|Boatman waiting for his guests in front of Puerto Princesa Underground River|
Unknown to many when I started this blog in 2009, the primary reason is not about travel. There were two things that I remember pushing me to blog, first is I love writing and second is that I am a culture & heritage buff. This may sound boring but I have visited a lot of museums in the metro, checked out a number of old houses of prominent Filipino figures from history textbooks and may have joined all if not most of the walking tours in Manila.
As a matter of fact, I have also started my own walking food tour in collaboration with a fellow blogger and tour guide in Binondo which is considered as the oldest Chinatown outside China in the world. I so love eating Chinese food and I want to share to everyone the decades old (some are hundreds old) restaurants and have them take a bite of their family-kept secrets of ingredients of how they cook the best they can.
Actually the shift from being just hooked to history to a girl who now dreams to travel the world only started in 2012. When a coworker from a former office introduced me to a website which is a Facebook for travelers. The mission of this community of travel-savvy individuals is to have genuine experience in the company of locals they meet along the road.
Next thing I knew I was meeting a lot of foreign travelers who are here in the country either for coffee, showing them around to historic places and (the hardest part ) letting them eat our local cuisine. I am always anxious whether they will like the taste or just explaining to them what is this food is made up is really a challenge!
If not for them, I would not realize that if they who came from other parts of the world are able to explore my native land, why not me who lived my life here? So off I go on a solo backpacking adventure in 2012 and I haven't stopped since then. I was checking my photo archives recently and was so surprised that I have already visited 7 out of 9 UNESCO Accredited / World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. Just that I couldn't provide the most vivid photos that best represent them all because I already lost my digicam from the robbers a few months ago. Here they are:
Ilocos will always have a special place in my heart. This is the very first province in the country I traveled because I wanted this is known of the colonial houses that I so want to see. I was not disappointed because I felt transported to the Spanish era just by walking along the Crisologo street and riding the kalesa. UNESCO describes Vigan in culture and landscape as "no parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia".
Later on, Ilocos has been my top-selling tour package and the joy in my heart is that I was able to send hundreds of people to see this place. This is also the main reason why I got featured in a magazine in one whole page.
(The numbers 2 to 4 entries are all under the category of Four Baroque Churches in the Philippines)
2. Paoay Church, Ilocos
The Paoay Church is made of coral stones and bricks. Some writings say that its walls are also made of sugarcane juice boiled with mango leaves, leather and rice straw. When you look this church from a far distance it seemed to be floating. This church is also believed to be designed to combat major earthquakes.
3. Santa Maria Church in Santa Maria, Ilocos
The Santa Maria Church in Ilocos looks stunning in its orangy color. Also designed to combat major earthquakes, you won't believe how it is so peaceful when you get inside. You have to go there in the morning when it is so peaceful that you will hear the birds from the ceiling literally singing for you.
4. Miag-ao Church, Iloilo
Miag - ao Church in Iloilo is perhaps the only one in the Philippines having a facade consisting of a coconut papaya and palm tree.
5. San Agustin Church, Intramuros
The San Agustin Church inside Intramuros is described by Wikipedia as " the atmosphere is medieval since "both church and monastery symbolize the majesty and equilibrium of a Spanish golden era." That time the main facade is currently being renovated but please make sure to come inside, you will be mesmerized by what you will see and learn.
I am the one in white t-shirt and beside me is this Canadian woman whom I toured around Intramuros and Rizal Park I met from that Facebook for travelers website.
6. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Beautiful... more than words can say! Imagine yourself going inside a dark cave filled with thousands of different kinds of bats and rock formations that will blow your mind how the heck it was made that way without any divine interventions?
7. Banaue Rice Terraces, Sagada
This is by the way not the real photo of the famed Banaue Rice Terraces in Sagada when I went there but just miles away from the actual place. So far this is the coldest place in the Philippines I have ever experienced which is 3x of that in Baguio.
The two other sites I have yet to visit are the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan which is a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species and the most recently proclaimed Mount Hamiguitan in Davao known for dwarf trees. Oh btw, I am crossing my fingers that next month I will have my travel assignment in Davao. So who knows I might see this when I get there?
There you go, I will be silent in a few days to rest because of my flu. I am also looking continue doing my reports and prepare for my trip to Tuguegarao. I guess this is what i need to be away from the online world for a while to make my life balance. I should also make real connections outside.