The Philippines’ must-see places (First of two parts)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Guimaras Island. Photo by Frances Beldia
In this country, there are 7, 107 ways to stay. If you have more than 7,000 islands to explore in one country, chances are you also have that many questions to bewilder and bewitch you for weeks before your travel. When stuck in a muddle, the best remedy is humor. Put on a funny hat or, more fittingly, a long gown and recall the beauty queen who, when asked how many islands there are in the Philippines, unwittingly riposted: “High tide or low tide?”

Romantics travel and replete their journals with their travels, while the web-knowing and tech-savvy apt to blog about their most recent journey across the islands. These ardent travelers will cross seas to experience the fabled pristine waters, verdant countryside, and rich cultural experience of Islands Philippines. No wonder the country is a mecca for poets, musicians, and anyone with a strong connection with nature. 

Cure for Mondays traipsed through the travel journal of some of our friends and discovered a thousand and one alluring places. Trimming down the list was something of a feat as we found anything from the most-visited yet still well-loved tourist destinations like Baguio, to majestic and unfrequented islands like Kay Bukal in Looc, Occidental Mindoro.

We divided this article in two parts so just take it nice and slow. Don’t forget to tell us if you’ve stamped any of these destinations for your next travel. We'd love to hear about your adventures.

Kay Bukal. For its serenity, Kay Bukal in Looc, Occidental Mindoro is one of the country’s dreamlands—the kind that soul searchers might call home. The municipality is one of the least populated areas in the country but has six major languages. Think about owning the night sky and celebrating the beach with only your partner miles away from the maddening city crowd.

Sagada. Say, what is it that you want to explore? Is it the magic of the fields or the mystery of the caves? One needs spontaneity while travelling on the mist-laden mountainsides of mystical, mysterious Sagada. The shadow of modernity may have crept in around the edges but the spirit of the land remains untouched by modernity or its trappings. In this place, romance was born of the land.

Sampaguita Gardens. What can be more astounding than finding fantasyland? Think about carousels and ferris wheels, a 43-foot aquarium, and an amazing mansion. Across these is a Christmas cottage; anyone who visits is instantly transported to Santa’s domain where Christmas is celebrated year-round. Sampaguita Gardens, the home of Precious Moments Dolls and works of art, is cradled in the province of Aklan.

Photo by Frances Beldia

Apo Island. Home to more than 650 species of fish and 400 species of coral, this is a dream destination for those who love to dive or snorkel. This haven is found seven kilometers off the southern tip of Negros island. The famous volcanic island is also one of the world’s best-known marine sanctuaries. 

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