Throwback Thursday: Destination Batangas, Philippines

It’s been a year since our family vacation to the Philippines and I’m just getting to blogging about the experience now.

Yes, I’m super late. 

When we arrived back from the Philippines, it was the 2nd week of 2019. Our Christmas decorations were still up in our home. Jet lag was kicking our butts as we tried to return to work and school, extracurricular activities, and the routine of our everyday lives. 

One of my cousins spent the holidays in the Philippines which inspired me to blog about our holiday experience in the Philippines. My primary intent of my blog was for my boys, and their future family, to be able to see all of our adventures as a family. How could I not blog about our first international trip as a family?

So here we are, taking the next few weeks to blog about our family vacation to the Philippines during the holidays in 2018 to 2019. 

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing our experiences in the different regions we visited. First up is Batangas, Philippines.

My dad is from Batangas City, Batangas, Philippines. He left the Philippines in the 1970’s to pursue a career with the United States Army. He’s been back to the Philippines several times since, but this is the first time with his grandkids.

In Batangas City, we stayed at the Pontefino Hotel which was decked out in Christmas decor. While we were walking around the hotel, we noticed our elf Tutu had made the flight to the Philippines also. He wanted to make sure the hotel was decorated ready for our stay. He’s so dedicated!

Hotel Pontefino has some delicious food too. You best bet I was STARVING when we arrived so, here are a few photos of our first dinner in the Philippines: Sinigang Na Lechon Kawali, Miki Bihon with Lechon Kawali, and Spicy Taal Ribs. Oh so yum! Super sarap!

Breakfast at Hotel Pontefino was buffet style and had something for all of us. Jelo was amazed they had adobo for breakfast! He was in heaven! It’s one of his favorites. 

The boys spent lots of time at the Hotel Pontefino pool. The weather was perfect during our vacation to enjoy time by the pool and relax.

We visited the mall a few times, most especially since Jelo found out that all SM malls in the Philippines have a “Cyber Zone”. He totally geeked out and  would spend all day there if we let him. The boys also fell in love with the fried chicken and rice served at McDonald’s Philippines. More yums!

The mall was close to our hotel, about a 15 minute walk. Yet, once the boys learned to ride a traditional Philippine tricycle, it became their preferred mode of travel to and from the mall. Here is DJ and I inside a tricycle. The next picture of how some ride the tricycle!

Dad took us around the Batangas City one morning. Here are the boys with Papa at the city plaza. 

Here is the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Batangas City. 

I stopped for some famous Batangeno Kapeng Barako, loosely translated “tough coffee”. It’s highly caffeinated!

Papa took us to the “palenke” or market. He wanted to show the boys the “wet market”. Their faces explain it all.

Christmas Eve is spent with my dad’s sister and her family. My auntie Evelyn is such a great cook. I always look forward to her cooking when she lived in the United States. I also have lots of fond memories of my previous visits to the Philippines spent in her home with my cousins. She was a such a great host of Christmas Eve. We had a great time!

Here is my Uncle Numer and my Auntie Evelyn, one of my dad’s 11 siblings. That’s my 2nd cousin sitting in the back with her electronics. Yes, kids all over the world are glued to their electronics.

Here are a few of my cousins. I have over 40 first cousins by the way!
Back row: Uncle Numer, Gil (cousin Novelyn’s husband), me, and cousin Randy
Front Row: My Auntie Evelyn, my mom, cousin Novelyn, and Michelle (cousin Randy’s wife)

Second cousins bonding over electronics. #SMH

Cousins sharing their Christmas goodies.

A fraction of our family. I hope one day our entire family can gather together. We’re aiming for 2025! Let’s see if we can make it happen!

Christmas Day we attended Mass at Most Holy Trinity Parish which was just a few minutes from our hotel. We thought we had arrived early enough, but we didn’t. The church was packed and we had to squeeze ourselves in. 

After mass, we took a drive to a neighboring town, Nagsugbu, Batangas, for some seaside Christmas fun. We enjoyed the afternoon at Punta Fuego, Nagsubu, Batangas. The views were beautiful. 

The boys loved the pool. They had a great time!

My mom enjoyed a nap under the gazebo, while I savored my halo-halo. Yup, no shame - enjoy them fat rolls! Ha!

Lunch at Punta Fuego was delicious as well. 

Pinakbet - Pinakbet Tagalog is a Filipino vegetable dish. It is composed of a variety of vegetables and  choice of protein.

Bulalo - Native to the Southern Luzon region of the Philippines, Bulalo is a light colored soup that's made rich by cooking beef shanks and beef marrow bones for hours, until much of the collagen and fat has melted into the clear broth.

 Fried prawns

The next day we headed to Villa Escudero. A self-contained working coconut plantation, it was founded in the 1880s by a pioneering agro-industrialist. He built the country’s first working hydroelectric plant to supply Villa Escudero. The estate opened to the public in 1981. The resort has become a tourist destination for the showcase of the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage by offering a beguiling glimpse of its history, cuisine, dress, customs and natural beauty.

To enter the report, you park your car and ride a carabao drawn carriage into the resort, while being serenaded with traditional “harana”. It’s so cute!

The boys posing with the jeepney.

DJ and I tried navigating a bamboo raft. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Lunch was at the base of the waterfall from the hydroelectric plant.

The buffet lunch was more yum yums! So much food!

The boys played in the waterfall a bit after lunch.

After lunch settled, the boys had some water play. 

The grounds of Villa Escudero had lots of cute aesthetics. 

Tutu found his way to Villa Escudero too!

Before leaving, we enjoyed the cultural performances. We had a great experience at Villa Escuerdo. 

We ended our stay in Batangas with a photo shoot with Memory Lane Ave. Productions. 

Week one in the Philippines with my boys was awesome. They acclimated so much better than I thought they would which made the first part of our vacation so much more enjoyable.

Stay tuned for next week’s post where I share week two adventures in Nagtablaan, Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur, Philippines!

In the meanwhile, here is a video of our entire Philippines travels. Enjoy!