Birds, Dogs, and Another Memorable Family Summer

May 19, 2017 Travel

There are three things my family looks for in a resort for our annual summer vacation.  1) It should be beachfront. 2) it should be close to Metro Manila, and 3) and most important of all, it should not only be senior citizen and Person with Disability or PWD friendly, it should also allow pets.  We simply can't imagine a family vacation with family members left behind in Metro Manila.  Plus, this is really a celebration of our baby girl, Aeon.  

Aeon is a three-year-old shihtzu, and from the time we adopted her, she has brought nothing but joy to the family.  I actually gave up a lot of out-of-town trips just to have cuddle weekends with her.

We started going out of town to celebrate her birthday when she turned two. On her first birthday, we threw her a birthday party.

For her third birthday, we landed on a resort six hours away from Manila (seven with all the stopovers).  Yes, it was quite far for us, but it was well worth it.  Birdland Beach Club in Bolinao, Pangasinan gave us a perfect backdrop to build more happy memories with our baby and her brother, a Jack Russell terrier named Popcorn.

And our babies got a furry warm welcome from Birdland’s pet ambassador, Strong!

We humans also had a friendly greeting from the owners, Michael Parayno and Joanna Ledesma.  Actually, it was more of a family reception.  Michael and Joanna made us feel like family members coming home for vacation.

Like family, they served us good and healthy meals, knowing that we come from a place that is filled with unhealthy diet choices.  For dinner, Joanna served us savory chicken broth was perfect for that cold, windy night.  We had that with grilled fresh fish and vegetables.  We capped dinner with the most delicious apple pie we have ever tasted, served a la mode.

Our breakfast was also superb.  We had dried fish, which Joanna refers to as something else.  “That’s our bacon here,” she said.  We also had native longganisa, eggs, salad, and a local delicacy called Binungey with muscovado sugar, which we opted to take home.

Birdland does not use MSG in their food.  They also prefer muscovado over white or brown sugar.  The website says they also grow their own vegetables and fruits.

Joanna, by the way, sells healthy, organic, dehydrated fruits and vegetables.

When we arrived, our room was not yet ready, so Michael and Joanna invited us to lounge around in their huts.  They knew we were tired from the long travel, and also full from our lunch at Sungayan Grill, another must-visit spot in Bolinao.  The afternoon sea breeze, something we are deprived of in the big city, was really good for us.

The huts, I think, are a good choice for accommodation in this resort.  They are perched on the cliffs above the ocean,  giving an unobstructed view of the West Philippine Sea. The breeze flows freely, and the sound of the waves and wind are perfect lullabies.

Even though the huts are amazing, we had already booked the Ella Fitzgerald room.  We opted for an air-conditioned room because we thought it would be a hot afternoon. 

The rooms of the resorts are named after jazz legends.  My first encounter of the resort was of a photo posted online of the West Philippine Sea jazz festival, which the resort hosts.

Michael was an owner of two legendary jazz and blues clubs in the US, also also carried the name Birdland. If you’ll go around the resort, you’ll see some newspaper clippings displayed in a board. 

Our Ella Fitzgerald room is located at the second floor of a small building.  We got the view, the terrace, and enough space for our babies and us.  The only problem we had was the low water pressure (which I think the whole Bolinao experiences anyway, so it is not really a minus to the resort).

View from our room
Since we were the only guests at that time, we had lots of choices where to nest that afternoon.  I decided to go for a bit of quiet time with Aeon in a hammock in one of the huts. My mom, my sister, and her boyfriend opted to go for a swim with Popcorn and Strong.

By 6PM, we were all taking snaps of the beautiful sunset. Birdland is also blessed with this wonder.

We spent the next day swimming and taking pictures.  The resort is very picturesque and we can tell the environment was considered in the way the structures were built.  I remember the old Cinderella tagline: "Works with nature, not against it.” 

It also is true to its name, as it provided lots of birdhouses for our feathered friends, and a few of them graced us with their presence.

Before we left, we had another chat with Michael, this time about a film festival.  Michael and Joanna are not just awesome to their guests, they are also good citizens of Bolinao.  They work on being the center of Bolinao’s art and culture.    

Well, I hope the festival pushes through so I have another reason to come back! Looking forward to that.

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