By: Whitney Radforth
For most traveling to the Philippines, the first point of entry is through Manila. However, the city rarely is the attraction for visitors to the country. So, for those who prefer the sand over a crowded city, I suggest you take a night bus on route to San Juan, La Union to catch some West China Sea waves.
La Union is the closest and best surfing option for the island of Luzon, and is only about a 4-6 hour drive from Manila (depending on traffic). San Juan is a hip surfing community that offers cheap beach-front accommodations, and many healthy restaurant options (including vegetarian and fresh fish options). My favourite spot was Nana Lola’s for delicious grilled tilapia with wasabi-infused sauce, served with a side of garlic rice and fresh salad.
On the beach, you can choose from a number of surfing schools with hourly rate sessions (approximately 400 pesos/hour). I learned to surf at the Billabong-sponsored San Juan Surf Shop, run by down-to-earth surf celebrity, Luke Landrigan. In a matter of minutes, I was up on my board and have been totally hooked on the sport ever since.
For the less adventurous, renting a body board or kayak can also be a fun experience. For those looking for the total beach bum experience, throw on some sunglasses, enjoy the sites of beautiful surfer dudes and chicks riding the waves… just don’t forget your sun block.
When to go? The surfing conditions vary, with the biggest waves coming in December to March. However, all year round the conditions are decent which is why this area is a great place for beginners.
What to bring? Be sure to bring enough money with you, as there are no ATMs at the beach. If possible, bring a rash guard (an athletic shirt made of spandex or nylon worn in the water) as some schools do not provide them.
How to get there? From the city, there are chartered buses leaving every hour from the Cubao-Arraneta, EDSA and C5 Bus terminals. The whole trip will set you back about 300 Ph Peso (about 6 USD) round trip. Get off at San Juan Town Market and then take another jeep to Laiya for the beach resorts. Please note that the jeeps only run from 6am to 5pm, after which, there is no more means of public transportation going there.
A must do? Sip some fresh buko juice (young coconut water) to replenish your body from an active day in the sun, sand and surf. You will need it! The buko juice rehydrates your electrolyte levels, is an immune and metabolism booster, and also fights against bladder infections and kidney stones.
Whitney Radforth currently lives and works in the Philippines for the nongovernmental organization ‘Citizens Disaster Response Center’, CDRC for short (www.cdrc-phil.com) in Quezon City. The organization aims to assist vulnerable sectors of society through disaster preparedness training, emergency disaster relief, and rehabilitation efforts. Whitney is working in their Research, Advocacy and Public Information department, where her days can vary from developing public information materials, to field visits observing and gathering information from projects working in areas affected by recent natural disasters, to giving training seminars on community-based disaster management to Universities and poor-communities. This article is written about one of her weekend trips she was able to take in the month of April to a surfing, yoga, and samba retreat where they were given lessons on how to do all three.
Photo credits: Jonathan Roco de Guzman
, fun in the sun
No, its not a hip new band.
I woke up today grumpy that I had an early morning meeting, but all that changed when my brother called me all the way from the U.S. to let me know that there is a meteor shower happening tonight. Apparently, the earth passes through a meteor belt everytime this year so...
August 12th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 1
Filed under: Announcements, astronomy, Meteor shower
Manila is home to a lot of artists, graphic artists, and artist wannabes. It’s a high time an event like this was organized. Manila Design Week was birthed by a young and highly active artist’s community, spearheaded by Team Manila. This “team” gained a following and earned a...
August 7th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: Announcements, Events, Manila Design Week, Team Manila
Here in Manila, the sounds of the street, the constant chatter of people, and the beeping of our phones keep us company. Rarely are we confronted with silence. This can make the stillness of silent films intimidating. Perhaps, that’s why this film festival is important- it eases viewers in by providing...
July 27th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 2
Filed under: movies, Shangri-La, silent film festival
Photo care of Jayvee Fernandez
Ice cream in the past five years has gone through major upgrades. Its derivatives and taste-a-likes have been grabbing a lot of attention. People are no longer excited with anything that comes in a tub. For it to be appealing, it needs to be homemade or it needs to be...
July 24th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 1
Filed under: desserts, ice cream, nitrogen ice cream, Restaurants & Bars, Zenses Neo Shanghai Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Jayvee Fernandez
On my first trip to, “The Old Swiss Inn”, I discovered that the Swiss and the Pinoys have something in common. These two races may be polar opposites when it comes to appearance, values, and traditions. But as I looked at my cheese-coated bread, I realized that...
July 20th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: affordable, Family Friendly, Old Swiss Inn, Restaurants & Bars, Swiss cuisine
Promotional poster for Aseum
Truth be told, when this poster was emailed to me, I didn’t quite get what to expect out of the event. I still don’t but the write-up that came with the poster promised that everyone will get to experience what new media art is. Intriguing, eh? It’s fun...
July 17th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: Announcements, art scene, Aseum, Events, The Arts
The Philippines is oozing with creative talent. However a good number of Filipino artists are lured to work abroad for higher pay and greater worldly recognition. No more. In the last five years, new galleries have popped up and the more established galleries have spruced up their spaces to ensure...
July 15th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 2
Filed under: Announcements, Events, galleries, NBC Tent, paintings, The Arts
Cinemalaya Promo Poster
Every year, the Cultural Center of the Philippines sponsors a film festival that reveals the works of novice film makers. For travellers, it’s a week-long activity with Filipino directors willing to go out of their way to veer off from conventional Filipino movie genres such...
July 13th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: Announcements, CCP, Cinemalaya, Events, films, movies, The Arts
Metropolitan Museum. Come In: Interior Design as a Contemporary Art Medium in Germany is on view at the museum’s Tall and Upper Galleries. The exhibit investigates the connection between fine art and applied design by means of individual objects, sculptures, installations, and videos. The German contemporary...
July 6th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: Announcements, Events, Exhibits; contemporary art, The Arts
This whole month of July, you can watch some of Philippine Cinema’s most enduring films . Now considered classics, they broke through mainstream consciousness and have been compiled by the Cinekatipunan.MOV production for July’s “MARCOS KILLED AQUINO: The 2nd Golden Age of Philippine...
July 1st, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: Announcements, Events, Filmfestival, movies
We Filipinos will always gripe that being colonized by the Spanish has left us with a slave mentality, an overdependence on religion, and an overt laziness because of the Spanish siesta habit. Supposedly, before the Spanish came, Filipinos were animist warriors who never slept. Perhaps so, but without...
June 28th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: Alfajor, delicacies, Pasalubong, Shopping
A visit to Manila wouldn’t be complete without shopping at a Philippine pasalubong store. Bringing home pasalubong or a going-home gift is a Filipino tradition. Because Filipinos are so communal, they feel the need to share their journey not just with stories or photos but with an actual present. It’s...
June 24th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: delicacies, gifts, Pasalubongs, Pinoy traditions, Shopping
A Sampling of the Goodies I Brought Back Home (photo c/o Knox)
I’m back in Manila after almost a week of travelling. I went up to Baguio last weekend and then flew off to Cebu almost right after.
While on my trips, I picked up a few knick-knacks for the loved ones I left behind. When I say a few,...
June 22nd, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 2
Filed under: delicacies, Shopping, traditions
Manila Guide with the Ako Mismo Dog Tag
Ako Mismo is a social advocacy network that invites people to make a difference in society, starting with oneself. Ako Mismo is roughly translated to, “I myself” and it’s all about getting individuals to commit themselves to contributing something- may...
June 11th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 9
Filed under: Ako Mismo, Announcements, Events, Independence Day, June 12
Photo courtesy of Farl from http://www.flickr.com/photos/colloidfarl/82822349/
Wander around the streets of Manila this week and you will no doubt see flags strewn popping up here and there. The tradition of putting a flag on your doorstep in preparation for Independence Day lives on.
Take note of the...
June 10th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 1
Filed under: History & Information, Independence Day, Melchora Aquino, Philippine flag
I’m not going to write a separate entry on the Vieux Chalet because much has been said about this (supposed) secret hideaway. Also, I ran out of film by nightfall and it just won’t be a complete entry with some great shots. Suffice to say, this out-of-the-way resto has great views of Metro Manila....
June 9th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 1
Filed under: Antipolo market, Attractions, Kasuy, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping, Suman, Vieux Chalet
If you’re in the country looking to do a religious pilgrimage, then Rizal is the place to do so. On our trip, we pack in a whole lot of historic churches namely: Antipolo Cathedral, Baras Church, Morong Church and Tanay Church.
My favorite was Baras church which was built by the Franciscans in the...
June 8th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 2
Filed under: Antipolo, Attractions, Baras, Church, Events, Family Friendly, Morong, Rizal, Santacrusan, Tanay
Photo taken by Bob Timonera http://www.thelandofpromise.com/
Travellers gloss over the southern part of Archipelago- the island of Mindanao. As a Mabuhay Guide, this is one of my dream destinations and I am itching for a chance to explore it. For now, I will have to contend with blogging about it from...
June 7th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 0
Filed under: Announcements, Attractions, Mindanao; Intramuros; Department of Tourism; Muslims
French Film Festival
For those with a penchant for all things French and free, this is your week.
The French Film Festival is once again at the Shangri-la Cinemas. This is their 14th year to provide a week-long parade of French films for free public viewing.
Though not completely related, I just have...
June 4th, 2009 | themanilaguide | Read More | Comments: 1
Filed under: Alliance de Francaise, Announcements, Brillante Mendoza, Events, French Film Festival, Shangri-La