I gifted myself with a birthday getaway a few months back. My boys and I drove far away from the city, without any plan - just the way we like it. We booked a place in Ilocos Sur called Apo Nena Bed & Breakfast which a lot of people referred. They said it was family-friendly and it will make you not want to go back to the city. They were right.
Apo nena bed & breakfast
Apo Nena is a bed and breakfast nestled in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. Imagine the river opening up to the sea. That’s the view you get when you step out of your door, when you’re swinging in the hammocks, biking around the premises, or eating a hearty breakfast prepared by the owner, Chef JC Dayo.
The rooms were pretty amazing. I am a sucker for anything inspired by Filipino design / architecture. I love the white inabel blankets, the wooden bed frames, the big mirror (which I’m guessing was custom made or made from repurposed materials), the bamboo clothes hanger, the aircon (hehehe) and more!
We were in the riverfront room, which meant having a big veranda with rocking chairs, lounge chairs and tables you can use when you just want to chill and be one with the outdoors! I brought my paint stuff with me so I spent an afternoon painting while the boys were bonding over Youtube HAHA.
I guess the one thing I wasn’t really sure of was the bathroom being outside the room we booked. I know it shouldn’t bother anyone but I’m duwag a.k.a a scaredy-cat HAHA. So whenever I have to go to the loo, I have to always drag Bobby with me!
If you’re worried about not having anything to do, Apo Nena provides a great space where the possibilities are endless. They have an area where you can lounge under the coconut trees, and a big area where the kids can run and play! We also love the bikes that you’re free to borrow when you feel like it! In the cafe-slash-eating-area, there’s a corner filled with books and board games that you can take to your rooms when you have nothing to do! Ooooh and their resident dogs. They have a lot, but they’re all friendly so you have nothing to worry about!
Omg the beach was spectacular. It can use some cleaning up, but I get that when we visited, the weather wasn’t in our favor so some trash where washed up in the shore. But overall, I’ve seen how pristine and lovely the waters are when the country isn’t in bagyo season.
We arrived in Apo Nena late afternoon and the rain was pretty bad. Good thing our room had a veranda so we got to unload our things (and ourselves) from the car at ease. Mind you, the winds and the rain were really strong up North during this time. Grabe, in all honesty, we thought we wouldn’t make it.
We had the place all to ourselves. No other guests were there. Maybe they figured out that the weather was gonna be bad. Well, Bobby did warn me already but I didn’t want to cancel because I’d rather be in a province than Metro Manila.
Had dinner with Chef JC who was talking about his life and career. One of the things that struck me was how this path reminded me so much of what Bobby wants to do with his life. Chef JC went from a starting out cook, to a corporate chef, and now, living a simple, slow yet fulfilled life in the province.
By night time, we were all by the veranda doing our own things - I was reading up on the news, Ynigo was drawing, and Bobby was watching some stuff on Youtube. The winds weren’t as strong so we tried to wait if we’ll see fireflies by the river. Then a swarm of gamu-gamu’s filled the area - which was our cue to go inside.
No TVs, no anything. Just me and my boys. That’s how we capped off our first day.
We woke up to a scrumptious breakfast. I love love love eating and the food there was amazing. Each bite reminded you of why you should stay. At this point, Chef JC had left already but his appointed ‘right hand’ or as I would like to call kitchen apprentice (huhuhu I forgot his name) was the one preparing all the food and it was delicious. We had Omelette, Vigan Longganisa, and tons of caffeine.
While we were chilling at the cafe, I was silently praying for the sun. That was the only birthday wish cause it really seemed impossible. The rain was non-stop.
Just as when we were headed back to our room, I saw the sun take a peek. I shit you not - I ran and pulled my boys to see this miracle. After taking some photos (because I love taking photos), I told my Bobby and Ynigo to rush and prepare so that we could go to the beach! God was listening huhuhu (thank you).
I think we spent a good 40 minutes at the beach. The waves were pretty big so we stayed by the shore ~ naglatag kami ni Ynigo while Bobby started walking and checking out what was beyond “our spot”. He found some shells, and even brought back little critters to show Ynigo (like a crab and weird looking insects I think).
Travel [always] makes me ponder about my life. So imagine how this whole trip was. Without the sun, we were either stuck in the room, by the veranda or by the cafe. I just spend my time reflecting.
At 26, I’m not where I thought I’d be, nor am I close to attaining the dream life Bobby and I aspired. I HONESTLY THOUGHT BY 26, I’D HAVE BE TRAVELING THE WORLD, WITH A HIGH-PAYING JOB, LIVING INDEPENDENTLY.
The reality is that sometimes life will take you to a different route… Sometimes all you gotta do is work with where you’re at, with what you got, and who you are. A self-made, successful life takes time. Nowadays, a lot of people are rushing when we can always lower our expectations, slow down, but still put 110% in everything we do so we can attain our dreams.
Apo Nena was the perfect place for me to really look deep into my life. It was a perfect place where Ynigo can roam freely and really appreciate the stillness that we rarely see in our everyday. The facilities were good, well-maintained and gosh I never wanted to live in a place so badlyyyy. Apo Nena set the mood for Bobby and I to reconnect; to process things together and just talk about what lies ahead. It was a great place to catch up with my self-care practices ~ like watercolor, journaling and photography hihi!
FIVE STARS FOR THIS HOMEY PLACE.
The energy is so positive, the aura is so serene. The accommodations are excellent for the value they offer it for. It’s a perfect place for families to unwind and spend time with each other and Mother Earth. Plus the food. I don’t think there will be an instance that I will not like the food ‘cause each dish is cooked from the heart, tbh.
I think what resonated with us the most is that Apo Nena is a work in progress. There’s so much potential and yet we like untapped because that means more nature and sea and greens (as compared to more buildings, or whatever techie innovations we see in other places). Apo Nena is meant to be a place for those who don’t feel home in the city. It’s a home away from home — just the way we like it.
We’re actually going back there in a few days, so we’re praying that there’s sun and so we can update you more on what’s new and what else you can do!!