Just offshore is a vibrant marine sanctuary, where you'll find strange and beautiful creatures.

The lush tropical greenery of the resort.

with the everyday chores – even things like getting a snack or a cup of tea – but as a grown up, I am used to doing things for myself. It was hard to adjust to being waited on again.

Te traffic was another thing; everyone has a car. Nobody walks anywhere. Public transit is so convenient and Uber is everywhere. Many things were price comparable, but ser- vices are definitely cheaper. I had my hair stripped, cut and dried, and paid for haircuts for three others in my family – all for what amounted to me for $100! Every year my family would spend Christmas in beach

resorts, away from the hustle and bustle of Manila traffic, and just enjoy a vacation in each other’s company. Since this would be the first time in years that the family was complete, they decided to celebrate Christmas very early. Reservations were moved and plans were made. Our desti- nation: Subic Bay Freeport (Subic Bay) in the province of Zambales, a four-hour drive from Manila. On the road, my father told us stories about Subic and

Zambales back in the day when the U.S. Naval base was still stationed there and how things were when they left after the devastation of the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Now Subic Bay has become a popular destination for its many beaches and duty-free shopping managed by the

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). Other attrac- tions in Subic Bay are the eco-tourism theme parks like Ocean Adventure and Zoobic Safari. We stayed in Camayan Beach Resort, a hidden gem lo-

cated in Subic Bay that is in close proximity to most of what Subic Bay has to offer. A scenic place with a good view of the Zambales mountain range, it’s definitely a great place to commune with nature. Because it is built in a rainforest that many animals

call home, don’t be surprised if you see monkeys roaming around outside your room. Tey mostly mind their own business, unless there is unattended food lying around. If there is, then you might as well say goodbye to that. Another cool thing that my nephews got excited about

was swimming with the fishes. We brought with us some bread that we bought specifically to feed them. Even in the shallow shores, the fish would jump around trying to get to the bread. Camayan Beach Resort isn’t one of the world-renowned

beaches that the Philippines is known for, but for me and my family, even a blow-up pool in the backyard would be just as special as any luxurious beach resort anywhere in the world because during those few short days we were com- plete.

Winter 2018 • 27

Photo by Yasmin Concepcion.

Photo by Yasmin Concepcion. Photo by Gayl Punzalan.

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