A northbound weekend: Summer destinations a few hours from Manila
SUMMER’S here, and yet days filled with fun and adventure seem worlds away. The reason is that many people think they don’t have the budget or the time to enjoy the season. The thing is, we don’t really
need a tub full of cash or weeks off work to enjoy these bright sunny days; it’s fine to spend even just a weekend in a place not far from home.
Tarlac City, once known as just a pit stop when traveling to the north, is now becoming a destination in itself. It has its own tranquil and exhilarating places.
The Aquino Center and Museum (Luisita Industrial Park Road, San Miguel, Tarlac City;
 9850968) contains everything one needs to know about the life and struggles of Ninoy Aquino. It is for the young and old alike, a repository of crucial moments in Philippine history and the perils of authoritarian rule.
The Monasterio de Tarlac (Barangay Lubigan, San Jose, Tarlac;  4933002) boasts a 30-foot statue of the Risen Christ.
Kart City (McArthur Highway, San Roque, Tarlac City;  4914053) offers cheap go-kart rides: P120 for five rounds; P200, 10 rounds.
Tarlac Recreational Park
The Tarlac Recreational Park and Jose Yap Sports Complex (San Jose, Tarlac; 0998- 3544261) lies in a 78-hectare property where one can go kayaking, swimming, biking or riding a dune buggy on rugged trails.
Before heading back to Manila, visit JSJ Goat Farm (Barangay Caturay, Gerona, Tarlac; (0918-9080488), and take home some Australian goat milk, white cheese, feta cheese and other dairy products.
Camayan Beach Resort
Even as a kid, Subic has been for duty-free shopping, the yacht club, hilltop resorts and being chased by monkeys.
The former site of a US naval base has been developed into a wildlife haven. Camayan Beach Resort in Subic (Ilanin Road, Bataan;  2528000) shelters turtle eggs until they hatch and go into the sea.
The place also offers a kayaking experience in mangrove forests. A few meters away is Ocean Adventure, which undertakes the rehabilitation of marine animals.
Casa San Miguel
In Zambales is Crystal Beach Resort (Zambales-Pangasinan Road, San Narciso, Zambales;  9134309) where turquoise waters and good waves present a great opportunity to learn surfing or to simply camp out with friends.
Capones Vista Beach Resort (Barangay Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales;  6031382) is where one can hop on a boat and explore the beautiful Capones Island and its century old lighthouse.
End your day at Casa San Miguel (Barangay San Miguel, San Antonio, Zambales;  9038657), a romantic hideaway. One can immerse in culture at its art gallery or with the music of the Pundaquit Virtuosi.
Deca Wakeboard Park
Only an hour away from Manila is Pampanga. If you want to take up a new sport, Deca Wakeboard Park Clark (Jose P. Laurel Avenue, Angeles, Pampanga; 0905-3301013) is the perfect place. There are two manmade lakes and obstacles to challenge your wakeboard sense of adventure.
If getting soaked is not in your itinerary, head on over to Sandbox Alviera (Porac, Pampanga) where activities range from archery and rock-wall climbing to riding the zip line and a giant swing.
You can also try riding the all terrain vehicle and zoom along magnificent rock formations, creeks and lahar, while tripping on the colors that abound: One moment it’s tranquil gray, then shimmering gold.
Catch the sunset and commune with nature. Lower gas prices for your car, and clean, safe buses like Victory Liner plying the well-paved North Luzon Expressway have made getting to these destinations a breeze. There’s no excuse to not enjoy summer anymore!
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