A holiday retreat on a mission for inclusion


Zambawood is a social enterprise. From relaxing at the resort, to visiting the farm and harvesting the produce, to enjoying a coffee at its cafe, you are supporting a platform that gives youth with disabilities a chance to grow their skills. 

With the Philippines easing its travel restrictions, both resorts are ready to welcome tourists and employ and re-employ people with disabilities. 

Its training programme is for youth aged 18 and above who have medical clearance to work, and the duration varies — a barista programme by government agency TESDA for example, is 178 hours. The trainees graduate with a licence that certifies that they are fit and trained to work.

As of March 2022, Julyan’s Coffee Spot has rehired two of the trainees, while there are three trainees awaiting assignment at Julyan’s Garden. Rachel is in constant communication with TESDA and nearby schools for possible partnerships to train more youth.

Before the pandemic, corporate establishments such as GLOBE Telecom’s office in Makati opened their doors to Zambawood’s deaf trainees, who ran pop-up coffee kiosks on their premises. Zambawood hopes to see more corporate partnerships return as the pandemic eases. 

Getting There

Zambawood is best reached by road. From Manila, take the NLEX-SCTEX expressways, and exit at Subic. Follow directions until you reach San Narciso and follow the signs leading to Zambawood. The journey will take around three and a half hours each way.

For those taking public transportation, catch buses bound for Iba from Manila bus terminals. Transfer to a local bus and ask to be dropped off in San Narciso, Zambales. In San Narciso, you can catch a tricycle to Zambawood.

Julyan’s Garden in the South is a 90-minute drive from Metro Manila via South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Star Toll.

Traveller's Notes

In line with rules by the  Zambales tourism authority, travellers are required to register at their website to obtain QTP codes that are required at every border checkpoint. Vaccinated adults can upload their cards there, while those who are unvaccinated are not allowed to enter.

The villa at Zambawood sleeps 10 to 24 pax. Those on a budget or seeking smaller rooms can consider booking Julyan’s Surf Bnb, which feature fan-ventilated or air-conditioned rooms closer to the beach.

Check in time at Zambawood is at 2pm. Make sure you have lunch along the way, as snacks are only served later in the afternoon. It is worth the wait though; expect fresh fruit, banana fritters, spring rolls and an option of brewed coffee or fruit drinks.

San Narciso is known for top-notch surfing spots, so enquire about lessons. If you plan to take a dip or ride with the waves, make sure you are hydrated and apply sunscreen regularly.

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