Disappointment is a tough concept to predict, we’ve learned throughout our travels, primarily because it largely depends on the level of expectation that has grown root in one’s mind. What may be disappointing to some may be outstanding to others. What may be disappointing to someone may have been satisfactory to the same person if the expectation was correctly set. We’ve been badly burned by resorts and destinations that are made to glitter like diamonds in their websites, only to find a lump of semi-precious stone. We didn’t set any expectation when we set out to search for The Nook, coffee and books. Continue reading The Nook Cafe with Harry Potter (and the Maginhawa Hub)
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.
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.]
In a culinary world, we are barbarians. Don’t get us wrong; we love fine food prepared by awesome chefs, but, deep down our primitive guts, we like to get our hands dirty with some serious seafood. We won’t hesitate to relocate to some distant seafood-rich island, perhaps the seafood capital down the middle of the Philippines, just in case we win the lotto. Until that happens, we’d stay pretty much contented with whatever seafood we can find in the city. Continue reading Crab n’ Crew Restobar (Quezon City)
Not many fastfood chains anywhere in the world can claim local market dominance against foreign brands like MacDonald’s. One of those strong brands is, you guessed it, Jollibee of the Philippines. While others argue that it’s all about the food — Jollibee knows the sweet side of the Filipinos’ palate — we think a small slice of that market share has something to do with the mascot. We’ve seen Jollibee work its charm in parties and, we tell you, he’s one happy dynamo, always a good dancer (see “best dance crew“) with a good sense of humor. What’s the English equivalent of makulit? Here’s Jollibee, courtesy of Ranell Dedicatoria (ranellmartin), most likely having jumped on that counter top and ringing that bell (click photo to enlarge): Continue reading Photo of the Day: Jollibee Kulit
Happiness is a matter of perspective. We love the spontaneity in travel and we love surprises when in comes to food. We’ve long ago decided to embrace the curve balls, good and bad, life throws our way. Ready to deal with the bad times, happier to deal with the good times. So how happy can we get with the evening surprise we discovered at the Ilocano culinary stronghold of Victorino’s? Continue reading Red Velvet + Ube + Bagnet + Ilocos Taste = Victorino’s
“Let’s visit Ludo Cafe,” read the text message from my husband. The fact that he sent the message during a workweek made it unusual; a blue moon is rather a common occurrence compared to the frequency he takes time off from work on a weekday. Maybe he badly wanted to take a break. Maybe there’s something really interesting in Ludo that he wanted to check out. I didn’t ask. All I knew is that he already made arrangements with his friend, Marcelo, a co-owner (and, he said, resident cool geek) of Ludo Boardgame Bar and Cafe. We survived our first visit of Ludo with the following notes. Continue reading Old School Fun at Ludo Boardgame Bar and Cafe
Food. Food is usually the primary reason — the sole reason, for some — to visit a restaurant. It’s also the same reason why people go back to a restaurant. From time to time, however, there’s a welcome twist that happily shifts the focus from food to something else that heightens the dining experience. We’re comfortable with holes-in-the-walls that serve great food. We also have no problem exploring restaurants that serve extra servings of ambiance as a selling point. Let’s lift the curtain and check what makes the Movie Stars Cafe (Movie Memorabilia Studio Cafe and Restaurant) different (and why it’s a fun place to visit). Continue reading Time to Visit the Movie Stars Cafe (Movie Memorabilia Studio Cafe and Restaurant)
We’ve found a new haven for Filipino food, and it’s no surprise that it’s centered on Kapampangan cuisine (or, as spelled in this restaurant, Capampangan cuisine). It would seem that when the Higher Being decided to rain culinary talent on the world, the early people of Pampanga woke up earlier to catch a huge chunk of the food preparation blessing. No surprise that one of the restaurants at the UP Town Center, the Pinác: Heirloom Capampangan Cuisine, serves absolutely great-tasting Filipino food. Continue reading Pinác: Heirloom Capampangan Cuisine (UP Town Center)
Destiny, we believe (at this point, anyway), is the sum of one’s free choices after having been presented with infinite possibilities in life. In short, it is not predestined. It shifts and changes based on our choices. On the other hand, others say that as we go on through life, so many events would lead us to seriously question whether these events are mere coincidences. There is, indeed, a plan. If we choose to pursue this path, just for the sake of a lively long weekend discussion, we’d eventually end up narrating how we came to visit the Wooden Spoon restaurant. Continue reading The Wooden Spoon by Chef Sandy Daza
Love is sweeter the second time around. We can start a whole new round of debate on whether love is indeed sweeter the second time around, but we’d rather focus on something else: food. Is food better the second time around? We’ve visited Bag of Beans before, you see, and we’re trying to figure out if things have changed for the better. Continue reading Take Two at Bag of Beans, Tagaytay City