This post is the continuation of our family trip (supposed to be a honeymoon trip) in the Philippines. If you missed out the first part of this wonderful experience, you should check the Part One here.
Day 3: Tuesday
We’ve decided to spend the whole day at the beach and try some water activities that the hotel offers. We were given stubs with names of the activities from the time we checked in. Unfortunately, the zip line was under construction during that time, and we didn’t get a chance to try it.
The Banana Boat Ride
We first tried the banana boat ride. It was supposed to be for ten persons but there were only three of us that time. There’re few guests at the resort that time and the other group had their turn while we were having our breakfast. And because of that, I think the boatman gave us longer time than the usual which is ten minutes.
By the time we were mounting the banana boat, I was really nervous. I was at the front, my stepdaughter in the middle, my husband behind her and another assistant boatman at the rear end (I didn’t know he was there until I saw our video).
When the boat started to move, I was petrified. We were wearing life jackets, but I am afraid of the deep part of the sea. I am also a bit of a daredevil as I love riding roller coasters and other extreme rides in amusement parks, but a water activity like this was a new thing to me. I also heard from the assistant boatman that they intentionally let the banana boat tilt. Gladly, maybe because they know we have a kid with us; he was careful. I was also squinting most of the time due to the water that was rushing to my face. But overall, we all enjoyed our experience.
Another activity they offer is kayaking. The boatmen offered it right after we dismounted the banana boat. I had my own kayak, and my husband and stepdaughter shared one. It was supposed to be with a time limit as well, but they gave us our own time that in the end, I gave up!
We had our late breakfast, so we didn’t bother to get one by noon (lunch time in the Philippines is from noon to 1 p.m.). And it was too hot if we have another water activity. So we’ve decided to ride the bikes. There were different types of rides that you could choose; the solo, double or triple. Basically, we tried all! We had a race and chase game that sometimes led to bumping against each other. It was fun as well and made us all sweaty.
By the early afternoon, we had a snack and decided to do some island hopping. This time, my mum-in-law and her partner came with us. This was not a part of the stub given to us, so we had to pay extra for it. We paid Php 1,500 for the trip. The boatmen said that they will bring us to the old nuclear power plant that was shut down decades ago, and also we will do some snorkeling.
We were given life vests and head on the boat. I’ve mentioned that I am afraid of the sea, however, I also love the feeling of riding a boat and standing in front of it feeling the wind on my face. I just couldn’t look down the water to see how deep it is, or I’ll feel sick. The water was crystal clear that you could see the seaweeds and corals when you look into the water.
Our first stop was the Pawikan (Sea Turtle) Conservation Center. Though the real purpose why we stopped by this area was to refuel, we still had a good time there.
This area is where they bring some of the sea turtle eggs and wait for it to hatch and released back to the sea. There were areas that were fenced as a sign that there were eggs there. There were some newly hatched babies on that day that were ready to be released to the wild. Guests could also experience that for a price. We skipped the offer, but we bought some cute souvenirs to bring home. There were two adult sea turtles in a tiny pool which were impaired. One of them has a hunchback that makes it afloat and titled when swimming. Upon our exit, we saw sculptures of the life cycle of a sea turtle.
We headed back to the boat and went to an island. We got off and walked through the seaweeds. The water was really shallow, but it was a bit dangerous as it was rocky and slippery due to the seaweeds all over. We wandered the rocky part of the island and headed to the other side of the island to see the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant that was shut down decades ago. The boatman said it was closed down because they threw wastes straight into the sea that caused all the corals and other sea creatures to die.
It was another big challenge to go back to the boat because aside from the slippery huge rocks, we tried to avoid some species of starfish as well. Oh! We also collected different lovely shells, unique stones and tiny pieces of dead corals on our way back.
We traveled a bit further from the shore for us to snorkel. My husband excitedly got off the boat. I was reluctant that time even I have a life jacket. I can swim but only in the swimming pools, as long as I know how deep the water is, I won’t mind. However, since the sea has unspecified depth, especially in the middle part, I was really hesitant about it. But, my stepdaughter and I still held our brave faces to see what’s underneath. The boatman lent us goggles. It only took me about less than five minutes in the water because when I put my head in the water, I figured that it was too deep, and I panicked so I went back to the boat.
We headed back to the resort with smiles on our faces. But on our way, we saw that the crew of the hotel was already pulling back the speedboat to the hotel. That means we missed our chance for the Flying Fish. Our experience in island hopping ate so much time that it’s already sunset when we got back. I talked to a crew and asked if we could still try the Flying Fish, but he told me we could do it the next day. Unfortunately, we were about to leave the next day. Oh well, that was not our last time in that place. We will definitely be back because we enjoyed our entire stay in Morong Star Beach Resort and Hotel.
Day 4: Wednesday
After our last complimentary breakfast in the restaurant (they’ve got a delicious and affordable menu to offer, mostly Filipino dishes), we packed our things and had a little stroll around the hotel. That’s also my chance to take some photos and videos of the area. The sun was perfect that time for another adventure!
Originally, our plan was to visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar because we will be passing by the place on our way back to Bulacan. But when we checked the rate, we were surprised that they had a price hike which started last January. So, we looked for an alternate activity around the area. Gladly that Subic has a lot of adventures to offer! We’ve decided to check the Zoobic Safari which was nearby the Ocean Adventure Park. Initially, we planned to visit this place on our second day after experiencing the Ocean Adventure Park. However, our day there was long so we’ve decided to skip the Zoobic Safari Park.
The place was a bit crowded that day in Zoobic Safari because there were buses packed with students having field trips. The parking place was almost loaded as well. There were a lot of hogs wandering around the area, too!
As we entered, we were welcomed by staff and asked to take a group photo with a green background. I think they will edit it with the logo of Zoobic Safari, and we were told that we could buy it on our way out after our tour.
The first encounter was with the white tigers. They were taking a nap that time. However, there was this one that was cross-eyed. He’s still young and a bit tamed. He was just looking at us and observing as we passed by to go to the next area which was a restaurant. There was a tiny pond with tortoise and fishes at the side part of the cafeteria, too.
The next area was a place where there were different species of local lizards. They were massive like dragons without wings! Some of it, I was familiar because my father used to hunt them when I was a kid. Gladly, it is now prohibited to hunt and eat them.
While waiting for the tram to take us to the next destination, we were invited by a staff to watch an Aeta show. Aetas are the indigenous people of Bataan and Zambales area. They are hunters who lived in the forests and sea. Sadly, the fast-growing development of economy and technology has affected their way of living. Some of the Aetas go to the cities and beg for money on the streets during Christmas season. Though some tribes still manage to stay in their area and live simply away from the civilization, gladly there were government and non-government agencies that help them through outreach programs. Anyway, going back to the Zoobic Safari, there were three Aeta men who showed us some wonderful tribal dance steps they used or hunting. They also did a monkey dance that was said to be an imitation of the monkeys around the area.
Lion Close Encounter
We took the tram going to the next destination which was the lions’ den. I’ve been in a zoo before in Ilocos Sur (there were not many animals there that time), but this was my first time to see lions up close. I honestly don’t like the fact that they are caged. Even so, to be fair, behind those cages was a huge land where they are being released. They were massive and looked healthy. There was also a part of the area which has a breed of mixed lion and tiger!
Before the next stop, we had to go through a tunnel which was made as a dark museum of stuffed animals. I hate going to dark places and I hate seeing stuffed animals, but I had no choice. We needed to go through that to get to the next tram station. Good thing that there was a tiny pond with different Koi fishes that was refreshing to see after going through the dark museum.
Tiger Close Encounter
Our next adventure was when we fed a tiger up close. We rode an enclosed jeepney and were given fresh chicken as the Tigers’ food. We were lucky that there was another family, so we shared the ride and food with them. At first, the Tigers didn’t pay attention to us. The guide said that they could be feeling really warm and won’t bother to move, or they were not hungry. Finally, one of the Tigers came to us after a couple of rounds in the area and a lot of callings from the guide. It was an exciting experience to be that close to them, though it might be dangerous as well. They were massive, and we felt how heavy that one tiger when it jumped on the top of the jeep!
After our very close encounter, we took another tram that brought us to the tigers’ den. This time,we had a tour guide who told us about the animals and the surroundings, specifically the whole area. We were told that the place used to be a hideout for Americans and Filipino armies during WWII. The tunnels were used to hide the weapons and bombs. It was hidden in hills so that from the view from the war planes, they were not noticeable as they were camouflaged in the forest. They were too far apart from each other as well so that when one area was bombed and destroyed, the others won’t be affected.
As we went to the Tigers’ den, we were also told to be careful about the tiger’s urine! It guide said it is stinky and could stay in you for days!
The tram dropped us to a crocodiles’ den. There were I think, hundreds of them in that place. And what’s more interesting was the crew were about to clean the area. There was a group of men who were carrying a massive hippo display which looked real. When they placed it in one area of the pool, the crocodiles ran from it! It was an interesting view when they used the fake hippo to move them out of the way.
That was our last adventure in the safari. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the Aetas trail because the wind was so strong that day, and the branches might be falling everywhere. So they shut down the area. However, we did enjoy the 3D art museum in a room right beside the ticket booth.
On our way to the parking lot, we saw a mother pig and its baby piglet roaming around. The baby wanted to ride the mother’s back so it kept on trying to mount on the back of the mom even when she’s walking around. It was an awkward position though, but the tiny one was so persistent until the mother was annoyed and growled to the small one. It was funny too, I’m glad I captured it.
It was another exhausting but fun day for us in Bataan. It was sad to leave the area right away. However, we needed to leave early to make it on time back to Bulacan.
Bonus! Day 5: Thursday
We’re back in Bulacan and we still had another day to spend so we’ve decided to go for a hike. I chose to bring my family to Biak-Na-Bato, as it was a family-friendly place, and I’ve been there when we had our siblings’ day out a month before.
We first went to a supermarket for our food. And same as the trip with my siblings, we had a guide with us when we entered the national park. We had a nice hike this time as the tour guide was very informative about the history of the place. She even offered us to go to most of the historical caves, but we rejected as we only wanted to have a picnic by the river.
We went to the Paniki (bat) cave. It reminded me of the times when I used to hike in this area. It was different that time as it was not fully developed yet. Way back then, we can’t get into the cave because the water was too deep and there were fatalities reported from diving in the area. However, now it’s all dried, and you could even see the very bottom of the massive rock where the kids used to dive. On the other hand, I am glad that the government paid attention to this historical place.
On our way to the cave, the tour guide showed us a stone wall which looked like a giant lizard on a wall! It was amazingly sculpted by nature. There was also the centennial tree that was used by the revolutionaries as a lookout tower to see if enemies were coming because it has a good view at the top.
We went to a riverside table to set our food and just chill out. My stepdaughter and I dipped into the very cool and refreshing water while the others watched us while relaxing.
Thank you for taking the time to follow our family adventure! It was a fun week for us and it was something that’s very memorable aside from the wedding day itself. Definitely, this will not be our last family trip in the Philippines. There are other places that we wanted to explore in the future. So for our travel diary in this country, this is only the first!
Do you love to travel with your family as well? What is your dream destination with them?