A recent big family celebration brought all my siblings to Manila from all over the world. Since all of us find it very difficult to be together in one place due to our busy individual schedules, I thought of making the most of this opportunity. After the big family event that they came here for, I prepared an interesting land tour for all of us to join.
The itinerary I drew up would take my siblings to parts of the country which they haven’t been to. And, to save time and make it “senior-friendly,” I limited the scope of travel to points only within Luzon.
We started the tour in the cool environs of Tagaytay. The picture-perfect view of Taal Volcano and Lake called for a nice relaxing cup of coffee and some snacks at the veranda of a perfectly positioned hotel.
Then we drove further south to visit the Monastery of The Lady of Mount Carmel in Lipa, Batangas, as my sisters were interested in learning more about the Miracle of the Rose Petal Showers that took place there several times many decades ago. We were fortunate to have one of the Carmelite sisters from the convent recount to us the details of the Lady’s apparition and the ensuing showers of rose petals in their garden.
After an overnight rest, we headed north to Pangasinan, to visit the Minor Basilica of the Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag, another widely popular pilgrimage destination. The beautifully crafted and miraculous 16th century ivory image of the Blessed Mother is enshrined in the Basilica’s majestic altar.
After hundreds of miles of land travel, the fitting climax of our land tour was a refreshing rest in “the city in the sky.” Of course, I chose the best accommodations one can get in Baguio City, the City of Pines.
The crisp mountain air, the cool breeze, and the pleasant scent of pine trees further enhanced the elegance and old world charm of The Manor at Camp John Hay. Most of my siblings have never set foot in the city before because they left the country at a young age, so it was really a welcome and most interesting “discovery” for them.
They were very pleased to see at The Manor the same high standard accommodations and facilities they saw at ski resorts in the US. Furthermore, they enjoyed the cozy and hospitable ambience that the hotel is known for, and were very impressed with the standard of service rendered by the employees.
The Moringa Tea, which we were all served upon check-in at the lobby, was a big hit with my siblings. They liked its taste so much that they didn’t stop pressuring the salesgirl at the lobby store to sell them her entire stock and more, of that tea, so they could bring it with them back to their respective homes. After much arm-twisting, they finally got what they wanted.
But The Manor is more than just the refreshing tea. Its tastefully designed rooms, the view from the balconies, the in-room facilities, and the staff’s efficient and friendly service make it the hotel that should be the benchmark of other resort properties.
Energized by the soothing cool air and by the refreshing garden view from the balcony of our two-bedroom suite, my siblings and I decided to seat ourselves comfortably on the balcony, to chat the night away and bond with each other some more. This is a pastime we seldom get to do as each of us live in different parts of the globe.
The hotel’s veranda that opens into the well-manicured garden was another favorite of ours. After enjoying the sumptuous buffet breakfast at Le Chef, we took a leisurely walk, as one big group, around the garden, still chatting about anything and everything that came to mind.
And, of course, we are all Cebuanos. What are Cebuanos good at? Singing! Naturally, we drifted towards the hotel’s Piano Bar and sang to our hearts’ content. It’s a good thing the pianist knew all our favorite songs, so we ended up being the noisiest group in the joint. But, as the erstwhile chartbuster group, ABBA, said in one of its top hits, “What would life be…thank you for the music for giving it to me!”
It was a well spent respite in Baguio City, what with all the traveling we did in such a short span of time. The Manor at Camp John Hay was the perfect choice for us to take that much-needed energy-booster and, certainly, a valued antidote for frayed nerves. It was also the most ideal setting for our family bonding, something that all of us, siblings, really enjoyed and appreciated.
The Manor and its old world charm certainly beckon to everyone who enjoys the finer things in life…and more!
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