It’s heart-warming to know that there are so many travelers who appreciate my country. I am certain that there are still millions of people on this planet who have not heard of the Philippines or who don’t know where the Philippines is located, but I believe in a few years to come that the Philippines will hit the top ten list as one of the world’s most beloved vacation spots.
So why should the Philippines be part of your travel itinerary if you’re traveling to South East Asia? Apart from Aklan’s famous island – Boracay, there are 7107 islands where you can bask in the glorious sun (this is a tropical country having two seasons – dry and wet, where the sun is a constant companion when it’s not raining during the months of June to November) and choose from any of our majestic islands from the three major regions called LUZVIMIN – Luzon (upper portion), Visayas (middle section) and Mindanao (southern part).
Some of my favorite spots to travel to are Tagaytay in Luzon, Cebu in the Visayas and Davao City in Mindanao.
Tagaytay in Luzon, ranks second to our summer Capital – Baguio City (also in Luzon) because of its cool climate, which is due to its high altitude. It isn’t more than a two-hour drive from Tagaytay to Manila. I have been to Tagaytay a number of times, often for a whole day of dining out as there are several delicious dining destinations in this part of the province of Cavite. There are numerous restaurants that dot the ridge overlooking the breathtaking Taal Volcano, and there are a number of different cuisines on offer here, so you’re sure to find something you like. The volcano and the food in Tagaytay is always a constant highlight for me whenever I’m visiting this part of the Philippines. No writing or picture can describe my feelings whenever I am viewing this spectacular sight. Adventure travelers might want to hop on a boat to visit the volcano, but you can also find some amazing hiking trails in the area. It’s simply amazing!
The first time I ever went on a plane was in 2004 when I visited Cebu province in the Visayas region of the Philippines. I have always been hesitant about riding planes,but my trip to Cebu opened my eyes to the inspiring world of experiencing “several worlds” and meeting diverse cultures. From 2004 to 2008, I went back to Cebu for projects and I focused on exploring what the Queen City of the South has to offer its visitors in June 2009. Having their own international airport on Mactan Island makes Cebu an accessible province-city-island to travel to, and it’s a great jumping off point for a number of islands from the north to south, such as Malapascua and Bantayan in the North and Sumilon Island in the South. Sumilon Island is slowly gaining in popularity, and all of these islands offer unique traits that make visitors want to come back again and again. Furthermore, when it comes to food, you won’t find sweeter mangos in the world. Eating mangos is almost a traditional past time and and not to indulge in them is a sin.
Davao City is close to my heart because this is where I found the love of my life. It may be a long distance relationship (I am currently based in Manila) but, as they say, love knows no boundaries. But even before I met my beau, I fell in love with Davao City during my first trip there in 2006. It was another work-related trip where I did not get to explore the city’s beauty, but an abundance of one of my favorite fruits helped me make it through that ordeal. Fresh and juicy pomelo is a constant sight among many fruit stands, and with other exotic fruits like marang, mangosteen and the king of fruits durian can all be savored in this part of the archipelago for just a fraction of the cost of what’s on offer in Manila. For example, you can pay 200 to 250 pesos ($5USD) for durian in Manila, but you’ll only pay around 45 pesos ($1USD) for the same sized fruit in Davao City.
As for island adventure, the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACOS or simply Samal Island) is just 5 minutes away – that is if you’re heading to Babak District via Sasa Wharf riding a Roll-On-Roll-Off (RORO) boat. It costs Php10 per passenger (based on my travels there in 2010). Motorcycles, which locals call habel-habel, are the vehicles of choice for independent travelers who want to explore the island on their own time. Furthermore, I personally recommend staying at Pearl Farm Beach Resort located at the Kaputian Island, which offers tranquility despite their many guests, as you can enjoy 28,000 hectares of lush greens and white sand.
I’ve only been to a few of the 7107 majestic islands the Philippines has to offer, but I am on a mission to explore this amazing and friendly English-speaking country (Filipino is our official language and English is a must to learn even at a tender age). So join me as I continue to discover what the Philippines has to offer – one day, one island at a time.
Written by Pie Rivera