For the longest time, the Antique Rice Terraces remained undiscovered. Locals were aware of its existence, but never really gave it a second thought. For them, it was just a field in their backyard that they tilled to get rice for their everyday needs.
If you had seven days, P35,000 and access to free flights anywhere in the Philippines, where would you go? Five lucky teams of university students are soon going to find out as they embark on a trip of a lifetime. Cebu Pacific’s Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge is back on its fifth year to give thrill-seeking university students an opportunity to explore top Philippine destinations for free! I only wish I had this kind of opportunity fresh out of college.
Street art or public art is a big part of urban culture. Unlike art you find in museums, this kind of media staged in the streets, walkways and buildings make art more accessible to the public.
Certain places around the world like George Town in Penang and Sao Paolo in Brazil are known for their vibrant street art, which is a big tourism draw in itself. Just check out this list of the best cities in the World for Street Art. In the Philippines, one of the best places to see big scale public art is Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig. Continue reading
There’s something very peaceful and serene about lakes. Though they’re not as popular as beaches and waterfalls, lakes have a quiet understated charm about them. The Philippines is home to many beautiful lakes. Natural lakes are closely related to volcanic and tectonic activity and smaller lakes occupy the craters of extinct volcanoes. Artificial lakes or reservoirs have resulted from the damming of rivers for hydroelectric activity. Aside from their recreational and aesthetic qualities, many lakes are important habitats for marine life and food sources. Other lakes play a part in water-supply, hydro-electric power or flood control. As the saying goes, “still waters run deep.”
Though some lakes are not really suitable for swimming, some are ideal for for low-impact activities like fishing, boating, rafting, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Here are just a few of the scenic lakes and reservoirs in the Philippines that I’ve personally visited (arranged by distance/accessibility from Manila).
Sabtang Island is one of three inhabited islands of Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines. With its well-preserved culture, beautiful natural landscapes, and friendly people, this remote island is such a refreshing escape. It’s one of the most laid-back and peaceful places I’ve been to in the country. Most people who travel to Batanes visit Sabtang Island on a day trip just to see the main tourist spots. During my last trip here, I got to spend three days on the island, while covering a local festival. If you want to experience how it is to live off-the-grid, I recommend you stay here a few days.
Masungi Georeserve is a conservation area and karst rock garden hidden in the rainforests of Rizal. Its name comes from the local term “masungki” which translates to “spiked” – describing the jagged limestone landscape found here. The discovery trail offers a unique outdoor experience where visitors get to hike through karst landscape, with limestone formations, sinkholes, caves and natural trails and forests. The geological park has eco-friendly conservation areas, rest stations and obstacles including hanging bridges, rope ladder descents, view decks, and a giant hammock where you can enjoy views of the amazing natural landscape.
The first time I traveled solo to Batanes, I rented a motorcycle to visit all the attractions in a day. That motorcycle ride around South Batan remains one of the most memorable rides I have ever done in the country. The distance may not have been that long, but in terms of coastal roads and just pure awesomeness of the landscape, Batanes is pretty hard to beat.
There’s a new airline that now flies to Batanes, the country’s most sought after travel destination! Wakay Air Transport Services (Inc.) offers chartered flights from Manila to Basco, Batanes and vice versa in partnership with AirSWIFT. Launched last March 29, 2016, Wakay Air’s flights are serviced by a 48-seater ATR 42-600 turboprop plane. Flights depart from A. Soriano Terminal in Pasay City to Basco Airport in Batanes. Flights from Manila leave 5:15 am and arrive in Basco at 7:00 am. Return flights leave at 7:20 am and arrive in Manila at 9:00 am. Travel time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Sabtang Island is one of three inhabited islands of Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines. It is here where you can see traditional stone houses that Batanes is known for. It is also here where you can find the finest weavers of Batanes known for making the vakul, a traditional headdress worn by farmers in the fields to protect them from the sun and rain. While women traditionally wear the vakul, men wear vests known as kanayi and talugong, a traditional wide-brimmed farmer’s hat.
Bandung is the capital of West Java in Indonesia. Located 768 meters (2,520 ft) above sea level, roughly 140 kilometers south east of Jakarta, Bandung has generally cooler temperatures throughout the year compared to other Indonesian cities. Bandung lies on a river basin surrounded by volcanic mountains, offering stunning natural landscapes. Known for its stunning geological sights, Dutch Colonial architecture, and culinary delights, this rising tourist destination has captured the attention of local and international tourists in recent years.
Kawah Putih from the bottom, Bandung Regency by Crisco 1492
There’s a new food park in the neighborhood! Merkanto, located inside 38 Autocare Car wash in UP Village, serves international street fare. I love sampling street food and eating in hawker centers when I travel to other countries. Judging from the ongoing World Street Food Congress, street food is really big in other countries and it looks like the trend is catching on in the Philippines. Though there are a lot of restaurants and food parks already in the Maginhawa area, I have to say the concepts here are pretty unique. The dishes are affordable, and so far from what we’ve tried, everything was pretty good.
Opened in April 2016, Merkanto is currently on soft opening with 5 stalls serving street eats from Vietnam, Morroco, Indonesia, Brazil and India. It’s fairly new, so it wasn’t as crowded as some of the other food parks on a Friday night. However, I’m sure once word gets around, people will start to flock here as well. Below are some sample dishes per stall and the price range so you can get an idea of the offerings. Continue reading