Sunday, January 8, 2012

Beauty of Batanes, EXPOSED.

Set your foot on Batanes and you'll fell in love with the place instantly. Batanes is one of the top tourist destination in the Philippines. Who wouldn’t especially when you stayed in a Nature Lodge nestled on top of rolling hills called “Fundacion Pacita”. This was once the home studio of internationally-acclaimed artist Pacita Abad. The lodge is a very peaceful accommodation with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. The building is a work of art itself, made of natural limestones and a lush garden surrounding it.

Batanes is well known for its rich cultural heritage. Located in a town called Mahatao is the San Carlos Borromeo Church, listed as one of the country’s National Cultural Treasures by the NCCA because of its significance and architecture.

You'll find a unique sari-sari store here called the "Honesty Coffee Shop." This store doesn’t have any cashiers or people to look after their merchandise. If you go inside the store, all items are individually labeled and there’s a drop box where you have to put your payment for your purchase. The owner of the shop is a busy farmer so she just open the store early in the morning then will leave to farm and then goes back in the afternoon to close it up. Nobody will dare to cheat here if you see what she had posted on her store.

Next to Mahatao is Ivana town where you can find the “House of Dakay”. It was built in 1887 and was believed to be the oldest vernacular house in Batanes. The house is kept and owned by one of the oldest women in town named Lola Ida. It is also the only stone house left after a strong earthquake hit the province.

Because of Batanes’ rolling hills and green pasture, different pasturing animals like cows and carabaos are abundant in this province. Would you believe that they don’t get their beef from Manila or neighboring provinces because they have an abundant supply of fresh cow’s meat. In Batan island, you’ll find what the locals call the “Marlboro Country” because of the luscious green grass and rolling hills.

There are three different lighthouses in Basco, Mahatao and Sabtang Island. The first is the lighthouse in Basco. The lighthouses in Batanes resembles that of the lighthouses you can see in other countries which adds to the beauty of the lush greens of the rolling terrain in the area. You can stay there for a while to enjoy the sunset and the cool breeze coming from the ocean.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gorgeous Camiguin

Camiguin is “an island born of fire”; it is host to seven volcanoes and several volcanic domes. Throughout its history, volcanoes gave life to a pristine ecosystem that’s the pride of our country. But it has also taken life; in one instance the former capital of Camiguin was claimed by the sea. Today, this island at the northern tip of Mindanao provides an idyllic life away from the bustling cities. And as a bonus to diving enthusiasts, Camiguin is voted as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. Camiguin is one of the top tourist destination in the Philippines.

The first thing you would noticed at Camiguin was how clean and orderly the place looked. The people were also very hospitable.

And the nature sights…. they were absolutely fun and beautiful! You would be amazed at the variety of places one can visit in the island. It was truly paradise.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Picnic Grove, Tagaytay

I’m very happy to share with you my experiences last Sunday afternoon when my family and I did a little exploration of a famous place in the southern part of Luzon called Tagaytay which is one of the tourist spots in the Philippines .

Around 15 to 20 minutes away from Sta. Rosa, Laguna is Picnic Grove, Tagaytay. It’s a place where you can do site seeing, horseback riding, kiting, shopping and the likes. That day, however, our interest was on experiencing the Cable Car Ride and the Zipline Ride, which we think are the newest attractions in Picnic Grove.

Funny as it may seem, near the gate, we were welcomed by the foul smell of the horses for hire. We were all laughing as each of us tried to hold our breath upon passing by. The kids didn’t mind the smell though. They kept on pointing at the horses and saying “Wow! Gusto ko ding sumakay sa kabayo!” Haha!

Wanting to breathe fresh air, the adults opted to bring the kids to a slope covered with grass where they can fly kites. Each of them bought a ready made kite from one of the many vendors inside. The kids got very excited again because the cold Tagaytay breeze was blowing so hard that it was an ideal time to make kites fly. The kites actually flew by themselves that the kids didn’t have to worry about not knowing how to fly them.

Unfortunately, after around 5 minutes of enjoying the peaceful scenery and the extra cold wind, dark clouds came in and poured rain. Everyone had to rush back to their cottages. As for our family, we opted to take refuge in a small restaurant in front of our cottage. We took the opportunity to order our favorite brewed coffee and pancit bihon for merienda. After about an hour of eating our hearts out, we finally decided to come out of the restaurant and pursue our goals of riding both the Cable Car and the Zipline.

Everybody was thrilled by the thought of trying out the very affordable cable car and zipline ride. However, when we were about to take our turn, heavy rains suddenly poured again that we had to postpone our intention to engage in the 24 seconds adventure. We ended up running back to one of the nearest souvenir shops where we bought a lot of beautiful native bags and shirts for the whole family.

Before heading home, we promised ourselves to go back to the Picnic Grove this week to finish our aborted mission last Sunday afternoon. I’m looking forward to enjoying Tagaytay’s cold breeze again this weekend. I’m sure my family won’t forget to bring their jackets and umbrellas anymore. Wink!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top 10 Philippines Attractions the World Googles

Google is a search engine. We know that. But Google also provides tools that can track the number of people who visit a site, and show us exactly what people are searching for. The Philippines is certainly searchable. So we’ve compiled the top tourist destinations in the Philippines that Google users around the world have been typing in and searching. Here are some of the surprising things we learned from Google.

10. MegaMall – Surprisingly, MegaMall lands the number 10 spot. But considering the Philippine mall culture, turns out not surprising at all. While MegaMall left its reputation as the largest mall in Asia back in the 90s, today it still is able to hold its own, even just as the third largest shopping mall in the country and seventh largest shopping mall in the world. No wonder it landed as the number 10 attraction searched about in the Philippines.

9. Mall of Asia – Another member of the SM chain of malls, Mall of Asia is the second largest mall in the country, and fourth largest in the world. Its main attractions include the very first IMAX theatre in the Philippines, an Olympic-sized ice skating rink, bowling alleys, and movie theaters, and even office spaces and a panoramic bay side view. The mall attracts 200,000 people every day, and still has plans for future expansion.

8. Rizal Park РThis park in Manila is shaped like a small moon or a lunette, and was thus named Luneta. Luneta has been the site of some significant moments in Philippine history, among which are political rallies of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino in 1986, the Declaration of Philippine Independence from American rule in 1946, and most importantly, the execution of Jos̩ Rizal in 1896 which made him a hero of the Philippine Revolution. Luneta was officially renamed Rizal Park in his honor.

7. Intramuros – Located along the southern bank of the Pasig River, Intramuros was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century and is the oldest district in the city of Manila. Its name literally means “within the walls” in Latin, which describes its structure accurately, as it is surrounded by thick, high walls and moats. During the Spanish colonial period, Intramuros was considered Manila itself, so a tour around present day Intramuros gives you an idea of how Manila looked in the 1800s.

6. Boracay – Boracay is an island of the Philippines located approximately 315 km south of Manila and 2 km off the northwest tip of the island of Panay in the Western Visayas region. The top tourist destination in the Philippines, Boracay boasts of a beach unlike any other. Its white, powdery sands and warm, tropical weather remind you that there is a God, and you’re sure to experience the beauty of the environment from this wonderful, natural setting.

5. Quiapo – Quiapo is a district of Manila also referred to as the “old downtown.” It is known for its cheap shopping, with items ranging from electronics and bicycles to native Philippine handicrafts. Quiapo is also famous for the Black Nazarene, the feast of which involves thousands of people parading through the streets to touch the image, which is supposed to produce miraculous effects. The Feast Day of the Black Nazarene, which is also known as Quiapo Day, is celebrated every January 9th.

4. Makati – Makati is a city in the Philippines and is known for being home to the central business district in the Philippines. The Makati CBD is the Philippine equivalent of the American “Wall Street”. Buildings started developing in Makati especially after the Philippine Stocks and Exchange Commission was established and situated in the area. Today, Makati City holds the most number of companies situated in a city within the Philippines.

3. Manila Bay – Manila Bay is a natural harbor which serves the Port of Manila. The bay is considered to be one of the best natural harbors in Southeast Asia, and one of the finest in the world. Although rapid urban growth and industrialization have been contributing to a decline in its water quality, Manila Bay still remains important for commerce and industry, and also serves as a locale for recreation for Metro Manila and is a popular destination for walks and for viewing the sunset.

2. Greenhills – The Greenhills Shopping Center is a shopping hub in the city of San Juan in Metro Manila. Distinct from the usual Philippine mall, Greenhills espouses an ‘indoor-outdoor’ theme, with the shopping center having the appearance of several distinct buildings that are interconnected through pathways. It has over 2,000 stores, and is a must-go-to place for tourist to the Philippines, where one can get the best deals on the best items of any other place in Metro Manila.

1. Palawan – Palawan is an island province of the Philippines located in the MiMaRoPa region. Its capital is Puerto Princesa City, and it is the largest province in the country in terms of total area of jurisdiction. Palawan is actually 1,780 islands and islets combined, where you can go island hopping to experience different islands, from those which have been commercialized and developed for a pleasurable stay, to the most private, but still habitable, virgin abodes.

Sources: Wikipedia