By Joanna Cuello
In search of a quiet, modest city mixed with old-world charm, elegance, history, and multicultural background, all roads led us to St. Louis, Missouri for a three-day trip. It’s not an overpowering city in size, yet it is far from countryside. At the same time, it can claim many of the assets of a big city, all wrapped into a classic all-American midwestern locale.
While adoring the aura of the city that has been renowned for its French and German influences, as well as its Victorian past, I quickly found myself strolled back to a time when people lived and worked in a complex network of communities, trades, churches, and expeditions.
As the only major settlement on the Mississippi River outside of New Orleans, Louisiana in the mid-18th century, the town that started as a French fur trading post in 1764 was the “Gateway to the West” from its humble beginning. This was certainly true for Lewis and Clark, who stopped here for provisions during their famous expedition. In the years that followed, the city became a manufacturing center for wagons, guns, blankets, saddles, and everything pioneers would need on their journeys west.
Visitors of this city often make their first stop at the Gateway Arch, which was built in tribute to the city’s history as the “Gateway To The West”. Designed by Eero Saarinen, it’s the world’s tallest national monument measuring up to 630 feet high and 630 feet wide at its base. The Gateway Arch that stands on the banks of the Mississippi was completed in 1965 after two years of construction to honor President Thomas Jefferson for his westward expansion and his vision of a continental United States.
This astonishing example of engineering and design was more striking and spectacular in person than I had ever imagined, as the stainless steel reflect the colors and light of the city skyline and the river. Beholding the soaring Arch after dark is also an ingenious way to admire its greatness as 44 powerful floodlights wonderfully light up this famous landmark.
By looking up to the arch from below, it makes imagining going to the top real scary. Its foundation, however, is said to be anchored 60 feet underground, which provides assurance that riding to the top inside of it’s unique elevator—a cross between a cable railway and a ferries wheel—is totally safe. But if you’re claustrophobic and have fear of heights, it may present itself as a challenge due to its confined space.
Many who have tried it say they could even feel it move on windy days. But once there, one is treated to a breathtaking view, on one side, a panoramic view of St. Louis in its entirety, and on the other side, the majestic yet mighty Mississippi River. Thousands of people who have been up there would say it’s still worth the strange ride. I must admit I am still looking forward to the opportunity.
The Arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, along with the Museum of Westward Expansion and St. Louis’ Old Courthouse. Under the Arch, one can travel back in time through its four-story movie theater and an exhibit that recreates the era when riverboats once ruled, offering a picture of what it must have been during its colorful past.
In many ways, the Arch stirred up this excitement within me to see what’s more in this city for beckoning. To appreciate the real St. Louis, it’s time to explore the city’s hidden areas starting at the Laclede’s Landing.
Just north of the Gateway Arch, the Landing is one of the oldest standing neighborhoods of the city. Named after the St. Louis’ French founder, Pierre Laclede, it is a nine square-block area of restored warehouses on the Mississippi River where the steamboats once filled them with tobacco, cotton and trade goods. As part of the historic riverfront, it used to be the hub of river trade where fur trappers got together and served as the final outpost to outfitted travelers before their journeys began.
Nowadays, the Landing carries the reputation for indulging the pleasant, more relaxed of life. Music echoes off the Landing’s streets paved with cobblestones. The restaurants, music clubs, and shops fill the former warehouses built in the 19th century.
St. Louis is of course famous for its square pizza, which brought us to a bar and restaurant called Joey B’s on the Landing after watching it in one of celebrity chef Rachel Ray’s shows on a food channel. This St. Louis-style pizza is not the typical pizza I’ve ever had. Not so much for the shape, but for the taste. My husband was totally content with its taste and we promptly devoured the whole box within 20 minutes.
Joey B’s is also popular for their burger and Buffalo wings, which we also would like to try, but our stomach was filled up already with their pizza. However, it’s a great excuse for us to come back here, enjoy the Landing, and sample some good food.
The next morning, despite the cold, we decided to go to the Forest Park, which is located near the city center. It is one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city, with numerous maple trees and ash trees. I imagined how beautiful to come back here in autumn when leaves change colors to red, orange, yellow, and brown.
Larger than New York’s Central Park, the Forest Park is the site of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, informally known as the Saint Louis World’s Fair, and the 1904 Summer Olympics, which was the first Olympic games held in North America. Now, it is also home to St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, and Science Center. True to St. Louis’ credo that arts and culture be accessible to everyone, all these attraction sites come free of charge.
On the top of the Forest Park’s Art Hill is where the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) can be found. A bronze statue of King Louis IX of France, from whom the city was named after, greets visitors at the entrance to the museum. History tells that before the construction of the Gateway Arch, this statue, titled “Apotheosis of St. Louis” (1903, Charles Niehaus), was the icon of the city.
The museum is said to be the only building that remains from the 1904’s World Fair. It served as the Fine Arts Palace during the fair and was the only permanent exhibit building built for the 1904 event. Today, the tradition continues as it houses a comprehensive collection of more than 30,000 priceless artwork and decorative pieces from virtually every culture around the world and time period—from ancient to contemporary. Ranked as one of the top ten of such museums in the United States, its pre-Columbian and German Expressionist collections are considered among the best in the world. There are also numerous major works on display from renowned artists like Vincent van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso, which I found extremely fascinating.
Not far from the museum is the zoo, which offers more than 11,000 exotic animals, many of them are rare and endangered species. The highlight of the zoo was its extensive penguins and puffins exhibit. They were the first I had ever seen. We also had photo opportunities with the orangutans, apes, Thai elephants, and double-humped camels.
From Forest Park, we decided to park our car in one of the Park and Ride areas nearby and hopped into the Metrolink Light Rail System. The MetroLink is a work of art in itself as it provides fast, safe, and easy-to-use transportation that connects downtown to the airport and many of the city’s visitor entertainment, cultural, and shopping destinations. Tickets include daily, weekly, and visitor passes that include access to St. Louis’ bus lines.
Our next train stop was the historic St. Louis Union Station, which is accessible by foot from the terminal station. This old train depot, a 110-year-old National Historic Landmark, has been completely restored and redeveloped as a mall that includes shopping, dining, entertainment, and a luxury hotel. We checked out the Whispering Walls in the Grand Hall, where while standing in one corner of the arch, the sound you whisper is carried to another person at the other end. After admiring the Arch-inspired interior and architectural design in the Grand Hall and the model Victorian trains in the main entryway, we went to The Fudgery and observed cheerful employees that were singing in unison as they made fudge in front of large crowds. We also shopped at some St. Louis souvenirs, and got ourselves a caricature. We also got to feed the fattest, most well-fed fish in the surrounding pond for only twenty-five cents!
Apart from its many attraction sites, St. Louis can also be defined as an eclectic city because of the considerable mix of immigrants and cultures in this area. Aside from its rich history of migration of Irish, German, Bohemian, Spanish, African, French, and Indian people in the past, St. Louis continues to welcome newcomers today, with large immigrant populations of Latinos, Bosnians, and Asians settling throughout the area. The universities, with students coming from different parts of the world, also contributed to the ever-present diversity of the city.
Just within the vicinity of St. Louis University, the Grand South Grand business district offers a mix and very diverse retailers and restaurants that extend along six blocks from Arsenal to Utah Streets. Known for its international flavor, South Grand Boulevard features a collection of ethnic restaurants that includes Thai, French, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Persian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian, and Afghani cuisines. There is also a cluster of ethnic groceries, boutiques, vintage clothing stores, antique shops, and Asian import stores worth combing through.
For an exciting lunch, we went to Pho Grand that serves authentic Vietnamese cuisine in the area. We comforted each of ourselves with an order of fresh spring rolls, a big bowl of Pho Ga (chicken rice noodle soup), and a combination fried rice to go. Eyeing up the mixed crowd dining here, we were pleasantly surprised with the diversity of customers enjoying food in this locale.
From Delmar Loops Station, we also discovered a surprising wealth of history, shops, sidewalk cafes, and many other points of interest to explore. The Walk of Fame was my personal favorite, where we strolled along the main drag of The Loop-Delmar Boulevard. A series of stars and plaques were embedded in the sidewalk to honor famous St. Louisans—past and present—who made significant contribution to life and culture of the United States. The walk consisting of 116 (as of June 2007) brass stars and plaques contained famous names, which include Chuck Berry, Josephine Baker, Tina Turner, Scott Joplin, Tennessee Williams, and many others.
St. Louis is a rewarding place to spend time. It has a look that is all its own. The red brick houses, the cobblestone streets, the terra cotta friezes, and the stained glasses are all providing a backdrop to a city that famed for its eclectic mix of history, culture, and nature. Enjoying them is simply about walking or cycling around, making discoveries. A montage of incredibly diverse life and cultures, each of them individually St. Louisans, created from small pieces, but work as a whole that makes the city of St. Louis as an artwork itself. (END)
Published in Travel Plus Magazine
By Joanna C. Castro-Cuello
BAGUIO CITY, Benguet — The perfect place to start off rediscovering Baguio City is Concorde Hotel. Located within the Europa Center along Legarda Street, the hotel captures that Baguio spirit and culture.
Concorde is set out to be different from the others. The high-rise property is perched atop a hill, giving a nice view of the Baguio suburbs. Its comfortable and laid-back atmosphere evoked the feeling of going home to a typical mountain log cabin, with the smell of pine and warmth of a fireplace.
Just going to your room, you will feel the rustic charm of the place old wood-plank floors and earthen brick walls. Stuffed animal heads, antique rifles, and pistols decorated the pillars of the central atrium, where one can take the glass windowed elevator. This ride gives a view of the grand wooden staircase accessing all five floors of the main building. All the rooms, which spoke of an old European allure, have the same quaint atmosphere as the hallways. The sliding glass windows—opened into a small balcony—provides a grand view of the sunrise.
In the Upper Session Road of Baguio City, the newest Microtel Inns and Suites in the country allows someone to feel the modern Baguio City. The 60-room hotel is equipped with a 24-hour vending area, keycard entry system, internet ready data port, individual controlled air conditioning unit, and other high-tech facilities. It is located right beside the newly-built Victory Liner Passenger Center, the first modern bus depot in the country.
Moreover, choices for accommodations are wide and varied in Baguio City. Budget inns and hostels as well as homestay options for transients are available. When planning a trip during the peak seasons, it is best to book in advance as the city is likely to be packed with guests.
A palette for the palate
Keeping yourself well-fed during the trip is as important as keeping yourself well-rested. Indulge your senses at a variety of restaurants here.
Take your lunch at Luisa’s Cafe at 153 Session Road for some Filipino-Chinese cuisine and meet the writers, artists, and media people from Baguio City who use this place for their meetings.
Chinese food is king at Rosebowl Restaurant on Harrison Street, as evidenced by the half-cooked Chopsuey vegetables fresh from La Trinidad farms, sweet and sour mix of tofu, meatballs, fish and shrimp, as well as the Chinese seafood delicacies like Lapu-lapu.
The restaurant, owned by Ng Family, is the first-class establishment which serves a wide range of Chinese dishes and other international cuisine especially steaks.
A visit to Baguio City is not complete without a meal at Jade Restaurant along Marcos Highway corner of Legarda Road. Savor the family ambience, carefully prepared and tasty food, friendly service and specialties of the house such as Binagoongan and Pinakbet.
Owned and managed by a Kapampangan lady, Amy Pangilinan, and her family, the restaurant also has pension rooms, which can occupy up to 20 people, and a home spa.
Evenings in Baguio can be synonymous to Salud Bistro located in Lourdes Subdivision. This artsy, cozy restaurant is owned by Chef Paul Poblador and his wife, Nina. She has a visible resemblance to her mom, Patis Tesoro, a fashion designer and an organic farmer, and shares her artistic sense.
The place is what used to be a Tesoro’s holiday house, and is now a shabby chic bistro serving pan-Asian with a French flair. With crazy colors and eclectic interior design, the ambiance is relaxed, the service warm and the dishes innovative while hip, music-based bar play in the background. It is a nice place to wine and dine with friends, colleagues, and your girlfriend or boyfriend. Beyond that, Salud Bistro also serves as a venue for art expositions as well as amusing events organized by the artsy owners themselves.
The taste of Baguio food offered in this European-style kind of restaurant is just right to the palate considering Salud Bistros proximity to sources of ingredients, as well as the mountain city’s cool climate, perfect enough to what Paul and Nina always expect for a fine-dining restaurant.
At the back of the bistro is a small herb plantation where Paul has grown six varieties of herbs such as parsley, basil, tarragon, mint, oregano, and garlic chives. Now, hes trying to grow thyme to assure their diners for a healthier eating.
For a more upscale dining, visit Le Chef at Camp John Hay Manor for their Mediterranean cuisine. They serve Sauteed Calamares Provencal, Chicken Veloute with Dumplings, Pork Tenderloin with Proscuitto and Gruyere cheese, Roasted Red Snapper Fillet, and marinated fresh fruits with chocolate fudge.
The Baguio Country Club, meanwhile, has a pastry shop, which offers freshly-baked pastries like carrot cake, blueberry cheesecake, strawberry short cake, and raisin cinnamon bread.
You won’t easily run out of things to do in Baguio City. Just stroll along the Session Road, the city’s commercial artery, and you can already get your first bite of the charm and serendipity of Baguio through a range of curio shops and interesting array of culinary delights.
If the weather is rainy, take the opportunity to check out the City Market or go to ukay-ukay shops, where cheap second-hand clothes as well as export overruns are sold.
If you still have time in your hand, you can shop till you drop at the Easter Weaving School for woven clothes and handicrafts, Good Shepherd Convent for purple yam and strawberry jams, and a number of silver shops for jewelries.
If you miss the sea breeze, you can easily just drive down to Naguillan Road to the beaches of La Union. Plan an overnight stay at the Oasis Country Resort in Sevilla in San Fernando, La Union, where you can have the opportunity to relax at the hotels beach house located in Barangay Pagudpud, only five-minute drive away from the hotel.
By Joanna C. Castro-Cuello
BAGUIO CITY, BENGUET – Talking about Baguio City, what instantly comes to mind are thoughts of the cool climate, scented pine tress, strawberry jams, colorful flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables, horseback riding, and parks. But there are more to these.
As early as February for Panagbenga Flower Festival and March for the summer, tourists and locals take the six-hour trek up the zigzagging Naguillan Road. Others take the Marcos Highway or Kennon Road for a more adventurous and scenic expedition.
Up to the mountains and down to the villages, Baguio City has a number of attractions to please the most discriminating of sightseers. The classic tourist attractions include the Burnham Park, Club John Hay, Baguio Cathedral, Wright Park, Mansion House, Botanical Garden, Mines View Park, and the Philippine Military Academy, among others.
But there are still plenty of places to see and be seen in Baguio City aside from these oft-visited hotspots. In fact, the city serves as a jumpoff point for other scenic attractions in the nearby towns of Benguet province that can equal the other wonders of the world.
To start the exploration, visit Tam-awan Village, a replica of Ifugao tribal village established by well-known Filipino artist Ben Cabrera, known as Bencab. This can be found on the outskirts of Baguio heading north towards La Trinidad and can be reached by taxi or a hired jeepney. Entrance fee for children is R10, while for adults is R20.
Guests in Tam-awan can spend the night here in a tribal hut for them to have a glimpse of village life. Five of the nine huts of varying shapes and sizes are available for rent ranging from R1,200 to R1,500 per hut for overnight stay for a maximum of five persons. Food is available from a small kitchen and work by local artists is on sale in the small shop. Staff often performs impromptu ceremonies and dances. On a clear day, a magnificent China Sea sunset can be viewed from the village, giving credence to its name as “tam-awan,” that is, vantage point.
From this village, retrace the path on the long, rugged and winding Longlong Road taking you to strawberry farms of La Trinidad, the capital town of Benguet province. At the end of this steep and snaky road is a 1,000 square-meter strawberry field owned by a 38-year-old woman farmer Annette Harold. Here, tourists can surely enjoy the actual strawberry picking at less than the price offered in markets.
A short distance down the hill from Harold’s place is the King Louis Farms Inc., the biggest cutflower farm in Baguio and in the country. Walk through the small passageways where you can see beds of flowers of different kinds. The farm dates back since 1983 with only 4,000 square meters. It has since grown to six hectares, producing chrysanthemums, roses, carnations, Illiums, gladiola, and misty rose, among others. That is why King Louis Farm deserves to be conferred the Hall of Fame award in the Penagbenga Flower Festival.
The La Trinidad Valley is also worth a visit. This is where all the wide array of crisp vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, kintsay flowers, coriander, snowpeas, mushrooms — things that our supermarkets insist on importing from Australia but at much lower prices — are produced. A scenic drive along the mountain highway of Bokawkan Road gives breathtaking views of the valley carpeted with flowers, vegetables and fruits.
Reaching the lowland of La Trinidad Valley, one can also view more flower farms. Passing by another zigzagging road down to Barangay Bahong, one could see Ibaloi and Kankanaey families taking care each of their own flower farms of Malaysian mums, kalanchoe, poinsettia, impatience, petunia, and marigold.
If you’re yearning for more adventure, the trip to Balatoc Mines Underground Tour is memorialized by a bumpy ride and loop winding along Balatoc-Acupan route in Itogon, Benguet, only one and half hour away from the city proper. It is the first ever underground mining attraction in the Philippines owned by Benguet Corporation and managed by Benguet Parkland Development Corporation.
Using the rehabilitated underground Vegas tunnel, the tour is mounted primarily to showcase the thrilling and educational mining heritage of Itogon, Benguet. With guests donning knee-high rubber boots and hard helmets with lights and battery, and a belt strapped around the waist, the tour is really exciting and raring to experience a miner’s fare.
The highlights of the mines tour is a walk through the mines museum with Maribel Gengania, operations manager of Benguet Mines Tourism Village (BMTV) and a tour guide. Gengania will show you rock samples that present gold in its native form and antique equipment used by the miners, and a display of underground mining equipment along the route to the tunnel. Here, one can experience the actual life of miners featuring various underground mining activities including going through the 500-meter long Balatoc Haulage Tunnel, walking into the dark, damp underground mine, and witnessing how dynamite blasting works while inside the miner’s lounge.
At the end of the tunnel, tourists are also given an informative briefing on the milling process of the gold ore until the production of the gold bullion. All these plus an experience of a lifetime riding the underground mine train called as “join ride” totes up for more thrill and a welcome relief as tourists will not walk another 500 meters to exit the area.
By Joanna C. Castro-Cuello
Known as one of the world’s most colorful extravaganzas, Citrawarna Malaysia or the Colours of Malaysia with this year’s launch theme “Waves and Colors” just recently showcased the country’s rich culture, arts, and traditions of the 14 different states and four territories that make up the multifaceted country.
As a curtain-raiser, Citrawarna 2004 was launched on May 22 in conjunction with the birthday celebration of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King of Malaysia). The month-long nationwide festivity has just culminated in Ipoh, Perak on June 19 with a colorful street parade and dance festival featuring cultural troupes, arts societies, and invited troupes from other states and countries.
Our group of Philippine travel agents and media members was among those who attended the jovial launching of the month-long celebration of Citrawarna 2004. We were eight Filipinos that had been invited, so we were fortunate to have seating — in relative comfort — on the grandstand close to the Royal dais, where our view of the events was excellent.
In a kaleidoscope of colorful ethnic costumes, a procession of 6,000 Malaysians entered the stadium’s arena. They escorted the float with the King and Queen of Malaysia, Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Bin Haji Ahmad Badawi and his wife, as well as the other dignitaries to the Royal dais onboard. Then they presented a spectacular show that featured the songs and dances of the different states, offering spectators a vignette of Malaysia.
For three and a half hours, I sat spellbound while being entertained by exotic rhythms and movements of the participants. Along with other delegates from 40 countries who were invited by Tourism Malaysia and flown in by Malaysia Airlines for the Malaysia Mega Familiarization Program (MMFP), this experience, I must say, is very unforgettable. I believe Malaysia Airlines’ Maricris “Kit” Custodio, Stopover Travel Magazine’s CJ Juntereal and Menchit Ongpin, and the travel agents, who were part of the Philippine delegations, also felt the same astonishment I had when we saw the full-blast presentation. The travel agents were Jennifer Co of Thomas Cook Philippines, Diosa Rodriguez of Budget Travel and Tours, Cynthia Limjap of Philippine World Travel, and Jun Fajardo of Business Travel InternationalPhilippines Marsman.
Performances were divided into six zones, comprising Group 1: Kedah, Perlis and Penang (north zone); Group 2: Perak, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (central zone); Group 3: Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johore (south zone); Group 4: Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang (east zone); Group 5: Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan; and Group 6: Chinese, Indian, Orang Asli and Siamese communities.
For six consecutive years, the people of Malaysia showed visitors from throughout the world that people of vastly different cultural and ethnic backgrounds woven in one country can live harmoniously, happily, and progress as a nation.
Colours of Malaysia was launched in 1999 to create more international market awareness following the catastrophic impact of the 1997 Asian crisis on industries, part of it was tourism. It also coincided with the kick-off for MMFP.
“We organized Colours of Malaysia so that visitors to our country would have the opportunity to see for themselves the beauty of Malaysia,” Tourism Malaysia Minister Datuk Dr. Leo Michael Toyad told the international group of press during the launching of this year’s MMFP at the Palace of the Golden Horses in Kuala Lumpur the day before Citrawarna event. Its role in improving tourism arrival would be hard to ignore.
“In 1998, we had 5.5 million arrivals. In 2002 we had 13.3 million. If not for the war and the outbreak of SARS during the first half of 2003, Malaysia would have registered a much higher figure,” he added.
Despite the setbacks earlier last year, however, tourist arrivals to Malaysia are showing encouraging signs of recovering. “Malaysia recorded a total of 1,266,886 tourist arrivals for the month of April 2004. This figure represents a 175.8 percent increase from the 459,374 tourist arrivals for the same month in 2003,” said a report from Tourism Malaysia.
During the tourism seminar, the large crowd of travel agents and media was given an introduction to Malaysian history and culture for better appreciation of the grand celebration. The event is a celebration of the harmonious co-existence of the country’s many ethnic groups, which are reflected in their music, dance, art, food, culture, religion, and traditions.
Our guide, Krishnan of Adventure Quest and Tour, mentioned that as one of Asia’s melting pot of peoples and cultures, the country’s claim to campaign brand “Malaysia, Truly Asia” is genuine and very appropriate. This is because no other country in this world you can experience Asia in a single society like Malaysia. China, India, Middle East, and Europe contributed to the many brilliant hues to its culture. Citrawarna is the showcase of this campaign.
By Joanna C. Castro-Cuello
If you think La Union is all about tree houses, beaches, and other natural tourist attractions, think again! The Oasis Country Resort in San Fernando City is itself a tourist destination, not just a place to spend the night while hopping from beach to beach during the day.
Situated along the National Highway in Oasis Center in Barangay Sevilla in San Fernando City — about five to six hours drive by bus from Manila — Oasis Country Resort has the edge over other resorts in the province because of its accessibility and the plethora of activities one can do in the resort, not to mention the friendly staff.
Oasis has been billed as “A Five Star Home in the Heart of La Union” for it is the only resort-hotel in the area which has the most complete facilities and amenities such as restaurants, convention center, recreation, and entertainment all in one.
Oasis general manager Jufelyn Marivic Pimentel and rooms divisions manager Edith Lafond have both said that ever since the hotel has become a full-fledged resort in 1996, it is the only one technologically resort-hotel in the province that has attracted both business and pleasure guests.
Because Oasis is after both markets, it claims to be the only one technologically sophisticated resort in the province. It has all the high-tech necessities for today’s businessperson on the move and discriminating taste of leisure traveler.
The resort is the first and only one in La Union with a convention hall that can accommodate 800 to 1,200 people and five function rooms named after the provinces of Region 1. It also boasts of the most high-tech convention facilities in the area.
An ideal place to stay for families and core groups, Oasis also offers stylishly furnished and fully-equipped hotel room accommodations. The hotel houses 32 hotel rooms consisting of 22 double standard rooms, four triple standard rooms, one single standard room, two deluxe rooms, one suite and one family room.
Room facilities include air-conditioning, intercommunications, wall to wall carpet, private hot and cold shower, telephone, individual safety boxes, refrigerator, room service, interconnecting rooms, piped-in music, and remote control cable television.
Also take notice of the bright yellow bed blankets in each of these rooms. They are the world-renowned cotton woven blankets originally made from Bangar, the smallest town in La Union.
As you make your way up to the escalator and then pass the hotel rooms toward a passage down to the pool area, you will see the next feature of Oasis: More luxurious and air-conditioned Mediterranean-style casitas and villas with panoramic view of the swimming pool from the private balcony.
Beside the mini-Olympic swimming pool is a kiddie pool in a rock-like setting with a slide that will delight children for hours. In front of the pool is a pavilion area designed to celebrate special events for up to 200 people.
For sports enthusiasts, there are 20 automated bowling lanes, table tennis, dart boards and billiards tables.
There are also plenty of cuisines in Oasis to satisfy anyone’s hunger. The resort features the famous, first-class elegant dining place in San Fernando City — the Kris Room, which can accommodate 70 diners at one time and the Fleur De Liz, 36 diners. The list of different cuisines and cooking styles available here is a long one: Thai, Mongolian, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino.
Guests can also enjoy the Lobby Coffee Bar, the Channel “F” KTV Music Box with private rooms, and souvenir shop.
Day tours around San Fernando City and nearby towns is also part of the service. Guests can easily go to the office of the Department of Tourism, which is occupying a space at the first level of the Oasis building, to request a guided tour while the resort prepares the vehicle to be used during the sightseeing.
In Oasis, guests are assured that visitors’ needs are completely provided. The owner and president, Engineer Crecencio Fernandez, 68, is very convinced that he chose the perfect name for his resort when he said, “In Oasis, everything you need as a traveler is here.”
For rush hours dining, you can visit the resort’s 24-hour fast food, the “Kainan sa Sevilla” (eatery in Sevilla). It also has a gasoline station, car service, as well as tires and battery center that are located just beside the hotel — truly a one-stop watering hole and a five-star home for tourists and their cars. A spacious and guarded parking area is also available.
For those who just want to enjoy gentle surf and powdery beach sand in a quiet and peaceful retreat, the beach house of the Fernandez family is also available for guest accommodations. Located in Barangay Pagudpud, just a five-minute ride from Sevilla, the self-contained two-storey house is fully equipped with cooking facilities, bathroom and shower, and television. The beach house is known to visitors and residents alike for its beautiful ocean front setting along La Union’s shore.
For being a haven in the parched desert of La Union, Oasis was accredited by the DoT as a standard class hotel in the province for its widened kinds of services rendered by it.
By Joanna C. Castro-Cuello