Getaway High : Sulyap Bed & Breakfast in San Pablo, Laguna
Getting lost in the past has never been this relaxing.
During the Spanish colonial era here in the Philippines, love stories were as rich as every wattpad novel we have nowadays. Stories of forbidden love or ‘the-one-that-got-away’ feels were a common concept especially during times when there were a lot of fixed marriages.
The woodcraft in the day was also one for the books. Cabinets and furniture pieces made of solid narra and other hardwood were carved by hand with great pride by each wood artisan. But did you know that in each wooden cabinet are hidden compartments that would only open up after some careful knocks and bends just like a secret coded vault? In this compartment is where the love letters of men to maidens and vise versa were stored, kept away from the peeping eyes of the Spaniards who would do random searches in Filipino homes. Anything one considers as a treasure can be kept hidden forever in these unsuspecting wood cabinets. Until such time it gets discovered.
For my husband’s birthday, we wanted to go back to Laguna and spend the weekend in a quiet space away from the city noise and lights. We didn’t know where but one thing’s for sure: we didn’t want to do the whole “pansol” thing all over again (although there’s nothing wrong with Pansol hot spring resorts, we love these! We just craved for something different). So I searched and searched until I found this hidden gem within San Pablo City. It felt like we opened a secret compartment that nurtured something so valuable inside, just like the tales of love letters found in those wooden cabinets. A clear ode to the past, the Sulyap Bed & Breakfast boasts of not only a serene place to spend the night but also a restaurant and museum at that! And boy, does my family love museums!
The ambiance that we came for
We arrived with a wedding photoshoot and reception happening in the function hall but the peacefulness of the place was still prominent. Stepping into the compound after our visit to Patis Tesoro’s home/workshop/cafe (see the review here), we felt like we traveled back in time to capiz windows, wooden creaky floors and tea time at azoteas (a front porch or deck terrace). We definitely were excited to head on over to our room and see what’s behind those double wooden doors.
Upon entering, the room did not disappoint.
Wooden single beds lined up good for 6 travelers with a spacious bed couch at the side. A chandelier graced the middle of the room with plenty of minute spotlights in the corners. There hung a beautiful painting on one of the walls to showcase an art piece from a native artist of Laguna, bamboo pillars and wooden window sills to complete that Filipino Kastila vibe. The glass stained windows on top of the capiz window panels glistened beautifully as each sun ray tried to push through the colored tints. Surprisingly, it had air-conditioning and a flat screen tv so it still felt like a modern hotel room but just with a more rustic setting.
The bathroom brought you back to current times, which I was actually quite relieved. I don’t think I would really survive the old ways of how people bathed and gave in to nature calls. Tiled, spacious, clean and with bamboo plants waving in the shower walls, it was a relaxing space on its own.
Outside, you can see long staircases leading up to the front of the houses and terraces with dining sections connecting to the main dining area. Here you can enjoy a slice of cake with your hot tablea choco or an icy cold glass of sago gulaman. You can whisk the afternoon away just looking out, reading a book and enjoying the soft whispers of bamboo or the light trickle of water from the garden fountain as you drown yourself in thoughts.
A short walk down a garden path would lead you to the clear blue water of their rectangular swimming pool with a kiddie pool on the side. It’s situated in the middle of their orchard seemingly located away from the thin walls of the heritage houses so as not to disturb the guests.
Their room for double occupancy is priced at Php2,900 with breakfast while the room we booked for the night was called Casa de Alitagtag priced at Php5,800 per 4 pax which comes with Sulyap’s own traditional Filipino breakfast sets.
Tagalog dishes for the belly
We chose the following breakfast sets the night before :
Longsilog (Longanisang Lucban served with steamed rice or garlic rice, eggs, pickled papaya, your choice of brewed coffee, hot tea (lipton), tabliya (hot chocolate) or fruit juice (in can)
Tapsilog which is Sulyap’s own recipe – – marinated pork served with steamed rice or garlic rice, eggs, pickled papaya, brewed coffee, hot tea (lipton), tabliya (hot chocolate) or
fruit juice (in can). The tapa was not your common tapa, just about 2 big chunks of pork marinated. Plus the beefsilog platter which is just the beef version of the tapsilog.
We had dinner at their 1907 styled restaurant to try out their authentic Tagalog dishes. I feel like we could’ve ordered more tagalog traditional dishes like lengua or igado but we went with the bestsellers as advised by the waiter:
Chicken Asparagus soup (Php 180.00) which was more like nilagang chicken, a bit too bland for my taste and it had white asparagus stalks (from the can, which I am unsure how I feel about a restaurant serving canned veggies).
Mojos (Php165.00) which are deep fried baby potatoes served with a bacon mayo dip.
San Pablo City’s own pride dish Kulawong Puso ng Saging (Php340.00) which is sliced banana heart in smoked flavor coconut milk, cooked in a fire brick stove topped with sliced pork belly. It was very creamy and was a generous serving but nothing compared to Bicol’s gata dishes.
My daughter B had her favorite Tortang Talong which is not the usual tortang talong that we are accustomed to that is normally charcoal-grilled. This one was more of an omelet which was still delicious (Php165.00).
My oldest had rice topping of Ginataang Pusit (Php165.00) which was also a San Pablo traditional recipe of squid cooked in seasoned coconut milk. Something notable was that it had shitake mushrooms that seemed to be pickled ones. This didn’t seem like a good pairing with the coconut milk base of the dish.
Rice variations came in as Steamed Rice Php35, Garlic Rice Php45.00 and Bagoong Rice Php55.00. Frankly, the bagoong rice was too bland for me. Wish it had more bagoong hehehe.
For dessert, we indulged on their dark chocolate cake slice which was moist, heavy on the stomach and fully gratifying for a chocolate lover like myself.
Museum of an Antique Collector
The owners of the boutique bed & breakfast started this museum in 2006 to have a designated place for their personal collections of antiques. With our accommodation rate comes free access to the museum with a curator to guide us through. The collection is housed in an old building in front of the restaurant which was actually a former school (Southern Luzon Colleges) alongside the function hall for special events.
My family is a lover of museums and this one sure had lots of stories attached to the antiques. One common story is the one about the secret compartments I narrated at the beginning of this article. Another is the classification of sala sets according to social standing. The poor would have the plain narra wood furniture (which in my opinion still looked very extravagant) while the Ilustrado or the wealthy families would have the seatings with the weave combination. The explanation to this is that the wealthy do not want to be all sweaty and bothered by humidity and the weave basket patterns of these sala sets allow for air to flow right through.
It’s amazing how pieces of furniture can dictate and discriminate people just by its design back in the old days.
Coffee grinders, food preservation containers, old wall telephones and other knick knacks can be found in the museum. Kudos to our curator who did an excellent job filling us in with the history of each item.
Our short but relaxing weekend was a sure Sulyap (glimpse) into the past and if you would like to stay at a place that resonates that nostalgia of the Spanish colonial era without going as far as Vigan and not too close as Intramuros, then this sanctuary tucked away in inner Laguna is a good treasure to uncover.
Overall Kastilaloy Vibes 4
’til our next getaway high… c’est la vie!
Brgy. Del Remedio, Cocoland Compound, San Pablo City Laguna
Tel. nos. (049) 573-2907
Feel free to comment on this post, share on your social media accounts or bug your barkada for your next roadtrip!
*this is not a paid advertisement. this review is from my personal experience only. Please read full disclaimer for this post here.