10 things I’m looking forward to doing in the Philippines

I’m visiting the Philippines again after more than two years away. This is the longest I haven’t visited the Philippines. I’m staying for a record 35 days and grateful my company allows me to work remotely. There are a couple of things I’m looking forward to doing. I made a list of ten!

See my family again. I haven’t seen them since Christmas 2019. But I’ve historically had more video chats with my mom in the past two years than at any point previously. I think we’re updated with each other’s lives. It’s the physical presence of enjoying dinner safely together in one room. I’m anxious though as each time I come home, I notice my parents looking physically older each time.

Enjoy bulalo and sisig in Tagaytay. There many glorious provinces in the Philippines and Cavite is… Cavite. Filled with industrial estates and regular roads, it’s not exactly as scenic or easy to traverse compared with other provinces like in the Bicol region or on my favourite island of Bohol. The Cavite-Laguna Expressway looks promising (and I’m convinced it can reshape the orientation of the province for everyday citizens and commuters), but is only a fraction complete. However, there’s trusty Tagaytay. The highlight of the province which earns its keep from views of neighbouring Batangas. My favourite thing to do here is enjoying a hot bowl of bulalo together with a sizzling platter of pork sisig.

Enjoy a rooftop bar in Makati. I don’t think I’ll be comfortable yet to walk inside one of Metro Manila’s crowded shopping centers during this pandemic. Instead I’d opt for a nice rooftop view where I can see the metropolis again after being away for almost three years. There are a few rooftop bars that were recently featured in an article from Nolisoli (Northern Living / Southern Living) which hopefully I can visit together with my friend who’s an editor at that same publication. I’m now seven months without alcohol (and plan to keep it that way). I’d love to try mocktails or order some barbecued snacks.

See the development of SMDC Light 2 Residences. Last year I invested in a unit at SMDC’s Light 2 Residences in Boni, Mandaluyong. I didn’t need to physically view the area since I was already convinced about the location and its proximity to the major business districts in the metropolis. Plus, I passed by Boni en route to Quezon City back when I worked in the Philippines. However, I’d love to visit Light Mall and Light Residences which are next to the construction site. I’ve watched YouTube videos of the development and I’ve followed posts on Skyscraper City so I’m familiar with how it looks like today. But I’d like to see it in person!

Visit the lot in La Union. Last month I filed paperwork to buy a small piece of land in La Union province. A group of friends purchased adjacent lots and helped take videos and photos of the lot to share with me. I still want to see it in person and also meet with the lot owner. This is also why I’ll be spending some time in La Union on my trip.

Spend time at the beach. Half of my trip to the Philippines will be by the beach. I’ve booked a co-working space near a beach and I’ve also booked some locations to stay at during the three weeks I’ve planned for. Without alcohol, I want to try coffee shops and beachfront eateries. I’m bringing at least two books so I can enjoy reading them while there. I rave about Philippine beaches and I want to experience it myself.

Spend my birthday with family time at a villa. The family is joining me in La Union and we booked a villa to stay at for my birthday. I’m not as keen to take the family to crowded restaurants so I’m hoping to make it a creative stay at the villa… with movies, video games, board games… simple bonding by the small pool. I’m looking for a projector we can rent so we can watch movies and truly catch up with each other. The last time we did something similar was when I turned 30 and we spent time island hopping in Coron.

Reunite with some friends. I miss so many of my friends in the Philippines but thankfully we’ve managed to keep in touch online in the past two years. There’s a handful I’d love to make time to meet when I’m in Makati. Plus, I haven’t seen one of my godchildren yet… so it’ll be something I’m looking forward to. Which reminds me… I should be buying a gift already for my inaanak.

Sort out my balikbayan boxes and my Cavite room. I’ve sent 2-3 balikbayan boxes to Cavite in the past two years and I’d need to do some organising of which items to hand-down and which items to keep. My room in Cavite is overdue a renovation and I’ll take this opportunity to study the space and see what I can do to make it better for my parents who actually sleep in it.

Meet with journalists / get sh*t done. Since I’m already in Manila, I’ve asked my company if I can turn my last week in the Philippines into a networking trip. I’ve met numerous journalists in the past two years, and it would be great to meet some in-person over coffee. I wouldn’t mind a newsroom tour as well!

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Other things I’d be curious to see or do include popping by the new SM City Tanza which is opening in a few months. It’s a large shopping mall that’s five minutes away from our family home. I haven’t booked anything yet, but it would be great to cap the trip with a stay at a hotel in BGC or Makati with my family. Since it might be a few months until I get to see them again. I’m thinking Grand Hyatt Manila? Suggestions are welcome!

I’m sure I’ve missed many other things I can do. Send your suggestions!

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