How a fancy tent on the beach became home for the weekend

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Being a pop culture hermit for three months or so, I only heard of “glamping” when I was given the assignment. I thought it was “glomping” — the cutesy, throw-hug inspired by shoujo anime.

When I learned it was a portmanteau — two words to make a new one; in this case, “glamorous” and “camping” — my interest was piqued even further. How does one make camping glamorous, exactly? My thoughts were occupied by Harry Potter-esque tents that looked like houses inside, replete with air conditioning, toilets and culinary stations. How does that even work?

Arriving at Crystal Beach, however, such expectations were thrown to the wind. Far from the desert-resorts I’d thought it’d be akin to, it was a little  more rustic, more outdoorsy — and pleasingly so.

Imagine yourself on a nice cloth seat, parked outside a tent for two and an air cooler beating down upon your sweaty self. The tent has an awning to shield you from the sun, and it’s a beautiful day; skies blue and cloudy as Zsaris Mendioro plays acoustic versions of old-school favorites. This, you think — feet sunk into the sand, fairy lights trailing down your tent like hipster season — this isn’t real.

But it is. Welcome to Glamping by Lifestyle — now on its third pitch and, hopefully, on to many more. Checking my itinerary, it appears there’s a ton to look forward to: food, fitness, booths, music, movies. Think the summer you never knew you needed in your life, but did. I felt like the girls in the movies, the ones who suddenly woke up to live their fairytale dreams.

Touching down, we were given special glamping bracelets and cashless chip bands to make purchases within the venue. It wasn’t as hot as I’d thought it’d be, and heading to the glamping area, we were greeted by rows of booths. There were activities the likes of beach mane sessions, calligraphy, DIY ice cream, and unlimited Nestea. Near the area, members of the Flow Collective gave festival-goers a crash course on the flow arts, such as poi, hula and the like.

In the afternoon, the MYX leg of the Summer Siren Festival began, with CRWN playing some well-known songs and collaborations. The Flow Collective also gave a fiery performance, props set on fire and blazing majestic into the night. The lineup itself was a mix of up-and-coming acts and hard-hitting veterans — BP Valenzuela, She’s Only Sixteen, Cheats, The Ransom Collective, Quest, Hale, Moonstar88, Ebe Dancel, Ace Ramos and Highrise. A special space was set up for glampers to get their fill of unlimited drinks and pica-pica, with mixes the likes of cherry vodka and salted caramel.

Out of the woods: Summer Siren Festival offered an alternative music getaway for the weekend.

With some new friends from other publications, the first day was spent swimming on sunset shores and making the most out of Summer Siren. If music wasn’t your thing, you were treated to a star-lit night of movies and a buffet welcome dinner. That night, we had (500) Days of Summer and Mean Girls before heading down to retire.

Despite a hectic night and being unaccustomed to the outdoors, falling asleep was easy to do. Maybe it was the airbed, or the breeze, or the whole feel of it all. Even when it’s supposed to be glamorous, you couldn’t really take the “camping” out of “glamping” — not with its earthiness, not with the realness of it all.

Second day, and after breakfast we were treated to a session of Metabeats by Toni and Jim Saret. It was a series of four-minute, full-body workouts set to beats by some of the best local DJs. By the end of it, the lot of us were a little breathless and ready to clear the fruit section. Then, hitting the beach, we saw parasailers glide over waves as the rest lounged about on hammocks and towels.

Lag time was spent frolicking around the booths, trying out flow arts, and dipping into shores. Another Metabeats session was held in the afternoon, and you were free to head back to Summer Siren for an intense dance party — beats care of Melvin Lapera, Abdel Aziz, tandem Clyde Harris and Jact Bates, Jhelou, Joey Santos, Seeya, The Zombettes, BV x Kid Priest x TEK+DC, MxM, Motherbass, David Ardiente, and Katsy Lee. That night’s movie viewing, on the other hand, was filled with the likes of Love, Rosie and Warm Bodies. At sunset, some surfers braved the waves in picturesque fashion.

By the last day — presumably because of the night before and a widespread case of hangovers — there was a certain lull, a certain quiet. Like everything was a dream, and the final day signaled an awakening. Friends and I talked about how well-thought-out everything was despite the complex logistics, and as we drove back to Manila — dreaming, reminiscing — there was a sense of completion, like the experience had filled a void I never knew was there.

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