stay-cation. this is a millenial catchword. baby boomers and gen-x peeps didn’t go on stay-cations; feelenials now do, however.

the stay-cation idea is what the name suggests: going a vacation, but staying within city limits or just near where you live. in our case, we stay-cationed in a condo just about a hundred steps away from my daughter’s condo.

we, ie. gen-x peeps, either went away on vacation via a long road trip or a plane ride OR we didn’t and just stayed home. if we wanted to get away for a day or night, it was simply called a “check-in” — magche-check-in sa hotel.

that’s a staycation.

it’s holy week weekend. i’m here (with my family) holed up in the middle of the city, on the 30th floor. i have no desire whatsoever to go out, like, to the mall, except one that’s nearby.

i can see estancia and uni-mart from our bedroom window. maybe later.


there is a small gym, a billiard and a ping-pong table, a badminton/basketball (half court) hall, all on the penthouse; there is a jogging area, which is the entire perimeter of the roof deck that goes all around the sports facilities. there is a swimming pool with a kid’s pool at the ground floor right behind the lobby.

i woke jane (wife) before 7 am this morning because the swimming pool opens at 7:00 am. i thought to have the pool all to ourselves. true enough, we were alone in our private pool for the first half hour! then a mom with two boys walked in. then a mom with four girls. but by this time, jane and i were already out of the pool drying ourselves and sipping 7-11 brewed coffee.

there’s a 7-11 between our condo and our daughter’s condo. city blends brewed coffee is a good enough alternative to my own cold brew (which i forgot to prepare ahead of time to take along with me for this staycation) to wake me up.

staycation is a good time for me to write. to write new blog. i have a couple of things i need conducive space to write from, and this staycation is a good time to string profound thoughts and vague emotions into meaningful words and phrases.

holed inside my nook and corner, with minimal distractions.


Casa Lillibelle: Monet II

Ayoko ng masyadong maraming tao, ingay, at ligalig. Sapat na ang dami, ingay, at ligalig ng pamilya ko para sa katinuan ng isip ko.

Kaya’t gustong-gusto ko ang nagtagpuan naming bakasyunan sa Casa Lillibelle resort, sa Cabangan, Zambales.


Madadaanan ito sa Daang 306 (sa mapa) mga 200 kms mula sa Maynila.

Sapat lang ang dami ng taong kayang ilulan ng lugar, para sa dami ng tao, ingay, at ligalig na kayang tanggapin ng kaisipan ko.

May kani-kaniyang kusina, lababo, kalan, at ihawan ang bawat malaking kubo sa resort. Ang maliliit ay wala. May refrigerator na pinagsasaluhan, na may kani-kaniyang nakabukod na lagayan ng pagkain. At bagamat ang hugasan ay pinagsasaluhan din, maraming tubig.

Suki kami dito sa Casa Lillibelle. Subalit hindi lang kami. Ang nakasabay namin ngayong pasko ay suki rin ng lugar, ayon kay MJ Ungco, na may-ari ng resort. Ang anak kong panganay naman ay suking-suki sa resort.

Mas higit na tahimik ngayong pasko kaysa noong Mahal na Araw na huli kaming naparito. At mas higit na tahimik ang kaisipan ko.

Mabait at makwento ang mag-asawang MJ at Joanne. Mapa-ingles o mapa-tagalog, makikipagkwentuhan sila sa inyo.


MJ, Joanne at baby Monet II.

Hindi na rin sila iba sa amin. Samakatuwid, sa pagkakataong ito, ipinakilala nila sa amin ang 2 buwang sanggol nilang lalaki (ika-apat na lalaki) na si Monet II. Ipinangalan sya kay MJ na ang tunay na pangalan ay Monet (ang pagbigkas ay mo-neih na may ‘silent T’, hango sa pangalan ng tanyag na French impressionist painter noong 1900’s na si Oscar-Claude Monet.)

Tuwang-tuwa ang pamilya ko kay Monet II, lalo na’t dahil pinayagan sila ni Joanne na kargahin sya.


Sabi namin kay MJ, isang lalaki na lang, may basketball team na sya!

May 2 ‘Certified Lifeguard’ ang Casa Lillibelle kahit maliit na resort lang ito. Dalawang anak na lalaki ni MJ at Joanne ay ‘Certified Lifeguard’. Mababait, magagalang, at matulungin ang mga tauhan nila sa resort.

May 2 bagong kuwarto sa bagong gawang 3rd floor. Bagamat mas maliit ang lugar, kumpleto ito sa mga ‘amenities’ tulad ng kalan at refrigerator. May TV din.

Kung ang ibang kuwarto ang lulan ay 8 katao, dito sa bago 4 lang. Kung gusto mo lang magkulong sa kwarto — magbasa ng libro, magluto, o manood ng TV — at ayaw mong maarawan sa labas, mainam ito.

Tanaw ang dagat, na ilang hakbang lang ang layo, at dinig ang hampas ng mga alon, mula sa balkonahe ng kwarto.


Sulit sa halagang ibinabayad namin ang magbakasyon sa Casa Lillibelle. Babalik ba ako sa Casa Lillibelle???

“I’ll be back!”

casa lillibelle 2018

my family decided to push through with the planned holy week outing, though feeling very tentative: two of our daughters [the eldest and youngest] had issues; jikki [the middle daughter] struck her thumb, dislodging her thumbnail the night before our trip; skyler, our 2-yr old “baby boy”, tripped while running, his gums bled and his lower lip broke open, also the night before; ryan almost couldn’t come because of a prior commitment; and marco was nursing a fever.  BUT, thank God, we all pushed to make the trip to casa lilibelle happen.  and the rest… is now… history

casa lilibelle family pic

front row, from left: marco, dea [eldest daughter], jikki [middle], ryan, skyler [baby boy], nicko, meg [youngest].  back row: me and jane.

just search online for casa lillibelle — it’s in cabangan, zambales, a 2-3 hour drive [or 6-8 hours if you travel on holy week!] from manila via SCTEX.  ang nagma-manage ng beach resort, ang mag-asawang si joanne calica at MJ ungco.

“calica…” i said, “calico, calica… ok.”
“yes, with a ‘c’,” joanne said.
“ungco,” i said, “with a ‘g’… ‘u’ ‘n’ ‘G’ ‘co’?”
“yes, u-n-g-c-o.”

at the resort, MJ is so easy to find.  he’s that [stand-out] caucasian-looking dude na balbasin.  joanne is the pretty “zambal beauty” with darkish complexion.

casa lilibelle mj

MJ [he volunteered to take the group-fie] and joanne [rightmost]. me [with peace sign], dea [eldest; front]; jane [my wife; with shades]; jikki [2nd; behind dea]; ryan [rearmost].

chances are pagdating na pagdating nyo sa resort parking area, andun na si MJ… to welcome you.  joanne would probably be waiting for you at the counter area or greet you at the entrance to the resort.  you’ll also see MJ running here and there, in and out of the resort, taking care of business.  they’re both hands-on guys who give personal attention to and converses with their guests.

“MJ has caucasian features,” i said.
“‘kana’ ang mommy nya,” joanne said, “but his dad is chinese… ungco.”
“ikaw, are you from here?” i said.
“yes, just before the steel bridge coming here.”
“you are a zambal beauty.”

joanne was very thoughtful of our situation.  we were only booked for friday and was scheduled to leave and look for another place to stay that saturday morning.  lumakad na mga kasama namin [marco, dea, ryan, and jikki] that saturday morning, to make an ocular inspection of the other resort, and book it for an overnight stay; while jane [my wife] and i packed our bags and brought them to the hut.  they just got back, around 11 am.

“papa, wag ka na mag prepare ng lunch,” our eldest daughter dea said, “dun na tayo magluto sa kabila.”
“ahh, ok,” i said.

just then, joanne came to our hut to tell us that a reservation for that saturday cancelled; but instead of giving out the now available room to their friends who just arrived and were looking for a room; she remembered our predicament and decided to just let us stay for another day in our room to spare us the trouble of moving to another resort.

“si daddy nga kanina, nung sumilip ako sa kubo, mukhang nagdadasal na kung saan kayo magse-stay after eh,” joanne said, “mabuti na lang may nag-cancel.”

casa lilibelle nagdadasal

nagdadasal… nakatulog 🤣🤣

of course, we were all relieved and very grateful!  ryan raises two fists in the air!

the large air-conditioned room we occupied, comfortably accommodates 8-10 persons [we were 8 adults + a 2 yr old toddler], with cushioned beds; a spacious bathroom; a beachfront terrace; and ample space to walk around inside.  beach huts had individual grilling areas.  they have gas stoves [for rent] provided with saucepans and ladles.  you can order basic food items from the counter, like coffee, beer, eggs, ice, etc.  but there’s also a sari-sari store nearby if you want to go for an adventure into the small community.

casa lilibelle stove

marco and the stove

the resort is quite secure.  we were assured that our belongings would be safe in the hut overnight.  we just left them there… found them the next morning just as we left them.

joanne and MJ made sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed: they would check on us every now and then, to see if everything was alright.

“ano, sir, ok ba kayak ride,” MJ said, “nakapag workout ka na?”
“oo,” i said, “ang lakas nga ng hangin, kinokontra ko, tinatangay yung kayak eh.”

casa lilibelle kayak

this was my second time to go to casa lillibelle.  and it was my first choice when my family decided to go on this holy week getaway.

as the terminator would say, of course… “i’ll be back!”  😋😋