What to do this summer in the Philippines? – Part 1Posted on May 7th, 2012 under Beauty of the Philippines
By Edu Jarque
First of two parts
There is absolutely no better time than now to wonder and wander around the Philippines.
Trust me – I’m a veteran of the travel and tourism industry. All in all, a total of 38 uninterrupted years, since my duty days in the early 70’s at Makati’s then only five-star property, to my stint with the Department of Tourism both here and abroad where we continuously and proactively promoted jaunts to the islands, for travelers to stay and stray longer, gather memorable memories with beautiful experiences, and to hopefully invest in the Philippines and even perhaps make this their second home.
The first crucial thing is the number of presently available destinations. There are claims that the roll has quadrupled, even quintupled. How times have changed, for I recall during my early school days when the only option, the lone honest-to-goodness holiday haven, was Baguio.
A single region today renders you speechless with an exciting list of what to see and do – the options of where to eat and shop, loosen up and be pampered, or attempt the extreme – points that are appreciated due to the variety of choices available.
Perhaps it can even instantly effect a migraine for the anxious who simply don’t know where to start!
Without question, there is better connectivity in journeys these days. More airlines, both legacy and low-cost, are battling for our selection, offering seats at affordable – sometimes downright giveaway – rates to destinations unbeknown to most Filipinos. Bridging the entire archipelago is becoming more of a reality each day, with better vessels, faster craft and outrigger boats interconnecting more than a thousand islands, with a few thousands more to spare.
Then, there are also bus lines which offer deluxe seating and inter-island routes in ro-ro fashion. In all these three modes of transport, they’re venturing to more destinations as schedules expand in number and in frequency.
Here’s another boom: more choices of stay, from the ultra-budget inns to la-di-dah resorts. Homestay lodging has likewise become a unique tourist story of its own, where locals generously offer their homes and open their hearts as they happily share their stories over home-cooked dinners.
As beach paradises start to sprawl, we have begun to ask for the best site for surfing or diving; for physical adventure in the mountains, where to pump up the most amount of adrenaline in a bungee jump or zip line; to the metropolis for the craziest nightlife, the wildest food, the bargains over which everyone goes gaga. Wherever we may end up in these islands, we have the greatest of history, of tradition, of heritage, of arts, of culture, of fiestas, of cuisines, of LIFE.
Still unconvinced? Well, I could’ve crafted an overture of another 101 – the myriad reasons why you should escape from your comfort zone – but that could waste our longer honeymoon with summer. And so as I begin from the hills of Batanes down to the mountains of Davao, I’ll leave it up to the roll to convert your doubts:
- Explore one of the islands of Batanes, from the traditional stone houses in Sabtang to the rolling hills of Marlboro Country in Batan. Test your honesty, a revered local value, by purchasing at the unmanned Honesty Café.
- As you drive along the Cagayan and Ilocos Norte border, make a layover by the winding Patapat Viaduct, the northernmost road in the country, protruding from a mountain base which many have mistaken for a bridge, as it reveals the scenic beauty of Pasaleng Bay.
- Try out Ilocos Norte’s extreme shores: bask in the calm white waters of Saud White Sand Beach in Pagudpud, admire the windmills of the wind farm in Bangui, sand board