It Wasn’t a High Tea or Wagyu Kind of Day, But What Made It All Worth It?

We don’t do Valentine’s. Well, not usually. I do get the flowers every year, though. Being a relatively newcomer in this place, and having been locked down and stuck in the house for a year, my husband thought Valentine’s this year was a good way to surprise me with a spontaneous trip that led us to the beach.

Yes, I just discovered we live 15 minutes (or less) away from the beach. Alex has told me that again and again, but I have trouble understanding concepts of distances. You say the words near, far, and it won’t register well in my head unless I actually set my foot in these places. I’m the kind who looks at the map and see places being inches away from each other. I don’t like the sound of kilometers or miles. I was born disoriented. Period.

Maybe it wasn’t as spontaneous for him as it was for me. After all, he had to do the premature planning, if he did any planning at all. I later found out the kids didn’t know about the surprise — which was another surprise for me because nothing is hush hush around this house.

Was I asked to put on my bikini and slather myself with sunblock? No, I wasn’t. After lunch and the last sip of my black coffee, Alex told me to get up because we needed to go.

“Where are you going?” Attika, our nine-year old, asked. Well, protesting mostly.

“We’re going to the market,” Alex said.

So, I immediately and obediently got up to get ready. For some reason (well yes, I think it’s the age, duh) the word market works up its magic on me. I put on my most fashionable going-to-the-market garb. Meaning, my lazy everyday clothes — a tee, jeans and my nearly disintegrating Toms. If my Toms could only speak…

No bikini, no idea why we were going to the market, no intention of asking. That’s me. There’s a word for it in Filipino — kaladkarin, which translates to draggable. Like most files in a device, I’m easy to drag anywhere. I like not knowing where I’m being taken. Let’s go are my two favorite words put together.

Our First trip to the Lemery Market

Our journey of a thousand-ish steps started with a jeepney ride, almost missing the corner stop where people alight to get to the market, and then a few strides to the massive Lemery market.

We snaked around the market passing by stall after stall of clothes, plastic ware, shoes, household items, cellphone accessories, food, toys, native products, animal feeds, and yes, more clothes. It was exciting as it was baffling because sales ladies and gentlemen would follow us around endlessly asking us, “Anong hanap niyo, Ma’am? Sir?” (What are you looking for or what do you need?)

Er, I’m not sure. A job? Money? A way to travel? Peace of mind? Oh, I know. The will to drag myself to exercise every day!

“Pasensiya na, wala po kami niyan.” (Sorry, we don’t have that.) I can almost hear them say it again and again, stall after stall.

I love markets. Markets are magical places. They can be malodorous, but that’s part of their charm. Everything is colorful and the vibe is always exciting.

Frances Beldia

It often makes me wonder how stalls that sell the same stuff are able to compete with each other.

The Elusive Kesong Puti

We have been looking for kesong puti these past few weeks. It’s white cheese similar to cottage cheese. We’ve asked around; asked sellers of everything else but kesong puti if they or somebody they know sell kesong puti; contacted sellers who have the cheese but won’t deliver to our area. Alex and I have played the role of Sisa asking everyone we’d meet on the streets if they’ve seen kesong puti anywhere.

We did the same at the Lemery market, but like Sisa, we failed in our search for the elusive cheese.

To See the Sea!

I can’t remember the last time I saw the sea. I’ve longed and yearned and dreamt of it, but the mask got in the way.

Stepping on sand once more was like getting on a magic carpet. The beach was a far cry (very far indeed) from Boracay and parts of Siargao and Panglao, but it was a beach nonetheless. And sea, wherever it is, is beautiful because it sings to you, let’s you breathe fresh air, and it wakes the hypothetical surfer in you, even when you know that plywood of a body you own would never float.

Orlando’s Beach Resort, Lemery

In my most unbeachy clothes, we went to Orlando’s Beach Resort. We were greeted with utmost enthusiasm and we were led to the restaurant. The first thing we did was to walk to the beach and take a photo for the kids to see.

When we got back to the restaurant — a large cabana with low tables, actually — we were told that they only had unlimited samgyupsal available. And water. We wanted coffee. No coffee. Who looks for coffee at the beach? We do. But who eats samgyupsal at 3:30 p.m.? Apparently, a lot of people do. There were three tables of unbeachy looking people happily gorging on their meats.

Alex and I looked at each other and knew our option was to either take the old lady’s offer of Indian mango by the beach or head out to look for another restaurant. We politely apologized and left.

The thousand-ish steps I mentioned above covered our tracks walking along Nonong Casto Road looking for our coffee. The road is lined with budget-friendly resorts, but most of the restaurants aren’t operational yet. Covid-19 affected these businesses, crippling them to a degree.

Across the road from these resorts there are several small shops and eateries. I’m just painting the scene for you in case you’d be crazy enough to look for coffee in this area. I saw 10-peso coffee signs, but we know what that means — instant coffee in styro cups. Instant and styro are not my friends.

Orlando’s Beach Resort Information

  • Orlando’s is among the budget-friendly resorts in Lemery, Batangas
  • Address: Nonong Casto Road, Lemery, Batangas
  • Published Contact Number: (+63) 0916 652 1028 (and yes, it’s a working number)
  • Website: They don’t have their own website
  • Price Range: Rates can be as cheap as approximately PhP 2,000 for 2 guests and PhP 8,000 for 9 guests
  • Payment Options: They don’t require credit cards for payment; you can book through booking portals online or call them for reservation
  • Parking: Free, private, safe, on-site parking is available
  • Pool: Yes, there’s an average-sized pool
  • Availability: Since the rates are among the cheapest, the place is always fully-booked especially on weekends and holidays
  • Corkage Fee: None. You can bring your own food and drinks
  • Restaurant: Options are very limited
  • Cons: The place can get really crowded because of its low-priced accommodation; guests bring in grills, pots, pans, rice cooker, their own food and drinks so the place gets chaotic

RMS Garden Resort, Lemery

Finally, we found a resort with a functional restaurant. The resto was overlooking a mini water park packed with people, selfiers, Tiktokers and all. I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my afternoon people-watching and wanted to check the beachfront, so we moved. The clerk gladly offered to bring our food to the beach. She got me at “bean bags and food stalls”.

Bean bags it was and a couple of food stalls selling siomai and burgers reminiscent of the sought-after buy-one-take-one Angel’s Burger. Both stalls were manned by the same guy who played slow Pinoy rap love songs in full blast for his crowd of 30 or so who would suddenly break into a chorus. At some point, I felt like we crashed into somebody’s party.

Our seafood platter and lechon kawali from the other restaurant came and we had our siomai and burger. We were in the party. We finally belonged.

RMS Garden Resort Information

  • RMS Garden Resort is among the budget-friendly resorts in Lemery, Batangas
  • Address: Nonong Casto Road, Lemery, Batangas
  • Published Contact Number: (043) 411 2149
  • Website: They don’t have their own website but you can find information on their Facebook page
  • Price Range: Find their rates here
  • Payment Options: They don’t require credit cards for payment; you can book through booking portals online or call them for reservation
  • Parking: Free, private, safe, on-site parking is available
  • Pool: Yes, there’s an average-sized pool
  • Availability: Since the rates are among the cheapest, the place is always fully-booked especially on weekends and holidays
  • Corkage Fee: None. You can bring your own food and drinks
  • Restaurant: Available with ample choices on the menu; beachfront stalls limited to siomai and burgers
  • Cons: The place can get really crowded because of its low-priced accommodation; guests bring in grills, pots, pans, rice cooker, their own food and drinks so the place gets chaotic

Classic Filipino Way of “Beaching”

In the midst of the monotonous beat pounding from Mr. Siomai’s speakers, people walking back and forth in their swim clothes of leggings, jean shorts and boxers, Tiktokers half-heartedly dancing, motorcycle riders in their full gear taking many, many photos of themselves, and almost inebriated beach goers cheering one Tanduay glass after another, I found myself honestly quite amused.

These people came all the way from places like Las Pinas (we did hear a woman say it out load where she and her family were from because Mr. Siomai, remember?) and other parts of Metro Manila to spend their Valentine’s Day there. What a few minutes ride was for us to find coffee was a couple of hours drive for those people with bags and rice cookers and grills and frying pans and whatnot in the trunk of their cars. That’s classic Filipino beaching for you. It reminded me of the time when as kids our parents and grandparents would load huge containers of food and cases of softdrinks and beers at the trunk of our cars or hired jeepneys because there would only be huts with makeshift tables and no restaurants on beaches.

That’s how you would party even in Boracay back then. But let’s save that for another story.

It was far from a Wagyu kind of date in a fancy restaurant with wine and the works, but the rusticity of it all brought back a nostalgic feeling. And people were genuinely having the time of their lives, too. It was a good sight after what swept through us last year.

Coffee? There was no coffee. After the nth Pinoy rap love song, we left. We left smiling and having a good time in spite of ourselves.

“Buy me a cappuccino,” I told him. So we walked out of the crowd hand in hand knowing we’d never be back.

Cure for Mondays, Asia’s Top Women’s Blog, Philippine Homeschool Blog, Best Mommy Tips, Family Issues Website, Cheap Resorts in Lemery Batangas, RMS Resort, Orlando’s Resort, Cheap Dating Places Batangas, Lemery Market

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