The Failed Search For A Hanson At The Circle Hostel Zambales

Let me tell you about two of my best gal pals whom I share some great similarities. We’re all single, writers, and travelers. That’s where my similarity with friend #1 ends. Now if I could describe this friend in an interesting way, this is what I would say, “She isn’t me.” And by that I mean 2 things:

She moves on quickly 
She meets guys easily 

In fact, not long after her breakup with her boyfriend, she met a guy at Circle Hostel in Zambales. The guy sports a long blonde hair reminiscent of the Hanson brothers’ do. Hence, we start referring to the guy as Hanson.

Here comes friend #2, whom I would describe as somebody like me.

She doesn’t move on quickly
She doesn’t meet guys easily

Like I said, me.

And just like me, friend #2 is hoping to meet a guy. Feeling inspired about the “luck” friend #1 had, friend #2 and I went to the Circle Hostel some time in May hoping to snag our own Hanson brothers.

Getting there

It’s a 6-hour ride to Zambales. At 8:00 p.m., we took the overnight bus at Victory Liner in Pasay terminal. Fare is PHP 223 (USD 4.48). We reached Olangapo City at around 11:00 in the evening where we had to take another bus to San Felipe, Zambales. Bus fare is PHP 61 (USD 1.22).

In Olongapo, we too an old aircon-less bus with open windows that let the air in. A drunkard got in somewhere along the way and sat in front of us. We were in the middle of the bus, near the opened door where drunkard guy and his friend were standing as there were no more seats available. Drunkard guy clearly couldn’t keep himself upright so his friend had to support him the entire trip. Because of drunkard guy and the possibility he would suddenly fall off from the bus, I was restless the entire ride.

At 2:13 a.m., we reached the dark town of San Felipe and approached one of the tricycles that were spotted in the corner of the street. I told the trike driver to take us to sitio “aliw liwa,” (the correct name is Liwliwa); whether he found my blunder funny he didn’t show it. The fare ride is worth PHP 30 (USD 0.60). From the main road it took about 17 minutes to reach Circle Hostel.

There we were met with stillness and darkness. Since we came very late, there was no one to greet us. The entrance has no lock so we were able to get in with no problem. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, because what if some crooks enter the place.

We tried to find anyone who could assist us to no avail and we weren’t sure which part of the hostel should we spend the night over. We decided to enter one of the houses; we left our flip flops at the bottom of the stairs. The room was bare and we wondered where the other guests are. We picked a spot, each of us taking the lower bunks of the double-deck beds. It was equipped with a mosquito net and curtains to allow a bit of privacy, but since none of the staff saw us coming, we slept sans pillows or blankets.

The next morning, the staff was quite apologetic that they weren’t able to receive us properly. We did text them last night but they were already asleep when the message came through. We told them it was okay. That mosquito net did a ton of difference.

The few guests the hostel had were already leaving that morning to our dismay. Our goal was to socialize, meet new people, maybe meet a Hanson, but it looked like none of these were going to happen.

The Circle Hostel Zambales is one of the three from this eco-hostel chain; the other two can be found in Baler, Aurora and La Union. It’s categorized as a budget-friendly, art hostel, and sure enough, the hostel is designed using environmentally friendly materials. The place didn’t go shy with art; the lockers, the walls, even the bahay kubos themselves are painted in cool graphic designs and graffiti. There are paints and brushes available to those who want to share their artistic prowess. I am artistic and a very creative person, the problem is, I cannot draw. So I made do by painting the name of my blog on the wall.

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As with the accommodation, they have 50 dorm style bunk beds (44 co-ed and 6 in an all-female bunkhouse) and hammocks. Bring your own towel, toiletries, and padlock for the locker. They do provide towels for additional price, I say just bring your own.

e is free breakfast but do not expect it to be anything other than some bread and peanut butter, coffee, and banana.

There is a common area equipped with bean bags, playing cards, guitar, and hammocks. This is where guests can stay to hang out and maybe make friends. Problem is, we didn’t find other guests to socialize with. As shown in the photo below, it’s empty.

The beach is a 5-minute walk from the hostel. It’s a gray-sand beach, bare save for some boats, and a few small cottages. It was real peaceful, with only a few people around. My friend and I spent a few hours in the morning lying on the sand, taking pictures, and generally taking in the beauty of the beach.

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Another friend of us who lives in Olongapo came over to hang out with us. Check-out time is 11:00 a.m., so we just left our belongings downstairs and went to the beach where our friend went swimming. Like we needed more proof that friend #2 and I are like twins, both of us skipped the swimming part. I just like staring at the beach, appreciating it from afar.

We just had an overnight stay. When we checked out of the Circle Hostel, we went to Olangapo where we had dinner and coffee. Friend #2 and I went back to Manila that day, with a failed attempt to snag a Hanson. Girls like us have a hard time meeting men, but if there is something true about us that I am proud of, is that we have a full life with or without men. We didn’t feel like something was missing, if at any, I found our trip pretty invigorating.


The Circle Hostel
Sito Liwliwa, San Felipe, Zambales
Telephone no.: +63 917 505 4329


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  1. The Circle Hostel looks pretty cool and intriguing. I would say it was pretty cool to reach the place at the dead of night and sink into the available beds! The place looks artistic and colourful, nice that one can try ones’ painting skills there. A pity you gals could not find your Hansons!

  2. Wow the art in this hostel looks amazing! It gives it so much character – the ones that I’ve stayed in were just brown and eww. The lockers especially look fanastic! Bit concerning that anyone can just wander around, but then again, budget hostel, not much to expect. Hope you had an amazing time!

    Vanessa | xx

  3. Haha… Its ok, so what if you and your friend didn’t manage to meet your Hanson, you guys had a great gals-only time together right?! That’s what matters. Btw, I totally love the way you’ve described the hostel with your experience and the facilities there! Its pretty cool. Love the hostel btw – its appearance with all wooden build, nearness to sea, artistic features!!!

  4. hahhahha hanson! This post makes me miss James, the hanson that I’ve introduced with you guys and we went to the music fest with! Di bale, if you didn’t miss a hanson there, there are 2 more the cirlce hostels located in the Philippines. One in La Union and the other is in Baler. Huh! Baler is calling our names!

    Shall we? 😉

  5. The Circle Hostel looks like the kind of chilled out place I love to stay at – with or without Hanson’s. You’re lucky to have 2 great girlfriends though I have to idea why you & friend #2 would have a hard time meeting guys, you’re both gorgeous. Which is your favourite Hanson brother anyway?!

  6. Loved going through your post. The place looks lovely. But more than anything..I feel jealous you have two friends who share your compassion for travel as well as writing. What a wonderful time you must had!!

  7. O h really wanted a happy ending with you meeting a Hanson! This place looks great, although your arrival there was a bit off putting. I had a similar thing when I was in Chiang Mai. Lucky for us it was during the day so we just hid our bags and went off exploring. Lucky you managed to find somewhere safe to sleep!

  8. Awww, no Mr. Hanson. And there were no people too. The place seems to be comfy and cool especially when you are secluded and near the beach. Go for Mr. Hanson na!!! LOL

  9. Wonderful post! Marge. Love the way you have made the hotel a venue for your story… At no point does it sound like a review but you have aptly put every detail of the hotel in it. I should probably learn the skill of integrating stories into posts. About the hotel, I loved the idea of painting on the walls 🙂 However, the doors not being guarded is something to be ware of.

  10. This is what I like about staying in hostels, the socialization with other guests! Unfortunately there weren’t any (?) some (?) on the day of your stay? But glad to know you have taken in much beauty of the place (it’s indeed lovely) and invigorated yourself!

  11. Amazing introduction! Bloggers should really be able to show their creativities and passion in writing through things like this. I love your angle in writing this post. Not only are you telling a story, you’re also showcasing the beauty and the wonder of the place.

  12. When I was still single, I also thought of hostels as a great place to meet a guy since they’re like minded in terms of traveling. Thus, I looked forward to the day I was allowed to date.

    Anyway, I still haven’t had the chance to try similar to Circle hostel. We normally stay in hostels whenever we are abroad. How I wish I have friends who’ll be willing to travel with me and stay at something like that.

  13. I’m from Olongapo amd I have not read anything about this place until now. I miss hitting the beach with friends and I think this place would be the right place for our upcoming high school gathering. That graffiti art wall looks fun. Definitely you made the right decision to visit Zambales. 🙂

  14. Ok, let me tell you what I liked most in this blog;
    1. The way you described yourself in the About me section.
    2. The storytelling was excellent. But, you forgot to tell about what happened to the drunk.
    3. Good pictures enlivened the post. Which camera did you use?

  15. The moment I started reading, I thought it got to something romantic, but anyway it was a good read. You made me shocked after knowing that the staff didn’t get you guys properly and you went seeking your room on your own with your friends. I never received this kind of experience though, but I love everything about this Hostel, aside from this is a budget Hostel, it has a good concept as well.

  16. hanson pa more! hahahaha
    natatawa ako kpag naalala tong conversation dito 🙂
    Circle Hostel is definitely cute! If we are to go to Zambales, I’ll surely drop by or rent an accommodation in this place. Hopefully though, makadampot kayo ng charm at mahawa kayo kay friend number 1. hahaha!

  17. If this is a review of the hostel, I would say reviews should be done this way. Story telling makes articles interesting.. and is also a skill that every writers should develop. A very good read, and a skillfully written piece Marj

    And ohh, you will find a Hansen soon 🙂

    1. I agree with Sonnie. This is exactly how one should approach sponsored posts, as much as possible. And it’s true, facts tell, but stories sell. I think I have mentioned this in one of my posts on writing great blog posts. Anyway, Marge. Keep it up. I think this is already one of your best posts and I had read most of your posts here. 🙂

      1. Thanks Sonnie and Robert. I’m pleasantly surprised by the feedback on this post actually. I guess I should now make an effort to make my posts from hereon using this approach.

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. You have a great story telling skill. I am sure it must have been a lot of fun for you. The accommodation I would say us very nice. I love the colours.

  19. Okay these are the kind of adventures that make a travel. 🙂 Some good some scary, some bitter some sweet. You did bring back a lot of memories.

  20. You’re a great storyteller! That part where a drunkard got on the bus got me scared. I mean, he’s on a bus and just standing and drunk; like he could puke on the other passengers anytime! Thank goodness that didn’t happen. I think the place is suitable for wanderers and for family trips at all. I think I could stay all day in a hammock. It’s just so chill! Love all your photos btw 🙂

  21. Hahaha, what a cute reason for a getaway! it’s a shame that you and your friend didn’t end up meeting you ‘hanson’ but it was still an awesome trip, isn’t it? those pictures are stunning! the beach looks awesome as well! and it’s just great that it’s not crowded at all!

  22. Hahaha, very entertaining! I love how you went all the way to Zambales to meet a Hanson brother! Sayang I used to live in Subic, and I actually have a Canadian friend who might be your type. (Sorry, I’m a match-maker by nature, couldn’t resist). Anyway, back to your post, you look like you had fun regardless though. It totally made me miss Subic and living so close to the beach! 🙂

  23. The accommodation looks pretty cool. Ideal for backpackers i suppose, right? Not the kind that is family-kid friendly? For me, safety is a priority, it doesnt matter if the room was nice or not as long as its tolerable and most of all safe. Checking in with the staffs being unaware was not a good idea. They are expecting guests so they should be awake, alive and kicking to welcome them and ensure safety of all their guests. What if somebody else just went in? Just my two cents 🙂

    1. Yes, most of their guests are backpackers. I guess when you go there, you should just be extra vigilant about your belongings, or try not to bring important stuff as much as possible.

  24. I really love the intro of your blog post. Hehehe! I felt a little bit of kilig actually. The thought of anyone being able to enter the hostel is a little bit scary for me – it’s a big security risk. I’m glad nothing untoward happened though. I hope the hostel can employ a night-shift person to man the establishment or at least a security guard to oversee the area. Yes, I agree to Sir Robert above, your “Hanson” is somewhere out there. Get your game face ready when he comes along!

  25. Love your post. I just like the flow of your tale. Of course, on the part where the hostel appears like anyone could get in without the staff knowing, I don’t think that is good. But other than that, facilities wise, it is a budget hostel, so what they have is what it is. I do like their concept of graffitis, cute. And the Hansons? They’re somewhere out there.

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