We need some green: nature in or very close to Metro Manila
Nature. We all need it badly. I've learned the secret to Manila-living is traveling domestically frequently, and that refuels an empty nature tank, and reminds me why I am so lucky to live and raise kids in the Philippines. In addition, as the years have passed, I have found that there are some refuges of green within Manila, or very close to Manila (a dependable 90 min. or less- of course it depends from where exactly you are coming from). I've been meaning to compile this list for friends who have recently moved in and am finally getting to it. Description, photos or links to other blogs for those places that are less-known.
WITHIN METRO MANILA
1) Ayala Triangle, Washington-Sycip and Greenbelt Parks in Makati, Track 30th in BGC.
2) American Cemetery and Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City. Both are monuments and memorials that honor thousands of American and Filipino soldiers who fought and died in World War II. Both are extremely peaceful places that are beautifully landscaped and reverently maintained. Both are wonderful for reverent walks in nature, for reflection and for renewal- as well as provide an opportunity for a history lesson for kids and an appreciation for those who defend their countries.
American Cemetery photos:
Libingan ng mga bayani photos:
2) Greenway Park in BGC .The longest urban park in Metro Manila at 1.6km long. There's a pathway that's great for walking, riding scooters or bikes. At the moment, you can start walking on it from the parking lot at 31st and 1st Ave. in BGC, or at the other end at de Jesus Oval Park.
3) Blue Bay Walk in Pasay city (close to Mall of Asia). There is an oval of green here surrounded by restaurants and stores. You can rent fun trikes for 100 pesos for two tours around the oval. Or just bring bikes and scooters to ride around the oval. We got take out from one of the restaurants and enjoyed a picnic on the lawn, along with others out for a stroll.
4) San Diego Gardens and Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila City. I have a separate blog post here.
5) Rizal Park, Manila City (near Intramuros, can be paired with an outing to Museo Pambata/Children's museum)
6) Arroceros Forest Park, Manila City. I have a separate blog post here.
7) The Henry Hotel Manila in Pasay City. This is an oasis in the middle of the city: renovated 1930s/40s houses, lawn and beautiful greenery. During the day, you can visit the hotel and have lunch alfresco at their Apartment 1B and visit the art galleries (a furniture collection) in some of the renovated houses. Here are pictures of my view at lunchtime, one of the renovated houses and of another time we went for an event in the evening.
8) Sunset Bar at Sofitel Hotel. This is a great place to go to to have dinner and watch the sun set over Manila Bay. You can go into Sofitel as a walk-in guest and have a meal at the Sunset bar, which is outdoors, poolside (though the pool is a little ways off so not too close for small children), and is on Manila bay. The landscaping is pretty, lots of grass and palm trees and so you feel like you are on a resort getaway out of Manila. The menu of the Sunset bar is large and varied and good for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack. It has kids meals (chicken nuggets, burgers, etc). Prices are a little higher than at your usual Manila family restaurant but the chance to eat outside with a pretty view and lots of space for the kids to run around makes up for it. There is a large playground, a giant chess set, lawns overlooking the water, and lounge chairs the kids can enjoy.
9) University of the Philippines Diliman campus, Quezon City. This blog post had me curious to go visit UP Diliman campus, and I loved the green lawns, people jogging around them and students hanging out (very family-friendly), and the bookstore mentioned in the blog post was a fun bonus.
10) Pasig Rainforest Park, Pasig City. All details can be found at A Momma Abroad's blog post. We went back twice in one week, we loved it so much and there are many activities to do.
11) Greenfield District, Mandaluyong City. This is a very small patch of green surrounded by commercial centers, but there's a week-end market that does the job of giving you an outdoors fix, especially because there is room for the kids to run around. It is food stalls with picnic tables to eat at. There is music, artists, and craft stalls too. I wasn't too impressed by the meal choices at the stalls so recommend going to one of the restaurants close by for dinner (like mexican food at El Hijo de Cabra) and then snacking or having dessert there. (Note: Other indoor activities like Trampoline Park and Climb Central are located right here too). This is the Rappler article that first got me interested in going to Greenfield Week-end Market for some green.
12) Along the same lines, the Salcedo Market in Makati (Saturdays) and the Legazpi Market (Sundays). Both are held at parks which you can enjoy after doing some marketing :)
WITHING 90 MINUTES OUT OF MANILA
1) Fun Farm at Santa Elena. Just 40 minutes from Makati. Feed rabbits and guinea pigs, ride horses and a carabao cart, enjoy a zipline that kids as young as 2 can do, play in a shaded playground, swing in large tire swings, try a row boat and fish in the pond, and enjoy the grounds and play equipment. All for a fee of 300 pesos per person. Making a reservation is a must. Call or text 0920 913 1349. More photos from A Momma Abroad's post here. This photo shows what kind of fun in nature is to be had there:
2) Another farm that is fun to visit for kids, is Holy Carabao holistic farm, the farm of Acacia Waldorf School. It is also in Santa Elena (though accessed via Santa Rosa). More information about their farm tours at their website. Be sure to step into the homey Farm Shed Cafe and try their cakes and drinks. You can also purchase Holy Carabao's organic products here (their frozen whole chickens are delicious when roasted!).
3) The Farm at San Benito in Lipa City, Batangas. An hour from Manila. This is a well-known, high-end wellness resort, but less-known is how well they cater to children. Twice we've gone to The Farm as a family on their day tour package (PHP6000 per adult, children under 12 are free). The adult day tour includes participation in the resort's wellness activities (e.g. yoga, nature walk, flower arrangement class, tour of how coconut oil is made), use of their pool, a one-hour massage or facial, lunch and afternoon snacks. Children can also participate in the day's activities and in the activities where children can be accommodated like the flower arrangement class and tour of how coconut oil is made. When we went, my children did things like make healthy cookies with the resort's sous-chef, harvested organic cucumbers, and went fishing. It's a sanctuary and a way to have a very peaceful and invigorating day as a family.
4) Cintai Corito's Garden in Balete,Batangas. Exactly an hour from Makati. I have a separate blog post here.
5) The town of Silang, Cavite. Just over an hour from Manila. I have a separate blogpost here.
6) Nurture Wellness Village and Nurture Farmacy in Tagaytay, a little bit further past Silang, Cavite. I have a separate blog post here.
7) University of the Philippines Los Banos Campus. This is just a little over an hour from Manila. To enjoy here is the Makiling Botanical Gardens where you can take a walk and picnic, a small natural history museum, and the grounds of the campus itself. We enjoyed going to the Animal Husbandry department and finding the shop that sells fresh milk, and cheese (kesong puti). This outing could be paired with a visit to the Riceworld Museum (great for kids) at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) as it's next door to UP Los Banos campus. See more information about UP Los Banos and IRRI at A Momma Abroad's blog- she has all the info there. In addition, I have a blogpost of the Mount Makiling Trail that starts at UP Los Banos and is great to do with kids.
8) The town of Angono, Rizal. An hour outside of Manila, for ancient petroglyphs, art museums and a lakeside park. I have a separate blogpost here.
There you go! If you have any other ideas for nature in or within 90 minutes driving from Manila, please let me know in the comments. Would love to know. Thanks!