If you want to avoid the usual hassles of this holiday, and give your special someone a unique experience this year, try these date ideas that are absolutely out of the (chocolate) box.
1. Go back in time at Las Casas, Bataan
Go old school and travel centuries back in time at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. The open-air museum and park showcases the Spanish-era of the Philippines with heritage houses that were carefully restored and transported from different parts of Luzon. If you think you’ll be spending an entire day touring dingy houses, you’re mistaken, as there is much to do inside Las Casas!
Channel your inner Juan dela Cruz and Maria Clara by discovering what life was like back then – walk on cobbled stones, ride a calesa and unravel tales of love and lust behind each bahay na bato through the heritage guides’ soulful narration. You can also watch artisans work using traditional art methods like wood carving, stained-glass and mosaic art.
End your day by walking into the sunset at Las Casas’ very own beach, facing Mt. Mariveles. At sundown, head to Paseo de Escolta to watch the mini-fiesta featuring folk songs and dances. Then cap it all off by sampling the brick-oven pizza at La Bella Teodora and staying over at one of the intricately designed heritage houses.
2. Surprise her (or even him!) with a vintage car ride
If you and your special someone like going on roadtrips, try putting more soul into the journey by going on a vintage car ride. Rent an elegant restored car from early in the century or a classic, open top sports car for some suave. Up the nostalgia by driving through places that have been memorable to both of you, or go to nearby cities with a good mix of scenery and heritage like Tagaytay, Sta. Rosa, Laguna or Tanay, Rizal.
Great stopovers for these cities are their beautiful churches, which are less likely to be crowded on Valentine’s Day unlike restos and view decks. Enjoy the scenic and traffic-less route to Madre de Dios in Tagaytay Highlands, Montecito Chapel in Nuvali, or Church in the Sky in Taytay. Don’t forget the music and chocolates!
Supplier: Royal Carriages or Don Robert’s Bridal Cars
Price: Prices vary depending on car type and rental duration
Contact: + 63 917 854 1983 for Royal Carriages or + 63 917 501-0322 for Don Robert’s
Website: https://www.facebook.com/RoyalCarriagesPH or http://www.bridalcars.com.ph/cars.htm
3. Get in touch with nature at Rave Park Pasig
With the city growing at a steadfast pace, it’s becoming quite hard to find a piece of nature within Manila. At Rave Pasig, you can find trail parks, flower gardens and take a breath of fresh air right in the middle of the city.
Go boating in their mini-lagoon, explore their Alice in Wonderland-inspired maze garden, or observe different species of moth, butterflies and flowers at their Botanical Garden and Flower Park. Both gardens are in full bloom, making them perfect for couple shoots!
Address: F. Legaspi Ave. Maybunga, Pasig City, Philippines
Hours: 8:00AM – 12:00AM
Price: Each garden or activity has an entrance fee or P10-P20
Contact: +63 2 642 5280
4. Nurture your body and soul in a natural spa
If both of you are extremely busy and could use a break, go on a healing detox spa date. The Farm at San Benito offers a variety of wellness retreats, and their The Farm Wellness Experience package is just right for the weekend, with a minimum stay of 3-nights.
All retreats offered in The Farm include a set of integrated medical consultations and massages at their healing sanctuary. Daily gourmet vegan meals, a variety of movement and exercise activities, and accommodation in their lavish suites or villas are also included in the package. You’ll both come out feeling refreshed and energized.
Address: The Farm at San Benito, 119 Barangay Tipakan, 4217 Lipa City, Batangas City
Hours: Check-in time starts at 2:00PM
Contact: +63 2 884 8074
5. Go Stargazing into the night
If you still want to do a candle-lit dinner date but with a special touch, try capping it off with some downtime under the stars. The hillside route of Antipolo offers a stunning, unobstructed view of the Metro Manila skyline, and at Seven Suites Hotel Observatory, you can have a romantic dinner and end it by stargazing at their observatory deck.
The hotel also has the country’s 4th largest telescope, so you can take a closer look at the stars and learn interesting facts from their in-house astrologer. Do make a wish if you see a shooting star!
Address: Blk. 1 Lot 2 Hollywood Hills Subdivision, Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City
Contact: +63 2 682 0330 or +63 2 682 2076
Price: Dinner package starts at PhP 795 per person
6. Find romance in the skies with a hot air balloon ride
Take your romance to new heights with a hot air balloon ride at this year’s Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Clark, Pampanga. With balloon flights scheduled daily at sunrise (5:30 AM) or sunset (5:30 PM), you will be flying among a number of other balloons against the multi-colored skies, making for a spectacular view. Each ride can last 20-45 minutes depending on the weather, so pray for a clear day so you can fly longer.
If riding a hot air balloon is not your thing, dozens of balloons in flight are also a sight to behold from the ground. You can watch the fiesta from your parked car at the spectator area. Be sure to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot.
Date: February 11-14, 2016
Address: Air Force City complex, along A. Bonifacio Highway, Clark Field, Pampanga
Contact: +632 851 2450 or check their comprehensive FAQ at philballoonfest.net/faq
Price: General Admission – P350 / person, free for kids aged 3 and below
SPACE SPACEPremium Admission – P6,000 / person, inclusive of snacks and lounge access
SPACE SPACEHot Air Balloon Ride – P16,500 or $350 / person
Website: http://www.philballoonfest.net/online-ticketing to purchase tickets and see other activities available
7. See sparks fly from your own private yacht
Ever dreamt of living the high life, even just for a night? On the eve of Valentine’s Day, you can, by renting your own private yacht and watching fireworks from its deck.
Gallo Yacht Charters is offering an exclusive use of their yacht for 3 hours, inclusive of a romantic dinner, a cruise along Manila Bay and a spectacular view of the fireworks display. Head there by sundown to get a bonus view of the famous Manila Bay sunset.
Date: every Saturday starting February 13 until March 19, 2016 | 7:30 and 8:30 PM
Address: Seaside Boulevard, SM Mall of Asia
Price: P27,000 for exclusive use of yacht, P800 / person for the dinner
Contact: +63 995 534 1544 or +63 917 492 0006 | email@example.com
8. Be serenaded by an award-winning acapella group
There’s nothing like a melodic song to pull on your heartstrings this day of hearts. 2014 Akapela Open champions, Pinopela will be performing at the Acacia Hotel Manila. Get ready to be entertained with acapella music while enjoying a refined 6-course dinner menu prepared by the wonderful in-house culinary staff. If you’re left wanting more after the event, make sure to check out the Tree Top Lounge, the hotel’s secret rooftop al fresco area for more good music, breathtaking views of the city or just a nightcap.
Date: February 13, 2016 | 7:30 PM
Address: Acacia Hotel Manila, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
Price: P1,800 nett person, includes a 6-course dinner with a glass of sparkling wine
Contact: +63 720 2000