Children's book author Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan’s top 10 holidays for kids

Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan shares 10 of the best days out for kids, from jungle survival tours to lunch in the middle of the ocean

Jungle survival tour in Subic

The jungle survival tour in Subic

“I have two boys and they’re very much into the outdoor life,” said Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, actress and mother of five. “I’d recommend the jungle survival tour, which takes your kids trekking into the forest, learning basic survival skills like locating sources of potable water and setting up traps. The area has a mini zoo, a butterfly garden, aviary, an amphitheater surrounded by huge trees, and a view deck where you can see this beautiful panoramic view of Subic. ”

Jungle Environmental Survival Tour (JEST) Camp, Upper Mau, Cubi-Triboa Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales; Tel: +63917/ 7964668 or +6347/ 252 1489; E-mail: contact@jestcamp.com

Horseback riding in Baguio

Exploring Baguio on horseback. Photo by Fedz Decena

“My children are often in Baguio with my husband, Anthony. We love it there because we can go horse riding and explore the mountains. There’s the Wright Park Riding Circle where kids can go horse riding for an hour with a guide. The kids also enjoy going to the Baguio market to eat camote-cue (caramelized sweet potatoes) and banana-cue (caramelized bananas). It’s the place to pick up ube (yam) jam and Good Shepherd peanut brittle. Baguio is also the best place for strawberries. About 30 minutes away from Baguio City is the Strawberry Farm in Benguet where we can pick the strawberries ourselves.”

Wright Park Riding Circle, Gibraltar Road, Baguio City

Good Shepherd Convent, 15 Gibraltar Road, Baguio City; Tel.: +6374 424 11 09

Strawberry Farm, Km. 5 Baguio-La Trinidad-Bontoc Rd, Bengue

Tagaytay

The Tagaytay cable car

Tagaytay Highlands has horse riding, gardening, cable cars that allow you a view of the whole of Tagaytay. We once took our children for a tour of Taal Volcano and to cross Taal Lake. They learned to sail on Taal Lake. At night stargazing is great here. Let your kids take their telescopes and laser pens so they could connect all the stars. For the side trips, visit Ilog Maria and Corner Stone Pottery in Cavite to buy souvenirs. You can also visit Nuvali for the bike trails and the fresh air.”

Tagaytay Highlands, Tagaytay-Calamba Road, Tagaytay, Cavite, tel +6346 483 2988

For sailing on Taal Lake and volcano tours visit Taal Lake Yacht ClubBarrio Sta. Maria, Talisay, Batangas (along Talisay-Tanauan Road beside Taal Lake); Tel: +6343 773 0192

Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm, km-47 Aguinaldo Highway, Lalaan 1, Silang, 4118 Cavite, tel.: +6346 865 0018 or +63917 502 7538

Cornerstone Pottery Farm, Balubad 1st Rd, Silang, Cavite, tel 63919 238 5535, +63919 995 2022 

Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, tel +63917 527 5688

Eating in the middle of the ocean in Cebu

“The most unforgettable experience for us was dining in the middle of the ocean in Cebu —off the coast of Olango Island. Seafood Stilt Restaurant built over the water on stilts, serves the freshest seafood. waiters dive to get your order and cook it in front of you. We ordered freshly steamed saang shells that you dip in vinegar with chili, crabs with aligue or crab fat, scallops, mussels, shrimps.”

Seafood Stilt Restaurant on the northeastern side of Olango island, Cebu
Tel +6332 231 5060

Day tour of Bohol

The famous chocolate hills in Bohol. Photo by Mike Alcid

“I had a date with my daughter in Bohol back when she was seven years old. We went to visit the Baclayon Church and the church in Loay. Of course we didn’t miss the tarsiers, the Bilar mahogany forest, and Chocolate Hills. Then the two of us went on a cruise along Loboc River, ate lunch while being serenaded by local musicians. I arranged for a solo ferry tour with my daughter so she and I could have a real bonding activity.”

Bohol Day Tours, Cangcua-ay, Tan-awan Oslob Cebu, Tel +63925 897 8687

Bohol Tourism Office, Tel +6338 412 3666

Swimming at Pearl Farm, and pomelo and durian bingeing in Davao

Pearl Farm Resort was where Anthony and I had our honeymoon. We’d take the kids there for swimming. When we’re in Davao, we can’t miss out on eating pomelos and durian. Go to local fruit stands on Magsaysay Avenue.”

Pearl Farm Beach ResortKaputian, Island Garden City of Samal; Tel +6382 285 0876

Magsaysay Avenue fruits stalls face the Magsaysay Park on Magsaysay Avenue in downtown Davao City

The pineapple plantation in Bukidnon

“I was an endorser for Del Monte Kitchenomics for six years. As an endorser I had to go to Del Monte Plantation in Bukidnon, where — as my son Donny describes it — ‘there are millions and millions of hectares of plantations and millions and millions of people picking all these pineapples.’ Go and take your kids to the Del Monte pineapple plantation and its factories to see how the fruit are canned, separated, labeled and then eat at the Del Monte Golf Club where the café serves really good steak. Go to Camiguin Island for the Lanzones Festival and tour the different hot springs and super pristine white sand beaches. Oh! The zip line in Bukidnon! That’s the longest zip line now in Asia, and I have kids who are very adventurous so, you know, it’s a big thrill for them.”

Del Monte Pineapple Plantation, Camp Philips, Bukidnon, tel +6388/ 855 5976 to 78

Dahilayan Adventure Park, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, tel +856 3690 or +63917 622 3204

Bacolod

“When we’re in Bacolod, we visit Bahay Pag-asa, a place built by a foundation set up by La Salle to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents. I think it’s a place for the family to visit just to allow your children to understand that some kids there may have had some difficulties in life that pushed them to commit crimes. Bacolod is also known for its Spanish-era ancestral houses and the beaches in Silay.”

Bahay Pag-asa, University of St. La Salle, La Salle Avenue, Bacolod City; Tel.: +6334/ 453 9545

Boracay

Shangri-la Boracay

“When we stayed at Shangri-La Boracay, my children had a blast! We did everything from parasailing, running on the beach, diving. But the highlight of our trip was riding the tricycle to D’Mall, a shopping place and market. At D’Mall they had their hair braided, and ate at Island Chicken Inasal, a restaurant specializing in grilled chicken, served with aromatic chicken oil sauce. We also went to Asya Premier just to experience sunset dinner there.”

Shangri-La Boracay, Barangay Yapak, Boracay Island, Malay Aklan; Tel.: +6336/ 288 4988

Island Chicken Inasal, D'Mall Station 2, White Beach, Boracay; Tel.: +6336/ 288 6687

Asya Premier, Sitio Cagban, Brgy. Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island Malay, Aklan; Tel:  +6336/ 288 1790

Ilocos Norte

Photo courtesy of Fort Ilocandia

“Take the whole Ilocos Norte tour — Fort Ilocandiasand boarding, beaches in Pagudpud. Visit the Marcos Museum. But what my children enjoyed the most was seeing all the longganisa (local sausages). At San Nicolas Public Market, they saw the whole process of making longganisa.”

Fort Ilocandia, Barangay 37 Calayab, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Tel.: +6377/ 670 9001 to 15

Paoay Sand Dunes Adventures; Tel.: +63917/ 645 3087

Marcos Museum and Mausoleum,Marcos Avenue, Batac; Tel.: +6377/ 770 4242

About Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan
Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan is a children’s book author, actress and blogger. Check her blog Mommy Maricel. Follow Pangilinan on Instagram @mommymaricel for updates.

Interview by Margie Francisco

Originally published in InFlight Traveller May 2012. Updated October 2015