Category Archives: Philippines

Reclaiming Paradise in Boracay

Where fine white sands sprawl amid crystal clear blue sea, the Philippine’s most famous tropical island called Boracay is indeed paradise again. During the six months of closure from tourism operations, Boracay faced drastic rehabilitation to restore its innate beauty and pristine state. 

Volunteer divers unearth garbage from the sea during the six-month rehabilitation

Major works were facilitated to fix the waterways to make its prized crystalline sea clean and clear, roadways are fixed and widened to provide easy access inland, and wetlands were reinstated to pave for smooth rainwater flow and as additional tourist spots. At that time, the locals experienced the island that had allured them to make it their home.

Locals have the beach all to themselves at sunset during the closure

Such as an island emanating with a virgin-like beach that matched the radiant sunlight and where towering coconut trees outnumbered the people permeating on it.  No sign of major commercialism was present, save for a few local businesses that thrived to open and sustain its faithful employees.  These businesses, namely Dos Mestizos Restaurant, Cafe del Sol, Aria Ristorante Italiano, Lemoni Cafe, Real Coffee and Tea, Bom Bom Bar and Pat’s Creek Bar, Nagisa Japanese Restaurant, Coco Loco Restaurant, Levantin Bar and Restaurant, Nigi Nigi Beach Bar and Restaurant have garnered huge support from the locals who had come to commune in and enjoy the bare essence of the place like a part of their home that was permeated by only people they knew. Sunset gatherings were made sacred by the scenery’s serenity and parties were kept raw island style, impromptu, exclusive and simply fun.  While the sheer sounds of the island’s nature magnified with the absence of in-bound airplanes emitting its flight sounds, except for the constant flight services of Air Asia, which operation of Manila to Caticlan flights provided efficient and economical flights daily to the locals. 

Paradise reclaimed on the long white beach during closure

In those six months, paradise was truly reclaimed in Boracay’s most coveted long white beach. Now that the island has been open for almost a month, the beaches are once again enlivened by the addition of tourists.  

Time to fly on Air Asia bound for Caticlan
Touchdown at Caticlan International Airport, the gateway to Boracay Island

More flights from national airlines, including Air Asia, are back in full operation, thus tourists from all over the world get the visit Boracay and revel in its new and improved state. Through strictly implemented guidelines to sustain the island’s rehabilitation, tourists, especially families with children can already swim in safe and clean water, lay out their sarongs on spotless white sand to relax and sunbathe instead of the beach beds and dining set-ups that used to fill the beach front, and walk along the beach in tranquility and commune with the soft waves dancing to the star-lit night sky that shun the few shimmering lights on the beach path. 

Noontime dipping in a cleaner, clearer sea at Boracay’s most frequented spot, Station 2

The nourishing sea breeze has also become more potent with the lack of smoke coming from cigarettes, boat engines, and daily fire-dancing shows that not only emitted smoke but also harmful toxins to people and to the precious white beach.

Privacy and space on the beach are likewise enjoyed with the controlled number of tourist arrivals and the restriction of commissioners who incessantly solicit activities to tourists.

A profusion of towering coconut trees line up among the virgin-like white beach

The roadways, however, continues to undergo renovation, as it needed more time beyond the six months closure.

Beach baskers relax on their sarong

So while alert attention is required from tourists passing along the roads, the white sandy beaches of the island are ready to embrace and nurture them at best.

Sumptuous offerings at the island favorite food hub, Real Coffee and Tea

AirAsia connects you to more than 120 destinations via Kuala Lumpur. AirAsia flies out of Manila, Cebu, and Kalibo to domestic and international destinations like Palawan, Bohol, Davao, Korea, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taipei, and many more! 

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Now everyone can fly!

Article by Amanda Virrey

A Family Staycation in Lagun, El Nido

Last month, my husband and the kids had a vacation from our permanent El Nido vacation.

LOL! Seriously speaking though, we checked in Lagùn, one of the newest hotels in town for a much needed one night staycation.

Sometimes, it is nice to get away from our current (seemingly neverending) home construction and enjoy the amenities, sights and food of establishments here. What’s the use of living in paradise if we don’t enjoy once in awhile as if we are tourists in our own island home?

The view from our hotel room was spectacular!

Not many hotels here offer a pool with such majestic views so my kids and I managed to swim all afternoon to exercise and expend some energy out.

TIP: If you or the kids love swimming, request for a room closest to the pool deck.

You won’t believe it but my absolute favorite experience in this hotel was their breakfast buffet.

I find that not many places in El Nido offers a wide array of choices. Here, they bake their own donuts and bread daily! Plus, they had many choices for pescetarians like me. I did love the fish dishes and many sauces available. 

Check out this short clip on what’s in store for brekky. Happy dance because they allow locals to dine in here for a fee =)

If you are a local or even a visiting tourist, I highly recommend their restaurant because they are probably one the few establishments in El Nido town that has parking, seats that can accommodate big groups, wifi connection, good dining options (Sushi in El Nido!!) and quiet spaces perfect for catch up with friends or meetings for work.

I really have to salute Lagùn for their winning interiors. If you ask my kids, they would easily imagine that the reception is a scene out of a spaceship in outerspace.

The lounge area upon check in is also a wonderful space to zen out.

On the same floor as the pool, there are areas where you could roll out your yoga mat, do some breath exercises, meditate or do taichi. 

For more information, please contact +639171561507 or email

You may also like and follow Lagùn Hotel on Facebook (Lagùn Hotel El Nido) and Instagram (@lagunhotel).

Family Friendly Itineraries for El Nido, Palawan

It’s not fresh news that we have moved to the no. 1 island in the world. If you’ve been following our Instagram account (@mylittleglobetrotters) you would know that by now! We’ve been living in an island paradise for almost a year already by this month. Time flies! It’s the reason WHY I have been so quiet and took a long blog break (mostly because I got pregnant and had to focus on my homebirth and care for my new baby plus homeschool!). Yes. I’ve got a looot on my plate BUT I still love to write and share stories so I’m keeping the blog to document not just our worldly adventures but stories from our new home – El Nido, Palawan!

Here’s my top recommendations for family-friendly itineraries in El Nido (if you just have 1 day, just focus and read Day 1, if you’ve got 2 days, then move on to day 2 and so on and so forth…)
Day 1

  • Do a whole day private island hopping tour on speed boat with Skipper Charters. This already includes buffet lunch on one of the islands. Ideally, you should email them to book a month before since they get booked especially on peak season.
  • Authentic Filipino dinner at Tambok’s. Must try dishes for me are Laswa Soup, Pansit Buko (noodles made from coconuts with vegetables!) and Chicken Inasal. The kids will probably like the Sago Gula for dessert! If you’re dining on a weekend, best to call ahead to reserve a table for your family as this place gets packed for dinner.

Day 2

  • Breakfast and coffee in town at Botanica on Calle Amboy. The kids can try the hot chocolate & don’t forget to order some yummy pastries to go. We really like their Ube Cheesecake!
  • Grab a tricycle and spend the rest of the morning at Corong-Corong beach. If you’ve got older kids, you can book them an introductory freediving lesson with Flo through Freediving Dimension. Rent stand up paddle boards and kayaks from El Nido Paddle Board & Co.
  • Take a lunch break of pizza and pasta at Altrove in Pops District which is also in Corong Corong. Our personal favorites are the Margherita pizza and the Pesto pasta! Not feeling like Italian food? Perhaps you can try the 100% Beef Burgers in Thery’s or the Indian Curries from Gandhi’s Revenge (both also in Corong-Corong).
  • Buy some health supplements, natural soaps and kombucha from Lawiswis Organics which is also in Pops District.
  • If you’ve got young children, a nap is in order. You may head back to your hotel or resort for this.(#NapsRule!) Some kids, however, do not need naps. If this is the case, walk over to La Plage Sunset & Beach Bar. The no-napping-energizer-bunny younger kids can continue to SUP, kayak or swim on the beach or in La Plage’s very own mini pool while the parents order a drink or two for some buzz. Catch the sunset from here. Dinner can be eaten here, too! I find the Chicken Burger yummy and I hear their chocolate cake is good 🙂

Day 3

  • Breakfast at The Cavern. Be sure to get your caffeine fix because today involves a little bit of a hike!
  • Hire a trike to Maremegmeg Beach. Go down the 80+ stairs to one of the most picturesque beach coves in El Nido. You may chill and swim OR for more adventurous types, go do the zipline for a heart-racing experience!
  • Lunch at The Beach Shack Are you vegetarian? They’ve got the Mung Bean burger for you!
  • Still got energy? Fight the urge to snooze and climb up more stairs all the way to The Birdhouse. They offer daily 4pm yoga classes. The kids can read from their library while snuggling with one of their furry friends while you go do your OM thing.
  • Early dinner at Maremegmeg Beach Bar before hiking back up the stairs (be sure to take breaks when climbing with kids!) and getting on a trike back to your resort.

Day 4

  • Have breakfast in hotel early and get your family on a van to Duli which is about an hour away from town. Today is Surfing Day! So, pack your rashguards and sunscreen. (Note: surf season is from August to February)
  • When you’ve arrived Duli, walk to the farthest left side of the cove to Duli Beach Resort. You can hire a surf instructor and rent a surfboard from here. Look for Mike. They’re really good with kids!
  • Order the Chicken Curry Meal or Fried Fish lunch from Duli Beach resort. They’re big enough for sharing with your young child. If hungry from surf, however, you’ll probably have your own meals.
  • After x amount of hours of surfing. Head back to El Nido for a quick nap in your resort.
  • Dinner at Happiness Beach Bar on Serena Street or just ask the husband to order take out if the kids have called it a day. We know that happens sometimes!

Day 5

  • Breakfast in your hotel or resort. OR go to the local market for fresh fruits and coconuts in shell for Php25 each. If it is a Wednesday or Saturday, expect more variety of fruits and vegetables as these are the official “market days”.
  • Check out Lio Tourism Estate where you can rent a bike on the beach. Not much of a biker? There’s also, a volleyball court, SUPs or kayaks for rent. Have lunch in one of the restaurants here. My husband really enjoys the Chinese food at Fat Choi. I like the beachfront set up of Globy’s Restaurant for a more international flair of dishes.
  • On your way out of Lio, be sure to drop by Kalye Artisano to meet & support some of the Palawan local artists and if they’re free, ask them to teach an impromptu music or art workshop for your kids!
  • You can choose to have dinner back in main beach, maybe try Agape for Taverna Agape for Greek food with awesome beach views and make sure to try gelato from Gusto Gelato before leaving El Nido.

That’s it! I hope you find this blog post informative. I will be editing to add more activities as I remember or try out more things to do on the island. Hope to catch you in our hOMe paradise soon 🙂

Bijin Nabe, S Mason, Conrad Manila

My family and I like to try out new places to eat especially when it has healthy dishes because I try to feed wholesome foods to our children at all times (of course we’ll have the occasional cheat days or weekend treats, too!). Recently, we tried the newly opened restaurant in S Maision, Conrad Manila called Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo to try their most prized dish, the signature Beauty Hot Pot soup which has many beauty and medicinal benefits.

Here’s what we had:

Romaine Lettuce Caesar Salad to start because we need our live enzymes from fresh greens!

romaine lettuce salad

Maximum Fried Eggplant was my favorite appetizer of the meal! The mix of textures of the outer crunch and soft eggplant inside just melts gloriously in the mouth!

Nikumaki is a pork based dish (rice ball wrapped in bacon) so my daughter and I passed on this but my parents had a go and really liked it, too!

Now comes the main dish! The Beauty Hot Pot Collagen Soup which has its origins from Japan and now is very famous also in other countries. Apparently, this is the beauty secret of many women. We heard that to get a table in their Singapore branch, you will need to wait in line for 60 minutes! Glad we were able to try it sooner than the crowds came!

Here’s what I lifted from their main website, here:

“TSUKADA NOJO is located in Miyazaki prefecture, Kyushu Japan. It has the most historical and popular way of poultry raising. Miyazaki Jitokko known as the organic chicken is appreciated by everyone. We provide the best quality of golden collagen chicken stock, in a safety and natural environment.

Our signature Golden Collagen chicken stock is stewed more than 8 hours until the chicken bones are fully dissolved. Eventually, chicken stock turns into a smooth and silky collagen pudding. The BIJIN NABE is a combination of the freshest vegetables, seafood and chicken cooked in our Golden Collagen Chicken Stock. We ensure that collagen will be the key of your beautiful skin and health.

You can enjoy our BIJIN NABE with genuine organic vegetables which is safe and healthy for your body. —- Ooooh, I love that! There is a tremendous difference in life forces of organic and non-organic produce. I am glad that they choose to support organic farmers, too!

Of course, we always leave room for dessert!

kamote fries

Bijin Nabe by Tsukada Nojo
S Maison, Conrad Manila, Pasay City

How To Have a Gagdet Free Vacation

While I personally do not recommend gadgets for young children, I know that it is a reality for many parents that use the iPad or iPhone games to distract their children so they can do whatever it is they need to do.

This post is to encourage these parents to TRY some of these tips / tricks / activities that I personally do and see if it works keeping your kids entertained and happy in your next vacation.

at Ernie Lim’s Jungle Gym in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

1. Story telling: Children LOVE hearing about stories of when you were young.  Another story technique I do with my son almost every night is called “Dungeons and Dragons”, I know it isn’t an original title but I have evolved it into a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-ish story telling sessions between us. We always start the story from a far away land in a castle with a dragon, warrior or wizard. Then let your imagination run wild! Try it, it’s really fun and creative!

2. Art: I always, always bring paper and crayons or pens with me wherever I go so that it keeps my little one’s hands busy during long haul flights and road trips. However, if your child is prone to motion sickness, he or she might be better watching the road.

Santi with Benny and Kai at our old farm property in Bacungan, Puerto Princesa, Palawan


Santi runs amidst pine trees in Baguio Country Club

3. Make sure that you’re vacation destination includes child-friendly itineraries too! When you arrive, let your children out and MOVE! Walk, run, jump, dance, etc. Children learn and grow through their limbs. Some meltdowns may not have escalated is they were properly fed on time or allowed to move.

Maya tinkering with ‘Sungka’, a traditional Filipino game in Flower Island Resort, Palawan

4. Remember the old games we used to play like chess, card games and board games?  Bring a travel sized version with you. It’s also a chance for learning numbers, strategy, patience.. the list can go on and on!

Santi walking the shores of Laiya, Batangas

5. Let nature be the guide. If you’re going to a place that is rich with natural resources, then there isn’t much to do. Just allow your kids to discover on the I own sometimes to watch the sunset, play in the sand, look for shells, take a walk in the woods, observe the birds in the trees, make a snowman!

Santi gone fishing with a Mariana in Sarangani

Santi and Kai pretrending to know Martial Arts in La Union

The world is an amazing place and there is just so much beauty in the great outdoors. Make sure your next destination is one that your whole family will appreciate and remember for a lifetime. Set your children from from the superficial digital world and open their eyes to the brilliance of real life and play.

Join me in my instagram advocacy and use the hashtag #ProjectNoIpad while tagging me @dharmadreamsbig . Let me see how you creatively parent without gagdets in your vacations (or even at home). We can do this!

8 Natural Ways To Avoid and Remedy Motion Sickness in Travel


Because my little one vommited on TWICE during our last trip; once during the long and dizzy 4-hour van ride and another time during the 1-hour “exhilirating” aka very choppy speedboat ride, one must definitely prepare before such inconvenience.

Here are my personal tips on how to avoid the dreaded puke sessions from you or your children on long journeys, whether it is by land, sea, plane or a combination of all three which was my case just recently —

1. RESEARCH on your realistic travel schedule and previous traveller’s experience! I did not check on these facts for this trip. If I had known that the van ride would be long and zig-zaggy, the boat ride choppy, I would’ve brought dizzy spells arsenal! If we had stayed any minute longer in those circumstances, I would’ve puked all over myself as well. Thank heavens I was able to stop myself.

2. KEEP LOOKING FORWARD. When I am not behind the wheel, I have the tendency to get dizzy real fast. A solution is to watch the road. I have to make sure that my body faces forward towards the direction of the vehicle or else all hell breaks loose. Same with kids. Make them sit face forward, please.

3. FORGET ABOUT TEXTING OR READING. Yep, for sensitive people like me, I can’t have the luxury of reading while in transit. Not unless I am on the plane where it is more stable. In cars, forget it! If your children are prone to motion sickness, please do not use gagdets to keep them busy during travel. It isn’t good for their eyes and brains, anyway!

4. EAT MODERATELY AND WISELY. They say not to eat greasy or spicy food before traveling. Also, no stuffing yourself silly either! My 1.5 year old vommitted soon after nursing so, I got smarter on the way back and withheld feeding until way after the winding roads.

5. GINGER. En route home, I brought freshly sliced ginger which I’d bite and when it got too strong I’d move onto my gums. No, this is too potent for young ones so another option is ginger candy if you can find some in your local health shops. I know Healthy Options carry them in branches around Manila.

6. PEPPERMINT PURE ESSENTIAL OIL is handy to have! Take a sniff of it when feeling nauseated. I usually bring therapeutic grade oils but didn’t get to on this trip. In Manila, you may purchase Young Living Peppermint Oil through Dolf Cheng or doTerra Oils from Essential Oil Natural Healing.

7. PEPPERMINT CURE DROPS is another weapon I had at home which I forgot to bring! This remedy from France is a keeper! You can use it for digestion, relief of stomach pains, fatigue, prevent colds, soothes headaches, cools skin. Relief of dizziness,nausea, blocked nose and tummy troubles. It’s great to have in your emergency kit!  I bought this at the airport in Hong Kong but I have seen it being sold online at


8. ACUPRESSURE was my salvation. I massaged a few points on my wrist when I was feeling queasy and the gag reflex miraculously went away!


Do you have other remedies for motion sickness? Do share, I might just use it for my next trip!

Review: Flower Island Resort, Palawan

The first thoughts that came through my head as I approached the island resort, “Wow all of the photos I’ve seen don’t do this place any justice!”  You cannot capture the essence of Flower Island by mere pictures alone. Powder fine light brown sand, all hues of blue on the clear skies and in the clean ocean, and an island sanctuary all to your group… the experience is so dreamy it is almost ethereal.

Flower Island Resort proves to be a very special and secluded place that’s real hard to get but worth the almost 7-hour travel time. (Plane from Manila to Puerto Princesa-1hour, Van from Puerto Princesa to Taytay-4 hours and speedboat from Taytay to Flower Island- 1.5hours) The long travel is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But we’re willing adventurers so we are rewarded with this piece of paradise for 3 whole days!


We stayed in room 9 which is the second closest fan hut to the reception and dining area.

This trip was actually work for me, A Yin & Yang Yoga retreat by FLOW.  I roomed with another yoga teacher, a photographer and of course my little one who goes wherever I go! I was glad to see the spacious hut good enough for a family of 5!

I didn’t take a very good photo of our bathroom. It was very dark so I chose to open all windows to bring the light in.

My roomie taking a nap with that view. The breeze lulls you to sleep, really!

Family friendly activities include: Two hiking trails, kayaking and snorkelling. Maya, my 1.5 year old daughter is too young for both kayaking and snorkelling so we pursued the hiking trails instead. I’m a bit sad to have missed out on the snorkelling which was fantastic says Paul, one of our guests during the retreat. He saw a manta ray!!! And HUNDREDS of different fish. My husband would have enjoyed this so maybe I should schedule a return? 🙂

This is us in the beginner friendly hike trail around the island which took 45-minutes.

And this is the prize for hiking to The Peak, a 360 view from the top of the island.

They also have an island monkey to Maya’s delight!

The resort staff were very friendly, maybe it’s because we were the only guests there! Nevertheless, we enjoyed their service. And I applaud their chef’s baking skills. All of our desserts were made from scratch in the kitchen.

We had really good chocolate cake, pineapple pie, macaroons and the best sesame cookies I’ve had in my entire life. I’ll be craving for them I know it!

I hear that soon they will have the option for sea planes to cut the travel time short. very tempting!



Mobile No. Viber/Whatsapp +639175045567

Email: /

Instagram: @flowerislandresort_ph

An Homage to Palawan, Philippines

Boat Tour in El Nido

Once upon a time, long before Maya was conceived, the Manzanos attempted living in Philippine’s last frontier.. Palawan. You may read all about that here and why it didn’t work out here.

Honda Bay

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leading a Yin Yoga class in Nagtabon Beach

photo by Katherine Jack

Montible River


El Nido Town

Nevertheless, I keep wanting to come back as homage to what I consider my second home. Last February, with 11 month old Maya in tow, I organized two back to back retreats in Bahay Kalipay, Puerto Princesa for Flow and a Sacred Pregnancy Conscious Birth Retreats.

photo by Tabitha Fernan


In less than a week, we will be wading the waters of another tropical island paradise, Flower Island Resort in Taytay, Palawan for FLOW’s first ever Yin and Yang Yoga retreat I am co-leading. If you’re from Manila, it’s officially announced as a long weekend so, grab your chance to join us! Let’s see how creative I can be with managing 1.4 years old Maya without a nanny this coming weekend.





Pregnant and Traveling: 4 Tips to Know


There is a term for pregnant traveling and it is called “Babymoon”. Couples take their final chance of traveling together with their baby bump in tow to celebrate their last few months as husband and wife before baby arrives! I think it is an awesome concept.

While others choose not to travel during their pregnancies, because of being high risk or just because of fears, my itchy mama feet doesn’t stop me! My husband and I would frequent the beach during both my pregnancies. I’ve also traveled to Shanghai, Beijing and Negros in the Philippines without knowing I was even pregnant!

I was 3 months pregnant in San Francisco on my way to LA.


And then traipsed all over Venice beach, too!IMG_0701

Here are a few of my traveling tips for pregnant mamas:

1. Do get a medical certificate from your doctor and make several copies  just in case the airline need it. If you aren’t showing, they most likely will not ask for one but if they suspect you are pregnant, most airline companies ask for it. Better to be on the safe side.

2.  Remember to bring snacks with you especially on long-haul flights! If you’re anything like me when pregnant, I do not stop eating! Healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit are handy and nutritious.

3. Pre-purchase your ideal seat location beforehand or request a seat close to the toilet. The growing fetus presses on your internal organs, including the bladder, which causes frequent urination. While some women choose not to drink liquids during flight (to lessen the chance of using the plane’s toilet!), I always keep myself hydrated so… I choose a seat close to the loo! You should, too!

4. Circle your joints! I’m a yoga teacher so I know how  bad it is to be sitting on your butt for the duration of the flight. One of the wasiest ways to increase circulation in the body is to circle your joints – whether it is your ankles, knees, wrists, neck, etc. Do it while seated or while waiting in line for your turn in the loo.

Have you done a babymoon? I would love to hear how your trip went! Share some of your tips, too!