Mararison Island, Antique

When someone asks a Filipino to recommend a local destination, Antique might be the last place that they would think of. But hear me out –  there is an island less than three hours from the capital town that I think stands out to be one of the best-looking beach destinations in the country.

The developing 55-hectare island is surrounded by white sandy beaches and rolling hills that could rival that of Batanes. The trek requires a guide that is available at about P200 as of 2019. Meanwhile, the locals that live in the beach area offer homestays for tourists that also immerses you on the locals’ ways of life. Alternatively, there is a private resort that offers humble cottages fronting a cove that is perfect for photoshoots and/or R&R.

Check out my Instagram (@dalebacar) for more photos and videos from this trip.

How to go to Mararison: From San Jose in Antique, Kalibo, or Caticlan, take a bus to Culasi, Antique. At the Culasi Port, take a boat to Mararison. If you are booking the private resort, they have their own private boat that takes you to the island from their beach-front restaurant in Culasi. Instructions will be provided upon booking.

The Marison Hotel – Luxury Redefined

If you ever wish to catch glimpse of the famous Mayon Volcano in its original home before it gets moved to Naga (I swear this was funny in 2018) or simply experience the history-rich Legazpi City, consider staying at The Marison Hotel.

Strategically located in the heart of Legazpi, The Marison Hotel is built to be the premium gateway for tourists and business travelers in the Bicol region. Situated just a quick five-minute drive from the Legazpi Airport, it’s easily one of the most centrally-located hotels in the city.

“We aim to give our guests the best hotel experience,” says Ms. Daisy So, the President and CEO of The Marison Hotel. “Apart from being the perfect base for anyone who wants to see the beauty and splendor of Legazpi, we offer maximum comfort and convenience for the whole family. The hotel is here to provide a luxurious experience for everybody, making it the best place to truly feel the warm Bicolano hospitality.

(From L-R) Albay Provincial Media Bureau Chief Danny Garcia, The Marison Hotel Chairperson Lolita Uy, Department of Tourism Region 5 Director Benjamin Santiago, The Marison Hotel President & CEO Daisy Uy – So, and Legazpi City Vice Mayor Bobby Cristobal lead the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the launch of The Marison Hotel, in Legazpi City, Albay last February 5, 2019.

The Marison Hotel is a four-storey complex boasting 118 huge and elegantly-furnished rooms that showcase beautiful and contemporary design, arguably among the best in the region. It is one of the biggest hotels in Bicol — and the biggest in Legazpi.

All guest rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, a desk, free WiFi, and a private bathroom. Some rooms are also fitted with a terrace for guests to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Legazpi skyline.

Attractions like the famed Mt. Mayon, magnificent Cagsawa Ruins and pristine Sumlang Lake are only less than an hour away from the hotel, as well as Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave and the Vanishing Island. In addition, the Redemptorist Church is just right across the hotel.

The scenic Legazpi Boulevard, the city’s business district and port area, is a popular spot for tourists as it offers a beautiful view of Mt. Mayon, Albay Gulf, and the Kapuntukan Hill — is also within the hotel’s vicinity.

Other must-see tourist destinations are the Quintinday Green Hills, the Kawa-Kawa Hill and Nature Park, both less than an hour drive away, Vera Falls, and Joroan Church, which are about an hour drive.

The idea behind The Marison Hotel, according to So, is to create a top-notch hospitality experience for its guests. Some of its impressive amenities that will surely make their stay in Legazpi extra memorable include their two outdoor swimming pools (one adult pool and one kiddie pool), a fitness center, a fully-equipped Executive Board Room that accommodates as many as 24 people, and a Functional Hall for formal meetings, seminars, and parties that caters up to 120 people. They also offer complimentary transfers to and from the Legazpi City Airport. And on top of that, to accommodate guests arriving in the city on early morning flights, the hotel offers free early check-in, subject to room availability.

Adding to these amenities are three dining options inside The Marison Hotel. Its main restaurant, the IL Morso Italian Restaurant, is the perfect place for guests to enjoy some of the best Western dishes in the area, from pizzas and pastas to steaks and mouth-watering desserts. The Sans Cafe & Bar, on the other hand, offers a quiet respite for travelers who simply want to relax over a cup of coffee. Those looking for a nightcap after a busy day of exploring the city can visit the hotel’s Chilo Bar to enjoy its impressive array of mocktails, cocktails, wines, beers, and non-alcoholic beverages — with a view of the majestic Mt. Mayon in the background as a bonus.

“The opening of The Marison Hotel is a testament that the Bicol region has come into its own as a prime tourist and business destination in the country,” So adds. “Last year, tourist arrivals in Bicol hit over one million — an unsurprising feat considering the unique beauty the region has to offer, yet an impressive achievement nonetheless. We enter the hotel industry with the firm belief that Bicol — especially Legazpi, has a lot to offer to both its local and international visitors. We are not only very eager to provide a premium hotel experience to our guests, but The Marison Hotel also looks forward to helping the Bicol Region welcome a much bigger tourist base in the years to come.”

The Marison Hotel is located at Corner Imelda Roces Ave, Legazpi City, Albay. For reservations, call (052) 732 7777 or email reservations@themarisonhotel.com. Visit facebook.com/TheMarisonHotel for more information.

Other must-see tourist destinations are the Quintinday Green Hills, the Kawa-Kawa Hill and Nature Park, both less than an hour drive away, Vera Falls, and Joroan Church, which are about an hour drive.

Boracay 2018

Boracay is a paradise. One of the most popular in the country and one that has fallen victim to its own success.

The island has been our retreat of choice for the last xx years during holy week and one inescapable change that you notice is the over-crowding and over-development year after year.

Don’t get me wrong, I like development and I like progress. I love Boracay precisely because it is developed. I am not a fan of virginal beaches where you would have to take several rides just to get to a restaurant or a decent place to stay. By decent I mean an air-conditioned bedroom with a private bathroom and a bidet at the very least. A Starbucks nearby is also a nice bonus. I like the comforts that come with Boracay’s development but it doesn’t take a genius to see that it has gone  overboard in that department.

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Going back to Batanes

Our decision to go back to Batanes was mostly driven by a tempting seat sale by Philippine Airlines earlier in the year. I did not realize until today, a few hours before I go back to life and adulting, that I badly needed that time to disconnect from the rest of the world.

2017 has been a year loaded with changes – mostly unplanned and unwelcome; both at home and at work. Going to a place that is seemingly frozen in time is somehow comforting after all that.

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San Remigio, Antique

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You know that saying that sometimes what you are looking for is right in front of you but you were too busy looking someplace else that you never noticed? This is that story. Well, sort of.

See, a couple of years ago, our grandmother gave each of us apos a piece of farmland. I guess at the time, we were all busy with our own lives that we never really took the time to even check it out. The caretakers would deliver our share of the produce and that was that. I remember I asked my mom once to send me pictures of the place but her pictures were meh so I didn’t take interest.

But then 2016 happened. The world turned upside down and the prospect of a developed farm suddenly seemed like a great idea to shield ourselves should the global economy go any crazier. And so I booked a quick trip home and scheduled a visit so we can check out the place and plan out improvements.

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Marcia Adams Mediterranean Restaurant

If you are in the mood for something Mediterranean and you’re headed to Tagaytay, set Waze or Google maps over to Marcia Adams Restaurant. There awaits, seemingly hidden in a Tuscan-inspired secret garden, a quaint restaurant with beautiful old walls and rustic interiors.

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Revisiting Boracay

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Our 5-day Holy Week getaway in Boracay ends today. While waiting for our Cebu Pacific flight from Caticlan to Manila, I  drafted this visual diary before it gets added to my growing pile of unpublished travel blog posts.

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