Hamming It Up @ Hamilo

Nasugbu, Batangas, the Philippines

January 5 – 7, 2017

When we could not take a vacation at an exclusive resort, we borrowed it. Without a condo unit at swanky Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club to our name, Ki asked an old friend for an overnight stay in her furnished studio. It trumped paying at the resort hotel or Airbnb rental. No sooner had she given the green light than we drove a few hours south of Manila to posh Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu.

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Sunset @ Pico de Loro Cove, Hamilo Coast

As guests of a unit owner, we stopped at the gate to register and pay for our consumable card worth 2k. We proceeded to our borrowed digs at Jacana. Buildings were named after birds, in keeping with the loro in the pico.

So what to do other than social climbing with the middle class?

1) Inhale peace and freshness.

At the top of our To Do list: to do nothing. As soon as we settled in, I plopped down, feet up, at the balcony, eye-level with the lush forest on a nearby hill. Trees of all shades of green absorbed traffic noise and ticking time. Later, we set up our lunch table for a breezy meal we bought along the way.

The main draw of a condo stay for us was so we could bring our own baon (packed food), strictly prohibited in Pico Sands Hotel, the accommodation for non-members. Pricey restaurant food would not go down well with the working class.

2) Indulge the soul and the self.

By late afternoon, we hopped on an open-air shuttle to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus Chapel nestled on a hilltop. The prayer room was encased in glass, distractingly overlooking the gentle cove. Soon, the golden hour splashed sea and sky with glorious pastels filtered dramatically in our photo ops and selfies at the viewing deck.

3) Take an evening dip in the pool.

As the beach closed for the night, swimmers retreated to the multi-tiered infinity pool by Pico de Loro Country Clubhouse. The crowd was dispersed throughout its breadth and length.

The chilly January evening, however, deterred us from soaking as much as planned. Or perhaps we were too old to be wet at such an hour. We ended up warming our lounge chairs and ourselves wrapped in beach towels yet brainfreezing with fruit shakes.

4) Pound the pavement.

We started out on foot early the next morning to explore the resort complex, again taking the route from the hilltop chapel. The tide was just coming in, the rocky seabed still exposed. We traced half the shoreline, taking our own sweet time.

The highlight of our morning walk was a promenade by the central lagoon around which four residential condos, the hotel, and the country club stood. Despite this, not many people thought the same thing. At one point, we shared the paved footpath only with a waddling duck.

The promenade had more of the aesthetic of Singapore than of an SM development, known for shoebox malls and beehive condos. The perfectly manicured gardens under dappled cover of trees, the placid lagoon broken by geyser fountains and paddling of quacking ducks were all spick-and-span. Selfie alert!

5) Hit the beach.

With all the long walks and lounging we were busy with, an overnight stay was not enough. Ki called his friend for an extension to give us time to finally hit the beach. Alas, Pico de Loro Beach Club was for members only. We simply staked our spot on the sand at the far end and took turns with rented snorkeling gear.

There were no corals to see underwater, most likely destroyed by this commercial development, only schools of fish and a whole lot of sand. We eventually stretched out on our beach chairs while people watching and tanning until the last rays of sunlight.

6) Ham it up @ Hamilo.

We did all that with pictorial documentation. Every nook and cranny of the resort complex just begged to be Instagrammed. We gladly obliged.

Our final photo was that of Mt. Pico de Loro, the eponymous volcano rising over the cove with that distinctive rocky promontory – the parrot’s beak, hence the name in Spanish. That spelled the end of livin’ la vida middle class for us.

Thanks a mil to Ana for “lending” us a vacation that would remain in our memory as well as in our memory cards.

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