proceeding, let’s get rid of a preliminary matter — how to get there? There’s a lot of road leading to Nasugbu, where Club Punta Fuego is quietly hidden. The resort’s website gives to options, and we assume these are the best options because, well, they’re the ones who should know better:

OPTION 1: From Manila via the newly opened Ternate – Nasugbu Highway. Make your way to Roxas Boulevard in Parañaque and head south taking the Manila – Cavite Expressway (Coastal Road) and continue on to the Centennial Road in Kawit, Cavite. Stay on Centennial Road to Antero Soriano Highway to Governor’s Drive until you reach Ternate. Keep following Governor’s Drive until you see the left turn to the Ternate – Nasugbu Highway. Take the Ternate – Nasugbu Highway as it winds up Mt. Palay-Palay and follow the signs, passing through Kaybiang Tunnel, and skirt the mountainside overlooking the West Philippine Sea. Stay on the highway taking you through Barangays Looc, Calayo, and Balaytigue where you turn right to reach the gate of Peninsula de Punta Fuego.

OPTION 2: From Manila via South Luzon Expressway to Tagaytay. Head south on South Luzon Expressway and exit at Sta. Rosa. Continue on Sta. Rosa – Tagaytay Road and turn right at Tagaytay – Calamba Road and cross the Tagaytay rotunda junction. Stay on the Tagaytay – Nasugbu Highway until you reach Brgy. Palico and turn right on the Palico – Nasugbu Highway. Turn right on J. P. Laurel St. and pass through Nasugbu town proper. Stay on the road until it becomes Nasugbu – Ternate Highway, heading northbound until you reach the entrance of Brgy. Balaytigue on the left. Turn left on Brgy. Balaytigue and follow the road to reach the gate of Peninsula de Punta Fuego.

Option 2 is nice, with a big “but”. It’s nice because it goes through the scenic Tagaytay, with the majestic view of Taal Lake (or Taal Volcano, however you would like to call it), tons of dining options, and the Sky Ranch. Tagaytay is like Boracay in the sky — it’s crowded, but you’ll have the best of both nature and modern living. The crowd, coupled with tiny roads that haven’t been expanded for as long as we can remember. What do you get? Gridlock. This is why we either avoid Tagaytay City or go there during unholy hours, although it seems people have the same gameplan, if we consider the long line in Starbucks even after midnight.

There’s a longer, but potentially faster and more scenic, route: bypassing the Sta. Rosa exit in SLEX, going through the Star Tollway, taking the first exit at Tanauan, turning right at the tollgate, then heading straight through Talisay and Laurel, then to Nasugbu. We pass here from time to time, through the backwoods of Tagaytay, if we see that Sta. Rosa is choked, which is increasingly becoming the norm.

We chose Option 1. We haven’t tried this route, but it appears to be the most direct path. Plus, we heard the roads are much better. Going into the Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) from Mall of Asia (MOA) was a breeze. Short, fast drive, with three potential points of confusion. First, the fork that leads to Las Pinas and Cavite: stick to the left side of the highway (the right side off-ramp that wraps around the highway leads to Las Pinas). Second, the exit right after the toll gates: again, stick to the left side. Third, just a few minutes from the toll gates, there’s a four-road intersection: just go straight through the middle (doesn’t look right the correct way, but, yes, just head straight). From then on, just follow the main road until you encounter the Kaybiang (Ternate-Nasugbu) Tunnel in Mt. Palay-Palay. You’re not there yet. Club Punta Fuego is a good 20 minutes ride from there. Just follow the directions and you’ll be just fine.

History

Punta Fuego, or Fuego Point (fuego is Spanish for fire), is the name of the area, located in Barangay Balaytigue, town of Nasugbu in Batangas province. It is said that Punta Fuego derived its name from the military command fuego! (fire!), purportedly heard by the locals during the time when Spain, the former colonizer of the Philippines, was defending the territory from the invading Dutch forces in the 1600s. It would have been a terrifying naval battle, as both Spain and Netherlands were sea powers during that time.

History, to many students, is definitely boring, yet it’s a fascinating subject that helps piece together seemingly unrelated places and facts. Take for instance, the battle waged in the Punta Fuego area between the Spaniards and the Dutch. Not a few souls, including Filipinos, will be surprised to know that the Dutch were here in the Philippines at some point in our history. That battle in Punta Fuego is part of the Battles of La Naval de Manila, won by Spain. The victory is attributed by the religious (and who wasn’t religious at that time?) to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, now known as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila (Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de La Naval de Manila), with the Sto. Domingo Church (Quezon City, Metro Manila) as her shrine. It’s no surprise that she is the patroness of the Philippine navy.

This piece of historical knowledge won’t help you navigate to Punta Fuego, of course, but it will impress your travel mates, specially if you are making porma to the girl of your dreams. So, kids, take your history lessons seriously.

Premier Membership Resort Club

“Club Punta Fuego is a premiere membership resort club located on Peninsula de Punta Fuego on the pristine coast of Nasugbu, Batangas. It is a first class recreation facility offering services and amenities comparable only to the best resorts and hotels in the world.” That’s what the resort says in its website. Sounds nice, although we’ve since wondered why there’s a “Book Now” button on the resort’s website, and non-members like us can book a quick getaway, when Club Punta Fuego is a “premiere membership resort club.” We should have asked the management while we were there. Not that we mind. On the contrary, opening the resort to non-members is good for the club’s bottomline and even better for the general public who seeks a blissful hideaway.

There were only three things we did in Club Punta Fuego: stay at the swimming pools, eat, and rest. Then repeat. We only had three things in mind going to Club Punta Fuego. There’s a nine-hole golf course (a mini-golf course, too), a tennis court, and an indoor squash court. We didn’t have the interest to use any of those. Guests can go biking, snorkeling, jest skiing, wake boarding, kayaking, and banana boating. Yet we didn’t do any of those. We planned to watch a movie at the mini-theater, but too tired and preoccupied with the beaches and the swimming pools. The kinds, though, didn’t let the Play Room go to waste.

The place, with its beautiful Spanish-Mediterranean architecture, is gracefully showing its age. A more modern addition can be found a few kilometers down the road, the Terrazas de Punta Fuego, is also a beach property, with its cabanas and locker rooms open to members/guests of Club Punta Fuego.

Peace and Quiet

If there’s one thing that we appreciate the most about Club Punta Fuego, it’s the relative seclusion of the place.

We don’t really know if we caught the resort in its off-season. It was wonderfully quiet. There were only two other persons in the infinity pool perched on the cliff overlooking the cove, and none in the regular pool beside the beach. There were only a handful of tanned bodies littering the beachfront and the jetski looks quite bored, just sitting there on the tranquil sea. Two other tables were occupied during breakfast, with the rest of the unoccupied tables enough to host an imaginary wedding reception. There were no kids in the Play Room, with the PS3 and its company of toys longing to be used. It felt like we had the place all to ourselves and yet we had to pay only P7,000 for the overnight stay (free breakfast included). That’s getting the full bang for your buck, unlike some overhyped hotels in the metro.

[To be continued. Check the updates from time.]

Top 10 Philippine Destinations for the Heartbroken this Valentines

Valentines Day is around the corner. While studies have shown that the worst time, the most depressing period, for the heartbroken segment of our society is actually Christmas (ever wondered why “Pasko na Sinta Ko” is popular during Christmas?), we don’t really get to talk much about sad things during the season of joy. But heartbreaks and breakups are fair topics during Valentines. So, if you’re going through a rough patch this Valentines Day, if you’re heartbroken, or if you’ve long been single without much luck in the love department, here are the best places to go in the Philippines or things to do in the Philippines in order to heal that broken heart, all courtesy, of course, of our VisitPinas community (in instagram and facebook; we don’t imply that the folks featured here are heartbroken, they just have some cool photos). Continue reading Top 10 Philippine Destinations for the Heartbroken this Valentines

Support Miss Universe Philippines: VOTE

She represents the Philippines, so it’s only right that we support Ms. Philippines, Maxine Medina. The Miss Universe organization has announced that the fan pre-voting is now open. The contestant with the highest number of votes will receive a guaranteed spot in the Top 12 (see? that’s why your support is important). Important reminders: Continue reading Support Miss Universe Philippines: VOTE

Boardgame Cafes: Snacks & Ladders, Ludo Boardgame Bar & Cafe, and Laruan Atbp Cafe

A relatively new development is giving us hope that mankind is not doomed to a world where people, even if sitting on the same table, are not talking to each other but are staring on their gadget screens. Ok, we may have stretched that too far. Too optimistic; we can’t really save mankind from doom. It’s more of the hope that kids will start enjoying games with actual physical interaction. No one knows what happens in the next generation, but at least there’s hope that we don’t grow couch potatoes. At least not too soon. We’re talking of boardgames, those games that don’t require electronics to run (the kind that the older generation used to enjoy). These boardgames are served, together with food, in cafes that have sprouted in the metro. Continue reading Boardgame Cafes: Snacks & Ladders, Ludo Boardgame Bar & Cafe, and Laruan Atbp Cafe

7 Reasons Why You Must Visit DreamPlay (City of Dreams Manila)

DreamPlay or Kidzania? That was the mind-boggling decision we had to make one sunny weekday. Based on what we’ve heard at that point in time, Kidzania is a nice place that allows kids to “work” as firemen, cashiers and the like, while DreamPlay is closer to a traditional amusement park. Each one has its own virtues, we know, but because we wanted something more physically challenging that day, we chose DreamPlay. While sitting at the restaurant section of DreamPlay, we thought of 7 reasons why we must come back here — the same reasons why you should visit DreamPlay. Continue reading 7 Reasons Why You Must Visit DreamPlay (City of Dreams Manila)

Baler (Aurora) Itinerary and Surfing Adventure

Baler is in our travel bucket list for one simple reason — surfing and the good vibe that goes with this sport. We’re not surfers. We’re simply curious about the huge interest in Baler’s surfing scene. We’ve long resolved to cover Baler, almost eight years from the time we finally found the right time and the perfect reason — the perfect storm, if you will — to go there. It was a few days after a strong storm, Typhoon Lando, hit Baler. Here’s our trip itinerary and story (we’ve sandwiched the helpful information, tips and suggestions in the text of the article, just for fun). Continue reading Baler (Aurora) Itinerary and Surfing Adventure

Canigao Island (Leyte): Hidden in Plain Sight

Life plays tricks on us. Always. Remember those times when you were looking for a pencil and it was right there, stuck on your ear, all those time? Or looking for the love of your life and she/he was by your side all those years? It’s along those lines that we’ve encountered an island close to the coast of Leyte — Canigao Island. Join us in exploring the reasons why Canigao is hidden in plain sight. Continue reading Canigao Island (Leyte): Hidden in Plain Sight

Let’s Support and Vote for Vigan (Philippines) as New7Wonders Cities

Support and vote for Vigan City. Tell others and “convince” them to vote for Vigan City. We need to spread the word and vote for Vigan City as the Philippines’ only entry in the New7Wonders Cities. It started with the Nomination Phase (more than 1200 nominees from more than 220 countries), followed by the Qualification Phase and the shortlisting to 28 official finalist candidates (although we’ve counted only up to 21). The Philippines was part of the New7Wonders of Nature with the Puerto Princesa Underground River. See below on how to vote for Vigan. Continue reading Let’s Support and Vote for Vigan (Philippines) as New7Wonders Cities

Full Moon Games: Our Top List

There’s a super moon in August, although we learned about this only after the huge full moon was supposed to dominate the night sky on August 10, 2014. Doesn’t really matter because the moon tonight is still enormous. Big enough to remind us of the favorite childhood games children play whenever the full moon was out. This one is for posterity’s sake (ok, for our generation, too, so we may reminisce and smile). Rule of thumb for a full moon game? It has to accommodate between 10 to 20 kids at any time; a game designed for 2 or 4 people won’t do. Here’s our list of fun full moon games: Continue reading Full Moon Games: Our Top List

Cliff Jumping Paradise: Ariel’s Point, Boracay (Video)

We love Boracay. Who doesn’t love Boracay? One or two souls maybe, but we absolutely love the world-famous island paradise called Boracay. From its hotels (let’s have less of those humongous hotels please), calamansi muffins, fruit shakes, pizza and other smokin‘ hot cuisine. It’s fine, white sand of course. And clear waters. We’ve seen the fire dancers and tried parasailing, and, mind you, we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of Boracay fun. We can also tell you at least 5 reasons why, despite all the downside that naturally comes with development, we still love Boracay. Heck, we’ve even survived its underwater-world and international mermaid school! What we haven’t tried, and what we seriously intend to do before our bones get too brittle with time (and milk-to-alcohol imbalance) is the cliff jumping in Ariel’s Point. Yes, Boracay, we’ll conquer your cliff jumping challenge. We’ll see if the 15-meter cliff jump is enough to challenge us (uhm, the 3-meter option is technically doing the jump, yes?). In the meantime, watch this video of the Ariel’s Point jump through the eyes of fellow travelers: Continue reading Cliff Jumping Paradise: Ariel’s Point, Boracay (Video)