Discover The Philippines

Manily, Philippines

Discovering the Philippines

How does one sum up the experiences of traveling around a country composed of 7,107 islands?  The answer is simply to discover and experience all of what it offers. Philippines is home to one of the world’s former great wonders of the world: the active Mayon Volcano.  According to experts, it has a perfect cone shape and is compared to another equally famous, Mount Fuji in Japan.  Like other volcanoes that lie in the Pacific Ocean, Mayon Volcano is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.  At present it is a nominee to the new 7 Wonders of Nature Contest.

Listed under UNESCO’s World Heritage foundation, is the Philippines’ very own stairway to heaven: Banaue Rice Terraces.  It was human hands that laboriously plowed these magnificent stairs of rice paddies that stretch many miles faithfully following the contours of the Cordillera Mountains.  These rice terraces are an expression of the harmony between man and nature expressed in a work of art created by the native Ifugaos of Banaue.  Built 2000 years ago and passed from generation to generation these rice terraces exude the heart stopping beauty of nature.  The Ifugaos have built walls made out of mud and stone carving the contours of the hills and mountains to come up with these majestic natural stairways.  These rice terraces show the elaborate farming and irrigation system that reflects a mastery of engineering even as distant as 2000 years ago.

Tucked away in a hidden corner of Northern Luzon stands Vigan, which is the oldest surviving city of Spanish inspired architecture in the Philippines.  Antique churches, residences and horse drawn carriages can take a visitor to the old colonial era.  When the Spanish arrived, China had already started trading with the Philippines which made Vigan a major trading port for Chinese traders.  Vigan has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as well like the famous rice terraces.

When a place has been included in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage foundation, this means that particular place has an outstanding universal value to humanity.  This is why these are inscribed on the list for its protection.  The UNESCO’s goal is to preserve these places for future generations to enjoy.  To date, the list is composed of such a diverse group of places around the world.

Where to proceed next?  For island hopping adventures there are plenty of islands to explore.  There is an island hopper’s rule to count at least 4 to 5 days per province to truly appreciate the wonders of each island.  Travel towards the white sandy beaches of El Nido Palawan.  Kayak tours are offered for a group tour which may include lunch as well.  It would be lovely to scuba dive or snorkel later on.  The cost of the tour is cheap.  A tourist has to pay Eco Tourism Development fee of only 200 Pesos(about $5) for a maximum stay of 10 days in Palawan.  A tour package per head is from $20 to $65 per head depending on the package of choice.  Visitors will say that truly there are too many islands to visit and so little time to do just this.  Palawan thankfully is not as crowded as some other famous beaches in Asia, so there is still a time to appreciate the view without a large crowd of people around.

One of the best places to visit is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean Underground River in Palawan.  It is one of the finalists in the New 7 Wonders of the World.  It is also included in the UNESCO list as well.  This underground river features limestone mountain landscape that spans 8.2 kilometers of river that stretches out into the South China Sea.  Visitors can enjoy bird watching, so bringing your binoculars and a camera is a must.  The best time to visit this underground river is from December to June since the weather is fine during those months.

Home to the exotic and rare species of animals that roam with freedom is Caluit Island Wildlife Sanctuary of Palawan.  Tabon Caves which was given the title as Cradle of Philippine Civilization is where a visitor can find the remains of 22,000 year old Tabon Man as well as artifacts that were buried with him.  One of the best diving sites in the world is definitely Tubbataha Reef Marine Park.  It preserves 350 species of coral and reef fish and is considered as a marine sanctuary.  Drop by at the Palawan Crocodile and NaturePark which serve as a sanctuary for Philippine crocodiles.

For people who love to party, heading to Boracay beach is a must.  This white sand beach has friendly people and plenty of extra activities to do.  Boracay has been voted online as the 8th finest beach in the world.  Pearl Farm of Davao City is tranquil and blessed with Mother Nature’s flora and fauna.  It has been a home to the Philippines finest pearls.  Siargao is said to be a Surfer’s Dream come true.  Waves can curl as high as 12 feet on this island.  It offers a year round of surfing adventure.

No country in the world can be compared to the countless festivals that the Philippines is famous for.  Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon honors the bountiful harvest.  The Maskara festival in Bacolod city can be compared to the festival in Rio de Janeiro.  The flower filled Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City can be compared to the Rose Parade in America.  The wildest festival is the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan where people almost half naked wear black soot on their faces as they gyrate to the beat of the music.  Most of the other festivals are held year round but May is still considered as the special month of festivals and parades.  After a long line of procession comes the never ending food and drinks galore.  Visitors are invited to join in the merry making and revelry.  Sometimes they are even invited to eat with the locals.  Above all, The Philippines is famous for its friendly and smiling faces.  Visitors are treated as friends for life.  These are locals who open their hearts to befriend anybody who dare to visit these lovely islands until their next return.