TEXT & PHOTO: Kaycie Gayle
Glamping or glamorous camping is something I haven’t experienced before. Thinking that it would be inconvenient and uncomfortable, I often opt not to pursue such activities like it. Apparently, in December, I was finally convinced to join. The chosen glamping site is on a mountain resort in Bataan which is nestled in an upland village located on the periphery slopes of the mountain ranges of Mt. Natib. Hence, when our van has been gliding along the paved and dirt roads as it ascent to the foothills and slopes of Mt. Natib, it’s really getting into me that I am about to embark on ecotourism.
Sinagtala Entrance Gate
Sinagtala Park and standee
This used to be a reservations-only mountain resort where accommodations are independently owned and operated. Hence, one property cannot accept bookings on behalf of other properties and will not be able to respond to any queries on rates and availabilities of rooms per day. Therefore guests should contact the respective properties directly for reservations or inquiries. The rate of accommodation may vary as to the house type and room type, however, all overnight guests have free entrance to the resort and adventure park.
Reception Area / Front Office
Group of Guest
However, in our case, none of those choices would be our temporary home for the night because we are set for glamping. For our accommodation, we would be staying in mud huts or clay huts. This is perfect for people who want outdoor accommodation in a refreshing environment who wants to reconnect with nature and appreciate modesty living. The building technology and materials used in these mud huts are environmentally friendly hence made consistent with the ecotourism thrust of Sinagtala. They made it using cement bonded board, with recycled agricultural waste making it as a clay and with bamboo shavings for walls, roof, and wooden panels. These glamping suites are spacious with a high ceiling that will allow you to move freely without feeling restricted or confined even when you stand up and move around that it could fit a group of three to four persons. Also, these mud huts are modestly furnished camping wise, keeping it simple, clean and organized. It is complete with private individual toilet and bathroom, cozy beddings and two sleeping mattresses. Meanwhile, for ventilation, it is non-airconditioned but has an electric and its window opens to the lush surroundings and allows cool breeze inside. The huts’ interior has no decorative elements but the outdoor view and the colorful plants are enough to give you a scenic view with natural decorations.
Mudhut Side view outdoor
Since it is glamping, it is expected that there is no room service for food. Actually, even all the other accommodations in Sinagtagla don’t do room service because it is actually a corporation where each establishment is of different owner. However, Sinagtala has two restaurants, the Sinagtala Cafe which is serving local cuisine with a wide selection of soups, noodles, grilled and sizzling dishes and the Tampay Cafe which is located at Tampay House. The latter serves coffee, pastries and light meals and also sells Kafe Sinagtala which is their very own cultivated coffee.
The structure where Sinagtala Cafe is silently tucked
Dining area at Cafe Sinagtala
Roof of Sprawling vine and plants with a hanging lamp
Sinagtala originated from the Filipino word ‘Sinag’ which means shine or light and ‘tala’ which means star, hence, Sinagtala literally means starlight. It was named after being able to have a sky view and see starlight at night in this place. Ergo, one of the moments I enjoyed here during the night is staying out and just looking up above, gazing at the sky and wonder which star shines the most. Together with the beauty of the night is the sound of the insects that slowly show up on places with light. Moreover, since I’ve been here during the season of cool northeast monsoon, I felt the cool gentle breeze kissing my face, and the mud huts naturally have an airy ambiance making air conditioning not necessary at night.
The pathway that allows guests to view starlight at night while walking
Meanwhile, in the morning it is good to wake up early to catch the beautiful sunrise with the infinity pool on the backdrop. The dramatic view where the fog that envelops the mountain slowly fades as the sun’s interchanging colors appear in a matter of minutes as the sun rises.
When the sun has finally lit the day brightly and after taking my breakfast I have started to roam around the property and have thought how it was before. Having been previously occupied by informal settlers from Batangas who introduced coffee trees in the community, the place has become a coffee plantation. However, when Mt. Pinatubo erupted and lahar rainfall covered the area, the owners lost a lot of the coffee trees and their livelihood and sold their property. In 2001, it was purchased by Tala Properties, Inc. Initially, the land was almost covered with cogon, hence the owners haven’t identified the stunning view that can be offered by the place. Until the architect-environmentalist who eventually became its chief designer saw the magnificent view at the edge of the property, near the cliff. Ergo, the owners have developed the idea of making it as a tourism area. In 2009, the development of the resort began from its roadways, water lines, and electrification. However, despite that it’s being developed, the original residents who are the informal settlers from Batangas were not evicted but given employment opportunities. Moreover, the area has been made with some improvements for mixed-use development by constructing an infinity pool overlooking the mountains, a multipurpose hall, a chapel and housing structures for guests. The first house to accept overnight guests is the Duyan house with only six rooms, followed by Beacon, Tampay and finally the Tanawin Houses. As of writing, there are additional houses like the Labuyo Villas, and the privately owned house named Tarictic House. Though the area has been developed, the theme is still anchored with ecotourism and considers harmony of environmental sensitivity and economic development. For this reason, host community benefits through livelihood activities from tourism development while visitors enjoy and find a place to relax while enjoying nature.
Currently, in keeping with the environmental agenda of Sinagtala, its owners have agreed to use only a portion of the lot for building structures. The owners opted not to touch the rest to preserve its beauty. In exploring its compound I have seen the structures they erected around, in the front part, I have passed on a chapel and a multi-purpose recreational hall. There are also function halls, native-style picnic huts, a three-level treehouse; playground with swings, and grilling area with faucets and water supply for cooking preparations. It also has a garden that is surrounded by colorful flowers and two infinity pools, where the first offers a good sky view and its waters seemingly cascade down the mountainside while the other is the lagoon pool. Meanwhile, going further in phase one are private houses and other choices for accommodations owned by different shareholders.
In the adventure park phase is where the adventure trails, mud huts, and the lagoon pool is located. The adventure park is equipped with a hanging bridge, an air cycle or sky bike, giant swing, zip line, and hiking trails. The park also offers a nature trek which ends into a river, ergo, providing adventure activities while glamping.
Hanging bridge back end
Sinagtala Farm Resort and Adventure Park is an ideal place for retreatants who seeks tranquility while staying outdoor and enjoying to commune with nature. Ergo, should you need a break from the city jungle and opt for a natural backdrop you may find your serenity at this place located at Brgy. Tala, Tala Road., Orani, Bataan
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. All expenses were shouldered by the author. All photos are from Kaycie Gayle