Last week, I found myself in the charming town of San Antonio, Zambales.

It was a spontaneous Manila trip—not generally plotted into my trips for the year. But I was up for a quick adventure break, so the close-to-a-week-long break was a welcome change from the crazy in Cebu.

Last week’s trip was just what the doctor ordered: “sanity leave” or a “vacray-cray leave.”

While I lived in Manila for over four years, Zambales was never a place I had a chance to visit for extended periods of time. In the past, work brought me to the beautiful Casa San Miguel (more of this sanctuary in a bit) or had me driving straight through in order to reach other neighboring provinces.

Zambales has a charm that I can’t quite place a finger on. The province provides you with an exhilarating yet chill rush as you go surfing, and a laidback and relaxed feeling as you take in the art scene and revel in its strange mix of flora and fauna. In the short time spent in the town, you catch yourself marveling at its beauty and getting caught off guard by its strange surprises and secrets.

Zambales is home to Casa San Miguel, a painfully beautiful property that is home to the arts and history of Zambales.

Casa San Miguel is a breathtaking sanctuary that is nothing but an artistic haven. Run by world renowned concert violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata, Casa San Miguel serves as a museum that showcases works of local artists and the history of Zambales.

Most importantly, it also serves as home where dreams come true for many young children inclined towards the arts. Casa San Miguel also serves as a music school and provides workshops and scholarships to children of Zambales who are interested in music and growing in the craft.

Over the past years, Casa San Miguel has nurtured young musicians who later ventured into conservatories and continued to play hauntingly beautiful music.

During our Zamables trip, we had the chance to catch a short violin concert by one of the resident scholars of Casa San Miguel. The 10-year-old breezed through Smooth Criminal and Despacito with ease and struck a chord in all of us. The kid was so chill.

As I think about it, I wish schools had stronger arts education programs. It’s amazing how transformative arts education is for children. And I wished that back in the day, my school had stronger music programs–I would have loved to learn to play the violin or the piano.

If you happen to find yourself in Central Luzon, make time to visit Zambales and enjoy the thrill of surfing and catching waves and take in the beauty of their local art and history. It’s a beautiful town where art, history, and a thrill of adventure blend into one beautiful community.

True to its words, there’s a sense of “casa” in Zambales–where you feel at home and embrace all its beautiful wonders.