Get motivated to plan an affordable experiential learning getaway with your kids. In this article, we will take you to 5 spots in and around the outskirts of Manila that offer the best but most affordable experiential learning environment. Plus, tips on how to turn the trip into a life-learning experience.
But first, what is Experiential Learning?
It is a learning method that is basically – to learn while doing and interacting with the surrounding. It is an active trial-and-error process of differentiating, understanding, and connecting learners with their abilities and the environment. Learners develop confidence and better knowledge of matters at hand as they analyze and, in the process, may come up with an idea to resolve any situation they encounter.
Experience breeds improvement. In the long run, it empowers us to be on top of anything we strive for, like studying and personal development.
Indeed, Experience is the best teacher.
Where to Find the Nearest Experiential Spots in Luzon?
Be thrilled to know that there are spots and places like parks, farms, and forests (yes, forests!) within or just on the outskirts of Manila, still noteworthy for your time to visit.
Some of these places you may already know, but at present, it does not look the same.
And some you will be surprised to know to exist.
Take this as a sign to travel to neighboring cities or provinces. Transfer from urban to rural, real quick.
1. MANILA ZOO – An Experiential Spot for learning Zoology and Biology
Recently rehabilitated, the Manila Zoo is the first on our list. This will be like a Jungle Book character meet-up with your kid! After almost a year of renovation, the zoo opened its doors to the public last November 21, 2022. For a very reasonable price, the new facelift provides a better space to be amongst flora and fauna.
In addition to that, it is nostalgic for the parents! A good activity would be telling the kids about fond family trips during their childhood days while seeing the animals.
What to Experience in Manila Zoo
The 14-hectare Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden is now home to more than 800 animals, crawlers, and feathered creatures alike. Housed separately in different sections, such as:
- The Zoo Lagoon
- Reptile House
- The Aviary
- Butterfly and Botanical Garden
- and The Apex Predators
The highlight of the visit would be seeing Mali the Elephant and some of the endemic Philippine creatures such as the Philippine Palm Civet, Philippine Monkey, and the Palawan Deer, to name a few. The zoo also offers amenities like a small lake and fountain, the Children’s park, and the playground. Small kiosks for snacks and drinks are available too, should you and your family need to replenish after an hour or so of walking around the park.
Experiential TIP: You can turn the visit into a hunt and match the Animal Book to identify the animals, their life cycle, what they eat, to their significant role in the ecosystem and the environment.
Post-visit, sit down with the kids to memorialize the moment. For instance, make a scrapbook, diorama, or paper crafts depicting the favorite animals they’ve encountered at the zoo.
How to Get There and How Much for the Experience:
Located in M. Adriatico, Malate, you can easily find your way there by checking their website before you visit for more updates and guidelines. The park is Open from 9 AM to 6 PM.
2. ARROCEROS FOREST PARK – An Experiential Spot for learning Botany, History, and Wellness
This Manila hidden gem is just 3.7km away from the Manila Zoo. It is also a newly rehabilitated riverside park that coddles 61 varieties of trees including centuries-old ones, and thousands of ornamental plants. The “Last Lung of Manila” is not as big as New York’s Central Park, but it can still absorb carbon particles up to 3 tons!
Part of the rehabilitation program was to place park amenities manned by Manila City’s personnel in order to ensure peace, order, and cleanliness within the perimeters of the park. Amenities are as follows:
- elevated walkways scattered with sitting benches
- small coffee shop
- areas for Calisthenics or Wellness & meditation great for mental health alignment
What to Experience Inside the Arroceros Park
As the pandemic restrictions for children were now lifted, more and more parents seek the outdoors to give their kids “a breath of fresh air.” Here, kids can observe and learn about different tree and plant species, run around, relax and do breathing exercises or have a mini picnic with family or friends. It’s a perfect spot to educate the children on how to take care of the environment, highlighting the history of the place and its preservation that was fought for over the years, owing to environmental and conservation groups.
Our tiny forest park may just be a tiny speck in the city corner, but it’s a relief to know that we still have one to go to whenever we need a quick urban getaway or mental health break. Have I mentioned that Arroceros park has a very long and interesting history? As a matter of fact, it was a park mentioned in Dr. Jose Rizal’s Noli Mi Tangere. This is also once home to the first Chinese community in Manila.
Experiential TIP: Create a Nature Journal with your kids – pick a tree to draw and discuss, gather some leaves, and tape it on the journal Go back to the park as much as possible until they learn to appreciate nature journaling.
How To Get There and How Much for the Experience:
Good news! a visit requires NO FEE, and it is just located and tucked near the LRT Central Terminal.
To learn more about Arroceros park’s history and its present updates, we suggest visiting their FB page.
3. LAS PINAS-PARANAQUE WETLAND PARK – An Experiential Spot for learning about Marine Habitats and their Conservation
This secluded place was opened for a public visit just last October 2022, beside the busy CAVITEX. The wetlands play a big role in the preservation of marine life habitats, purifying polluted waters, migratory and local bird sanctuaries, and preventing storm surges and floods.
What to Experience in the Las Pinas – Paranaque Wetland Park (LPPWP)
As DENR puts it, the LP Wetland Park will serve as a scientific, recreational, and educational center where residents of Metro Manila and of other regions can learn about the local, national, and global importance of wetlands.
The unique experience of your learner/ child will truly be one-of-a-kind in this conservation park. To list a few, here are some of the things they may try to do here:
- Join groups that observe migratory birds
- discover marine life like mollusks and fishes
- learn how to prevent pollution
- Get to know the mangrove / aquatic forests
- learn the importance of waste management + beach cleanups
- Organic fertilization thru Vermicomposting
How to Get There and How Much for the Experience:
As mentioned, the park can be accessed through the Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX), aka Coastal Road. It is just right before you reach the toll gates, and you must be careful not to miss the small road access to LPPCHEA (Las Pinas – Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area) turn right before reaching the toll gates. There is no public transportation to get to the site, so it is best to use private or rented vehicles.
For now, anyone interested in visiting the park must first send an email to email@example.com in order to obtain an entry permit at least 7 days prior to your planned date to visit. The LPPCHEA-DENR office will also arrange a guided tour for your group, do check with them the requirements if you also want to join a scheduled beach clean-up. For other details, do check out announcements/updates prior to your visit at https://www.facebook.com/lppwp
This will certainly be a different kind of mini adventure for your family!
Experiential TIP: Don’t skip the environmental talk if it’s included in the tour, it will get the kids excited about the activities you are going to do while in the park. Ask them to pick rocks or seashells, anything that they find interesting and create a curiosity box when you get home, this is a box that helps them keep things that spark their interest. These trinkets or collected items that they can pull out anytime to play with or create something from it.
4. FOREST SCHOOL PHILIPPINES – An Experiential Spot for learning Independence and Creativity
The Forest School is an outdoor play-based and learner-led type of learning facility, where kids are allowed to roam the outdoors and play without much of a rule but to enjoy everything they touch, as far as their eyes can see.
They advocate self-reliance and building confidence through play. The kids take flight while parents take the back seat, giving the kids 2 hours of pure outside play and liberty to take charge of their learning as they commune with nature thru the Nature Walk, basically giving their wild imagination a step closer to reality.
Here, a child is allowed to climb trees, play, and create anything from mud, sticks, and stones, splash water from the flowing river to be messy, get a bump or two, and wear a knee scrape as a badge of honor. Yep, the inner Peter Pan and the lost boys will be happily roaming amongst their element, guaranteed.
What to Experience in Nature Walk
The kids can possibly be just about anything! Purely dependent on their creative mind, they can freely do anything here, such as this list:
- bird watching
- insect hunting
- splashing in puddles and playing mud
- Shelter building and tying knots
- Digging and building with their collected twigs and stones or more spontaneous activity.
Expect them to meet new creatures and build something out of the mud clay or sticks they gathered along the way. Enjoying outdoor activities without the fear of getting hit by a bike or car while running wildly outside is already a big wow factor!
Although it’s a free zone for kids, their safety is still at top of their minds. As a matter of fact, the forest school facilitators equipped with certification in safety and first aid know-how are to guide the children to the forest while the kids are allowed to take on some risky play.
All-in-all, The Forest school, if I may say, is one of the ultimate experiential learning environments available.
How to Get There and How Much for the Experience
The Nature walk goes through the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) path in Silang, Cavite. To book, just simply check this FAQ and fill out a form. One session requires at least 4 kids to push through. For more details on schedule, prices, and how to contact them – please check their website: https://forestschoolphilippines.com/forest-school or directly message their FB page.
Experiential TIP: After the walk, have a bonfire complete with smores at home or set up a camping tent in their room, or if you have a yard, suggest crowding a tent under the moon and stars with the kids. Just create a space where they can talk and revel in their experience. Remember to make them feel you are interested and proud of their self-reliance and their discoveries.
5. GK ENCHANTED FARM Tour by Gawad Kalinga Foundation – Experiential Spot for learning Agriculture and Social Responsibility + Entrepreneurship
Are your kids wondering where the food you serve is coming from?
It must be cool for them to see it on TV shows like Waffles + Mochi by Netflix. Continue to indulge this fascination while they are young by going where it happens. With this in mind, we suggest The Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm. The Farm run by a well-known NGO called The Gawad Kalinga Foundation or GK.
Back when they were starting, GK had Agriculture and Social Entrepreneurship in mind while educating Filipinos on ways to help alleviate poverty and restore human dignity through farming. And with that intention, the idea branched out to social businesses owing to the easy access to resources made and produced by GK students and alumni.
What To Experience in GK Enchanted Farm
FARM HOPE TOUR is a 2-hour walking tour of the 10 facilities including, but not limited to:
- farm animal feeding
- enjoy farm-fresh meals
- Farming activities
- community interaction or farm life immersion
- Farm Village University sessions or social enterprise demonstrations for:
- Plush & Play (Stuffed Toys)
- Enchanted Nuts (Peanut Brittle)
- Ambension Silk Enterprise (Eri Silk)
- Karabella (Carabao’s Milk Ice Cream)
- MAD Travel (Bamboo Straw Making)
*farming activities like digging, planting, watering, weeding, and other tasks depend on the season and the weather.
How to Get there and How Much to Spend for the Experience
Located in Barangay Encanto, Angat, Bulacan – GK Farm is a vast plethora of agricultural scenes, offering more than 30 hectares of different farming and livestock business models, which would surely give your learners a one-of-a-kind rural experience!
Just choose from the different tour packages they offer.
It is advised to double-check with GK for any changes on rate or package inclusion, prior to visiting. If you feel like a day is not enough to enjoy the rural farm experience, accommodations are also available with complete amenities such as a large pool to relax and enjoy.
How To Schedule A Visit
Experiential TIP: Encourage your child to talk to the farmers and their kids, and have sort of an immersion, like doing some farm work with them. This can be a great eye-opening experience not just about food but also about social responsibility and the simple life in the rural area.
Experiential + Travel means Imagination turned to reality
All the books, illustrations, and sit-down discussions with the kids are best coupled with real and tangible things. This list is just a few of the places near the Metro that are not only accessible but also convenient for your family to plan a quick getaway. Making it a trip worthy enough to pique your learner’s imagination and fascination. All in all, these spots were meant not only to entertain but also to provide extraordinary exposure to different types of life skills and grounding experiences.
To emphasize, experiential learning is about being present and trusting your child, letting them learn by doing things on their own with limited supervision. Don’t get so wound up with travel preparations. By all means, delegate and supervise. After all, we are teaching values as well. Take this as an opportunity to create profound bonding memories with the family, then make new discoveries or maybe, some friends. Learning the academic points from the trip will be a bonus.
I’d always say to my learners – “Kids, the world is your oyster, do please enjoy it, and if you feel like flying – just go for it!”
“A moment lasts all of a second, but the memory lives on forever.”~ Lori Robinson
About the Author: Nelle Gillesania of <heynelle.com> is a homeschooling mom of 2 curious boys. A multi-potentialite, a self-made multimedia and voice artist, and a “rambler writer” who runs on coffee. She strongly believes that the first and natural teachers of our future leaders are: family love, nature, and experiences.