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January Pt. 1: Pictures & Promises in Batangas

My gosh, I can’t believe we’re on the last few days of January. It seems like it was only yesterday that people were secretly gearing for the  supposed end of the world in December; now, everyone’s getting ready for Valentine’s. Well, a lot of people are, anyway. I, on the other hand, am getting ready for some epic tomb action in CAMBODIA next week. (Are you feeling my excitement yet?)

But before that, let’s have a recap of some highlights of this first month of 2013. Here’s part one, aka Pictures and Promises in Batangas.

*     *     *     *     *

For our family, the past holiday season lasted longer than usual. Two of our relatives from the States flew in, and diets and exercise routines flew out the window — that is, for most everyone except my soon-to-be-wed cousin’s family (let’s not talk about how I violated my NY’s resolutions so early in the year, LOL). Yes, you got it right. The reason for all the festivity was an upcoming wedding, also, my first trip for 2013.

Destination weddings seem to be quite a trend these days, what with another relative of mine getting married in Cebu a couple of years back. It was just the thing for my cousin and her fiancé, considering how their relationship grew from exploring Australia (where they met) and later, the Philippines. They chose to celebrate their big day in Mabini, Batangas, a province that has gained popularity as a diving spot.

Mabini is roughly a four to five hour drive from Metro Manila, though how fast you go depends on the time/day, volume of traffic and number of times you stop along the way. Every time I take a trip out of the city, I enjoy watching the scenery through my window change from towering skyscrapers to coconut trees and sprawling fields. It makes me think about how ironic it is that we seem to be running out of space in the city whereas our country is actually so abundantly blessed with fertile land. When you enter the town propers, you’ll have to navigate your way past jeepneys and tricycles. Here, they are the kings of the road.

Since the wedding was slated for late afternoon of Saturday, our families planned for an overnight stay. We were booked at Eagle Point Resort, and getting there was an adventure all on its own. The resort has a private road that’s pretty much cut into the mountainside, ensuring plenty of dips and slopes and blind curves. At the end of the road, there’s a parking lot where you’ll have to leave your vehicle. From there, a shuttle will take you to the resort. You’ll understand why they don’t want you to make the drive yourself — the road is quite narrow and the turns give the term “blind curves” a new definition. I was pretty impressed with how effortlessly the driver managed the trip. Then again, he’s probably done it a hundred times.

Eagle Point was a pleasant surprise — it’s quite swank for a dive resort. I adored the lobby, from its sloped ceiling with exposed rafters to the comfy sitting nooks. It’s airy and inviting–very modern tropical–making it a great introduction to the resort. Below the lobby is a spacious restaurant/bar, which also hosts live performances on certain nights.

It wasn’t until the next day that we were able to really explore the grounds, and we found that the resort boasts of two swimming pools, plus a reef pool where you can supposedly swim with baby sharks (that didn’t look too inviting, though). Aside from the terrace hotel (where we stayed), there are several cottages and cabanas situated along the slope of the mountain. It’s not your typical beach with sand; it’s more rocky with a certain rough beauty to it. And of course, the pathways are covered with lush foliage that makes the walk all the more pleasurable.

My sister and I shared a deluxe terrace room overlooking the sea. I have to say, the design of the room was even nicer than some hotels I’ve been to in Manila. We each had a queen-size bed to ourselves, though it seemed to be shorter than usual. The place just tempted us to indulge and stay longer. Check out the photos below and see if you don’t agree with me. 🙂

lobby

Restaurant

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As for the wedding, it actually took place in a nearby resort, Aiyanar. It’s newer and has a more contemporary design, but is smaller than Eagle Point. It was the perfect setting for my cousin, Ember’s, intimate beach wedding. I loved the set-up of the trellis with the seats of the bride and groom facing the sea. The details of the whole affair were simple yet remarkably beautiful — kudos to Emerald, the sister of the bride/maid of honor/wedding planner. Of course, my cousin made a gorgeous bride. =)

The ceremony was short and sweet, with the couple reciting their own vows. What made it more memorable was the huge cover of dark clouds that made its way quickly towards us. My cousin said that she and her now-husband were separately worrying over the chance of rain, especially since they didn’t have tents. True enough, it did start to drizzle as they spoke their vows; it only started pouring after the ceremony ended. They say that rain during your wedding is a sign of blessings showered upon the marriage, so I guess they’re off to a good start. After they tied the knot, we sought shelter and sustenance (both of the nutritious and the alcoholic kind) at the dining hall, where the reception was held. Scroll down for a few pictures of the lovely wedding.

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With the world as the altar

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My brother escorting our cousin to her father

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My nephew makes for an adorable ring bearer!

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This is it!

The newlyweds <3

The newlyweds ❤

Next up, scoop on my previous trip to Cebu, aka my first Sinulog/fiesta/mardi gras experience ever. Watch out for that!

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