Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top 50 Philippine heritage cities and towns to see in your lifetime

The Philippines has a rich and colorful culture. If you're creating a bucket list of Philippine cities to visit, here's a list of 50 cities (and towns) with a rich history, an abundance of built heritage, delicious food, and a colorful local culture, which you must see during your lifetime. I've also suggested cities and towns near the top 50 which are also worth the visit.

1. Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
No doubt, Vigan deserves the top spot on any list of Philippine heritage cities. The city is the best-preserved Spanish colonial town in Asia. Walk its historic streets lined with elegant bahay na bato (stone houses), or visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of Vigan, Plaza Salcedo and Plaza Burgos where you could sample the local empanada. The National Museum has a branch in the city. The Syquia Mansion and Crisologo House also have museums open to the public. Here is a list of Ilocano dishes available in Vigan you might to try. The Historic Town of Vigan is a World Heritage Site. Read more on Vigan.

2. Iloilo City
A city that has realized the potential of revitalizing old downtowns, Iloilo City is now in the process of restoring the prewar buildings along Calle Real, the city's old business district. No doubt, Iloilo has the best preserved downtown area among major cities in the Philippines. Plaza Libertad and the Old Iloilo City Hall (now UP Iloilo) are National Historical Landmarks. The Jaro District is where the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral and grand ancestral homes are located. The Jaro Belfry is also a National Historical Landmark, while the Old Jaro City Hall (Jaro was a separate city until 1937) will soon be a branch of the National Museum. Another interesting attraction is the Molo Church in Molo District. All over the city, local cuisine is readily available such as batchoy in the La Paz Market. Here a list of Ilonggo dishes you might want to try. Nearby attractions include heritage churches all over the province such as the Miag-ao Church, a World Heritage Site. Read more on Iloilo.

3. Cebu City
The oldest city in the country definitely has its history written all over it. The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Magellan's Cross, Cebu Provincial Capitol, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and Museum, Fort San Pedro, Parian District (Casa Gorordo and Yap-Sandiego House) and Museo Sugbo are just a few of the historical attractions of the city. Food choices are endless. Just ask a local and you'll have a long list of places to try. Read more on Cebu.

4. City of Manila
The City of Manila has the most heritage properties in the country. Unfortunately, its relatively bad reputation unfairly scares away visitors. People don't know what they are missing when they skip Manila! Intramuros is probably the most popular destination of the city. Make sure to visit Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church and Museum (a World Heritage Site), Casa Manila Museum, the Manila Cathedral, and Bahay Tsinoy Museum. The Manila Collectible Co. and Silahis Arts and Artifacts Center provide great souvenirs from all over the Philippines. Right beside the walled city is Rizal Park and the National Museum Complex (National Art Gallery, Museum of the Filipino People, and the soon to open Museum of Natural History). On the other side is Binondo District or Manila Chinatown, where you can enjoy great Filipino-Chinese cuisine and join a food tour. For the hardcore cultural tourist, there's Quiapo District with the San Sebastian Basilica, Quiapo Church, charming colonial mansions and colorful street life, San Miguel District (the Malacañang Museum requires prior appointment), Ermita District with the Manila Post Office, Manila Metropolitan Theater, and Manila City Hall, and Malate District where the Metropolitan Museum of Manila is located.

Taal Heritage Town, Batangas5. Taal, Batangas
We're not talking about Tagaytay City or Taal Volcano. Just a little over two hours from Metro Manila, the town of Taal is a showcase of Philippine history and heritage. The entire town is a National Historical Landmark, and so are the Taal Basilica, Leon Apacible Historical Landmark, and Marcella Agoncillo Historical Landmark. You can also visit the Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine and Santa Lucia Well down the San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps. Several houses are open to the public as museums, including the two Villavicencio houses (Casa Villavicencio and Villavicencio Wedding Gift House), Casa Dela Rosa-Ilagan Museum, Gregorio Agoncillo Mansion, Villa Tortuga and the Galleria Taal. Available in the town market are intricately-embroidered piña or jusi cloth and clothing, pocket knives called balisong, longganisa (pork sausage) and tapa (marinated beef). Read more on Taal.

6. Silay City, Negros Occidental
The best-preserved colonial town on Negros Island, Silay is a National Historical Landmark while twenty-eight of its houses are declared Heritage Houses. Several houses are open as museums including the Victor Fernandez Gaston Heritage House, Manuel Severino Hofileña Heritage House and the Bernardino Lopez Jalandoni Ancestral House among others. Aside from the popular El Ideal Bakery, the city has many food secrets too including the early morning Delicacy Barter Market and Emma Lacson's Delicacies prepared and sold in a house without a sign (120 Rizal Street), Read more on Silay.

7. Carcar City, Cebu (plus Sibonga, Argao, Dalaguete, Boljoon and Oslob)
Now for Cebu Island, the best-preserved colonial town is Carcar. It has a fantastic collection of heritage buildings including the Carcar Church, Carcar Dispensary, Upland Elementary School, and four declared Heritage Houses namely Balay na Tisa Heritage House, Mercado Mansion Heritage House, Sa Dakong Balay / Don Florencio Noel House, and the Silva House Heritage House. Don't miss the lechon and chicharon sold in the Carcar Public Market. Neighboring towns provide interesting places to visit too such as Sibonga, Argao, Dalaguete, Boljoon and Oslob. Read more on Carcar.

8. Banaue, Ifugao (plus Mayoyao, Hungduan and Kiangan)
So downtown Banaue is not really as charming as we hoped it would be. But Banaue is on the list because of the Batad Rice Terraces and Bangaan Rice Terraces which are both World Heritage Sites. The viewpoint also provides fantastic views of the Banaue Rice Terraces (not a World Heritage Site though). And you can make day-trips to the Hungduan Rice Terraces, Nagacadan Rice Terraces and Mayoyao Rice Terraces, which complete the five rice terrace clusters that are part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras. Local cuisine and handicrafts are all over the place! Read more on Banaue.

9. Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte
This town's claim to fame is that Dr. Jose Rizal was exiled here for four years before his death in 1896. It is also the first declared Heritage Zone under RA No. 10066. The Relief Map of Mindanao in front of the Dapitan Church was made by the national hero himself and is a National Cultural Treasure. Also visit the Dapitan Plaza Historical Landmark and the Rizal Shrine, where Rizal lived while in exile. Read more on Dapitan.

10. Laoag City, Ilocos Norte (plus Sarrat)
Laoag City is the capital of Ilocos Norte. It has a beautiful plaza with with several historical buildings around it such as the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol, Laoag City Hall, the Laoag Cathedral and Bell Tower, and the Tobacco Monopoly Monument. Visit the Museo Ilocos Norte for a historical background of the province. Make sure to eat at Saramsam Cafe, La Preciosa or Johnny Moon Cafe. I also have a list of the best empanadas in town! Neighboring Sarrat is also a heritage town. Read more on Laoag.

Pila Heritage Town, Laguna11. Pila, Laguna
A large green plaza with the Pila Municipal Hall on one end and the Pila Church on the opposite end, with charming colonial houses on the other two sides is the iconic image of Pila. The best-preserved colonial town in Laguna, Pila is a National Historic Landmark. Beyond the plaza are even more heritage homes. A visit to the town is a walk back in time. Read more on Pila.

12. Baguio City
While Baguio City may be losing its charm as more pine trees are cut, heritage buildings demolished and open spaces given up in the name of development, there are still pockets of Baguio's historical character that remain alive. These are the Mansion House, Wright Park, Teachers' Camp, parts of Camp John Hay, the Philippine Military Academy, and Tam-awan Village. The BenCab Museum is one of the city's newest attractions. Driving up Kennon Road is also refreshing. I hope these places remain charming despite the misguided development that is happening all over the city.

13. Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
Lake Sebu is one of the country's most beautiful cultural landscapes. It is the ancestral domain of the T'boli. The main activity is a boat ride around Lake Sebu, one of three lakes in the municipality. Good buys include t'nalak cloth and brass cast souvenirs. And it's a tilapia overload with a variety of dishes available at local resorts. Read more on Lake Sebu.

14. City of San Fernando, Pampanga (plus Bacolor, Guagua and Santa Rita)
San Fernando is known for many things — the Giant Lantern Festival, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites, and great Kapampangan food among others! It also has managed to preserve a small historic quarter in the downtown area. Five houses have been declared heritage houses — Lazatin House, Hizon-Singian House, Henson-Hizon House, Dayrit House and Augusto P. Hizon House. San Fernando must be the only city in the Philippines where motorized tricycles are not allowed in the downtown area. Instead, the historic center still has many kalesas (horse-drawn carriages) which can take you for a tour around the city to sights such as the San Fernando Train Station, Pampanga Provincial Capitol and Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando. You can also visit the nearby Bacolor ChurchBetis Church (a National Cultural Treasure), and the old houses of Santa Rita. Too bad Bacolor's ancestral mansions were covered by lahar. Pampanga lost a heritage treasure! Read more on San Fernando.

Malolos Heritage Town, Bulacan15. Malolos City, Bulacan
Malolos was a revolutionary capital of the Philippines. The Barasoain Church, home of the Malolos Congress, has always been featured on Philippine currency. The city's historic center was declared a National Historical Landmark especially since many of the houses served as offices of the Philippine Revolutionary Government. Here is a list of Bulacan heritage dishes if you're craving for some.

16. Angeles City, Pampanga
Angeles City is another heritage destination worth visiting, especially with its museums and local restaurants featuring Kapampangan cuisine. The Old Angeles Municipal Hall, an Important Cultural Property, is now the Museo ning Angeles. Holy Angel University, just across the street, has the Center for Kapampangan StudiesManansala Museum, with an impressive collection of Vicente Manansala works donated by the family, and the Pinatubo Museum. The Pamintuan Mansion was the site of the first anniversary celebrations of Philippine independence in 1899. It now houses the Museum of Social History. The Angeles Church is also impressive. And take note that the photo above is old. They've taken out all the ugly electrical wires around the plaza. In 2015, several more structures in Angeles were named Important Cultural Properties. And yes, the city is a haven for Kapampangan cuisine, more than enough reason to visit!

17. Sabtang, Batanes (plus Mahatao and Uyugan)
Batanes, home of the Ivatans, is another cultural landscape that has to be on this list! The best-preserved Ivatan villages can be found in Sabtang (Savidug and Chavayan). The Sabtang Church, and the Ivana Church on Batan Island, are National Historical Landmarks. Also on Batan Island, the Mahatao Church is a National Cultural Treasure. Uyugan is another town with many Ivatan stone houses, particularly in Itbud and Centro. Make sure to try out the local Ivatan dishes as well. Read more on Sabtang.

Sariaya Heritage Town, Quezon18. Sariaya, Quezon (plus San Pablo City and Alaminos, Laguna)
Sariaya has a fabulous Art Deco municipal hall and three of its many ancestral mansions are declared heritage houses — Natalio Enriquez House, Rodriguez House and Gala-Rodriguez House. The Sariaya Church is also quite interesting with convent buildings on both sides. On the way to Sariaya, you will see more heritage houses in Alaminos and San Pablo City, Laguna. And don't forget to visit Villa Escudero as well.

19. Tayabas City, Quezon (plus Lucban and Lucena City)
We might not realize it but Tayabas has eleven National Cultural Treasures – the Tayabas Basilica and ten historic bridges including Malagonlong Bridge, and the Casa Comunidad de Tayabas Historical Landmark. Too bad most of Tayabas was destroyed during the Second World War. But what's left is worth the visit. Aside from the basilica, there are three smaller chapels – the Santuario de las Almas, Ermita Chapel, and the Tayabas Cemetery Chapel. North of Tayabas is Lucban with the Lucban Church, Rizal Park and delicious Lucban longganisa and pancit habhab. South of Tayabas is Lucena City where the Tayabas Provincial Capitol, a National Historical Landmark, is located. In front of the capitol building is Bubbles Crispy Pata and Restaurant located in an old house.

20. Balayan, Batangas (plus Calaca)
Balayan is another charming colonial town. The Balayan Church is a National Cultural Treasure. While the Lopez House is set to be declared this year. The town has a beautiful collection of ancestral homes. And every June 24, the town organizes the Parada ng Lechon. Neighboring Calaca also has an interesting church and heritage houses.

21. Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a World Heritage Site. And the local food is another story worth raving about. From chaolong to seafood overload, you'll never run out of choices. The Puerto Princesa Cathedral and Iwahig Penal Colony are major heritage landmarks of the city. Read more on Puerto Princesa.

22. Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
The capital city of Sugarlandia, Bacolod smiles every October during the Masskara Festival. The city has one of the most impressive capitol buildings in the country, the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol. It's ironic that despite my roots in the city, it's a foodie's paradise I have yet to explore. Read more on Bacolod.

23. Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental (plus Bacong)
Dumaguete is such a charming city! Its tree-lined seaside boulevard is the centerpiece of its historic core. On one end of Rizal Boulevard is historic Silliman University, established by Presbyterian missionaries in 1901, the first American private university in the Philippines. Silliman Hall is the iconic structure of this heritage campus, built using materials taken from and old theater in New York. One of the oldest American colonial buildings in the country, it now houses an anthropology museum. Sidlakang Negros Village, an expo park that features the different municipalities and cities of Negros Oriental, their arts and crafts, delicacies and souvenir items, a one-stop shop for everything Negros Oriental. And for the food – silvanas! Need I say more? Read more on Dumaguete.

24. Zamboanga City
Asia's Latin City is the title given to Zamboanga. And rightly so because the locals speak Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole language. Interesting historical attractions include Fort PilarZamboanga City Hall and the Jose Rizal Monument. Now for food, Curacha con Alavar Sauce (Spanner Crab with Alavar Sauce) is champion! Check out the Barter Market and Yakan Weaving Village for local textiles. Read more on Zamboanga.

25. Romblon, Romblon
The old plaza of Romblon has retained much of its historical character. On one side is the Romblon Cathedral, a National Cultural Treasure. There's a prewar Rizal Monument plus the Old Romblon Municipal Hall, built during the Spanish colonial period, still has the Philippine and American flags carved on its balcony. The Spanish Colonial Era Municipal Building, Traida de Aguas and Bridges are Important Cultural Properties. High up a hill overlooking the town are the Twin Forts of Romblon: Fuerza de San Andres and Fuerza de Santiago, both National Cultural Treasures. Read more on Romblon.

I've created a bucket list of fifty Philippine cities (and towns) with a rich history, an abundance of built heritage, delicious food, and a colorful local culture, which you must see during your lifetime. Make sure to check out Part 1. Below is Part 2 of the list.

26. Boac, Marinduque
We all know Marinduque because of the Moriones Festival every Good Friday. But its capital town Boac is a heritage town too! Aside from the Boac Cathedral, the town still has a lot of heritage houses. Nearby Santa Cruz Church is the best-preserved colonial church in the province. Read more on Boac.

Aguinaldo Shrine, Kawit, Cavite27. Kawit, Cavite
The birthplace of the Republic of the Philippines, Kawit has three major heritage sites — Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine (where the declaration of Philippine independence was made on June 12, 1898), Baldomero Aguinaldo Shrine and the Kawit Church. Aside from those three important sites, there's nothing much to see in Kawit. But most people stop by Kawit as part of any Cavite historical tour or day-trip which goes all the way to Maragondon.

28. Paoay, Ilocos Norte (plus Batac City)
Of the many colonial churches in the Philippines, the Paoay Church stands out. It is a World Heritage Site, and rightfully so. The town also has interesting ancestral homes. There are interesting local restaurants around. And neighboring Batac City serves the best empanada and miki in Ilocos Norte! Read more on Paoay.

29. Roxas City, Capiz (plus Pan-ay)
The Roxas City Plaza is pretty with the Capiz Provincial CapitolMetropolitan Cathedral of Capiz, and a beautiful fountain in the center. The Manuel Acuña Roxas House, the birthplace of President Roxas, is a National Historical Landmark. The city also calls itself the Seafood Capital of the Philippines. So head on over to Baybay Beach for some of the cheapest seafood in the Philippines! Pan-ay Church in the neighboring town is a National Cultural Treasure.

30. Daraga, Albay (plus Legazpi City and Camalig)
Iconic images of Mayon Volcano are usually taken from Daraga. There are the Cagsawa Ruins, which has adorned Philippine postcards for decades. But another favorite view is that of the volcano with the Daraga Church, a National Cultural Treasure. Bicolano cuisine is abundant in Daraga, Legazpi and Camalig. I'm craving for coconut milk dishes right now! Pinangat anyone? Read more on Daraga.

31. Baclayon, Bohol (plus Tagbilaran City, Dauis and Panglao)
Of all the towns of Bohol, Baclayon has preserved much of its character. Aside from the Baclayaon Church, which is both a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark, the town has many old houses that were saved from a demolition spree due to a proposed DPWH road-widening project. Good thing the project fizzled out after protests. Even its Spanish colonial period market is still standing! Lucky for us, the interior of Baclayon Church is still intact. Read more on Baclayon.

32. Angono, Rizal (plus Tanay, Morong, Baras and Antipolo)
Angono is known as the Art Capital of the Philippines. The town is a one large art gallery and hosts quite a number of them too such as the Blanco Family Museum and Nemiranda Art House. Nearby are the Angono Petroglyphs (which are actually in Binangonan), the oldest known works of art in the Philippines, dating back to 3000BC. Want to try local and exotic fare? Look for Balaw-Balaw Restaurant. In the neighboring town of Tanay is the Tanay Church, a National Cultural Treasure. The churches in Morong and Baras are interesting too! Read more on Angono.

33. Majayjay, Laguna (plus Nagcarlan, Liliw, Magdalena, Pagsanjan, Paete and Pakil)
The main landmark of Majayjay is the towering Majayjay Church, a National Cultural Treasure. Many people also visit Majayjay to swim in its cold rivers and springs. But Majayjay is not the only town in this side of Laguna you should be visiting. Make sure you visit the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery Historical LandmarkNagcarlan ChurchLiliw Church (and buy slippers and sandals while you are in the town), Magdalena ChurchPagsanjan Town GatePakil ChurchPaete Church, and buy piña and jusi cloth in Lumban.

34. Quezon City
It's common knowledge that Quezon City also has landmarks worth visiting. We just take them for granted because we see them everyday but may not have taken time to appreciate them. The Quezon Memorial ShrineUniversity of the Philippines – Diliman (with the many works of National Artists and renowned architects all over the campus), Balara Filtration PlantsTandang Sora Shrine, and Himlayang Pilipino are just a few of the landmarks you can visit.

35. Naga City, Camarines Sur
When you hear Naga, the Peñafrancia image always comes to mind. The Naga CathedralPeñafrancia Basilica and Old Peñafrancia Church are landmarks connected to the venerated image.

Maragondon, Cavite36. Maragondon, Cavite
Another town on the Cavite historical trail, Maragondon has three important sites — Maragondon ChurchBonifacio Trial House and the Execution Site of Andres Bonifacio. The Maragondon Church is a National Cultural Treasure. While the Bonifacio Trial House is a National Historical Landmark. Read more on Maragondon.

37. Lingayen, Pangasinan (plus Alaminos City)
Lingayen has the Pangasinan Provincial Capitol, historic Lingayen Beach, and several ancestral houses. Read more on Lingayen.

I'd have to add Alaminos City to the list since it also has many heritage homes!

38. San Miguel, Bulacan (plus Bustos, Plaridel, Angat and Baliuag)
San Miguel is a charming old town with beautiful ancestral mansions. But the charm is fast disappearing because the not much has been done to ensure the protection of the local heritage. Part of the Biak na Bato National Park is also in San Miguel. If you are in the area, you should visit the towns of Bustos, Plaridel, Angat, and Baliuag which have interesting churches and old houses too. The Old Baliuag Municipal Hall is now a museum.

39. Los Baños, Laguna (plus Calamba City)
There are two major historical attractions in Los Baños – the University of the Philippines, Los Baños and the Gen. Paciano Rizal Shrine. And since there is a large student population, you are correct to expect a lot of great and affordable restaurants too! Buko pie, espasol anyone?

Neighboring Calamba has the Rizal Shrine and the Calamba Church Historical Landmark.

40. Corregidor Island, Cavite City
Cavite City is in this list because of Corregidor Island. Visit the various war memorials and the surviving gun batteries which formed part of the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays. You can also opt to stay for the night and explore the Malinta Tunnel in the evening and do a morning trek among the less-visited batteries the next day. Read more on Corregidor.

41. San Juan, Batangas
San Juan is a town with many Art Deco mansions. Few people pass through the town's historic center on the way to Laiya Beach not realizing its hidden treasure. None of the houses in San Juan have been declared. Hopefully the local government has the vision to create a heritage tourism program that will complement Laiya Beach.

Binan Heritage Street, Laguna42. Biñan City, Laguna (plus Santa Rosa City and Cabuyao City)
For those who love heritage houses, Biñan is a welcome surprise. If you want to see more, continue on to neighboring Sta. Rosa City and Cabuyao City. I was pleasantly surprised to see grand old houses still standing along this route.

43. Jimenez, Misamis Occidental (plus Ozamiz City and Oroquieta City)
The major attraction of the town is the Jimenez Church, a National Cultural Treasure. The town also has interesting ancestral houses and remnants of a coral stone road built during the Spanish colonial period. Just a few kilometers north, in Oroquieta City, is the Misamis Occidental Provincial Capitol by Architect Juan Arellano. While to the south is Ozamiz City with the Fuerte de la Concepcion y del Triunfo Historical Landmark.

44. Tuguegarao City, Cagayan
It's major landmarks are the Tuguegarao Metropolitan Cathedral and the Cagayan Provincial Capitol. When is the city, try out pancit batil-patung and the local longganisa. Neighboring Peñablanca has the famous Callao Caves. Read more on Tuguegarao.

45. Malabon City, Metro Manila
Malabon used to be an island. Then they reclaimed all the areas around it. Then it started to flood! But the grand old houses remind us of the beauty of Malabon. And while you are there, try the Pancit Malabon, puto bumbong, puto sulot, broas, sapin-sapin, kikiam, sumpia and camatchile cookies. Did I miss anything?

46. Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental (plus Jasaan and Balingasag)
CDO is most popular for whitewater rafting. But it does have a few landmarks including Cagayan de Oro City Hall, the Misamis Oriental Provincial Capitol, the Cagayan de Oro Metropolitan Cathedral, and Plaza Divisoria that remind us we are in the city. The local food scene is also worth exploring. Here are some food suggestionsJasaan Church, a few kilometers away, is a National Cultural Treasure. While Balingasag has several ancestral houses worth seeing. I hope they preserve the heritage houses in CDO. Read more on CDO.

47. Butuan City, Agusan del Norte (plus Cabadbaran City)
Butuan City has its balangays. The Balangays in the Vicinity of Butuan, are National Cultural Treasures. While Cabadbaran City has elegant ancestral homes. If Butuan plays its cards right, it should position itself as an archeological city and invest in digging up its rich history. The Butuan Archeological Sites are in the Tentative List for World Heritage inscription.

Also, the city should promote itself as a gateway to the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. Even if the marsh is in Agusan del Sur, Butuan will benefit immensely if it supports the bid for the Agusan Marsh to be a World Heritage Site. So imagine if the local community puts its act together, there will be two World Heritage Sites in the Agusan provinces.

48. Sagada, Mountain Province
Mountain town meets Bohemian culture, Sagada is supposed to be your laid-back picturesque Cordillera community. Tourism caught up with it though and crowds continue to change its unique character. I hope the local government realizes that it needs to preserve the mountain town architecture before it's too late. But for now, let's enjoy Sagada as it should be, a quiet retreat with delicious food for the stomach and soul.

49. Victorias City, Negros Occidental
This sugar milling city is also a cultural attraction. Check out the Chapel of the Angry Christ inside the compound of the Victorias Milling Corporation. Did you know that the UP Chapel was originally designed for the Ossorio family? But I guess it doesn't matter now since the current chapel is itself a work of art. Read more on Victorias.

50. Iligan City, Lanao del Norte (plus Marawi City, Lanao del Sur)
Rounding up this list are Iligan, together with Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. Iligan has the Macaraeg Heritage House and Maria Cristina Falls. The downtown are has some interesting architecture which I hope the city restores. The city is known for its lechon manok and baboy, and roasted peanuts. Marawi City has the Mindanao State University and its Aga Khan Museum, and Lake Lanao. Try to look for torogans if you have time.

You might be asking what criteria landed cities and towns on this list? First would be character of the city, that includes large concentrations of built heritage (old architecture, especially those that are declared), cultural icons, museums and galleries, or the existence of cultural landscapes. Second is the variety of local cuisine which should be readily available to visitors, or existence of markets with local products and handicrafts. Finally, nearby towns and cities with interesting cultural attractions also count.

We selected fifty interesting places. But other towns and cities that should be in this list are: Baler, AuroraCapul, Northern SamarDavao City (if it had preserved more of its built heritage, but do visit Aldevinco Market); Glan, SaranganiSan Juan City, Metro ManilaDaet, Camarines NorteTabaco City, AlbayBatangas CityCuyoTaytay and Culion in PalawanSan Nicolas, Ilocos NorteLazi, SiquijorSanta Cruz, Zambales; and Bantayan, Cebu. Maybe I should bring the list up to 100?

Thank you to Bernie Arellano for this map!

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