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Zambales is listed in the 1995 World Guinness Book of Records as having produced the sweetest mango fruit in the world, a pride that the province is still reaping from every year with every celebration of its 6-day mango festival. Known as Sweet Elena, the mango fruit was also recognized for being the biggest type by the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry for three consecutive years. It's only fitting that I had it for a refreshing drink in the form of a shake over lunch when I recently visited the province. The venue of the sweet experience was Rama International Beach Resort in the municipality of Botolan.
This Is Botolan
There I was a few weeks ago in a distant shoreline of Zambales that's past the congested strip of resorts. At Rama, the ambiance was laid-back. A popular surf spot, it's also getting the attention of skimboarders. Devoid of island getaways' rustic charm, Botolan's beach resorts may initially look dated like it was stuck in the '90s beach nostalgia. However, a stroll at the beachfront reminded me of my old Zambales beach in the '80s when I ran with my cousins past pine trees to reach the vast expanse of gray sand. That's how cozy and free-spirited Rama International Beach Resort was to me during my visit.
Of all places in the sprawling property of the resort, I found refuge at the scenic driveway where lush greenery can be seen. I especially adored the shade under some of the trees that dot the stretch of entrance within the premises. The charming distance of the resort's front desk from the main entrance allowed guests the illusion of exoticism. At the same time, it gives guests the convenience of commute since Manila and Olongapo-bound buses and vans ply the nearby highway every 10 minutes. Guests can actually bring their bikes and have fun in the space in the afternoon before sunset or they can jog there right after sunrise. A view of a nearby old watchtower made by Americans was a bonus.
My overnight accommodation was just below the elevated restaurant of the resort and a stroll away from the beachfront. The room's window gave me a good view of the waist-high grassy lot outside next to the beach. Fixtures were of no-frills value, including a reliable contemporary bidet at the bathroom which I always look for in resorts and hotels. Wi-Fi was strong inside my room and at the restaurant's dining area where I sampled some dishes that have made the resort famous as a gustatory venue. I had the fortunate time to have the company of an adorable resort puppy which quietly stayed with me inside the room.
For starters, I had a huge bowl of the filling Rama Soup that was good for sharing with 3 to 4 people. It felt like the main course but it did not outshine my order of the stellar Boneless Lemon Chicken. The wonderful surprise of the day was a serving of Rama's chopsuey which tasted remarkably sweet. I actually finished the whole plate that was good for 3 people. It was that great because its starch-thickened sauce was flavorful and silky in taste. I also enjoyed a glass of the guest-favorite Choco Vanilla Shake along with my glass of Mango Shake. For dinner, I went for an old-school pizza flavor of pepperoni and cheese.
Breakfast With A View
My morning meal was an American breakfast plate of two eggs and a toast but with a Filipino twist of tocino. It was made memorable with a pleasant view of the beach.
A worthy stopover before returning to Manila is a visit of Olongapo City where a van ride from the resort can set you back P100. Victory Liner buses regularly leave the city every hour, so you can still dine in any of the local restaurants or bistros in the area before tackling the 2-hour bus ride.
Official website of Rama International Beach Resort
Address: Km. 189 National Rd., Binoclutan, Botolan, Zambales, Philippines 2202
Phone: (047) 252-9978, (+63) 918-910-1280, and (+63) 917-523-7262
Child Policy: Children 3 feet and above are considered under adult rate and shall be charged accordingly. Children that are 3 feet below are free of charge provided they are staying with adults. No extra bed is required.
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