Sadly, many children nowadays think that fun is all about playing the latest video games and expensive toys or watching movies. For them, adventure is all about going to colossal malls where they could have the time of their lives riding bump cars for 3 minutes. For them, the entire world is encapsulated in the vast network of the Internet.
Gone were the days that we, as children, gleefully ran around vast green fields and scrambled on steep hills. Gone were the days that we explored thick mangrove forests and nearby caverns. Gone were the evenings that we climbed on top of our roofs to wander at the glittering night sky.
These are the long-lost, fun-filled activities that we want to introduce to Alexa May, Sweetie’s daughter. We wanted to show her that the world does not revolve around video games, malls, books, or the Internet. We wanted to let her experience the immense and incomparable fun and excitement that the outdoors can offer. Thus, last November 10 and 11, 2012, Sweetie and I gave Alexa her first taste of outdoor adventure and camping.
Initially, Sweetie and I were concerned that Alexa might not really want a true and outright outdoor experience. After all, there was no way of telling how the child would feel if she’s forced to walk for hours on a trail or climb a mountain with us. So, to introduce Alexa to the world of outdoor adventure, we resorted to glamping, short for glamorous camping. This is a rapidly growing trend that allows people to blend outdoor camping with the comfort and amenities of a hotel or resort. Glamping enables people to experience the outdoors minus the hassles of real camping.
Our glamping adventure started at the world-famous Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu. Do you know that our very own Kawasan Falls is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world?
After a 20-minute brisk trek from the highway, Alexa got her first glimpse of Cebu’s most famous waterfall.
That’s the majestic Kawasan Falls that you find in postcards. Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia ordered the structures around the waterfall demolished. Without the ugly artificial structures around it, the waterfall looked so much better.
There were too many people at Station 1 where the main waterfall is located. So we decided to move up to Station 2, hoping that there wouldn’t be too many picnickers. Alexa, meanwhile, was having the time of her life. She mentioned that walking across this wooden bridge was one of the highlights of her experience.
We saw this small waterfall just beneath Station 2.
This is Station 2 of Kawasan Falls. Yes, there weren’t too many people, which was supposed to be good. However, we learned that we’ll be charged a ridiculously hefty P100 by simply using a flimsy plastic table where we could set up and eat our lunch. The heck with it—we decided to eat our lunch elsewhere.
We found the perfect picnic spot just right before and beneath Station 2. The lagoon was a luscious, tempting green pool of cool, mountain-fresh water surrounded by lush vegetation. The riverbed has a gradual slope, which makes this lagoon relatively safer for non-swimmers to enter the lagoon.
We found a nice patch of firm, even ground just beside the river. The nice thing about this site is that we didn’t have to pay for any rental fee. If we decided to stay in Stations 1, 2, and 3, we would have paid for tables and cottages. And remember, it’s the same cool, clear, fresh water.
Sweetie prepared a filling, yummy lunch with spicy tuna and mushroom spaghetti, fried chicken, deep-fried pork slices, and sliced ham. The spaghetti was an experiment, and it turned out super tasty.
After the meal, Sweetie and her daughter excitedly took a plunge. The cool water of the lagoon was a welcome respite to a hot, humid afternoon.
Mother and daughter bonding together. Alexa started to appreciate and enjoy the wonders of nature.
After an hour or two, we packed up and headed back to the highway so we can catch a ride to Terra Manna in Lambug, Badian.
When we arrived at the eco-resort of Terra Manna, friendly and accommodating host and front desk officer Jennifer checked us in and showed us around.
Here’s our tent, and it’s situated near an open-air hut. Wohoo!
After placing our packs inside the tent, Jennifer gave us a nice tour around the resort. This is the well-maintained main camping ground filled with tents that will soon be filled with guests.
Very nice and relaxing garden on the way to the resort’s restaurant. Lined here are a Zen fountain, two calesa-inspired wooden benches, and potted plants, all facing the tranquility of Tañon Strait.
We waited at Terra Manna’s pleasant open-air restaurant where we took our welcome drinks. Our welcome drinks were three glasses of freshly picked, refreshing, and delicious calamansi juice with a pretty mandala flower arrangement. Lovely!
See those genuine smiles? That should be enough to tell you our first impression of Terra Manna.
A gorgeous, golden sunset took place when the sun called it a day and nestled in the mountains of Negros.
The resort features rows upon rows of organic gardens. That means, the ingredients used in their meals are freshly picked from these gardens. All produce are naturally grown and are absolutely free from toxic pesticides. No wonder why our calamansi juice tasted so good!
Here are organic gardens for okra, eggplants, and bananas.
We went down to check the resort’s beach, which can be accessed from the Marina Deck. It’s a lounging and viewing platform below the resort that acts as the entrance to a rocky beach.
This is an excellent place to relax where you feel your stress literally melt away. The bamboo lounges are so cool, and the pleasant creaking sound that emits from it every time you move blended with the whoosh of crashing waves can definitely lull you to sleep.
The beach is very rocky, which is not really surprising because the resort is built above a shoreline cliff. But that’s okay; beaches, like people, have their own unique characteristics.
After dinner (leftovers from lunch, actually) around 8PM, a Terra Manna personnel lit a large bonfire. You know, campfires are a no-no in modern mountaineering considering that we have to follow LNT rules. However, I have to admit that there’s nothing more magical and nostalgic than having a glowing, crackling campfire light up the night and warm up your body. Admittedly, having a campfire easily beats any headlamp, lantern, or any other artificial source of lighting.
After having our fill with the campfire’s warmth, we laid out a sleeping bag on the grass, brought out some fluffy pillows, and began stargazing. What constellation are you two pointing at?
The future family that stargazes together, stays together.
We turned in around 10PM so we can take a dip early in the morning. I didn’t know that Sweetie woke up in the middle of the night and sneaked a shot of me. So this is how I look like when I’m asleep.
We woke up around 6AM the next day, which dawned cold and gray. It was a great time to go for a swim when the water is still comfortably warm. The beach is definitely rocky, but a few yards from the shore, the seabed becomes sandy.
See the sand underneath the water? Loving mom and pretty daughter enjoying a morning swim at Tañon Strait’s warm, clean water.
The “Proposal Bench.” Hmmmm . . .
There are cottages that can be rented for day tours or overnight stays. That small structure is a shower room. The rest of the area is a huge campground where additional tents may be pitched.
After more than an hour of swimming and splashing in the water and going around the resort, we went back, took a fresh-water shower in one of the resort’s restrooms, and went to the open-air restaurant to eat our breakfast.
Breakfast is served! Mmmm! That’s a healthy, sumptuous breakfast made with the freshest ingredients.
That’s a beautiful mandala flower arrangement. We were supposed to make one of these, but the petals were wet due to the early morning rain. Thus, they wouldn’t float on the water.
A serene view of Tañon Strait on an overcast day
Since we couldn’t make a mandala flower arrangement due to the drizzle, we decided to explore more of the resort after we finished breakfast. At the other side of the resort is a pathway that leads to verdant gardens. This is also where the resort’s more expensive and exclusive lodges are located.
One of the cozy lodges of Terra Manna. Each is equipped with accessories, utilities, and facilities that you can find in typical beachfront resort rooms and hotels.
At the end of the path is a sandy beach. We should have taken a dip here. Hehe!
Heading back, we stopped by this cute wishing well. Or so we thought . . .
..but it turned out to be a large mandala.
Here’s a really interesting galleon with intricate Thai-inspired carvings and designs
The Lantawan, which overlooks the majestic Tañon Strait. Yes, you can propose here. 🙂 This will be our future proposal site. Hehehe!
We look exactly alike, don’t you think?
Alexa seemed really happy about the experience. We hope this would trigger Alexa’s spark of interest in outdoor adventure.
Then it was time to pack up, check out, and go back home. We surely had a great stay at Terra Manna, and the relatively steep price (we’re cash-strapped adventurers, okay?) is definitely worth it.
That’s our ride going back to Badian township. Thank you for taking care of us, Terra Manna.
We believe that Terra Manna is the first of its kind in Cebu or even the entire Philippines. Why? Well, consider the main points of the resort
First, there are only very few typical resort rooms. Their rooms are actually camping tents that they set up for their guests. It’s mutually beneficial; the guests get an authentic camping experience and the resort doesn’t need to shell out a massive amount of room maintenance.
Second, having tents for accommodations instead of rooms saves space and, for the resort, operational costs. The tents can be stowed away if there are no guests.
Third, Terra Manna grows its own vegetables and fruits through their organic gardens. Therefore, many items in the menu feature freshly picked ingredients.
Overall, it was a fun-filled, relaxing, value-for-your-money trip. And it was a weekend filled with a lot of cool firsts:
* It was Alexa’s first outdoor and camping trip.
* It was my first resort experience.
* It was our first experience of having someone else set up a tent for us.
* It was our first outdoor and camping trip together with Sweetie’s daughter.
* It was the first time that we didn’t cook for ourselves while outdoors.
* It was the first time we took a dip in Kawasan falls that was not in Stations 1, 2, and 3.
8:30 AM – meet up at Cebu South Bus Terminal
9:00 AM – ETD Cebu
12:00 PM – ETA Badian, Kawasan Entrance
12:30 PM – Lunch at Kawasan waterfalls
3:00 PM – ETD Kawasan Falls, trek to highway
3:30 PM – ETA highway, arrange habal-habal ride to Terra Manna in Lambug
4:00 PM – ETA Terra Manna, check in, secure belongings in tents, welcome drinks
5:00 PM – tour around the resort
6:00 PM – dinner
8:00 PM – socials, campfire, stargazing
10:00 PM – lights off
6:00 AM – wake up
6:30 AM – morning swim
8:00 AM – breakfast
9:00 AM – flower arrangement
10:00 AM – tour resort
11:30 AM – pack up and prepare for checkout
12:00 PM – ETD Terra Manna
12:30 PM – ETA Badian township, wait for Cebu-bound Ceres bus
2. For convenience and quick check-in, book a stay in Terra Manna a few days ahead of schedule. You can get in touch with them using these contact details. This way, the staff can pitch your tent in advance so that it will be ready when you arrive. Ask the staff to pitch your tent near an open-air hut so you will have a place for siestas and socials.
3. Be sure to book a ride going back to Badian. Jeepneys, tricycles, and habal-habals rarely pass by the gates of Terra Manna. You will pay a minimal fee for the ride.
4. If there are a lot of people in your group (e.g., your family, your friends, etc.), you may want to check in at Terra Manna first so that you can leave your heavy bags. Then avail of the vehicle service to take you to Kawasan Falls. Note that you may have to pay extra because the driver will wait for you. Check the website too if they include the Kawasan tour (or any other tour for that matter) in their packages.
5. Terra Manna’s tents are basically single-skin tents with flysheets that extend all the way to the ground. While this setup provides good protection from the rain, it effectively blocks the cool sea breeze from entering. This makes the interior uncomfortably warm even during the nights. You can alleviate this problem by opening the door flaps all the way but zipping up the screen doors. This allows the breeze to cool down the interior. Additionally, by opening the door flaps, you eliminate the buildup of condensation inside the tent, which is a common problem of single-skin tents.
However, if it’s still too warm for you, ask the staff to provide you an electric fan, which is available for a small fee.
6. If you wish to swim, go to the right side of the restaurant and follow the path until you come to a sandy beach. Following the left path leads you to a rocky beach.
7. Note that if rain came the night before or early morning, you may not be able to avail of the flower arrangement session which is supposedly stipulated in the package. Don’t lose your cool; wet flower petals won’t float on water.
8. Do not avail of tables, chairs, and cottages in Kawasan Falls. These are tourist traps and would unnecessarily drain you of your finances. Simply pick a nice spot between the Stations. Remember, you are enjoying the same water.
9. If you are new to camping, or if you want children to experience the joy of camping, then we recommend glamping at Terra Manna. Personally, it is the best way to introduce the outdoors to people without letting them suffer “outdoor shock.”