REPUBLIC WAKEPARK @ NUVALI First Look (from a Non-Wakeboarder Point of View)

Republic Wake PArk-41.jpg

Finally, Republ1c Wakepark @ Nuvali is now open! No need to go all the way to CamSur or Calatagan just to enjoy a world-class Wake Boarding experience. Nuvali in Sta. Rosa is just one hour away from Manila, and you can even go to Tagaytay to eat after. 🙂

We enjoyed the Wakeboard park in Camsur (even if we are not wakeboarders) because of its yummy food and water park facilities for the kids, so we wanted to know how this one would compare.

Here is a first look at REPUBL1C WAKEPARK from a non-wakeboarder’s POV…

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Barbara Gonzalez’ Lily Pad in Calamba, Laguna

As we arrived in Lily Pad, I immediately understood why it was called an origami house. It was designed by architect Jorge Yulo with Lighting Design by Shoko Matsumoto. As we parked the car directly in front of the house, I saw Barbara at the door waiting to welcome the entire family. I literally dragged the entire family on a Halloween Friday and drove for 2 hours to Calamba for this historical encounter — OAP meets Second Wind. (Second Wind is the title of Barbara’s STAR column formerly known as Lily Pad Lectures)

I was a bit nervous and I’m trying hard not to show it. I don’t think she knew who I was and I want it that way to have a very objective review about Lily Pad. I heard a lot about Barbara Gonzales because of her legendary J.Romero & Associates career and lately because of her creative writing classes. The moment I shook her hand, I knew she was welcoming us like her own personal guests visiting her artsy Calamba home and not as paying customers.

Lily Pad Index
Three Things I Love About Barbara Gonzalez’ Lily Pad.
1. Meeting The Barbara Gonzalez
2. The Art of Lily Pad
3. Lily Pad Home-Cooked Meal
Prescriptions for an Awesome Experience in Lily Pad
How to get to Lily Pad

Lily Pad is the newest, out-of-town, by-reservation only, intimate restaurant in Manila. They serve home-cooked meals by Barbara’s friend, Tina Tan for P1,000/ head with a minimum of 5 persons (preferably 10). On Saturdays, they serve Mediterranean with limited customization options and on Sundays, you can choose from the Filipino set menu. It is open lunch time only on weekends but you can reserve it for dinner and on a Friday depending on the arrangement. We were able to eat on a Friday because they were closed for the Nov. 1 weekend.

Is driving for 2 hours to Barbara’s Lily Pad in Calamba to eat a home-cooked meal from a passionate chef for P1,000/ head , really worth it?

Let me start with the Three Things I Love About Barbara Gonzalez’ Lily Pad.

1. Meeting The Barbara Gonzalez

The highlight of our trip was meeting Barbara. She welcomed us like her own personal guests. What I like about her is that she is very candid and direct to the point. I asked her about the story of Lily Pad and she told me that it was in the market for a while until her friend saw it and suggested to turn it into a “Sonya’s Garden” kind of place in Calamba. I bombarded her with questions about her stroke, her mother’s alzheimer’s disease, and about what she thinks about the advertising life. She answered all of them candidly, without any hesitation and without a hint of being politically correct about her answers.

I did not even feel an air of celebrity or snootiness during our conversations. She would serve us and often show us how to enjoy a particular dish like putting Bacalao on top of the slices of French bread. There were moments of silence and she would often break it by playing with Aidan. I can honestly feel the sincerity in making us feel at home.

She entertained my mom with stories of her paintings which were all about her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease with her butterfly signature. They also connected on Barbara’s stroke recovery story and how Ramon Tan’s Carica products were instrumental in her breakthrough recovery.

At the end of our Lily Pad lunch, my mom agreed to sponsor my tuition fee to Barbara’s Creative Writing Class (8 Saturdays) starting second week of January. (Yes!) Barbara also teaches Travel Writing in Sonya’s Garden this coming weekend.
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2. The Art of Lily Pad
I’m glad that Barbara pioneered the Dining with Style scene in Calamba. Could this be the start of another “Viaje del Sol” effect in the Calamba area? I certainly hope so. Most of her paintings are hanged on the wall and she would quickly point out which ones are from the other artists she admire. You can visit the small gallery in the second floor. The theme is feminine with focus on images of beautiful women.

Her sold paintings are now displayed as post cards. They represent the Alzheimer’s world of her mother. It is better for Barbara to tell you the story behind each of the paintings. (I don’t want to spoil that experience for you)

The restroom can accommodate our entire family and it is as big as our one bedroom condo in Burgundy. I like the garden scene outside and how I wish I can have this restroom experience in our own home.

You are literally eating in the middle of the pond. You can feed the coi’s and go around the garden while waiting for lunch to be served. The entire dining room has a matrix of rectangular glass views of the garden. The steel rectangular frames were made to have a wood-like illusion.

The house was named after the lilies that grow abundantly around the house.

Please specify to eat in this heirloom circular table which could easily seat 8 people comfortably and 10 people max.

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Casa San Pablo, Laguna

“Tucked into a corner of one of San Pablo’s still-genteel family compounds, Casa San Pablo is a cozy country inn surrounded by Baguio-like pine trees and sprawling lawns. It is country charm that lures visitors here– portable hammocks make for moveable feasts, lounging chairs looking out into a grove of young palm trees, and the swimming pool is surrounded by hundred-year-old trees. At night, pathways are lined with candlelight and mats are laid out on the lawn for moon gazing.

“Avid art collector and hobby enthusiast Boots Alcantara and his wife An Mercado-Alcantara, writer and magazine editor, run Casa San Pablo. The main cottage, with its eight bedrooms, reflects their pursuit of contemporary and folk art, eclectic junk-turned-art and literary collections. Each bedroom is designed with wit– Laguna papaer mache’ horses, miniature cars, seashells, auto parts, and clay leaves. It is the ideal getaway for those looking for a change to recharge their creative energies and re-learn to look at the world with new childlike wonder.” (Casa San Pablo Official Website:

This is one of the best jump off point for you to discover the Viaje Del Sol Destinations. Don’t get lost with the flowery words of the marketing brochure and website. I’ll share with you what Casa San Pablo really is:

  • This is my favorite bed and breakfast place if I would decide to stay overnight in the San Pablo area. Other options would be Kinabuhayan Cafe, and Villa Escudero.
  • This is a writer’s haven where you can get inspiration from the eclectic rooms, or decide to be alone in one corner of the inn. Although, this is a popular spot for team building these days so you might have a rowdy crowd at times.
  • A swimming pool that nobody dares to swim in it probably because it is not inviting enough.
  • The owners are very friendly. A bed and breakfast place that would ensure you feel at home. I’ve featured Casa San Pablo last October 2005 but this was my first time to stay in Casa San Pablo but I knew then that this was a special place.
  • The best package is their OVERNIGHT STAY WITH BREAKFAST. Rates are on a per head basis including breakfast. There are rooms that can fit 2-4 people (P1,500/head) or 5pax and above (P1,100/head). The best rooms are those on the second floor so don’t forget to specify that or else they would assign other rooms for you.
  • The breakfast is one of the unique Filipino breakfast I have ever tasted. So don’t miss this unique Filipino treat.

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Casa San Pablo — Cozy Place for a Retreat

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Around Laguna Lake in 11 hours! Yahoo!

Finally, together with some of our friends, we were able to complete a day trip to the Laguna area via going around the Laguna Lake! This is the first time I tried it last Black Saturday. We left Manila at around 8.30am, had a stop over @ petron in south super h-way to grab big chill and jamaican patties. Then we proceded to Calauan Laguna for to visit Field of Faith at around 11.30am. After an hour in FOF, we left Calauan at around 12.45pm enroute to Exotik restaurant for lunch @ around 2pm. After 2 and a half hours, we left the restaurant and dropped by the famous Paete Church. Most of the shops are closed because of Black Saturday in Paete but you can still see some wood carving shops in the middle of the town. After praying for 3 wishes, we head back to Manila via Rizal @ around 5pm. We arrived in Ortigas at around 7pm — woohoo! Still have plenty of time to have dinner @ Metro Walk.

The map above is courtesy of
See the collection of photos from me, Maong, Diwat —> Pictures of Laguna Lake Caravan



Exotik Restaurant — worth it if your eating exotic foods

Try it out! Exotik restaurant is located in Longos, Kalayaan Highway in Laguna. It is about 4 hours drive from Manila and you need to pass by Pagsanjan and Caliraya (yes, it is that far). From the field of faith, Exotik is about 1 hour away and some of our friends are hungry already when we left Exotik at around 12.45pm and we arrive about 2pm in Exotik. The food is Filipino and I like their Sinigang, Tuna sisig, grilled Tilapia, grilled squid. The food is great! (specially if you are hungry 🙂 One funny thing though, we did not order any of the exotic food this place is known for. Our billed turned out to be P3,500 for the a group of 9, so we had to pay P400 each — and I think that is expensive priced for tourists! Even the pasalubong place who sells espasol for P45 which could be bought easily at 3 for 100 with the same quality. The ambiance is really nice, it offers a few of the Laguna lake, and one of the attraction is Samantha (a pet anaconda shown below). Check it out if you happen to be in the Caliraya area. This is definitely a place for tourist to eat exotic food!

Click here for more photos–> Flickr Photos: Exotik Restaurant Longos, Laguna


Field of Faith — a healing garden in Laguna

Highly Recommended!

When our friends were looking a place to visit last black saturday, my friend Maong stumble upon this Inquirer Article (3/21/05): Field of Faith offers solitude, rosary garden. We were inspired by the story and we decided to visit the place. Upon arriving, you are greeted with a wonderful view of a fountain and the main chapel over a backdrop of coconut trees. The place feels fresh, peaceful, and it is like you are transported to a magical garden.

Click here for more pictures –> Flickr Photoset: Field of Faith Pilgrimage, Calauan, Batangas

The best part of the garden is the rosary path where you could see inspiring quotes on the concrete road, find a comforting meditation spot, reflect on the joyful mysteries in resin and metal, meditate on the sorrowful mysteries depicted in wood carvings, or pray in the cement and glass cross on top of the hill. Also, you can pray the stations of the cross on the right side of the entrance with the stations wood carvings nailed to trees.

We were awed-inspired when we visited and I’m sure to come back to this place this time to meditate and pray (instead of taking pictures and acting like tourists). The place was designed to find God and find your inner strenght. To the Singson family, thank you for sharing this place with us.


For more information about the Field of Faith:

Field of Faith is 2-3 hours (with traffic) drive from Manila. You should watch out for the pansol area and los banos junction traffic. There is no entrance fee but food and drinks are not allowed so that you can buy from them (one way to augment costs). The CR is clean according to the women and this is worth mentioning. There are alot of good restaurants within the area including Samaral and Kamayan sa Palaisdaan.

Please call Nene Quintos, 0919-378-1664 or 721-0081, or email [email protected]
Directions: Download Map to the Field of Faith.doc (463.5K)

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