Weather experts say that summer is not yet here, but for me, it has already begun as I, along with my BGC (Bakasyonistas Group of Companies) friends were able to hit the beach as early as February.
We chose a fairly accessible yet relaxing destination– Laiya, Batangas. Though this beach-clad town is easy to reach, it took a while for us to plan this trip for reasons that I will explain later in this travelogue. ☺
It took us a four-hour drive from Alabang to Batangas—which included stopovers and getting a bit lost. Thanks to technology, GPS and the hospitality of the locals, we were able to reach the resort.
Once I stepped out of the car and took in my surroundings, I knew that I was in for a fun and relaxing weekend. Being in a resort like Coco Grove was far from the beach trips that I’m used to, which includes sleeping in tents and no electricity. That moment, I knew that it was going to be a complete beach bumming weekend—a great way to start my summer of 2013, no doubt.
We were welcomed by the staff and were immediately led to our respective cabins. We were supposed to occupy one big room, but there seemed to be a mix-up in their booking schedule so they gave us two rooms instead. The cabins were designed to look like nipa huts to give off that tropical vibe. The two single beds and two double decks that are made of bamboo totally add up to that feel. Though the cabin’s design has a native touch to it, it’s still infused with the right amount of modernity to offer its guests the utmost comfort and relaxation that a beach vacation should have.
After we chose our respective bunks and arranged our bags and stuff, we decided to roam around and explore. Besides, we have nothing better to do as it was still too early for lunch. The first thing that caught our eye was the trampoline. Of course, my daredevil friends wasted no time and raced to it and started jumping and shouting like kiddos.
The tree houses (I’m not really sure if that’s what they’re called) or towering nipa huts can also be found in different parts of Coco Grove. I think they’re up for reservation if guests wants to use it for drinking sessions or parties. Anyway, one of these tree houses will play an important part in this trip, which I will explain later ☺.
During this lull time, I was also able to set foot on the beach. Standing there while feeling the dampness and softness of the sand beneath my feet while taking in the familiar salty scent of the sea was just bliss. Yep, it’s the same as the feeling of being home. Though the water is not as clear and inviting, the shore can be a great place to bum around and get a tan.
If the beach didn’t pass the “conducive-to-swimming” standards, the pool definitely did. It is perfect for dipping, swimming and lounging. We practically spent the whole afternoon there.
Photo by Nikki Martinez
Buffet Service and Food
When the clock said it’s time for lunch, we were so famished and were expectant of a sumptuous feast. True enough, our first meal at Coco Grove did not disappoint.
Our package consisted of three buffet meals—that would be lunch, dinner and breakfast on the last day of our stay.
Out of 5 stars, I would give 3 stars to Coco Grove’s culinary offerings. Some dishes were really exquisite, like the Fried Tilapia, Beef with Mushroom and Beef Tapa, while others were so-so and borderline bland.
Nonetheless, each meal was a pleasant dining experience for us because every dish was obviously made with fresh ingredients.
Stars and a Round of Volleyball and Booze
After dinner, we were surprised to see a volleyball net near our cabins. I am friends with a bunch of active people so it’s no surprise that they found a ball and played a set or two of this sport. While I, along with the more laidback ones in our group, decided to chill by the pool.
After they got their volleyball fix, they joined us. The witty banters and stories of all sorts started flowing simultaneously over beer and wine. This along with the starlit night sky and cool sea breeze made this night definitely worthwhile.
After chugging down our drinks, we strolled on the beach, listened to the waves crashing and gazed at the stars twinkling.
It was about 11 PM when we decided to head back to our quarters and call it a night. We needed all the sleep we can possibly get as the following day would be a big day for all of us, especially for Abie and Ralph. ☺
The Real Deal
Apart form escaping and de-stressing, the main purpose of this trip had something to do with Abie and Ralph.
This couple has been together for 6 years, so it’s just normal that wedding bells are lurking around, waiting to pounce. However, Ralph believed that going full-blown on the wedding planning has a pre-requisite and that a heartfelt and proper proposal was in order.
A few weeks before this trip, Ralph messaged us, asking our help with his “grand gesture” of sealing the deal. Of course, we were so elated with the news and came up with different strategies. Hence, this trip.
Ralph’s plan was to propose early in the morning. Our part was to sneak up to one of the tree houses, wait for his signal and hold down the banner that said, “Will you marry me?”. It sounded pretty simple, but it got tricky once it was all unfolding. The first challenge was Abie wanted to go up the tree house with us. In fact, she seemed so agitated that Ralph won’t let her go up. How he managed to keep her on the shore was a miracle. For us, on the other hand, it was like a tug-of-war with the banner. We weren’t sure whether it was the right moment to put the banner down or not since Abie was moving around and getting more pissed by the minute. It was a series of putting it down and hiding it again. It was really crazy!
Finally, the plan fell into place. Abie saw the banner at the right moment then Ralph knelt in front of her, professed his love, asked her hand in marriage then boom! It’s a sealed deal! My friends are definitely getting married!!! ☺ Boy, even though the situation got crazy and funny, we were all teary-eyed and proud of our newly engaged friends. Kudos to you guys! Whoohoo!
Curious as to how it all rolled out? Check out their proposal video done by God’s Grace Productions.
So those weeks of preparation and tip-toeing around Abie were all worth it for Ralph, and yes, even for us. This is by far, the most eventful morning I had on a beach, well, I guess, the rest of us can say the same. ☺
The Other Side of Coco Grove, Kayaking, Richard Parker and South China Sea
After breakfast, we headed to the other part of Coco Grove where the sand and water is definitely finer. The ride going to this part of the resort was fun. It was like Temple Run and safari in one, well, minus the wild animals, cliffs and giant monkey of course.
This other part of Coco Grove was like designed for the exact purpose of beach bumming. There were nipa sheds all over the place as well as sunbathing chairs. As for me, I resorted to lounging on the sand by simply using my sarong as a mat.
Apart from lounging and swimming, Kayaking can also be done in this part of the resort. And kayak, we did! That was a first for me and it was really fun. We were even pretending that we’re conquering the South China Sea, the alipins and Richard Parker (Life of Pi hangover).
We spent the whole morning in this part of Coco Grove as we deal with our hangover, not of the previous night’s drinks, but of Ralph’s very romantic proposal. ☺
Photo by Nikki Martinez
Apparently, there’s taho on the beach! Ohhh-suummm! 🙂
Overall, this beach trip was definitely what a weekend should be about—relaxation, fun and escape. And we even got a bonus and that was being a part of a couple’s milestone. Indeed, summer of 2013 started with a bang and the rest of my favorite season looks really promising.