My best holiday in the Philippines has always been at El Nido. The staff are very attentive. When I'm there, I'd always ask to go to a deserted island and for them to pack some lunch. After breakfast they’d take me on a boat to this uninhabited island where you could nudebathe if you want.
I took my daughter China to El Nido in Palawan when she was still a toddler. She’d have an afternoon nap on the beach, on a blanket I’d lay out under a monobloc table for some shade. While she’s sleeping, I’d get a plastic chair, carry it to the water, stick it into the sand, and sit on it with water up to my waist. One time, I convinced some musicians – a violinist and guitarist – to come with us on a boat to the Small Lagoon and Big Lagoon and play classical music. The minute they started playing, all the wild monkeys came out to see what was going on. I got off the boat and just floated in the calm water, listening to the heavenly music.
I yearn for adventure travel, and to go backpacking with my daughter. My honey (husband) doesn’t like to travel too much but my daughter and I share the same passion for adventure.
I went to Camiguin with my daughter when she was just in grade two. We went on board a Superferry and when we arrived on the island, we hired a tricycle and found this cottage at the far end of the beach and stayed the night. We toured around on a habal-habal (motorcycle).
My favorite resort? First, El Nido (Miniloc and Lagen), Palawan. Second would be – now I only end up going to Batangas for diving – Aquaventure Resort where I stay all the time because I’m at home there; everybody knows my travel arrangements and what I need. I like Fridays in Boracay. It has a nice location with a nice beach, spacious area, and excellent food and service.
My travel essentials include tanning lotion with SPF, my plastic bags for dirty clothes and litter, a windbreaker because it gets cold on a boat, my Glutamax (lightening soap) when I am on the beach, my soap and my after-sun lotion.
Balicasag Island in Bohol is the best diving place; the water is so shallow for several feet and then the sea floor drops sharply and you are underwater with a wall filled with corals on one side, a myriad of fish on the other, and the deep blue. Balicasag is not popular with tourists so the amenities are simple.
When I go to Cebu, I buy all these shellcraft, mangoes, and the saltless danggit (a type of dried fish). I usually buy the local specialty food. In Dumaguete, they have wonderful skinless longganisas (local sausage).
My favorite shopping stops are usually in the Makati area – Rustan's and Powerplant Mall in Rockwell. For clothes, I particularly like Zara. I go to SM or Janilyn for shoes, Aldo or Rustan’s for accessories. I also like Criselda Lontok creations.
When I travel, I always wrap my clothes in several plastic bags. I distribute my money. I always bring medicine. I travel light. I went around Europe for three months with only two backpacks.
I love travelling with my daughter. I drive my BMW and she’s my navigator. We have our Lisa Stansfield music blaring loudly. I have my bonbon, my little burner and often have steak from Santi's, pasta, tomatoes in my cooler. I go to Batangas to dive. In Batangas we go to Sepok Island where there’s no one else. I always look for a place that’s secluded. That’s also why I like Palawan a lot. There are coves that you can have all to yourself.
I resided in Boracay from 1988 to 1992. The first time I went to Boracay, there was no electricity. There were lots of fireflies; you walk with a gasera (gas lamp); there were no tricycles so evenings were peaceful. And my favorite months there are September and October because you get sun and rain. Even if it’s stormy in Boracay, I still enjoy the place because that’s the time when everything is so quiet. When it’s raining, people tend to stay indoors but I go out in the rain, swim, and just enjoy it.
The worst hotel I've stayed in? I was shooting a film in the Ilocos area and stopped over somewhere in Pangasinan or La Union in a resort by the ocean that’s owned by a Filipina, who is married to a German or a Swiss. The husband was not a nice host. Lots of dos and don’ts. The bed frame in my room was in pebble wash finish with a mattress on top. I found it strange that when I wanted to take the mattress down and sleep on the floor, he didn’t like it.
When I'm on holiday, I avoid crowds, drinking crowds most especially.
About Tetchie Agbayani
Tetchie Agbayani rose to fame in the early 80s when she appeared in the German edition of Playboy magazine and subsequently starred in several movies in the US. She was a runner-up in the 1979 Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty pageant. These days, Agbayani lives a more private life and is a psychology professor at St. Joseph's College in Quezon City, Philippines.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller December 2009 to January 2010. Updated November 2015