This month, we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to Boracay, one of seven thousand islands in The Philippines and a true paradise. The occasion for the trip was the second wedding of our friends, Kevin and Ann. Their first wedding was in 2014 in Monterey, California. However, they had planned for some time to have a Catholic wedding in The Philippines as well since Ann is Filipino and has many friends and family members there. They finally made their dreams happen this month and we were thrilled to be able to join. The date also worked out perfectly for us since it coincided with my grad school’s spring break and our five-year wedding anniversary (!!).
It was a long, twenty-four hour journey to get to Boracay. We flew from D.C. to JFK. From there, we flew 16 hours to Hong Kong, then to Manila in the Philippines, and then finally, to Caticlan. After this last flight, we took a short boat ride to Boracay and a thirty-minute van ride to our hotel.
As you can imagine, we were pretty exhausted by the time we arrived. Not only was it a long trip, but The Philippines is 13 hours ahead of D.C. We were greeted at The Lind Hotel by the friendliest staff. Dressed in blue polos, navy striped shirts, and magenta floral outfits, the attractive, smiling employees made us feel instantly comfortable. They learned our names during our four-night stay and we learned theirs. They were truly above and beyond.
Apart from the staff, we were immediately impressed by the sharp décor of The Lind and the picturesque views. We could walk out right out to the beach to go stand-up paddle boarding – and there were many other water activities available to us as well. The hotel also boasted an infinity pool overlooking the beach, sunlit modern rooms, beachfront lounge chairs where we watched the sunset each night, and an open-air bar/restaurant area conveniently located in between additional pools and the beach. One of the highlights was the delicious, overflowing breakfast buffet each morning.
The wedding rehearsal dinner was at Gerry’s Grill, a Filipino restaurant that is located not only all over the Philippines, but also in Singapore, Qatar, and California. I was grateful that Ann ordered for the group since I was still learning about Filipino cuisine. Some of my favorite dishes were the platters of lumpier (Filipino spring rolls)and the grilled squid. I rarely drink beer, but something about the atmosphere made me excited to try a local favorite, San Miguel Light, and it was the perfect complement. I learned later, however, that Filipinos don’t generally drink alcohol with dinner—they save their drinks for afterwards!
I was definitely spoiled by not having to make most of the food-ordering decisions. Between the rehearsal dinner, breakfast buffets each morning, wedding dinner, and another group dinner out in which Ann ordered for everyone, I had the opportunity to sample many different dishes. My favorite was the sizzling pork sisig, which is bits of pork mixed with onions, chiles, and citrus with an egg on top that you mix in right before eating. We ate this dish at Gerry’s and at another restaurant on the beach one night where we crowded around a low table, sitting together on large pillows in the sand with many plates of delicious food before us.
Typically, Chris and I spend a lot of time researching potential restaurants, but this trip was different. On a few occasions, we simply walked down the beach towards the Station 2 area of Boracay and picked out a place that looked like it had the right vibe. It was a refreshing change. On these walks, there was always much to see: live music covering American songs, beach vendors, stray dogs, intricate sand sculptures, and numerous hotel weddings. The island outside of our hotel reminded me of many other tropical destinations around the world in which tourists run the show and the locals earn their living off of the tourist culture. Most tourists in Boracay come from various countries in Asia.
The wedding was absolutely beautiful, the ceremony in the only Catholic church in Boracay and the reception outside by the infinity pool at the Lind. The reception entertainment included a show by talented fire dancers, which is traditional in Boracay! We had the best time celebrating with the happy couple and others who we had met at their first wedding. To top it all off, we also got to spend time with Kevin and Ann’s little baby, who was born just this past November. What a treat!
It was magical visiting such a beautiful faraway island and getting the chance to learn about our friend’s culture a bit more. Who knows if we’ll ever have the chance to return to The Philippines, but we will always have sweet memories of this special trip. Up next: Our final days of the vacation were spent in Hong Kong!