Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Getaway South of the Metro: La Virginia Resort (Lipa, Batangas)

I think my biggest woe at taking summer classes was that I wouldn’t get to go on out of town trips, but luckily my parents have been busy making plans for our family, to make the most out of Papa’s vacation before he sails away again, le OFW family life. We went to Ilocos for Holy Week, and just last week we went to Tagaytay, and yesterday we went to La Virginia Resort in Lipa, Batangas on an impromptu road trip! It was my aunt’s birthday and Papa and his siblings had been trying to get together but their plans always fell through at the last minute. It makes sense that when their plans finally pushed through, it would be last minute too.

So on Saturday Mama and Papa told us we would be going to a resort in Batangas for a day trip and that we had better finish our assignments and prepare to leave early the next morning. I was actually more inconvenienced that I would have to do my homework in advance (attack of the lazy bones) since we would be gone the whole day most likely on Sunday than by the rushed preparations for an unplanned trip. I had a dream about going swimming and I missed the beach, apparently I didn’t get enough of the water in Ilocos, so I wasn’t about to pass up the chance to go for a refreshing swim when Metro Manila had been suffocating with soaring temperatures the last few days.

I went through my assignment and then I emptied my Longchamp of my school things and packed a swimsuit and a change of clothes and a towel on Saturday night. I really packed light because we would only spend the day there, of course Monday classes awaited.

I tried to get a good night’s sleep because we were leaving for La Virginia Resort in Lipa, Batangas, where one of my other aunt’s apparently had a contact and could get a group discount or something, at 6 am sharp. But then the squatters beyond the subdivision wall were making a ruckus, yet again! I really don’t know why every time we have an early morning ahead of us, they choose that time to be their noisiest and act like animals! I really should get some ear plugs because there’s no reasoning with those people who do as they please at whatever hour!

IMG_0704IMG_0705Anyway, I woke up and had my usual breakfast and fruit and a cup of strong coffee and I wore my most comfortable clothes for the road. A red plaid tank top, some denim bottoms and my Crocs so I wouldn’t need extra slippers. I didn’t bother with makeup because we would be going swimming and I would only take it off. So I applied some Hawaiian Tropic sunblock and only powdered my face lightly with Krave Minerale’s Oil Eliminator and Skin Hydrator. No fuss, no muss, but not my most fresh face either because our neighbors cost me my sleep.

We hit the road a bit behind schedule because it took time to prepare all the food we were taking and then load it into the car, but other than that we had a smooth trip. One of my aunts and her family convoyed with us while the rest agreed to meet at the resort already. There was hardly any traffic since it was that early in the morning and SLEX and the Batangas Star Tollway were clear if you count out all the time Mama nearly lost track of the directions getting there, but boy does the toll cost a lot! I slept on and off on the way there because I had a nasty caffeine and sleepiness headache and my stomach was really out of sorts from an early breakfast. I’m really not used to it anymore, waking up really early and eating breakfast at an unusual time. It seems even good habits like regular meal times and 8 hours of sleep are inflexible, once you’ve conditioned your body to work around that sort of clock.

We got to the resort at around 8:30, after just a little over two hours on the road. Lipa, Batangas isn’t that far into Batangas itself so it’s still close enough to Metro Manila for a whole day of family fun and bonding. Unfortunately, my headache still persisted at the resort and it got compounded by the unrelenting sun, so I napped until lunch in the picnic hut we rented, which luckily came with an electric fan and a small mattress and I felt marginally better.

After lunch, I went swimming with my sister and my parents. I brought my cutout one piece, or my blue maillot, thinking it would be the more conservative choice for a family outing, and I didn’t bring any board shorts since I’m most comfortable in just a swimsuit in the water, but then the crowd at the resort was the T-shirt kind. I really don’t understand why it is I’m the one getting weird looks when I’m the one in proper swimming attire and they’re all the ones so covered up and looking like sputtering fools with their shirts billowing in the water. It’s like I’m the one with the problem for wearing a bathing suit. And besides, who wants to bring home all those wet clothes, when a simple bathing suit can be wrung and dry in moments? I wonder how foreigners feel at Filipino beaches or resorts and seeing fully-clad people and then being gawked at for wearing bathing suits? This is what I’m talking about, feeling like a foreigner among other Filipinos. And it’s not that I’m turning up my nose at them, I mean, if it’s just their way to enjoy swimming, it’s none of my business. I’m just irritated by how I got looked at funny for my choice of swimming attire, that I’m the one made to feel out of place when I’m just in a swimsuit, what you would expect in a swimming pool!

But they weren’t about to ruin my swim! Not when I woke up at 5 am to go and got a splitting headache for it! So I held my head up, shed my towel and went ala Baywatch into the pool. Busybodies be damned. Personally, I’m a lot more partial to beaches, but swimming pools will do, and the water though smelling heavily of chlorine, was so good on that hot day. We were in the deep end of the infinity pool because there were fewer people there, but it was around 6 feet deep, and I’m not a good swimmer, so I stayed near the sides of the pool holding onto the edge. I’ve never had any swimming lessons, and I don’t have any technique, so I swim with my instincts, or my frog legs and arm-paddling style and most of the time this suffices, but in the deeper water, I can’t really go long distances without running out of air, so it wasn’t the most enjoyable swim. I tried crossing to the other end of the pool and I made it fine, but on the way back, I got tired mid-pool and for a moment I was afraid I wouldn’t reach the other side. I was struggling for air and treading frantically and I went under for a moment but grabbed a hold of my sister’s long-ass hair and revived. The family had a laugh at my attempt, but I’d had enough of the water. The water cooled me off, but the sun was beating down on my skin with a fury, and I could already feel my shoulders starting to sting, so I got out of the water. My family rested and ate then went back to the pools, this time in the shallower pools, and I’d had enough of the staring and the risk of drowning, so I showered and changed. I felt better after that and took a walk around the resort.

La Virginia is this really huge resort, and the whole property has an impressive view overlooking Taal. I was sad though because I thought Taal when we went to Tagaytay last Sunday was covered in a haze because it was cloudy, but even with a closer view of Taal on an almost, clear and cloudless day, Taal was still not very discernible, or visible. It seems my memory of Taal from high school hasn’t faded, but rather Taal’s gotten smoggy over the past few years. But anyway, going back to the resort, it’s a large property that goes up and down, and there are different theme areas with different accommodations and amenities. It was so vast, that for a time I lost my bearings and didn’t know how to trace my steps back to our picnic hut, and I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland because on my walk circling the resort, I must have seen statues and lawn ornaments of every fairy tale character and animal there is. Here are a few shots I took:









Our family packed up and left after settling everything with their office at almost 6 pm, and it was still sunny and really hot! I was really happy with my exploring, but it was about time to go and we were all really tired from the whole day’s activities. The last thing I remember before falling asleep in the car was
IMG_0737 the beautiful sunset we saw along Star Tollway. I woke up at C-5 and we got home at a quarter to 8 and it was so good to come home to dinner ready and waiting. I mean I ate my usual at the resort and our relatives brought a lot of food, but the untimely breakfast upset my stomach and so I kept to fruits, and there were so many, apples, bananas, mangoes, star apples, pineapples, papayas, oh summer is love! After dinner, I unpacked and prepared for school and set to my workout! And I managed to take a picture at home of my slightly chlorine and sun baked self. All in a day’s work!

But if you’re wondering what I thought of the resort at the end of the day, do keep reading some more.


I really like that La Virginia Resort in Lipa, Batangas is just a little bit south of the Metro so it’s only two hours away. It’s far enough to get away from the smoke and high enough for a cool breeze, but close enough for a day trip and you can make it back to Manila in one go. The rates were okay since our entrance fee was discounted, but the picnic hut rental was actually more expensive. When we left, we got a brochure and a price list, and the picnic facilities’ rates vary depending on the location in the resort though. The resort offers function rooms and overnight accommodation and it can accommodate a lot of people by sheer size alone. Also, if you get bored from swimming, you can go wall climbing or use the zipline or the jacuzzi, if you want, but they have a hefty extra charge, and I personally don’t feel Php300 for a few seconds in the air is worth it, for zipline, anyway. I liked the theme park style and it was fun to just wander around the resort, but some of it was too tacky for my taste. I also really liked the landscaping, anything green or blooming scores points in my book, if you know me. The restrooms, shower areas and changing rooms I saw and used were mostly clean, so that’s a good thing about the resort. I don’t know about food they serve there though since we brought our own and cooked our own. My aunt even grilled fish at the resort and brought a rice cooker, like most of the families we saw. In that respect, we are just as Filipino as the rest.

But, and I think you won’t be surprised anymore, my chief complaint about the place is the crowd! Not only was it crowded; literally there were children running around like monkeys and rowdy boys horsing around, and girls squealing and shrieking and the pool was so full of people you couldn’t swim without bumping into other people; but the resort is such a family-friendly place with budget rates in the smaller picnic facilities that there were so many…how to put this tactfully…people that weren’t my kind of people. The kind of people who make you feel like an outcast for wearing normal swimwear.

That’s it, basically. I had fun and I enjoyed a day away from the city. I’m just really particular and I prefer, more “private” resorts with more privacy and quiet. In Filipino I’m maarte. I fuss over things like children running amok, and other guests looking at me instead of minding their own damn swimming. That’s it really. I liked the resort, just not the other people. Would I want to come back? Maybe if it was next to empty, or just me and my family. So you have your answer.

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