Seeing that we are going to be back in the Philippines again this time next year (YAY!) we figured it’s time to share some photos from our trip last year. (How is it that it’s going to be almost a year since we were there? I don’t know. Time is going by scary fast.)

A quick background in case you guys didn’t know: I, Kathrina, was born in the Philippines. Majority of my extended family still live there, my aunts, uncles and so many cousins. It makes me sad to think about how much I miss out on their daily lives, how much they miss out on mine. Technology has come a long way to help – I mean I remember when my grandma was alive, she’d send letters to my mom with her perfect handwritten cursive along with photos showing us how much everyone was growing. It would be weeks, months in between receiving these updates – and now we can hear from them and see photos within seconds.

I immigrated to the USA when I was three, in November right before Christmas. Even though we have been back since, it’s been quite some time since we’ve celebrated Christmas in the Philippines. Not sure how we made it happen but somehow my entire immediate family (which has grown with all the nieces and nephews) were able to plan a family trip to the Philippines for Christmas and New Year.

Family trips are always a bit different – especially since we had nine adults and six kids, ranging from 12 years to 8 months old, traveling. It’s not always easy just picking up and going sightseeing. There were a lot of days spent catching up, eating, playing mahjong, eating, and just hanging out….while eating. We had a few things on the itinerary that didn’t pan out because of the rain and other places we wish we could’ve gone to – like visiting my hometown of Legazpi but next year we’ll definitely make that happen.


This post is Part I of II. Photos here are from Taal Volcano, Tagaytay and Manila. Next week we’ll share photos from Coron with a video. Hope you guys enjoy!


Taal Volcano

Funny because visiting Taal Volcano wasn’t even on our mind. The rain changed our plans the day before though so we had an extra day with not much planned. There are views of Taal from a few restaurants in the area and driving around you can see it from the car – so you kind of forget you can actually go visit it!

You have to take a boat ride to the island and once you arrive you can either hike up the volcano or take a horse ride up. A few of us wanted to hike up but were talked into taking the horse – which after being on the trail we were kind of glad because the trek was longer than we thought, even tricky at times and it was muddy and so hot. A person goes with you to handle the horse and at times ride with you so you don’t need experience with the animal. Once you’re up at the top the views are fantastic and it is kind of a wonder that you’re standing on an active volcano.

boat ride to taal volcano horse back ride up to taal volcano horses on top of taal volcano visting taal volcano


My aunt and uncle have a beautiful home in Tagaytay and this is where we mostly stayed.

It’s become a more popular area to go to because the weather is a lot cooler here. New Years Day it was pouring raining and at night, dare I say, it was quite chilly. Bringing a jacket wasn’t exactly on our packing list considering the Philippines. You don’t realize how much cooler it is in Tagaytay, because it is still pretty warm, until you go to Manila and you’re just dripping in sweat there.

Mahjong. Always mahjong.

house in tagaytayThe family minus five cousins. This includes my mom’s four siblings and their kids.


My sisters and their kids left a day before Joe, my brother and I did while my parents stayed an extra few weeks after we left – so we had one day kid free! We went around Manila, the capital of the Philippines and did a little sightseeing.

We visited Intramuros, the Walled City for the first time and did a little tour learning more about the history and seeing quite a few landmarks. Even my parents forgot a lot about the history of the Philippines so it was great learning more about it and hearing their own personal memories that came up.

rizal monument quiapo church inside quiapo church exterior of quiapo church Joe. Always standing out here.

filipino street ice cream san agustin church manila high school