Monday, January 20, 2014

Cold Weekend-er


Lipa's "bed" weather did not disappoint. The wind was howling during the night. It felt like there was a storm, but the wind lulled this family to sleep until late morning the next day. The kids slept like logs and had to be woken up. 

The weather is great! How I wish we could always wake up to mornings like this. It’s such a treat to not have to use the aircon and even the electric fans the past days. I’ve just read in the morning paper that temperature in Baguio dropped to 8.1 degrees yesterday, the coldest in five years.

I am happy to write my second post for the year in this cold morning weather. I want to share about the weekend getaway my family just had. We drove South from Manila to our favorite weekender spot – to Lipa, Batangas. We go there every so often to visit with friends. On this recent trip, we were really thrilled to have experienced the near-Baguio “brrr” temperature. My kids who sweat easily and do not get to wear their sweaters back home despite cooler temperatures, had to put on extra layers in Lipa.

Upon reaching Lipa, we noticed that the car was registering almost the same temperatures outside and inside, 22 and 21 degrees Celsius. It was awesome! That got us excited as we expected the temperature to drop further into the night. The northeast monsoon or what we know as Amihan did not disappoint us. It got colder indeed. We were out (literally out in an open space) chatting with friends while the kids ran freely at 11pm. I thought that that “brrr” experience compensated for my longing for Baguio last Christmas. And I was very thankful.

I have a soft spot for Lipa. It is my mother’s birth place. We used to visit with relatives back in the 80’s. Our relatives are mostly in Mataas na Kahoy, a place named as such because of its high elevation. I remember going there during fiestas and distinctly remember how cold it was in the barrio/bukid, particularly in the mornings. Some years back, my husband used to frequent Lipa because of work, through which he met what is now his small circle of very select friends. Before, we would even contemplate retiring there when we are old and in our sixties. It’s the weather, the people, and the food that make Lipa a nice place to think about spending our sunset years in. It doesn’t hurt to plan early, you know. Hehe. :-)

When in Lipa, we never miss going to the small restaurant Goto sa Barangay for their Batangas goto and fried murang isaw (cow’s intestines). Their goto is nothing like the usual one I also love to buy from the fast food chain Goto King. It is not rice-based, consisting only of cow’s entrails boiled with onions, garlic and pepper, and served very hot with lots of fresh onion as topping, and fish sauce with calamansi and red chilies (siling labuyo) for the dip. I totally crave for this each time. It’s perfect with steamed rice. One cup is not enough. That yummy, yes!

My super favorite one-of-a-kind Batangas goto, and Garrett's favorite pancit canton. We love it here at Goto sa Barangay, Lipa.

Batangas folks are known for their hospitality. We are lucky to have friends who go out of the way to prepare delicious, mouth-watering dishes for us, like chicharon, sinaing na isda, and mais na gulay. We were treated to dinuguan and grilled fresh pig liver, a pre-taste of the food feast the following day for the town fiesta. We got the best puto (rice cake) from the town of Rosario, to dip in the 'bloody' delicious dinuguan. And to top it all, we had the famous kapeng barako to enjoy before and after meals, in the cold weather. Add to that the laughter and stories shared, and we really had a fun, relaxing weekend. 


L-R (clockwise): Kapeng Barako - Batangas local coffee; grilled liver, fresh from a newly butchered pig; my son Garrett with our host, Jet.

We are a family that likes things and places that are familiar, and so we tend to patronize the same restaurants and hotels. Sometimes I wish we were more adventurous. But then again, we come back to the same vacation spots for a reason, and we go home never disappointed. And so, for this trip, we preferred to stay again at The Suites at Mount Malarayat. It is within the Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club and Residential Estates. There are these Suite Buildings (named after trees – Narra, Yakal, Tanguile, and Kaimito ) with rooms which can be booked online for overnight stay and extended vacation. It’s affordable. Last year, we booked via Agoda and got a standard room for only Php1,800 all in except breakfast. This time we got a bigger room in Kaimito Suites, and the rate was not also bad at Php2,787, net of tax and service charges. Breakfast is extra, but you get your money’s worth at their restaurant with a nice view of the golf course.


What the kids look forward to is swimming in the large pool. No matter how cold it was.




Aside from pool, there is a playground where my kids also love to spend time at. The playground is not fancy or big, consisting only of a couple of slides, swings and climbers. It’s nice because there’s lots of greenery. With the sun above and the canopies of trees offering shade, you are sure to go home with lots of beautiful pictures.






I know I am sounding like I am being paid for advertising the Mount Malarayat Country Club. This is not a sponsored post, obviously. I am not a blogger that way (I wish I were though!). But I like to share it with you, just in case you’d be interested, and by now, are mulling a weekender in Lipa. You will not be disappointed, but of course you have to keep your expectations in check, and not compare it with the hotels in Manila or other big cities like Cebu and Davao. The bathrooms are clean. The furniture is run-down, and the beds are not the comfy-soft type of mattress you have at Shangri-La, Holiday Inn, or at whatever your favorite hotel is. But all in all, the package would be worth the price. And the weather until February will surely make it worth the drive.


The drive by the way is very smooth via South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) toll gate. It only took us 1 hour and 30 minutes going home, covering a distance of around 90 kilometers. We left at 6:45pm on a Sunday.















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