Most people equate Vigan with the historic Calle Crisologo. With its cobblestone streets, old Spanish style houses, horse-drawn carriages, and old world charm, it’s easy to see why Calle Crisologo is considered one of the most beautiful streets in the country. I admit, walking around here during one afternoon to look at furniture and souvenir shops is actually my only memory of Vigan from a previous visit some years back.
One of the most memorable trips I took this year was to Tawi-Tawi. This island province located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the southernmost province of the Philippines. Often misunderstood by the outside world and the rest of the Philippines, Tawi-Tawi is not your typical tourist destination. The concerns about the peace and order situation in the surrounding areas have kept the place relatively off the tourist radar. I know only a handful of travelers who have ventured to this part of the country for a vacation. That’s probably the main reason why I wanted to go there in the first place. Thanks to a trip to Zamboanga City earlier this year, I got to tick Tawi-Tawi off my bucket list.
NOTE: I wrote the draft of this in longhand while in Calauit Safari Park before super typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines. Prayers go to the swift recovery of everyone in Northern Palawan and the Visayas region who were hit by the typhoon.
Thank God I didn’t insist on driving my own motorbike. That was all I could think of on what seemed like never-ending stretches of dirt roads from Coron to Calauit. Our destination was Calauit Safari Park, a game preserve where animals roam freely, located on a small island at the tip of Busuanga, Palawan. A map showed that it was roughly 70 km away from the Coron Town proper and locals said it could be reached in about 2-3 hrs time by motorbike. But like a real life version of Excitebike, the terrain seemed to challenge us with increasing levels of difficulty the longer we drove. There are dirt roads, then there are demented dirt roads. This was the latter dialed up a notch.
Isla Culion is probably not your typical vacationer’s destination. Locals say that most people have either never heard of Culion, or know it only for once being the world’s largest leper colony. In fact, the island was isolated for over a century. The Culion leper colony was established in 1906, and patients from different parts of the Philippines and hospital staff were brought to Culion. But in 2006, the island was declared leprosy-free by the World Health Organization.
Thanks to Kawil Tours, I was able to see firsthand how the island’s isolation has resulted in unspoiled attractions. Culion now offers a combination of otherworldly underwater seascapes, historic allure, and a genuine community spirit and hospitality that is increasingly becoming hard to find. The place offers a feeling of remoteness and isolation, where you can reflect and recharge from the urban grind, making it a popular venue for retreats. For those who hate beach party scenes and want a more meaningful destination, this may just be the best place to visit. Continue reading
The sight of the Calamian Group of islands dotting the ocean welcomed us as our plane prepared to descend. The landscape below was a gradient of sea, shifting from a rich turquoise to powdery blue before morphing into rolling forest green hills. If I had thought the view from above was stunning, I would soon find out that it was nothing compared to the view from below.
Prado Farms in Pampanga is pretty much a photographer’s wonderland. From the brightly colored walls to the art pieces made from recycled materials, every nook and cranny of this place breathes pure artistry.
A jumble of rusty LPG tanks stacked on top of each other form puzzle pieces that make the farm’s distinctive gate. Floors are a patchwork of tile mosaics, and stained glass windows peek out from beneath hanging vines. Formerly a warehouse for LPG tanks, Prado Farms is a showcase of creativity. Old junk like steel grates and discarded pieces of wood are re-purposed into aesthetically pleasing works of art that decorate the farm.
Despite our love for drinking, the craft beer scene here in the Philippines is still quite young compared to other countries. The good thing is that this means there’s plenty of room for growth. While guzzling down 99 bottles of beer for a self-imposed sidequest, I was glad to come across some great craft beers which are brewed right here in the country. If you’re a beer enthusiast or you just want to try mixing up your usual Friday drinking sessions, here are some alternatives to the usual bucket of San Miguel that are still proudly Pinoy.
Originally posted April 2011, updated November 2013
I feel really fortunate to be living on Maginhawa Street, one of the best go-to places for a food trip around the metro. There’s a great range of restaurants and types of cuisine to fit any mood and craving. A lot of the restos in the area also have this laid-back and artsy vibe, which I love. Since a lot of the Maginhawa establishments have come and gone since I first wrote about this, I decided that it’s high time that I updated this post (after my article in Sunday Inquirer Magazine came out.)
Here is an updated directory of where to to eat along Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Diliman, Quezon City. I’ve also included a few notable restaurants in the Maginhawa orbit/Teacher’s Village area that are not necessarily on Maginhawa street. Check back often because this post gets updated frequently. Lots of new restos have opened up on the street that I’m still planning to try
★ – Places I highly recommend or regularly frequent Continue reading
The areas of Laguna, Quezon and Batangas are ideal for quick day or weekend trips from Manila. I usually like taking solo motorcycle rides to the Sierra Madre area (passing through the Marikina-Rizal highway) for some fresh air during the weekend. But for those who drive cars, most of the destinations are quicker via SLEX. In fact, the famed Viaje del Sol route lists many charming and unique places that celebrate Filipino culture, that you can visit on your road trip.
It’s hard to just go about our lives with the widespread devastation left by super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. The catastrophic typhoon battered many provinces in the Visayas region including Tacloban, Samar, Bantayan, Camotes, Negros, the Calamianes group of Islands and Panay. While it may take weeks to get an accurate tally of the devastation, it’s widely believed that thousands perished in the storm.
I know that for many people who are safe at home in Manila and elsewhere in the world, seeing the photos online is just overwhelming and we all want to do something concrete to help. I’m really thankful for the outpouring of support from other countries and from fellow Filipinos eager to do something to help. Aside from donating cash and relief goods to major disaster relief agencies, here are some creative ways and suggestions I’ve seen online from fellow travel bloggers and groups in my network how we can help in our own way. Continue reading
Last week, members of the press, bloggers, and other guests were invited to herald the Christmas season with Merry Musical Lights, a grand display of lights and sounds at TriNoma. The annual lights and sounds show spectacular, which is currently on its second year, was launched last November 9 with live performances by Nikki Gil and the UP Concert Chorus.
It seems simple enough in concept – attach bait to a hook, throw the line in the water, wait for the fish to bite and then reel them in. How hard can it be, right?
Most people come to Malcapuya Island in Coron on day trips. This lovely island is about 1.5 hours away by boat from the Coron town proper. It’s close to some other small islands like Banana Island (which has a short strip of white sand beach) and Bulog Island (which has a short sandbar during low tide). Thanks to tour operator Kawil Tours, we had the chance to stay on Malcapuya Island overnight. Except for a few friendly beach dogs, our guides, and the island’s caretakers, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves.