Paranaque - A 1-Day Chill Out Retreat

September 11, 2010 (Saturday)

I have always been fascinated with the southern cities of Manila, particularly Paranaque and Alabang. And I have often wondered why people I have met would opt to burden themselves that far to go to central Manila every day, either for school or work, and seclude themselves within their area on weekends. Maybe there is some secret to these places aside from living among the rich and famous. Nowadays, both places have been sites of must-go-to featured restaurants. Hang-out places are also mushrooming as fast as if it was the metro, leaving me mystified and having that urge to go see for myself. Opportunity presented itself this fortunate Saturday afternoon.

From Sucat exit, we headed straight to McDo then turned left and went all the way straight to the infamous Tropical Hut located in Aguirre Street. This street is like the mainstream BF Paranaque gimik site. The Pergola was visible to our right almost immediately, inside was a different kind of Robinsons mini mall, with the bare essentials including a Robinsons Supermarket, toy store and Handyman shop. We made our way to an open area filled with dining tables and chairs on the 2nd floor of the establishment.

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Imagine yourself sitting here alone in a quiet Sunday afternoon with your laptop equipped and ready to go online on absolutely free WIFI. Nobody can bother you and you'll never go hungry with all the food choices in the area, even the supermarket is well-stacked.

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By night, imagine bringing your friends along to chill out and hear the bands and various local artists play non-stop. Community-based activities are also organized monthly and this month's focus was on a Health and Wellness full-day activity for families to celebrate Grandparents' Day. The main concept was a Robinsons unlike any other, simple and laid-back "al-fresco", they were sensitive and adaptable to the lifestyle of people living in Paranaque. One of the organizers of the event, a native Paranaque resident Eileen, shared with me that the people here are the "epitome of the word CHILL". From our brief encounter, she left me with this simple explanation:
"I love living in Parañaque because it’s accessible to the airport, the bars and malls are just a stone throw away from our place. I don’t need to drive all the way to Makati and get stuck in traffic, just to chill and relax with family and/or my friends."
Somehow after spending a few hours at The Pergola in Paranaque, I realized that living in the secluded and far-away South was not so bad. It is a city of its own like Alabang, where you wouldn't have to go very far anymore because the potential has already been recognized and business is already sprouting.

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It is also possible that the true gems of the South have only been hidden from the central city dwellers such as myself awaiting to be discovered. If ever you find yourself tired of the old Manila scene and you just want to slow things down, remember that BF Paranaque is nearer than Tagaytay, Laguna or Cavite for that laid-back afternoon of food tripping.