The Philippines, aside from being abundant in spices and islands strategic for conquistadors, is overwhelmingly rich in places and people that define its identity across Asia and the rest of the world.
The northern most part of the Philippines reveals itself as an emerald landscape with stone houses of the Ivatans. With grass-filled hills and Spanish-inspired houses surrounding the province, you can explore with a bike or car ride, or simply by just walking across the villages and towns here. Lighthouses in Basco and Sabtang are also tourist attractions here, as they showcase the breathtaking view of the sea. The lion mane-like wigs that they make out of dried cogon grass will protect your head from being burnt in broad daylight.
Mena Crisologo St. or Calle Crisologo in Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Spanish architecture is prominent in the country, most especially in this famous 4-block cobblestone street. Heritage houses of Filipino-Chinese traders during the colonial era can be explored here and you can definitely feel how a 19-century Filipino lived by the legacy left by them. This street is named after Mena Pecson Crisologo, one of the most respected Ilokanos. He translated Don Quixote and entitled it Don Calictofan de la Kota Canallero de la Luna.
The Sandbox in Porac, Pampanga
Known as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, Pampanga is well-known for having the best local cuisines that we can be proud of. Aling Lucing’s and Mila’s Sisig are two of the many restaurants you can prove that.
Aside from mouth-watering cuisines, it can also satisfy your cravings for adventure. The Sandbox is where you can find the first rollercoaster zip line long enough to have the thrill linger after reaching the other end. Avatar One is 180 meters long and 12 feet high and would sure be loved by outgoing peeps seeking for a new and exciting way to view the beauty of Pampanga. You can also find the Giant Swing here and the Aerial Walk Challenge, where in you are up against an obstacle course of nets and ropes walkways. It will test your flexibility, balance and agility up in the air.
Fort Santiago, Bahay Tsinoy and Casa Manila in Intramuros, Manila
Fort Santiago was built as defense against other conquerors during the 1950s together with the walls of Intramuros, or the Walled City of Manila, under the reign of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. This is also where Dr. Jose Rizal was imprisoned before being executed in 1856, as he influenced the minds of Filipinos through provocative writings in newspapers and novels against the Spaniards. Also within this fortress is Dambana ni Rizal that contains Rizal’s sculptures, paintings, photos and artifacts that serve as pieces of memories of this well-known hero that created a big impact to Philippine’s fight against colonialism. Adapting to the advancement in technology, along the fort you can see QR codes that give you fun facts about the historic place.
Bahay Tsinoy showcases the life of the Chinese people in the Philippines during the colonial era. One interesting piece that you may see here is the concept of sari-sari store that we have adapted up to this day. On the otherhand, Casa Manila shows how the Filipinos lived during which the Spaniards have conquered the Philippines.
Puerto Princesa and Coron Island in Palawan
Puerto Princesa is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Explore by boating through the underground river, you can find the famous karst stalactites and stalagmites that amazingly formed for hundreds of years. Diving enthusiasts may enjoy long-nosed dolphins, turtles and rays together with coral reefs and the rest of the sea creatures preserved by its caretakers there. There are also limestone caves you can take shelter and wander at the same time.
Coron Island is considered one of the most visited islands in Luzon. Aside from the beach most tourists flock here for, you can find Mangrove forests and the Limestome Island. Like in Puerto Princesa, divers may also enjoy snorkeling and diving with the ocean’s beauty underwater but this time, with Japanese shipwrecks. Aside from feeling the waves and people sharing common squad or couple goals on the beach, you may also enjoy bits of Philippines’ history when visiting this island.