Nope, I am not part of the population rejoicing over the recently declared long weekend due to the ASEAN Summit. I got work to do during these days, sadly. However, I can at least suggest some activities you can do or places to visit during these holidays.

Planning an out-of-town trip sounds a good idea, but going outside Luzon means higher airfares (since work suspension in Metro Manila was declared late) and bigger budget so I won’t go for it. There are still places nearby which you can explore. Staying at home is not entirely boring, since you have more devoted time to accomplish personal tasks.

So here are my suggestions:

1. Staycation

Staycations are popular these days. If you want to have a change of environment to pamper yourself a little bit, just go to nearby hotel with nice amenities and enjoy the comforts of clean sheets, soft pillows and a fully furnished room. You can also try booking a room via Airbnb for more flexible options like price, amenities, location, etc. Please do check out my staycation in Wind Residences Tagaytay and Sofitel.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza
Wind Residences Tagaytay

2. Commune with nature.

Hike a mountain or go to the beach. Nature has this magical, soothing effect to replenish your energy and calm your soul.

Batangas is commendably a nice place near Metro Manila for beaches. You can also check out Zambales and Quezon for popular and off-the-beat beaches. There’s nothing more relaxing than lying on the white sand, staring at the sunset, swimming with the fishes — just to take a break from the stressful city life. Sigayan Bay Beach Resort in Laiya, Batangas is what I highly recommend.

If you’re a beginner, Tanay, Rizal has mountains for easy hikes. Reaching the summit and seeing the view is all worth it.

Sigayan Bay Beach Resort

3. Enjoy the good food, scenic views and cool weather in Tagaytay.

Tagaytay is unquestionably an accessible and an ideal tourist destination. There are many restaurants that feature the scenic view of Taal Lake, coupled with great Filipino food like Bulalo. You shouldn’t miss RSM Lutong Bahay and Bag of Beans – just two of the famous restaurant-cafes in Tagaytay.

Taal Lake
Bulalo in RSM Tagaytay

3. Visit Baguio.

Same with Tagaytay, we love Baguio for its cold weather and scenic spots. Even if you are staying in a transient or hotel, the mere view of the pine trees and the mountains are enough to change the scenery. But aside from strolling at Burnham Park or Camp John Hay, explore Baguio’s gastronomic hubs such as Forest House and Good Taste.

Forest House in Baguio
Good food at Good Taste

4. Learn a new recipe.

Cooking is more of a therapeutic activity for me. I get to learn new dishes and spend time with my loved ones. I feel fulfilled and happy if my family liked what I prepared for them. Unleash that cooking prowess and wear your apron, and see how much you can save compared to dining in a restaurant. For my recipes, you may check them out here.

My Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta

5. Explore the old Manila.

Trace your roots and study the history of Manila by visiting National Museum, which is now free of entrance fee. Watch a mesmerizing film showing at Manila Planetarium. Walk along the cobbled streets of Intramuros and visit the oldest churches in the Philippines. Go food-tripping in Binondo, cheap yet authentic Chinese cuisine you’d see nowhere else.

Spoliarium at National Museum

6. Plan a slumber party with your friends.

I know this sounds too high school, but trust me – it works for adults too. Sometimes, staying at home with friends just watching a movie, singing your heart out, playing board games or cooking together — revive those youthful years. It will be a night of uninterrupted laughing, teasing and sharing deep conversations. Less expenses, more time to bond.

With the F4

7. Do household chores.

Set aside the procrastinating you for a moment because this is one of the rare times you can do general cleaning! Move your furniture or redecorate your room, so you’d change perspective every time you go home from work. Dump the old stuff, either throw unnecessary belongings, share them with the less fortunate or sell them. Need I say more?

8. Revisit a hobby.

What is your passion? Do it again. Sometimes due to pre-occupation with work and routine, we tend to neglect what we really love doing. Find time to nurture it again. Could it be Photography? Sculpture? Writing? Gardening? Spend time to rediscover happiness through small passions. Passion gives us the fuel to do our best and makes us fulfilled as persons.

9. Reward yourself.

What makes you happy? Go to the salon and get a total make-over. Get a massage. Go shopping. Eat at a fancy restaurant or buffet. Treat yourself to a movie. Buy the gadget or furniture or appliance you’ve been eyeing for so long. Reward yourself with little pleasures for doing a great job at work, school or home. After all, you deserve it.

10. Re-assess and reflect.

Spend time alone to revisit your goals. What have you accomplished this year? What do you want to achieve in the remaining two months of 2017? What are your blessings and answered prayers? What are the trials that made you wiser and stronger? List all of them. This is the best time to pray and open your heart unto Him.

Strategize more your plans whether in the aspect of finance, health improvement, self-development, career step-up, etc.

So, there you have it! Use this vacation time wisely by nurturing relationships and improving parts of yourself. If you’re traveling, do check out the blocked roads and passages and re-routes. Monitor the weather too.

Happy weekend!!!