Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Man-made Lake




Tayabas is Quezon Province’s own brew of other distant destinations. Aside from being the home of sweet cassava (which locals call budin) and yema cakes, the city is as breezy and cold as Tagaytay or Baguio City. More than the sight of some of its crumbling mansions and old houses, the vintage feel of Vigan or Taal is also palpable in almost every corner. A visit of the minor basilica and a nearby old stone house (the second largest in the Philippines) or at least in one of its 11 Spanish-built old bridges is enough to convince a tourist that the city is worth revisiting.

Nestled at a charming spot of its eco-tourism district is a vacation and recreational getaway called Graceland Estates and Country Club. This shows the city’s calibre for perfectly blending countryside living with modern facilities. The resulting project is a sprawling 11-hectare development of a more expansive 22-hectare property, something that I’ve come to realize can appeal well to individuals seeking solace from the urban decay of city living or families needing a pleasant space for quality time.

Deer Farm

My booked Apartelle room

One can request the club’s front desk to explore the vast expanse of the property aboard a golf cart. I was fortunate to have been given a short ride enough to see spots that I walked on foot to reach the next day. I found both experiences rewarding instead of just staying inside my booked room. Strolling allowed me to take a gander at Graceland Estates’ outskirts-based sections. This is because a whole day is not enough to really imbibe the entirety of the place. An experience of the estate is not only getting cozy inside the room. Satisfaction also beckons outdoors.

The events place of the estate
Jars of smoothies

During my stroll, I noticed that long and winding roads were intentionally paved to elude age-old trees, keeping the natural sanctity inside the manicured estate. Even its F&B facility, Memphis Garden Café and Grille, was designed to conform to the locations of existing foliage. I learned at the site that hardwood and fruit-bearing trees were planted all over the land even before the club got opened to the public. A few more were added to replace what were lost after a damaging typhoon.

Interestingly, after trying out some of its outdoor amenities, I also found it fit for corporate outings or team buildings. Its man-made lake is surrounded by a jogging and biking lane that's generously dotted by trees. Folding and conventional bikes can be rented for half an hour of carefree enjoyment. The same lagoon allows guests to experience an intimate or romantic boat ride of fresh air. It’s also a great spot for a fishing adventure. There are two expansive free-form swimming pools with one having a sparkling jacuzzi and the other a curving kiddie slide. A patch of nine-hole putting green accentuates one side of the apartelle which makes for a breathtaking view for guests to wake up to in the misty Tayabas City morning. I actually enjoyed a fantastic round of golf with Dennis Dolojan, a fellow travel blogger, for an hourly rate. We also tried the adrenaline-rush laced rope course, outdoor wall climbing, and archery to challenge our relaxed bodies. They are actually great for family bonding or team building programs. Lastly, we did not pass on the chance to experience a zipline ride with a pastoral view of the neighbouring rice field.

Pakbet with Bagnet
(Top: L-R) Hardinera, Gumamela Drink and Roasted Chicken
(Bottom: L-R) Kulawu, Sinigang Na Hipon Sa Buko and Lambanog Chocolate Balls
Binagoongang Baboy
Memphis Garden Cafe & Grille

Among the other amenities to try at the estate are the basketball and tennis courts, the simulated beach volleyball court, kayaking at the lagoon, the air soft course and horseback-riding. Parents with kids can enjoy personal time as there’s also a children's playground.

My pre-Christmas visit allowed me to view with relevance the presence of more than twenty deers. The graceful, slender-legged ruminant animals evoked childhood memories of holiday stories. With quality habitat under cold climate, the charming herd started with just four (1 male and 3 female). I didn’t have to travel all the way to Palawan from Metro Manila for this visual spectacle!

Children's playground
It’s an exaggeration to note that members of the estate staff were obsequious, but to a decent degree they were helpful during my 3-day stay. With the vastness of the property in mind, I dreaded walking alone to my booked apartelle after an immersion at the city proper or waking up for an early morning stroll without seeing one employed soul. The mere presence of the estate staff at their assigned posts even in the wee hours gave me enough sense of security being away from home.

With an accommodation at the estate’s apartelle, I felt safe for three days. My booked air conditioned room was spacious. My two nights were enhanced by restful sleep thanks to the velvet-soft bed. My favorite part of the room was the balcony which offered me a private space to view the panorama of the estate in my pajamas.

(left) Kinulob Na Baka; (right) Fish with Mango Sauce
Rainbow over the man-made lake
The view from my booked Apartelle room veranda
Outdoor Wall Climbing Terrain

I was informed by the staff that the nearby camp site is popular during summer time. Frequent drizzles can dampen a camping experience, so it’s best to schedule a tent rental at the estate once the month of sunny March kicks in. Guests can set up tents and ignite a bonfire under the star-studded sky. This is a great way to experience the natural cool ambiance of Tayabas City as embraced by the nearby Mount Banahaw.

For foodies or those who love to dine at booked accommodations, the estate-based Memphis Garden Café and Grille offers local-inspired and fusion dishes. The restaurant sits at the center of the development and offers free Wi-Fi. It was there where I sampled native Quezon Province dishes such as Longganisang Lucban, Kinulob Na Baka (beef), the llanera-steamed Hardinera (a local meatloaf), Sinigang Na Hipon (shrimp) Sa Buko (coconut) and the ethnic Kulawu (sliced banana flowers cooked in charred coconut milk).

Even the dessert and beverage set was inspired by local favorites. I was fortunate to have sampled the resto’s inventive Lambanog Chocolate Balls, the ube-filled Turon de Graceland, and the smooth Gumamela Drink.

Meals of reinvented dishes like Pakbet with Bagnet,
Fish with Mango Sauce, and Crispy Binagoongang Baboy (pork) were memorable. Also remarkable were breakfast of healthy malunggay bread with pesto and Graceland’s pancake version that’s topped with banana slices. With Chef Jio Macalipay at the helm in the kitchen, the restaurant is certain to provide a tasty dining experience to guests and seasoned banquet and catering services to interested parties.

Memphis Garden Cafe & Grille interiors

An authentic taste of Tayabas City won’t be complete without a visit of Graceland Estates and Country Club. Both have managed to enrich one side of Quezon Province that deserves more than a whiff. The estate essentially dares you to embrace everything about it.

Graceland Estates and Country Club

Address: Barangay Camaysa, Tayabas City, Quezon
Phone: (042) 793-2693 or (042) 793-2857 or (02) 697-5283
24-Hour Front Desk: (02) 697 7468
Mobile: 0917-597-5315 or 0917 592-9510 or 0922-818-7952

Makati Sales Office
Phone: (02) 899-6597 or (02) 896-9113
(Globe) 0917-528-7778 or 0917-517-9256
(Sun) 0943-708-2692 or 0922-484-9393

Check out my other Quezon Province-related blog posts:
Infanta, Balagbag Falls, and Nonok Falls
General Nakar and Agos River
Cagbalete Island getaway
Attractions in Mauban
Attractions in Tayabas City
Real's Tignoan Beach

More Photos Below:

I tried a lot of the outdoor amenities; photography by Dennis Dolojan

Breakfast of malunggay bread with pesto and pancake with bacon and banana slices

Longganisang Lucban
The estate villas
Rope Course
Golf Course

Boating at the man-made lake


  1. When employees are okay, so is everything else, including their relationships and communications at workplace. Good fun team building activities for work help in developing a better work environment for the employees.


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