It really is more fun in the Philippines! This year, instead of traveling abroad to welcome the New Year, we marveled at the fireworks along the pristine white beach of Boracay.
Like a friendly competition, the luxury beachfront resorts put up a spectacular fireworks display, to the delight of vacationers who merely had to sit on the beach to enjoy the sights. All the pyrotechnics are offshore, so the entire performance is even very safe.
Our family celebrated the last hour of last year at the beautiful Discovery Shores (www.discoveryshoresboracay.com). Their GM, Jun Parreno, is a phenom, meticulously overseeing every detail of this Mardi Gras-themed party. We loved that the Tiu family, owners of the resort, were right there to party with us, as well.
At Discovery Shores, the service is always flabbergasting. There are always people around to offer freshly rolled and toasty warm towels at poolside, or cool, wet face towels at beachside. My hubby Dennis’ personal fave is the guy who comes up and offers to clean his shades. It’s that sort of personal attention that distinguishes Discovery Shores.
My favorite hair and makeup stylist, Victor Ortega of Emphasis Salon, was with us on New Year’s Eve. Almost an islander, Victor runs the salon of Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa, as well as his own full-service salon and spa right behind Astoria Boracay along Station 1. It’s great to see his many entrepreneurial ventures on the island.
Among the cool resorts on the beach is the luxurious Astoria Boracay (www.astoriaboracay.com), where Dennis and I stayed during a visit to the island late last year. Astoria is right beside D’Mall, still the nerve center for beachfront activities, and of course, shopping.
Another great place to stay is the newly refurbished Fairways and Bluewater Boracay, which boasts a championship golf course. Dennis played a round of golf there with my sister Sandy Romualdez, her hubby Philip and 11-year-old Luca, who shot an incredible 80, beating all his elders.
Perfecting the family vacation
While the golfers toiled in the sun, my kids and I lounged at the poolside of Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa (www.shangri-la.com), today the premier address on the island. Patti Javier, Shang’s director of communications, arranged for 6-year-old Athena to try the Adventure Zone, while teeners Tyrone and Annika checked out the ping-pong, air hockey and hoops at the Entertainment Zone.
Shangri-La Boracay has really perfected the family vacation activities to the hilt. Their friendly staff knows how to entertain kids of all ages, so parents can have a fun vacation and not have to worry about the kids. Their private beach means a different kind of Bora stay—more private, uncrowded, relaxing.
At the Shang, we spotted Sandy and Mark Higgins of Slim’s Fashion and Arts School. Sandy and Mark are great supporters of the Red Charity Gala that Kate Tinga and I hold every year. They were enjoying a quiet sun and sea holiday, telling me how great the Chi Spa was, while I was more interested in the resort shop, of course.
The Shang also has its own private dock, from which guests can take a speedboat to go parasailing, scuba diving or jetskiing. It’s an all-in-one resort, with everything you need so you never need to venture out.
It really is more fun in Boracay with the variety of resorts to choose from. It was great to see so many foreigners on the island, as well.
On the first day of the year, we decided to eat at Paraiso Bar & Grill in Station 2. Proprietor Joji Malinao moved to Bora to personally oversee her resto, and I miss seeing her in yoga classes in Makati. Still, it was good to catch up over her delectable clam soup and fresh fish grilled over lava rocks. Her crab dishes are also excellent.
Getting back to Manila after the holidays is always a reality check. But in keeping with the spirit of the new tourism slogan, my aim this year is to find more ways of having fun in the Philippines.
And the best part is that having fun in our country is not hard at all. On Jan. 22, Katy Perry gets the concert season going with her “California Dreams” Tour, presented by Smart, at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds.
Tickets available at TicketWorld at www.ticketworld.com.ph or tel. 8919999 or directly at SM’s website, www.smtickets.com.
My guess is that Katy will certainly sing her hit, “Firework,” as it seems right for the season. Sponsors include Smart, Philippine Airlines, LEE Jeans, Little Asia, Fox, Star World and SM Mall of Asia.
As we seek ways to have fun in our country, let’s not forget to make it an effort for everyone to have more fun. We can even have fun while helping others.
Habitat for Humanity Philippines (HFHP) is launching their Youth Build 2012 on Jan. 14, 6 p.m., at the Greenbelt 5 Fashion Walk. Building on the success of last year’s Youth Build, the HFHP Youth Council is targeting the development of 200 youth leaders and getting 2,000 volunteers to build 200 homes in Brgy. Tanza, Navotas City, on May 12.
It’s a challenging goal, but when we consider that HFHP builds homes for our Pinoy brothers, it’s the sort of goal that we all want to help achieve. The Youth Council expects a large contingent of Pinoy youths at Youth Build, joined by their peers from around the region. Youth Build is an Asia Pacific-wide endeavor, with similar work planned in China, India, Indonesia and Thailand.
Alex Eduque, Habitat ambassador and HFHP Youth Council founder, is particularly excited about the 200 youth leaders they are developing, which ensures that Youth Build will leave a lasting legacy.
Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Youth Build campaign cabinet chairman, and Chu-chu Madrigal, campaign cabinet member, are the hosts of the Youth Build 2012 launch. Swatch has been a true supporter for this campaign, as well. With their leadership, I’m sure Youth Build 2012 will be a way to have more fun in the Philippines for all.
Follow Tessa on Twitter @tessavaldes or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.