Sun-kissed salutations by the sea

My short time in Subic around the same time last year was quite special. Truth is, there was nothing I wanted more than to get off my office chair and go someplace, anywhere but in the city. And who can blame me, I've been bitten by the travelbug long before I was hired and taking official trips for the magazine's book project (on travel, no less!). Besides, I really needed to take a breather, being swamped with revisions while carrying a heavy heart and all. So our little by-the-bay getaway assignment could not have come at a better time!

Only having been there twice and both for its famous water theme park, I didn't really know what else to expect. With sheer anticipation, I realized that it had been a while that I'll be exploring a town for the first time--the best kind of feeling! But as soon as the excitement finally kicked in, exhaustion immediately caught up. Hannah and I slept throughout the entire drive up north and woke just in time to be welcomed by beautiful, mountainous landscapes with giant trees on one side and the peaceful bay with large ships on the other, all while on wide, wide roads.

We dropped our luggage then grabbed a quick breakfast at the Subic Bay Yacht Club before we went on with our shoot itinerary. The hotel's old world charm was hard to miss: chandeliers and a large staircase that leads you to floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the yachts on the dock and further away, the wonderful mountain ranges. I couldn't even imagine how many grand balls are held there, the venue looks perfect for any special occasion, requiring people to look their best. And don't even get me started with the suites...they're fit for a queen! Be sure to drop by in time for the sunrise or sunset too, everything looks ten times lovelier.

But don't get me wrong, Subic isn't all about keeping appearances. In fact, I think it's is one of the most laid-back places in the country that I've ever been to and offers a warmer alternative to chilly Tagaytay. The freeport zone is definitely the go-to destination if one wishes to "chill under the sun" and it boasts of loads of activities: water sports, treetop adventures, and survival training, to name a few. I'm such a sucker for anything camping-related so the survival training appealed so much to me. I was happy to get to learn a thing or two about how to stay alive while in the woods, just like how our brave soldiers do. Plus, that obstacle course makes it all badass, how I wish we stayed to complete even just the simplest module available.

Treetop Adventure, on the other hand, made me feel like the queen of the jungle, making my way from the top of one 100 ft tree to another. Who cares I have a wee bit of fear of heights? Even I forgot about that for a moment, when I tried ALL their well-known activities: the parachute drop, the tree drop, canopy, and Superman (zipline). I admit I felt a little woozy when it was all done but that couldn't match the rush I was had. Although I did talk myself into keeping the energy level and physical activity to a minimum for the rest of the trip...

Of course Subic had more in store for the its non-adrenaline junkie, adventure-seekers--exploring the sights and tastes of Subic was an experience on its own. Their suburban lifestyle takes me back to my golden time walking through and driving past American neighborhoods, what with their wooden, bungalow homes with no gates and had lawns big enough to have family weekend barbecues on. The huge and succelent pizzas and burgers and the signature coffee from Xtremely Xpresso would keep me coming back for more, as well as everything on Meat Plus' menu. And The Lighthouse was as romantic and stunning as I thought it would be.

While some would even go to Subic just for its duty-free shops and outlet stores, I would focus more on its authenticity and character. The Lighthouse itself was a remarkable feat and so is this not-so-hidden gem called Vasco's. Our visit there was an exceptional treat to the senses: literally a treasure trove of things found under the sea. If I didn't know better, I thought I was in a pirate ship of some sort! That or the owner ransacked Ariel's (The Little Mermaid) cavern. Besides, not only do they serve the best-tasting seafood with an international twist, they also offer wreck dives in different and interesting sites. Isn't it neat?!

Overall, Subic passes with flying colors on my book. I would love to visit again with friends and get to stay longer than the usual sleepover. We bid the freeport zone farewell while at the highest point in the area. From afar you can only see the rooftops of building after building and its vastness can be overwhelming. There are just so many sights to see, things to do--so many possibilities. It's normal to be taken aback as I was. Now, I'm looking forward to opening each and every door, while never forgetting to keep the light on. Always.

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