Combining Visita Iglesia, the Holy Week tradition of visiting seven churches, and the sport of biking is a unique way to mix faith and fitness. While most tourists would prefer to visit churches by motorized transport, there’s something about pedaling your way around under the heat of the sun that makes visiting churches feel like an actual sacrifice or penance rather than just sightseeing by car.
For travelers, backpackers and province-based tourists, Manila is often just thought of as a stopover between flights on the way to another destination. The big city can be overwhelming with the heavy traffic and crowded streets. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to do except eat out, go shopping in the malls, visit museums or churches. There’s also the gritty and chaotic areas of Quiapo and Divisoria, which have become synonymous with Manila.
I often take the tourist sights in Manila for granted because this is where I live and work. But if I were a first-time tourist in the Philippines, or if I had to take around foreign tourists, balikbayans, expats or province-based friends, what would I do and where would I go? Here are some suggestions of unique and fun activities you can do while in Manila.
Growing up in the province, my childhood friends and I used to enjoy camping sleepovers. On hot summer nights, we’d haul out banigs, folding beds and foam mattresses on the grass and “camp out” in our garden under a makeshift tent sewn together from my old protest streamers. We’d spend the night playing card games and board games like Monopoly, Cluedo and Pictionary and roast marshmallows and hotdogs in a mini-bonfire. Back then, we really felt like we were roughing it out. But there was always the security of parents just inside the house (providing us with real food), a decent bathroom and the option to move indoors if it rained.
Unwatermarked photos courtesy of Haranah Eco Park Continue reading
Kanchanaburi is a city in Thailand located where the rivers Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai meet. Just a couple of hours away from the bustling capital of Bangkok, this area is known for its natural attractions and waterfalls, making it an ideal destination for those who prefer nature and adventure getaways compared to party beaches and shopping.
After covering the Golden Anniversary and T’nalak Festival in Koronadal City, I extended my trip to explore more of the region and opted to stay in Microtel by Wyndham – General Santos City. Located on the shores of Sarangani Bay, this independent city is geographically part of South Cotabato in Mindanao and is the gateway to other provinces including Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, and (North) Cotabato.
Tagaytay City is one of the nearest destinations to Manila for weekend getaways. While most people go here on day trips, it’s always nice to spend the night to have more time to check out all the different new sights. There are a lot of accommodations to choose from in the main city, from no-frills backpacker’s hotels, to hotel rooms with a view of Taal Lake, and villas and cottages for rents for bigger groups. For those looking for something a little more unique and cozy, Plant Bistro is a lovely little bed & breakfast and cafe. I found the place on Airbnb and thought it would make a great weekend getaway.
The province of Bataan is most often associated with its rich history. The Battle of Bataan is famous for being one of the last stands of American and Filipino soldiers before they were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces during World War II. The Bataan Death March was also named after the province, where the infamous march started. Recently, it’s become more popular because of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, the first and only heritage resort by the sea.
But aside from its historical attractions, Bataan is a rising eco-tourism destination with beaches, mountains, turtle sanctuaries, bird-watching sites, springs and waterfalls. Bataan lies within two major peaks, Mount Natib and Mount Mariveles, which are ideal destinations for adventure-seekers. If you’re a mountain biker or hiker, you’ll want to check out the natural trails that Bataan has to offer. Continue reading
Summer is here and many families and barkadas are looking for resorts for their out-of-town swimming trips and excursions. One of the places I can recommend relatively near the metro is Momarco Resort in Tanay, Rizal. Only 1.5 hours away from Quezon City, Momarco Resort has a large, clean and well-maintained swimming pool and an artificial lagoon with a waterfall.
Baler, the capital town of Aurora Province, is a haven for surfers. This laid-back coastal town in the North is known primarily for its killer waves. Numerous surf shops are situated along Sabang beach catering to novice and the seasoned surfers. Baler also has a rich history, being the backdrop of the infamous Siege of Baler, a battle of the Philippine Revolution and concurrently the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War.