Family Fun in Manila Ocean Park

The Philippines is one of the coral-rich countries in the world. In fact, in the Philippines, you can find Apo Reef in Mindoro Strait, which is known as the second largest contiguous coral reef system in the world and the largest coral reef system in the country. You can also find there the Tubataha Reefs Natural Park in Sulu Sea, which was designated as a World Heritage Site in December 1993 as it contains a very high density of different extremely gorgeous marine species.

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

On top of this, we were lucky enough to witness these stunning and extraterrestrial coral gardens and sea creatures, even though my parents and son do not know how to snorkel or scuba dive, because Manila Ocean Park has a good facility that enables people to have a glimpse of the reefs and ocean inhabitants without getting their feet wet.

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

So, on our 2nd day in Manila, I brought my family to this place which features aquariums and exhibits of about 14,000 sea animals from 277 indigenous species in the Philippines and in the Southeast Asia. I bought a package for Php 580 per person that includes 6 attractions: Oceanarium, Back of the House, Jellies Exhibit, Sharks and Rays Encounter, and Sea Lion Show.

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

We first went to the Oceanarium and we adored all the collection of marine creatures and corals displayed there. They were all beautiful – from a series of tanks filled with a ton of colorful fishes to the Plexiglas filled with small sharks, small mantas, skates, moray eels and a lot more.

Papa and Mama having fun in the Oceanarium. 🙂

My son exploring the Oceanarium

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

Oceanarium

The Jellies Exhibit was quite exciting and very pretty. We were mesmerized by all the various species of jellyfish dancing to mellow music, the changing colors in their water tanks, all the mirrors which makes it appear like there is an endless number of jellyfish tanks, and the cool display of multi-media effects.

The Jellies Exhibit

The Jellies Exhibit

Furthermore, my son was also fascinated by an up close and personal encounter of sharks and stingrays. Plus, we were able to touch the stingrays which had velvet-y feel and the shark which had a sandpaper feel.

Shark and Stingrays Encounter

The Manila Ocean Park

The last activity we enjoyed was the sea lion show. It was a fantastic show and we enjoyed every minute of it. There, we met the Sea Lions from South America that were adorably trained to do some tricks like balancing and kissing.  The audience had the chance to participate and get a chance to kiss with a souvenir photo. We were also impressed as the trainers gave us informative talk – what sea lions are, its special skills and unique characteristics, what they are capable of, and valuable information on environmental conservation. We were all smiling the whole time.

Sea Lion Show

Undeniably, Manila Ocean Park offers a good day out for family or a group of friends or for lovers of the sea to get a good overview of the marine biodiversity.

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • The best time to go there is during the week day as it is not crowded and the queue at the ticket counter is shorter than on the weekend.

What did you enjoy the most in Manila Ocean Park? Do share your experience.

 

 

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Glimpse from the Philippines Past in Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is part of the walled city in Intramuros, Manila that took us back in time of the Spanish Colonization, American Colonial Period, World War II and memorabilia of the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. It still stands strong as a faithful reminder to the Filipinos of the dark past and bright future. It is one of the few structures left of the past since Manila was the 2nd most devastated city during World War II.

Fort Santiago

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Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

Inside Fort Santiago, we saw footsteps of Rizal from Fort Santiago to Rizal Park (Luneta), where he was shot by the Spaniards. We also visited the Rizal Museum, where we learned more about the life and works of Dr. Jose Rizal. He became the national hero of the Philippines simply because he fought for reforms and freedom in a more humble and peaceful but strong and effective way through his writings (novels: El Felibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere; and essays) rather than through the use of force or revolution or aggression while he was studying medicine in Spain. Also, through his writings, he exposed the immorality of the Spanish colonial rule. Because of this, he was then arrested, exiled, tried, convicted and executed by public firing squad on December 30, 1896 when he came home; and about 2 years after his execution, the Philippines were liberated from the Spanish Regime.

Footsteps of Dr Jose Rizal

Rizal Museum

Rizal Museum

Rizal Museum

While strolling around the place, I have learned that:

  • Fort Santiago was built by the Spaniards in 1571. This place is one of the most important sites during the Spanish colonial times as it served several functions such as a fortress, a place for incarcerations, torture, and death to some Filipinos especially those who dared to oppose the Spaniards during their 333 years of rule in the Philippines.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

  • Dr Jose P. Rizal, was detained there before he was executed by firing squad on the 30th of December 1896.

A group photo with the statue of Rizal.

When Rizal was executed by the Spaniards.

  • When America took us from Spain during the Spanish-American War, the fort was used as headquarters for the US-Army. They first raised the American flag there to mark the start of the American rule that lasted for about 48 years.

Fort Santiago

  • During World War II and after the attack on the Pearl Harbor, Japanese captured the fort and invaded the Philippines for about 4 years. They used the fort as prison and torture sites where thousands of Filipinos and Americans men, women and children were tortured and killed.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

  • Today, the fort is part of the historical park of the country. Several arts and music festivals are being held throughout the years by some non-profit organization. It is now managed by the Intramuros Administration, an agency attached to the Department of Tourism.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

As we walked further up, we saw dungeons which served as execution chambers. This dungeons are just above sea level and when the tide rises the prisoners get flooded and drowned to death.

The dungeon

My family and I really loved the place – beautiful architecture, so much history here between different countries, beautiful artifacts, stunning view, and cool breeze. To me, it was such a privilege to show the place to my family as it’s so nice to look back at our history and to appreciate and honor those who fought for the freedom of our country. Certainly, Fort Santiago is definitely worth a visit.

with my sisters inside Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • Small children can roam around, explore and see for themselves an important part of our (the Philippines’) history.
  • Picnic is allowed in the area.
  • It is open daily from 8AM till 6PM with a reasonable entrance fees – Php 75 ($0.75) for an adult and Php 50 ($0.50) for a child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting Philippines History in Intramuros, Manila

Last July, my family and I revisited the history of the Philippines in Intramuros, Manila – the oldest historic place in Manila that takes you back in time by hundreds of years. Intramuros is a Latin word which means “within the walls” because of the thick defensive walls built around the area to protect it from foreign invaders. In 1951, it was reconstructed after being heavily destroyed during the World War II. Even though Manila is fast changing and the old splendid colonial past is vanishing, Intramuros still has charm and history because of its beautifully preserved architecture and artefacts dating from the Spanish and American colonial era.

Welcome to Intramuros

A building in front of the gate in Fort Santiago

We spent about 4 hours there just walking and enjoying the past. Inside the Walled City, we saw many heritage structures – history, architecture, culture, and food. We were so interested in how it’s made; the stones looked very old and are cut precisely. Personally, I would certainly have loved to see the place a few hundred years ago.

Kalesa fun

We started our Intramuros walking-back-in-time tour in Plaza de Roma, a public square during the Spanish years and the center of Intramuros.  A long time ago, public events were held there, but in 1797 it was converted into a garden. We saw a statue of King Charles IV of Spain, which was built in his honor for sending the first batch of smallpox vaccine to the Philippines.

The Plaza de Roma and the Manila Cathedral

Then we walked to the south of Plaza de Roma to visit the Manila Cathedral, which was first built in 1581. I have learned that the cathedral has been damaged and rebuilt several times. Former prelates and former Archdiocese of Manila, Jaime L. Cardinal Sin were buried inside the cathedral.

Me and my family outside the Manila Cathedral

Inside Manila Cathedral

Few steps away from the Cathedral is the Palacio del Gobernador, a residence of the Governor-General during the Spanish Regime. At present, it is a government building that presently accommodates a number of offices of the Government of the Philippines such as the Intramuros Administration, the Commission on Elections and the NCR office of the Home Development Mutual Fund.

Palacio del Gobernador

Then, we headed to the Fort Santiago, a defense fortress built by Spaniards in 1851.  It is one of the oldest forts in the Philippines and it is where the Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned before his execution in 1896.

Inside Fort Santiago

with my sisters

From there, we took a trisikad (cycle rickshaw, powered by human pedaling) to visit the San Agustin Church. On our way, we passed by the Memorare Manila, a monument built in the memory of more than a hundred thousand innocents killed and of all those who died during the Battle for the Liberation of Manila (one of the most brutal episodes of World War II) between February 3 and March 3 of 1945.

Memorare – Manila 1945

The Baroque style San Agustin Church is one of the Philippine churches recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1976, it was named as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine Government.

San Agustin Church

Then we explored the Plaza San Luis Complex, which is composed of several houses such as Casa Manila, Casa Urdaneta, Casa Blanca, Los Hidalgos and El Hogar Filipino that represents different eras of Filipino-Spanish architecture and represents the lifestyle of the Illustrados (the privileged citizen) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Philippines. This cultural and commercial complex houses a hotel, museum, souvenir shops, cafe and restaurants.

Plaza San Luis Complex

One of the buildings in Plaza de San Luis Complex

And to complete our walk-back-in-time experience, we walked through the cobblestone streets in General Luna Street (in between San Agustin Church and Plaza San Luis).

Plaza San Luis Complex

One of the buildings in Intramuros

We ended our tour with a nice lunch at Ristorante delle Mitre. I love the ambiance of the restaurant – it’s unique and depicts how Filipinos were during the Spanish era. The food there is definitely good and the staff is friendly.

Ristorante delle Mitre

My parents were so pleased to visit the place as it was their first time there. Indeed, our family’s trip down memory lane in Intramuros was such a great one. If you are keen to know about the old Spanish Manila and its way of life, Intramuros is the place for you and is well worth all your time.

What did you like best in Intramuros? What other place could you recommend in Intramuros?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Time in Hidden Island Resort in Socorro, Philippines

When the day’s fun and excitement fades away, Hidden Island Resort is the perfect place to unwind. It was our home away from home for 2 nights and 3 days with my family while we were exploring the whole island of Bucas Grande in Socorro, Surigao del Norte.

Hidden Island Resort

Hidden Island Resort

We definitely had a great stay there and it was a great island family getaway.

Here are the reasons why I love this place:

1. It exudes charm, warmth and tranquility.

Hidden Island Resort

2. The location is great and the view is perfect.

Hidden Island Resort

Hidden Island Resort

3. The breathtaking endless sea of blue.

Hidden Island Resort

Hidden Island Resort

4. The water is so clean and clear.

Hidden Island Resort

5. Surrounded by small islands.

Hidden Island Resort

6. Beautifully designed with simple conveniences to ensure a comfortable stay.

Hidden Island Resort

Hidden Island Resort

7. Love that relaxing walk on the long footbridges: go for an early walk in the morning and take a romantic evening stroll.

Hidden Island Resort

8. Lovely aquariums placed in between each room – get hooked, be in total awe and enjoy taking photos when you see many different kinds of marine life – baby sharks, turtles, starfish, several species of fish, sea snake, and a lot more.

Hidden Island Resort

10. The staff is friendly, accommodating and welcome you warmly – making your stay so much fun and enjoyable.

Hidden Island Resort

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • There is no beach line in front of the resort, but there’s an area at the back where you can swim.
  • Go there on a slow season. We had the whole resort only for us as there was no other guests when we arrived there – that was fantastic!
  • It offers transfers via boat and sea plane.
  • You can bring your own food and you can also cook there. You just need to pay for the corkage.

Have you been to the Hidden Island Resort? What did you like best there?

Lovin’ the mesmerizing colors of Surigao del Sur, Philippines

You might not have heard of Surigao del Sur but not for much longer. It is situated in the eastern coast of Mindanao that faces the Philippine Sea. It is blessed with magnificent and pristine natural wonders. Personally, I love its stunning and mesmerizing colors – my dream holiday get-away.

Enjoying the scenery 🙂

Tinuy-an Falls

Tinuy-an Falls

The Tinuy-an Falls in Burboanan, Bislig is known as the water flowing curtains of Surigao del Sur and it is dubbed as the Little Niagara Falls of the Philippines. My family and I enjoyed the falls by riding the bamboo raft, experiencing the one-of-a-kind waterfall back massage, and by climbing up a steep stairway up to the top to witness the magnificence of the falls. The panoramic view is breathtaking. I love this place – the natural charm is maintained, cool and the water is clean.

Enchanted River

Enchanted River

Our family’s experience with the Enchanted River in Hinatuan was great. I love the majestic and enchanting view with its emerald bluish water and I enjoyed the enchanting swim.

Britannia Group of Islands

The Naked Island in the Britania Group of Islands

The island hopping in Britania group of islands (a group of 24 islands and islets) was fun and exciting. The breathtaking views, the awesome white fine sand, the lovely sunny day, plus we almost had the islands to ourselves as we visited on a slow day – all these made a wonderful experience and was just so perfect for photographs! Definitely, one of the best island hopping adventures we’ve ever had.

Cagwait White Beach

Cagwait White Beach

Cagwait White Beach is a C-shaped long stretch white sand beach in the laid-back town of Cagwait. Some travelers named it as a Little Waikiki Beach of the Philippines. It was a beautiful sunny day when I went there and the water was crystal clear but I noticed that the sand was not that white, it was something like reddish brown and very fine. Indeed, it was such a relaxing day out.

Mabua Beach

Beautiful sunrise at Mabua Beach

The Mabua Beach in Tandag is a very special place to me because this is where I grew up and spent my childhood. Mabua Beach has fine black sand, clean and blue water, easy to walk around, and the gentle whisper of the wind will surely enthrall you. I love the environment there as it is lengthy enough to find your own space to be alone, read a book, laze throughout the day, sunbath, and just simply enjoy the beautiful nature.

Green Falls

Green Falls

The 30 minutes-drive from Tandag City to the Green Falls in Cagpangi, Tago was worth a trip. It is a 7-tiered falls, wide and deep especially in the center. The falls are fantastic and beautiful to see. Indeed, it was such a great day out with my family as we really felt at awe when we saw this wonderful creation!

Villa Azarcon Mountain Resort

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Cagpangi Falls in Villa Azarcon Mountain Resort

Villa Azarcon Mountain Resort is a good place for family getaway. It has great ambiance, refreshing falls that are surrounded by green trees, swimming pools looking over a beautiful garden and offers some activities to do. I had a relaxing time there – read a book, took a nap, and strolled around the place.

Laswitan Lagoon

Laswitan Lagoon

The Laswitan Lagoon in Barangay Uba, Cortes is simply beautiful especially with the gushing of surfs of the pacific sea that vigorously fall into the incredible rock formation creating a waterfall-like effect. Even though it was not the best time when I went there in July as I could not see any belching of waves from the ocean but I was still fascinated with its beautiful ebony rock formations, enjoyed the tranquil breezy views and bewitched by its rich in nature – shrubs, ferns, trees while going along the unpaved winding roads. I was told that the best time to visit there is between October to February.

Lanuza Marine Park and Fish Sanctuary

Lanuza Marine Park and Fish Sanctuary

The Lanuza Marine Park and Fish Sanctuary is a protected area in Lanuza that hosts various aquatic species. It also serves as the spawning ground for fish within Lanuza Bay. We stayed there for a while before we went to Magkawas Falls. We really enjoyed collecting sea shells at the shore and of course the breeze and the breathtaking the views.

Magkawas Falls

Magkawas Falls

My family and I have always been captivated about nature and its unfolding scenery. To us, Magkawas Falls in Lanuza is certainly a place of relaxation and mind freshening. We enjoyed swimming there from the fresh and cold water flowing from the heart of the jungle. We were also fascinated by just cheerfully gazing the falls because it keeps our mind relaxed and it has a soothing quality of silence.

Blue Lagoon

The diving platform in Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon is an astonishing charm and a hidden paradise gem in Libtong, Cantillan. It’s so pristine. I love the place – the rock formations, the green trees, the blue skies, the clean water, and the variety of colorful species underwater. Certainly, we were thrilled to see the beauty of Blue Lagoon especially since we were the only visitors in this wonderland when we went there.

Have you explored the Province of Surigao del Sur? What did you like best in Surigao del Sur?

 

 

Enjoying the laid-back town of Tandag, Philippines

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Tandag is a magnetic little town

which pulls in travelers

who are looking to take things slowly.

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Do not worry though if you’re the active sort

there’s plenty to keep you occupied in and around the town as well.

This year she spends 14 days

for holidays,

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indulging in idleness some days

and out exploring on others.

One morning,

the sleepy sea seduces,

takes a morning walk along Mabua Beach,

has some beers

and listens to the different tunes of karaoke there.

Thank you to Dr Grace for taking this picture.

Once, she wants to try a new sport,

but time left in Tandag is too short.

Glad she managed to learn the basic

skim boarding is so fantastic.

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The next day,

jogs along the boulevard

then head on to Jollibee

for breakfast and coffee.

Chillin’ with friends. – Photo by my friends Rodrigo Paganpan and Dr Grace Cacho de Jesus

When in Tandag,

spends great time with friends,

tries good coffee at VML,

has loads of fun with them.

Chums you’re the sweetest bunch of all.

Another beautiful day has come,

decides to go to the farm,

walks through the rice paddies,

and enjoys birds’ sweet melodies.

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During her stay,

family and friends

pamper her with plenty of seafood,

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grilled Gangis, kinilaw na Malasugi,

crabs, Tinola na Katambak, and a lot more.

Not to forget some Filipino foods too

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like Roasted pig, dinogoan, ginataang langka

papaya pickles, laing (pangat) to name a few.

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Many days have passed,

she realized she hasn’t done much,

visits Saint Pio’s Shrine in the morning,

hikes to Tandag Grotto in the afternoon

and spends the rest of the day

lazying at the beach.

Stays one more night,

and takes one more sunrise swim.

In Tandag it’s so easy

to laze through one day

and the next to sneakily begin.

She remembers all the activities

she said she would but didn’t do.

bicycle trip in the surrounding countryside

island trip in Mangcagangi island

camping at the beach

fishing and sunset watch at Lapaz bridge

enjoy the breathtaking Green Falls in Cagpangi

swim in the jungle at Villa Azarcon

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climb in Danakit’s Cave

visit the sweetness of Laswitan Lagoon

spend a day trip in Magkawas Falls

chill in Cagwait Beach

With further reflection she recalls

she hasn’t done much at all.

It’s not her fault

the town’s easy rhythm

and quiet charms

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lured her into its laze

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looks like she will just have

to stay one more day.

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Philippines: Amazing Art in Island in Quezon City

Art in Island is really a treat for people of all ages, especially for the young ones and young at heart who are willing to get immersed in their imagination. It is known as the largest and first selfie museum in the world, and the largest 3D Art Museum in Asia, which offers so many things to see and do, filled with 3D art, illusions and a lot of fun! Since I heard a lot of good things about it, I brought my family and my son, who really loves art, there.

Delightful and fun interactive art museum

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

The art museum is located in Cubao, Quezon City. It is huge, tidy and fully air-conditioned. It was founded by Yun Jae Kyoung together with 18 other Korean painters, who created the paintings in the museum. I have learned that it contains about 200 masterpieces, which give you the illusion of depth especially when you view them from a certain angle. They were designed to serve as a background when taking pictures. In addition, the museum provides a great bonding opportunity for groups of friends or entire families.

Coolest 3D

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

While exploring the museum, I was fascinated to see everyone, especially my son, being excited and delighted to show off their poses and bring out the creativity within them. Most importantly, I realized that art paintings are not complete if you are not with them and if you do not take pictures of your crazy or wacky poses with the art.

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

My family and I were blown away by the different optical illusion set-ups that would trick your perceptions and help you create unbelievable photos. Also, we enjoyed the so many different themed zones such as:

  • Masterpiece Zone – Famous paintings from all over the world such “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci, and many more
  • Underwater Zone – Aquatic adventures
  • Animal Zone – Journey to the Jungle
  • Winter Wonderland – Christmas Zone
  • Religious Zone – Religious World Art
  • Center Hall – Dungeons of the Ancient Times
  • Fantasy Zone – Magical and Mysterious Walls

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

To me, Art in Island is certainly one of my favorite places here in Manila, as it allows me to become more creative and imaginative by posing at a specific vantage points, making it looks like I am part of the scene. Indeed, it was an afternoon well spent with my family and the experience was definitely worth it.

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

Art in Island

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • The best time to visit is during week days for there is a lesser crowd when compared to weekends. The visit takes about 2-3 hours.
  • Wear comfortable socks because shoes are not allowed inside the galleries to preserve the paintings as some paintings can be found in the floor and to maintain the cleanliness.
  • Wear appropriate and comfortable clothes because you are going to jump, bend, roll around on the floor, do splits and basically move.
  • Bring a camera, but use of flash and tripods are not allowed. Take as many pictures as you can.
  • Check the sample poses on the wall to help you know the photo points on the floor and help you figure out where to take the shot.
  • Wait for your turn and do not intrude when there are people posing and taking pictures at a certain art.
  • Feel free to ask help from the staff, who is scattered in almost all areas. They are friendly and helpful when it comes to taking your pictures. They can also suggest you how to pose or where to stand when taking a photo.
  • Be amazed by the 3D paintings. Be creative and playful when posing with the art. Go crazy and be part of it. You’ll definitely have a great time there!

Have you been to Art in Island? What do you best like there?