No Strangers at The Circle

     Right before my trip back to Manila in July of last year, I have been reading several Filipino travel blogs to get me acquainted of some of the new travel spots in the Philippines.  After a 12-year absence in my homeland, I hope to get familiarized again of some of the places I’ve been to and places I intend to visit and explore.

     Almost every day of my life is like an adventure ever since I got back here in Manila.  Most of the time, I don’t know what to expect–no idea where a road leads to, getting lost, asking questions from locals, and again, it’s an on-going moments of re-learning.  Never thought I would look on to a map of Manila again in my life.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m a newly-arrived immigrant (bagong salta) in a country. Having watched TFC (The Filipino Channel) programs back in the US might have somehow re-oriented me of the Philippines, but of course, it was just not enough.

     And now, it’s summer time. Classes are out.  It gives me some flexibility to do more of my exploring and re-learning.

     I came across The Circle Hostel in several travel blogs even before I arrived the Philippines.  Though I find it quite unique from other beach resorts, thought I’d give it a chance and experience it myself.   While I made my reservations,  I was still apprehensive of staying in this type of accommodation simply because of its concept of being “open” to everyone–no doors, no borders, common area for showers, common area everywhere.  The hostel truly lives up with their motto: There are no strangers here.

greeted by this at the entrance


where we slept, bunk beds with mosquito nets


     Oftentimes, we relate a getaway/vacation to privacy, where you enjoy the comforts of being alone and far away from the crowd.  But it was remarkable for The Circle Hostel experience change such perspective.  The concept of openness extends to the overall atmosphere of the sitio or town where the hostel is situated. Besides from the friendly guests, the hostel staff and even the locals assured tourists of having a home away from home given they are in a very remote location, that is, sitio LiwLiwa in San Felipe, Zambales. The best part of our stay was, indeed, the interaction we had with the hostel staff, guests and friendly locals.

thank you, Frexie & Ate Vangie


     I travel light and just had a backpack with me.  Before leaving, I had second thoughts of bringing some books with the hope of being able to finish them during my stay.  Glad I didn’t bring any of them. Aside from it being the best time to unwind, reflect, recharge and unplug, this eco-hostel was simply a haven for getting away with nature.

     For the longest time, I was disconnected and detached from any electronic gadget.  I was totally out of the loop of what was happening with the rest of the world and it made me feel uncomfortable at the beginning.  Until I went up to the common area where there was a lone hammock waiting to be relaxed on.  Most of the guests have not arrived during this time, and so, I got to enjoy the hammock all by myself.  With the scent of the sea breeze and view of the pine trees, it was simply soothing that I could stay there for hours or even sleep there.  In between sleep and meals, if I was not on a hammock, I was at the beach.

book and gadget-free me time


a school of relaxation


no TVs, no wifi, no cellphone signal--totally unplugged during our 4-day stay


found my zen at The Circle


getting artsy


leaving our mark


love this


great time with NFFs - Inad, Kristel, JV


another glorious day


     The warmth of the people, hammocks, sea breeze, pine trees, beach and sunset were more than enough to comfort me.  Moving on to my next adventure.  Journey continues for one certified turistang balikbayan.

 About the Author

Angela Antonio, a native of Manila, Philippines, started her career as a marketing executive in the airline-tourism industry.  In her pursuit of serving humanity, Angela entered the education field and recently earned her master’s degree in Special Education.  As Angela aspires to live her passion, vision, and purpose—Zen & Sea came to life. Angela founded and conceptualized Zen & Sea in the summer of 2006. Angela enjoys traveling, cooking, crafting, music, yoga/meditation, and nature trips.


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