Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cagayan: Visita iglesia in Cagayan

Aside from spelunking and other adventure activities, Cagayan also has several centuries-old churches. On our first day, we had breakfast right beside the Tuguegarao Cathedral.

After breakfast, we proceeded to the Basilica Minore de Piat which is about an hour away from Tuguegarao. It's a popular pilgrimage destination with the miraculous image of Our Lady of Piat enshrined in the church. For more on the basilica, read Basilica of Our Lady of Piat in Piat, Cagayan.

The next day, we made the long trip from Tuguegarao to Laoag. Along the way, we stopped over at the churches of Iguig, Alcala, Lal-lo, Camalaniugan and Pamplona.

Iguig Church, while the facade has already been renovated, is relatively intact inside. But more importantly, right beside the church is the Iguig Calvary Hills which has life-size tableau of the Stations of the Cross.

Alcala Church, dedicated to Saint Philomene, is the widest church in the Cagayan Valley. The town is also known for its carabao milk candies.

Lal-lo was once known as the Ciudad de Nueva Segovia before it was transferred to Vigan. Thus, the Lal-lo Church was the once the cathedral and seat of the Diocese of Nueva Segovia.

Camalaniugan Church has the oldest Catholic bell in the Far East which was created in 1595. Sadly, the old church was burned some yeas back and I find it sad that the priest chose to flatten the ruins and build a totally new church. Talk about appreciation for heritage! Behind the church, right by the river, are ruins of an even older church.

Close to Ilocos Norte, was the last church stop, the Pamplona Church.

The old Malaueg Church in Rizal, Cagayan is a National Cultural Treasure. But it's really hard to get to. I personally have not seen it myself. But I hope to visit it when I can.

There are also some interesting church ruins in the towns of Gattaran, Sanchez Mira and the island of Fuga.

Thanks to Bikoy for the photos!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cagayan: Sierra Cave spelunking and kayaking in the Pinacanauan River

Cagayan is positioning itself as the Caving Capital of the Philippines. And it has great spelunking options for beginners and serious cave enthusiasts.

The most popular of course are the caves in the Peñablanca Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, particularly Callao Cave. But a better-preserved and less-visited cave also within the Callao Ecotourism Zone is nearby Sierra Cave. It's a 20-meter steep climb to get to the entrance. But navigating inside is manageable.

The crystal and limestone formations inside are still continuously forming. Which is why they take extra care in protecting the cave by limiting people inside. In fact, they only take in a maximum of twelve people at a time.

It's cool near the entrance. But as you get deeper inside the cave, it gets really warm. I really enjoyed the spectacular formations and observing the animal life inside the cave. It's a surprise how they survive in such harsh conditions since we experienced it even just for a few seconds. We turned off all our lights and kept quiet for a few seconds just to find out the feeling of silence in total darkness.

Anyway, since we had cameras, we decided to exit through the entrance. There's a popular exit but this entails crawling in the mud.

After lunch on the opposite side of the banks, we took a boat further upstream for kayaking activities. Sadly, no thanks to our weird weather, it started to drizzle. And when in drizzles or rains in the Pinacanauan River area, it means the bats won't come out.

So we decided to proceed back to our bus rather than wait in vain for the circadian flight of bats. Another unfortunate incident was I lost all my Sierra Cave photos when my memory card crashed. So thanks to Bikoy for these photos!

Adventures and Expeditions Philippines, Inc.
Anton Carag
(078) 8441298 / (0917) 5327480

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Aklan: Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan! Hala bira!

The Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan is one of the iconic festivals of the Philippines. Held annually on the third Sunday of January, the feast of the Sto. Niño, many of the street dance festivals of the Philippines were inspired by the Ati-Atihan which is often called the Mother of All Festivals.

The festival is a showcase of neighborhood troupes called tribes, who paint their bodies black (mimicking the dark-skinned Ati tribe), don colorful costumes, and parade around town while dancing to the beat of loud drums that follow behind the group.

Right after the 7 a.m. Mass in Pastrana Park and the shouts of "Viva El Señor Sto. Niño!" the different tribes made their way out of the town plaza. The energy in the streets of Kalibo was high, and the atmosphere electric! Hala bira!

Unlike most festivals, there is no parade route in the morning. The different tribes make their way around the plaza and town without a particular route. Spectators and the tribes are not divided by any cordon. In fact, you're free to join them dance if you want or have your photos taken.

While this happens the whole day, it's best to watch the tribes in the morning since their costumes and body paint are still fresh, plus the movement of the tribes is more orderly. By lunch, everyone goes home to eat.

After lunch, the tribes slowly come out again. By that time, they've had hefty doses of lechon (roast pig) and alcohol. So they become rowdier.

At 3 p.m., a procession of various Sto. Niño images makes its way around town together with the tribes. By this time, everyone is on board, dancing in the streets as the Mardi Gras-like procession snakes through the streets of Kalibo. The procession was so long, the tail-end was expected to arrived in the plaza shortly before 10 p.m. It was one big street party.

Unfortunately, we were so exhausted by 5 p.m., we could no longer stay to watch the tail-end make its way back. While it's a great party, let me warn you that the alcohol creates trouble, especially as the sun sets. So be safe!

The Ati-Atihan was said to have been a pagan ritual that was established before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. It was held in celebration of a pact between several Bornean datus who had just arrive in Panay, and the local Ati chieftain, Marikudo. To commemorate the pact and purchase of land, the Malayan newcomers, as they joined the Atis celebrate a good harvest, covered their bodies with soot. The arrival of the Spaniards saw the shift of the festival to commemorate the feast of the Infant Jesus or the Sto. Niño.

Next time you plan to visit Boracay in January, try to make the third weekend so that you could catch this upbeat and colorful festival. Hala bira!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Aklan: Kalibo's Ati-Atihan Festival! Viva Señor Sto. Niño!

The Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo, Aklan is held during the third Sunday of January, the feast of the Sto. Niño. This year it was held on January 17, 2010.

The day starts at 6:30 a.m. with the transfer of the Sto. Niño from the Kalibo Cathedral to Pastrana Park. This was followed by a Mass at 7 a.m. You'll have to wake up really early for this.

The only downside was that it would drizzle every now and then. Good thing it didn't rain hard.

One thing I noticed during the Mass were the dozens of Sto. Niño images in front of the altar. I found it amusing that people treat the image like a doll since vendors all over the place sell various clothes for the Sto. Niño images.

As the Mass was about to end, people started raising their own images of the Sto. Niño since priests went around to bless the images with holy water.

The different tribes were assembling around the plaza as well during the Mass. I could see them amongst the crowd from my vantage point in the altar area. As soon as the Mass ended and the crowd shouted praises for the Sto. Niño, "Viva Señor Sto. Niño!" the drumbeats from the different tribes erupted. It was an exciting feeling and the atmosphere was simply electric as one by one, the tribes began to leave the plaza to make their rounds around town.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Boracay: SEAIR flies you straight to Caticlan (Boracay)

I wanted to fly down to Kalibo, Aklan to witness the Ati-Atihan Festival. But I decided to chill first in Boracay before proceeding to Kalibo. So I boarded the first SEAIR flight to Caticlan last Saturday. Thank God they have airport and boat transfers so it was really convenient.

Still sleepless from the Baguio trip, I looked for a spot where I could doze off while waiting for friends. And I found some lounge chairs in front of Cafe del Sol.

I ordered a strawberry banana yogurt smoothie and a panini sandwich. And the next thing I knew, I was in lalaland. I seriously needed that power nap.

It was a cloudy day. But the breeze was refreshing nonetheless.

SEAIR Fan Page
SEAIR has been giving away free tickets on its Facebook fan page. Join the SEAIR Fan Page and be the first to learn about SEAIR's exciting promos. And if you haven't yet, join Ivan About Town on Facebook to keep yourself updated on all the great travel destinations you might want to consider.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Manila: Big Binondo Food Wok Map now available!

Finally! All the wonderful places to eat in Binondo, all those legendary Manila Chinatown restaurants are now in one map! I have to give it to my tokayo Ivan ManDy of Old Manila Walks for producing the Big Binondo Food Wok Map, a must-have map for any serious foodie.

In National Geographic's Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe, Manila's Chinatown is among the Top 10 Chinatowns of the World (6th to be exact). In fact, established in 1594, it is the oldest Chinatown in the world!

Now, you can explore and eat your way through Chinatown on your own two feet! It has restaurant (over 80 food establishments) and shop listings, various cultural attractions and a heritage trail among others. Not only that, the map contains coupons and various freebies you can claim at selected restaurants. And it's just Php100!

Purchase your map now from the Bahay Tsinoy Museum, Libros Filipinos Bookshop (Filipinas Heritage Library) or the La Monja Loca Store. Mail orders are also accepted (plus shipping charge). Just e-mail for inquiries.

Oh, did I mention they're given free if you join the Old Manila Walks tours?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ifugao: How to get to and from Banaue, Ifugao

Banaue, Ifugao is the main jump-off point for various attractions in Ifugao and Mountain Province. It has become a major backpacker town and has seen an influx of foreign visitors in recent years. It has a decent hotel as well as several lodges and budget accommodation. Banaue is an attraction itself with its picturesque rice terraces as seen from the Banaue View Point.

Among the popular destinations you could reach via Banaue are the Batad Rice Terraces, Bangaan Village, and the Hungduan, Hapao and Mayoyao Rice Terraces (all UNESCO World Heritage inscribed rice terrace clusters) and Sagada, Mountain Province.

To/from Metro Manila, GV Florida and Autobus have daily trips to Banaue. Here is the daily schedule of trips:

GV Florida Transport (Php450)
22:45 Manila to Banaue
20:00 Banaue to Manila
Manila Booking - (02) 7433809
Banaue Booking - (074) 3864042

Autobus Transport Systems (Php400)
22:00 Manila to Banaue
18:30 Banaue to Manila
Manila Booking - (02) 4934111
Banaue Booking - (0929) 7663494 / (0915) 9849266

To/from Clark Airport is a bit complicated. One option is to hop on a bus to Baguio right at the Clark Airport, and catch a bus to Banaue early the next day (unless you can catch the last evening bus at 9:30 p.m.). Or you can take a bus to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija also at the Clark Airport, catch a bus to Cagayan Valley (Tuguegarao, Cagayan or Isabela) in Cabanatuan and get off at Solano, Nueva Vizcaya. From Solano, you can easily find transportation to Banaue. The third option is to take a bus to Manila and and catch the bus to Banaue from there.

To/from Baguio City, trips on Dangwa, KMS (Php415) and Ohayami are daily and last about 8 hours. Here is the daily schedule of trips:

Baguio to Banaue
08:00 Ohayami
08:00 KMS
19:00 Dangwa
20:00 Ohayami
21:30 KMS

Banaue to Baguio
06:45 Ohayami
07:00 Dangwa
07:00 KMS
16:30 Ohayami
18:00 KMS

Banaue Hotel jeepney hire rates and tour guide fees
The good thing about hiring jeeps and guides from the Banaue Hotel is that you can pay via credit card. Here are the standard rates for some of the popular destinations:

Banaue Operators and Drivers Association standard rates
Banaue Viewpoint - Php800
Bangaan Village - Php2,000
Batad Saddle Amphitheater - Php2,500
Hapao Rice Terraces - Php2,000
Hungduan Rice Terraces - Php2,500
Hiwang Village - Php900
Poitan Village - Php700
Bontoc Museum - Php3,000
Sagada Caves - Php4,000
Mayoyao Rice Terraces - Php4,000
Mt. Data and Sagada - Php5,500
Lagawe - Php1,700
Kiangan - Php2,200

Banaue Tour Guide Organization standard rates
Banaue Viewpoint Trek - Php700
Poitan Village - Php500
Bangaan Village - Php650
Batad Rice Terraces - Php900
Batad plus Tappiyah Falls - Php1,200
Batad and Bangaan Trek - Php1,200
Hapao Rice Terraces - Php650
Hapao plus Hot Spring - Php750
Hungduan Rice Terraces - Php750
Mayoyao Rice Terraces (escort fee) - Php750
Kiangan Rice Terraces - Php850

For some activities in the area, you can visit some of my previous posts on Banaue, Hungduan, and Mayoyao. And here's a list of Banaue hotels and budget accomodation.

Ifugao: Trip from Mayoyao to Banaue

Ifugao's roads may be rough. But the scenery is bliss. The trip is about five hours. But passing through the different villages makes you feel no doubt that you are in Ifugao. We left Mayoyao at about 10 a.m. for our journey to Banaue. Along the way, you get to see other Mayoyao villages and rice terrace clusters tucked securely in the grand mountains of the Cordilleras.

We had lunch in Mayoyao's last barangay before crossing the border bridge to Banaue. I remember the view from the bridge was very fascinating. But the road was currently being paved and the sides of the mountain was full of rubble all the way down due to the blasting.

Ducligan, the first barangay, was the backdrop of the Filipino movie Mumbaki. The village worth stopping at is Bangaan. The Bangaan Rice Terraces are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras.

If only we had time, I would have wanted to trek down to the village. Maybe next time. Also along the way is the jump-off point to another UNESCO-inscribed cluster, the Batad Rice Terraces. Sadly, you can't see it from the road and it requires a hike up and down a mountain to the opposite side.

We finally made it to Banaue at about 3 p.m. We went straight to the Banaue View Point. There are actually several places to view the Banaue Rice Terraces. One of them, the NFA-Aguian View Deck is the actual view found in the 1000-peso bill.

Further up the road is the Engineers Viewpoint where the marker of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers declaring the Ifugao Rice Terraces as an International Historical Civil Engineering Landmark can be found. But an even better view is further up the road. Just keep on going and once you hit a cluster of stores, that's it.

Anyway, we had dinner at Imbayah Restaurant at the Banaue Hotel, one of my favorite places to eat in Banaue, while waiting for our bus back to Manila. the GV Florida bus leaves at 8 p.m.

How to get to and from Banaue
Read How to get to and from Banaue, Ifugao

Where to eat and stay in Banaue
Banaue has a lot of accommodation to fit every budget. And most of the lodges have their own restaurants conveniently located at the ground floor of their establishments. Being a backpacker town, the lodges can also arrange trips, guides and transportation for you. Here's a list of Banaue hotels and budget accommodation:

Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel
Imbayah Restaurant
Standard Php2,300; De Luxe Php3,000; Suite Php6,000
Hostel Php200/person (student); Php250/person (non-student)
+63 74 3864087 / 3864088

People's Lodge and Restaurant
Common Php400 (twin bed); Php600 (double bed)
Private Php500 (single room) to Php1,800 (8 pax/room)
+63 74 3864014
+63 9195325605

Wonder Lodge
Common Php200 (single); Php150/person (double)
Private Php250 (single); P200/person (double)
+63 906 8133822

Uyami's Greenview Lodge and Restaurant
Common Php250/person
Private Php900
+63 74 3864021
+63 920 5404225

Las Vegas Lodge and Restaurant
Common Php200/person
Family Php150/person (9 pax)
+63 918 4409932

Related entry
How to get to and from Banaue, Ifugao

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ifugao: Back in the Mayoyao Rice Terraces

Mayoyao is not easy to visit. But its rice terraces are definitely worth the long trip. I was glad to be back to visit the Mayoyao Rice Terraces.

For Day 2, we trekked up and down some of the different points of interest in the town. After breakfast, a quick visit to the Mayoyao Museum and logging our names at the local police station, we hiked up to the Acacoy Nature Park.

Then we trekked down to the highway and up again Brgy. Chaya to visit the Chaya Terraces Cluster. We had lunch in Brgy. Chaya composed of boiled native chicken, watercress and gabi leaves (as I mentioned in a previous post, the regular meal in Mayoyao is usually boiled). After lunch, we made our way down Chaya and trekked further down to Brgy. Bongan for a view of the Bongan Terraces Cluster and a visit to the the Abfo'or Burial Tomb.

By mid-afternoon, we had already trekked for more than five hours. So everyone was yearning for another afternoon nap to recharge. Later in the evening we watched a demonstration on how the Mayoyao native house is constructed.

Part 1: Rice planting experience in Mayoyao, Ifugao

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ifugao: Rice planting experience in Mayoyao, Ifugao

Mayoyao, Ifugao called me back. I had previously made that long trip to the Mayoyao Rice Terraces for the rice harvest tour. This time, I was at the rice planting (pfukhay ad Majawjaw) tour as part of out-of-classroom learning activities for my students. It's the real FarmVille!

We had taken an evening bus to Santiago, Isabela and arrived early in the morning. From there, it was a five-hour rough road ride up to Mayoyao, through the towns of Alfonso Lista and Aguinaldo which were previously part of Mayoyao. We had to deal with a flat tire along the way. But that was part of the adventure.

As soon as we arrived in Mayoyao, we dropped off our bags at our lodge and proceeded immediately to the Mapawoy Terraces Cluster to plant rice. We were really late so they had started planting already by the time we got there. But they waited for us before they slaughtered the pig. You should have seen the faces of my students as they observed this inherent part of the Ifugao culture.

Right after that, we went straight to the paddies. One by one, my students stepped in the mud. The initial shrieks as they made their first steps in the slippery mud slowly changed to delight as we planted the rice seedlings into the soft ground.

We had the pig for lunch of course which was boiled with salt and eaten with rice and the pork broth, the traditional way meals are prepared and served in Mayoyao.

It was quite a hike back to the road and we went straight to the lodge to take a nap since we hadn't gotten any rest from the long trip since we arrived.

We woke up just in time for dinner and a cultural show. Before calling it a night, we chewed on moma (nganga or betel nut).

Anyway, just wanted to let everyone know that there will be another rice planting tour next month hosted by the Pochon Group in Mayoyao from February 19 to 21. Contact Josh Nalliw at or +63 906 5308242 for inquiries. It's definitely better than FarmVille! It's the real thing!

Here are my blog entries on the rice harvest tour two years ago:
Part 1: Trip to Mayoyao, Ifugao
Part 2: Mayoyao Rice Terraces in Ifugao
Part 3: Rice harvest experience in Mayoyao, Ifugao
Part 4: Trekking along the rice terraces of Mayoyao
Part 5: Journey across the Ifugao heartland

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Northern Samar: Visita Iglesia Northern Samar

There are still a few number of colonial churches left in Northern Samar. So you could go on a visita iglesia around the province.

On top of the list is the fortress church of Capul Island. The Capul Church is dedicated to San Ignacio de Loyola. It was built by the Jesuits by the 18th century and renovated by the Franciscans in the late 19th century. For more information, on how to get to Capul Island, read Capul Island's lighthouse and old fortress church.

Visiting the rest of the churches is very straightforward. Most of the churches only have their exteriors relatively intact. You can begin at the Bobon Church (dedicated to the Sto. Nino) and then proceed to the Catarman Cathedral. Nothing much is left of the original church except the main retablo.

Next on the list is the Pambujan Church. In the next town is the Catubig Church which probably has the most interesting facade and exterior among all Northern Samar churches. The last stop should be the Laoang Church. But since we visited Pinipisakan Falls in Las Navas, the sun had already set before we made that ferry crossing from Rawis to Laoang.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Northern Samar: Spice of Life Beach in Buenos Aires, Victoria, Northern Samar

Northern Samar has white sand beaches too. Spice of Life Beach (I don't know where it got its name and my guess is as good as yours) is a small pocket of white sand in Brgy. Buenos Aires, Victoria which is located close to the National Highway south of Allen.

Anyway, I'm still in the heart of Ifugao, somewhere between Mayoyao and Banaue as this post appears. So enjoy photos of Spice of Life Beach for the meantime.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Pampanga: 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

The 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta will be held in Clark Freeport, Pampanga from February 11 to 14, 2010. And just like in the previous years, Ultimate Philippines will be organizing a grand tour, complete with a sumptuous breakfast at C' Italian Dining, and visits to Abe's Farm and Nurture Spa in Magalang, Pampanga on February 13, 2010.

C' Italian Dining usually opens in time for lunch. But for our Ultimate Philippines tour, we requested Chef Chris Locher to serve breakfast for us. Chef Chris mentioned last year's tour was the first time he was served breakfast. And he sure did not fail to impress. This year won't be an exception.

This year, we're bringing back the visit to Nurture Spa in Abe's Farm. So after waking up really early in the morning, and stuffing yourself silly with great Italian food, expect to be pampered at Nurture Spa! So what are you waiting for? Book now at or contact my tokayo, Ivan Man Dy at +63 917 3291622. We only have 30 slots!

Here are some of the highlights of the 2010 Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta:

February 11 (Thu)
Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:30-7 a.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Fly-In (5-6 p.m.)

February 12 (Fri)

Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:30-7 a.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Flights (5:30-6 p.m.)

February 13 (Sat)

Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:30-7 a.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:45-6:15 p.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Night Glow (6:45-7:30 p.m.)
Annual Aviators Ball and Awards Night (7:40 p.m. onwards)

February 14 (Sun)

Hot Air Balloon Flight (5:30-7 a.m.)
Hot Air Balloon Night Glow (5:30-6:45 p.m.)

Here is the detailed schedule of events of the 15th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Top Philippine destinations for 2009

It's time again to look back at my local trips last year and choose my top Philippine destinations for 2009. I visited my 63rd province last year! For my list for 2009, I'm not limiting my choices to ten since there were a lot of destinations which I consider very memorable.

1. Banol Beach, Twin Lagoon, Kayangan Lake and Siete Pecados Marine Park in Coron, Palawan

Coron is one of those places in the Philippines that we can truly call paradise. There are so many things to see and do there, you can spend a week or two and not get bored at all. I definitely enjoyed the trip. In fact, I also came out with a list of Things to do in Coron, Busuanga and Culion, Palawan which outlines the many different activities in the area.

2. Batanes: Valugan Beach, Vayang, Nakamaya Burial Grounds, Diura Fishing Village and Naidi Hill
My second trip to Batanes and I got to visit new places! On this trip, we trekked to the Nakamaya Burial Grounds and visited the Diura Fishing Village as part of the Ultimate Batanes Tour. Speaking of Ultimate Philippines, we have six Batanes tour dates for this year. Slots are going fast so I suggest you book now. Last year, we closed the tours weeks before since we were swamped with bookings as soon as we came out with the dates.

3. Puraran Beach is surfing capital of Catanduanes
Another well kept secret, but not for long, Puraran Beach is a major surfing destination of the country, and very popular among foreign surfers. In fact, when I was there, I was the only local visitor. The beach was very picturesque as well!

4. Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan
It was my first time to visit the Hundred Islands. And it surely did not disappoint! An iconic attraction of the Philippines, I hope it remains that way. And the good thing I like about the Hundred Islands is that you can choose your own secluded island and enjoy the rest of the day in a beach all to yourself.

Rappelling down Digisit Falls
5. Surfing, kayaking, rappelling, mountain biking and more Aurora adventure activities
I was back in Aurora just last month. And I discovered that there is now more to Aurora than just surfing. In fact, it's poised to become the next major adventure tourism destination. I also got to visit Ditumabo Falls which was off limits to visitors the last time I was in Aurora some years back. I'm sure once the roads are completely paved, the mad rush to this Pacific paradise will go full speed ahead. So enjoy it while it's still all yours!

6. Tondol Beach in Anda, Pangasinan
This beach was a revelation. It can become one of the most fantastic beaches in Luzon, especially when the sun is out and shining and when the tide is low. I enjoyed wading the powder white sand which streches a kilometer or so from the shore. Always visit the beach during low tide and the summer months since the thing about this beach is the view and experience is not consistent. But be there at the right time, it's picture perfect!

7. MassKara Festival 2009 in Bacolod City
I was in Bacolod for a grand family reunion of the Henares Clan. And we made sure it was the weekend of the MassKara Festival so that we could enjoy the festivities!

8. Bantayan Island, Cebu is rich in heritage and great beaches!
Another great discovery, Bantayan Island is on its way to becoming another Boracay. Give it another ten or fifteen years. Right now, several foreigners already settled in the town of Sta. Fe and have opened some very interesting restaurants most defintely worth visiting.

9. Corregidor Island day trip via Sun Crusies
I've always enjoyed visits to Corregidor Island which is a silent witness to the Second World War. And early last year, I got to visit the island twice, one of the visits an overnight trip where I got to explore the Malinta Tunnel at night!

10. Bohol: Loboc River Cruise, Baclayon Church and Panglao Island
I was lucky to get invited to a test drive of the new Honda City in Bohol. We got to drive around most of Bohol island and stay in Panglao Island for a night.

11. Capul Island's lighthouse and old fortress church
Although I mentioned this trip only this year, I made the trip to Northern Samar late last year. Capul Island is for those who really want to experience the rustic beauty of the country. It's doesn't have any travel amenities whatsoever. And you'll definitely immerse with the locals since the readily available accommodation is homestay.

12. Viva Vigan! Binatbatan Festival, Tres de Mayo and more Vigan festivities
While I try to avoid trooping to festivals due to the crowds, I enjoy watching them. We got to experience an old tradition of Vigan, the centuries-old Tres de Mayo Fiesta held annually, as part of the Ultimate Ilocos Tour. And we're doing it again this year. So book now!

13. Visita iglesia in Leyte and Southern Leyte
Another off the beaten track trip I did early last year. And I got to experience how it feels being stranded!

14. Cagayan: Callao Cave, Pinacanauan River and Iguig Calvary Hills
We had a barbecue picnic along the banks of the Panacanauan River which to me was the highlight of this visit to Penablanca. We'll be back again in Tuguegarao this month for even more adventure activities. So watch out for it.

15. Mairaira Cove (Blue Lagoon) in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
Beyond touristy Saud Beach is this secluded Pagudpud cove called Mairaira. Tourists are fast discovering this surfing destination on the northwestern tip of Luzon Island. So better troop there while it's still relatively a secret.

16. Around Clark: Mt. Pinatubo Sky Tour at Omni Aviation
Last but definitely not least of my top Philippine destinations is Clark. And one the more memorable things I did last year was riding on a Cessna plane over the crater lake of Mt. Pinatubo! I even came out with a list of Things to do in Clark Freeport and Pampanga.

Read also Top Philippine destinations for 2008.
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