Budget-Friendly Hangouts

Red Calayan

May 21, 2019

It’s that time of the year when we get to take a long break!

Classes are over. They’re finished. They have ended only to be continued when the next school year begins.

Just like . . . your allowance.

For some of us, it completely stops during the break. For others, it’s just lessened. There are some whose allowance stays the same, but in any case, vacation time can be pretty heavy on the wallet, so we have to learn to budget what we have wisely.

We need to manage our allowance well so that we don’t run out when we actually need to spend it on something worthwhile. We need to allocate—budget—our allowance properly so that we will be able to spend it on the things we want to do. Otherwise, we will end up having nothing and saving nothing.

So how can we make the most of our break without making your budget suffer? Here are three budget-friendly hangout tips for this vacation, organized by location—bahay, Metro Manila, and nearby provinces.

1) Bahay

Staying in a mall is almost a sure way to spend money. Why not hang out at a friend’s house? I’m pretty sure you won’t have to pay for an entrance fee, there’s so much you can do, and sometimes their family will even serve free food. You could watch movies, play board games (our top picks are Codenames, Sequence, and Avalon), and have deep meaningful conversations (or DMC sessions as my friends and I call them. So Cards are a great tool for this). You could cook food, bake cookies and other pastries, and even make your own milk tea or coffee—two drinks we usually spend the most on.

For milk tea, you just need good black tea, jasmine tea, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and water. Steep the black tea and jasmine tea in equal parts hot water and hot evaporated milk for five minutes (a tea bag each per cup of hot water), remove the tea bags, add condensed milk to taste and then ice—voila, non-overpriced, homemade milk tea.

For coffee, this is super easy. If you have a french press or coffee maker, great, but if you don’t, you could just buy good grounds at the grocery, put two tablespoons of grounds in a cup of hot water, steep for four minutes, strain out the grounds with a filter, strainer, or clean cloth—feel free to improvise—and you have non-overpriced, homemade coffee! Add evaporated milk, condensed milk, and ice if you want iced coffee.

2) Within Metro Manila

If you’re from Metro Manila and you want to hang out but you don’t want to spend money inside malls, here are three places we would recommend.

First, the National Museum. A few years ago, they removed the entrance fee, so you can go there now and not pay a cent. They also have a relatively new area called the Museum of Natural History.

The architecture is great and so is everything on display. If you want to learn more about our country—whether it be about our history, culture, biodiversity, or so much more—check out the whole National Museum Complex. It’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesdays to Sundays.

Second is Rizal Park, which is right next to the National Museum. Here, you’ll find the Rizal Monument along with so many other significant statues. You could also visit Kilometer 0, the reference point for the kilometer markers all over the Philippines. There are also a lot of gardens around the park such as the Japanese garden, the Chinese garden, and the Orchidarium.

If you go during the morning, you could also see some eskrimadors. No, this is not Spanish for ice cream vendors, but they are practitioners of eskrima, a traditional Filipino martial art. The park is open every day from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. You don’t have to pay an entrance fee for the main park.

If you’re in the area, be sure to try the 3-for-PHP 150 shawarmas at the Shawarma Snack Center. It makes for a great meal after a long day of walking around.

The last one is the UP Diliman Sunken Garden. You could have picnics here, play Frisbee, football, and other sports. On Sundays, the academic oval is also closed off to cars so it’s a great place to go for a jog or a stroll. The Sunken Garden also doesn’t have an entrance fee.

3) Outside Metro Manila

If you’re from Metro Manila and you are looking for a bit more adventure in your hangout without spending so much time and money, here are three budget-friendly road trips: Batlag Falls, Pililla Wind Farm, and Mt. Binutasan. These places are all in Rizal.

Batlag Falls is a great place to relax and escape the heat. The water is cold, the falls aren’t too strong, and there are a few caves to explore. It’s located in the same area as Daranak Falls.

When you get there, there’s a PHP 50 entrance fee for Daranak Falls. Just pay, enter, then keep walking to Batlag Falls, where you have to pay another PHP 100. Daranak Falls gets really crowded but Batlag Falls tends to keep people away because of the additional PHP 100. If you can spare an extra hundred, the added peace and quiet is worth it.

The Pililla Wind Farm is where you can see huge windmills without having to spend so much and drive for 12 hours to Bangui, Ilocos Norte. Go there in the afternoon and try to catch the sunset. The skyline of Metro Manila makes for a great view. If the main complex closes down before the sunset, the other hills with windmills remain open so just make your way there.

Lastly, if you’re up for a hike, try out Mt. Binutasan. It’s first-timer friendly and if the weather’s good, you would be able to experience a sea of clouds without the cost and long drive needed to get to Mt. Pulag in Benguet. Sunrise hikes would be best if you want the sea of clouds experience. Leave Manila at around 1:30 a.m., get to Barangay Cuyambay in Tanay at around 3:00 a.m., register, start hiking with a guide, and by around 5:30 a.m. you should be near the first peak to catch the sunrise and the sea of clouds. Have breakfast there, continue hiking, before you reach the end, you could take some time to swim in the creek, then make your way back. Freshen up a bit and you can be back in Manila by lunch time.

If you already live outside of Metro Manila, there’s probably a lot of opportunities to go for an inexpensive beach trip or a hike to a river, a waterfall, or a mountain peak. Bringing your own food for a picnic would bring the most value for your money.

Also, if there are great sites and places in your town or province that you can recommend, feel free to write your suggestions in the comments section for those who are looking for awesome vacation spots.

There you have it—a quick rundown of budget-friendly hangout tips for this break!

We hope you make the most out of this break, that you would get refreshed, and of course, that you and your friends would stay safe.

Have a great vacation!


The Author

Red Calayan

Red Calayan is a full-time LIFE coach at Every Nation Campus Katipunan. He is also a former radio DJ, professional meme creator, sitcom script writer, and drummer (or "drummer emeritus" as his bandmates like to say) of a local band, Munimuni.