No two places are the same, in the same way that no place is the same in the eyes of different persons. In the world of water theme parks, our new favorite is the Imperial Palace Waterpark and Spa Cebu, basically because it’s the newest and cleanest among the waterpark lot. It’s found in Central Visayas, which means that it’s not a default option for a quickie weekend getaway for someone living in Luzon. The next option, just south of Metro Manila, is the Splash Island, with the most number of exciting water slides. But Splash Island feels like a theme park in serious search for its soul, so there’s a challenge to search for another water theme park at the other end of the metro. And so with hearts overflowing with adventure (and a tank filled with just enough gas), we found our way through the North Luzon Expressway, totally clueless of a destination.
There are minimum criteria, of course. It should be near enough — jumping out of bed at 8 on a weekend morning rules out places beyond Subic. It should be far enough, allowing therapeutic driving pleasure, an escape from the daily traffic gridlock in the metro. It should have water fun, with enough water slides to last an hour or two to drain the seemingly inexhaustible battery of hyperactive kids. There should be peanuts and cookies in the car, enough to entertain two bored kids, just in case the search turns up blank.
We realized, a few minutes into the trip, that we’re running out of options. Montevista and the Clearwater Country Club don’t have water slides. Amana Waterpark, well, let’s just say it’s one of the most divisive posts here in VisitPinas. There are a number of swimming pool destinations, but a swimming pool is no water slide haven. Really, the few options flew by the window faster than we can consume the peanuts.
If there’s one thing travel has taught us, it’s never giving up. For instance, it’s never too late until the airplane door closes. Any chance passenger holds on to the last strand of hope. And if there’s one thing movies have taught us, it’s the fact that we can always find a line or two to sum it all up. “There is always hope,” Aragorn said in Lord of The Rings. “Movement is life,” Brad Pitt said in World War Z. In local movies, that’s roughly translated to, “galaw-galaw din pag may time.”
And so we moved towards the general direction of the Clark Special Economic Zone. That’s in Clarkfield, Pampanga. We’re bound to discover something there. Worst-case scenario, if we can’t find any water-world, we could always opt for Plan B, which would include the Dinosaurs Island, the Zoocobia, the Nayong Pilipino, among the fun destinations in Clark. There’s always hope.
We found Fontana. A closer look revealed that the name is Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks, a sprawling complex with a golf course, a casino and residential units. It has hot springs, as the resort name suggests. Fontana probably has other surprises hidden in its nooks and crannies, something to explore in the hopefully not-too-distant future.
Except Fontana’s waterpark, we are in no position to comment on the other areas. That would be unfair because we didn’t get to experience these features and, for that reason, we have every intention to come back here. The place, you see, looks and feels serene. Wide streets, grown trees, green lawns, bungalow-style units available for lease.
The waterpark is not exactly new, that much we gathered from the sight of ferns growing on the two giant columns at the entrance. The slides and water fountains are clearly meant for kids, although there are two giant slides and a wave pool that should interest the grownups. It’s a theme park that obviously has seen better days. Yet, even if there’s every reason to expect a mind-blowing waterpark (after all, we came here looking for a water theme park) and get disappointed by what we’ve found, it’s easy to accept that the waterpark is not the central attraction of the place. It’s a friendly neighborhood water park, along the same lines as your favorite neighborhood convenience store — it’s definitely puny compared to the hypermarts and the giant shopping malls, but you’ll find your basic waterpark needs here.
The main attraction, at least in our books, is the serenity exuded by the place. We’ll definitely rent one of the duplex units and soak the quiet weekend when we come back to visit Fontana. In an increasingly crowded world, the generous open spaces serve as a treat. Scoop that peace and quiet, and throw in the friendly neighborhood water theme park, and what do you get? Well, you tell us after you visit the place.