Drive To Destinations Drive Local Tourism

No Flights? No Problem!

The Piso Fare gave rise to a revolution in vacationing. Now, literally every Tom, Dick or Harry can afford to Jetset in a far off destination over the long weekend – without breaking the bank. Like many revolutions, this too has its pitfalls. We’ve heard many horror stories of fliers stranded in airports due to cancelled or delayed flights. Not to mention the horrendous traffic jams in and outside our major airports. Makes you reconsider even flying at all.

Thankfully, the Philippines is one of those countries blessed with many beautiful destinations. Sure, every Juan can fly but does he really have to? I grew up during the turbulent time of the 80’s when interest rates were high and the peso value was low. Flying was a luxury back then, even for the rich. As such, many families, ours included, had to cram everyone in a car and make do with “Drive To Destinations” or road trips as it was called back then, to get our vacation fix.

Drive To Destinations are locations you can reach over land in under 4 hours. The widely accepted rule to Drive To Destinations is you get there in the time it takes for your next meal (Breakfast to Lunch or Lunch to Dinner). Tagaytay, Nasugbu, Tanay and Subic are all famous Drive to Destinations but the crown has to go to Laguna. Laguna comes complete with Lakes, Rivers, Falls, Mountains, Forests, Fields, History, Churches, Food and Entertainment.

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Accidental Hoteliers Reggie and Levie Halili

At the center of it is a town that put Laguna, and the Philippines in the World Tourism Map. Pagsanjan, with its exhilarating white water rapids canoe ride through the Pagsanjan Gorge from Magdapio Falls (Pagsanjan Falls), made its debut in the 1930’s through proclamation 1551 declaring the entire area a National Park. Since then, Pagsanjan Falls has been the undisputed Adventure Destination. All within an easy 2 Hour “Drive To” from Metro Manila.

Pagsanjan Welcome Arch

Pagsanjan Welcome Arch[/caption]Pagsanjan is an old town. Established in 1668, the town welcomes visitors with “Arco Real”, the town gate built during the 1800’s out of Hard Adobe using Lime and Carabao Milk as mortar. The gate opens up into many spanish style homes that line the road. Many of whom have undergone renovations to preserve the town heritage. One of those is the house of Husband and Wife Hotelier, Reggie and Levie Halili. Originally built during the late 19th Century, the house was renovated following strict design guides and was recently transformed into a Bed and Breakfast called Casa Marina.

“Casa Marina incorporates many great things from the old world. The Filipino Spanish architecture blends well with Mid Century furniture, fixtures and artworks. It’s a time machine that helps guests relive the good old days.” says Levie Halili, owner of Casa Marina Bed and Breakfast. “My Mom, Marina, for whom the Bed and Breakfast was named for, had only one request – That is, be faithful to the original.” The result is Casa Marina, a vintage Bed and Breakfast that stands out for its traditional design, modern conveniences and warm friendly service.

Casa Marina Bed and Breakfast sits on a parcel of land along the banks of Pagsanjan River. It has Private Suites, Luxury Hostel Beds, a library, a mini museum that displays family memorabilia, a food outlet that serves sumptuous Filipino-Spanish fare, direct access to Pagsanjan River and the world famous Filipino Hospitality. “We’re very proud of our service. It’s warm, deliberate and well-thought of. To us, service is more than just business, it’s personal.” According to Reggie Halili – General Manager of Casa Marina.

“Yes, we take things personally here. Its serving ice cold beer while you fire up the grill, cold towels as you return from your adventure tour, tea with milk before you hit the sack or farm fresh eggs cooked to your liking as you start the day. These little things make your experience at Casa Marina personal.” adds Levie Halili.

Just 2 hours away from Manila on a leisurely drive, Pagsanjan is reachable by car or bus. Once there, shoot the rapids, see the beautiful churches from Pakil to Pila, go Bass fishing at Caliraya or just kick back, relax and spend a night or two at Casa Marina Bed and Breakfast. Since there is no flying involved, you have more time to see, hear, smell, feel and taste. Exactly how we like our vacations.

Casa Marina is at Km 92 General Taino Street, National Highway, Pagsanjan Laguna. They are on FB and IG @casamarinaPH and on the web at www.casamarina.ph.

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