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The 7 Out of 9 Philippine UNESCO / World Heritage Sites I Have Visited

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. 


  1. Hi Maria

    Glad to know that you are feeling better now. It’s 3am on Sunday morning here, so it must be about 10am for you. I hope that you will get some time off today to rest and relax, and recharge.

    Well done for achieving 7 out of 9 sites so far. Only 2 left: according to the UNESCO website, those are the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. I hope that you get the opportunity to visit them too.

    Of the sites that you have been to, Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park would be the top of my list. I do like the cultural side, but can do lots of that here, and also in other places. But that warm clear sea water looks incredibly inviting for open-water swimming and snorkelling. That’s something which I have not done for a very long time, and would very much like to do during my next holiday.


    Your #1 Fan in London

    1. Hey, yeah I am spending my 2 days really great. Just had a body massage and heading to catch a hot coffee/tea to my favorite Starbucks like I can't have one at home. Hope to do more but the rainy season here in Manila has started so I envy you mentioning about the sunny moments there in London.

      Wow I am blown away that you find the efforts to google all these for me! What more can I say?

      We actually have the same pick of all the rest, it is the Puerto Princesa Underground River. I must admit the history girl in me has outgrown to a travel-savvy woman now. I did a side trip here before I went to El Nido, Palawan, this is a paradise for me in 2012 when I spent another solo birthday travelling for 4 days over there. I am totally in love with this place. I wish to stay here more than in any place I have visited in the Philippines. The beach in Bicol is only second to this. Many compare this to the Halong Bay in Vietnam.

      One hundred percent recommended when you get here, you have to see this place for swimming and snorkelling :)

    2. Hi. If you envy me for the sunny moments in London, I envy you for the massages in Manila. Here, they are rather expensive (£50+ per hour), so I have one only when I really really need it.

      Your #1 Fan in London

      Not sure why you cannot have coffee/tea at home, but sometimes its good to get and have some space to think or work.

      So, two votes for the PP Underground River - excellent !

    3. I meant to say ...good to get out and ....

      Your #1 Fan in London

    4. I did tried to convert the £50 to philippine peso and it costs P3, 500+ here .
      An hour of body massage here is P350 so that makes £5+. Gosh this is already a cost of a roundtrip flight somewhere! Wow seems London seems to be an expensive place.

      Yup actually coffee is only second to the main purpose. I go to coffee shops usually to catch up with friends I have not seen for a while or join meetups for like-minded individuals that is into travelling and entrepreneurship or meet strangers for some random purposes.

  2. Also, in answer to your kind inquiry, I said that I would list the SE Asia countries which I have visited. So here goes:

    ASEAN Countries:
    Brunei No (but am not too bothered)
    Cambodia No
    East Timor No (but am not too bothered)
    Indonesia Yes (but just a little bit)
    Laos No
    Malaysia Yes
    Myanmar No
    Philippines No
    Singapore Yes
    Thailand Yes
    Vietnam No

    Other Far East:
    China Yes (but just a little bit)
    Hong Kong Yes
    Macau No

    Japan Yes
    S.Korea Yes
    N.Korea No

    As you can see, I still have lots to do !

    Your #1 Fan in London

  3. Wow 6 Asian countries that is way, way, to go :) I am getting curious of who you are actually. Hope you can share a bit of it more if you won't mind.

    1. I know that an introduction has still not been forthcoming, and I would like share a bit more, but I would prefer to do that in person, over a coffee, or drinks, or dinner. Or all three. Or whatever ! Not sure if or when will happen, but I will keep my fingers crossed in the meantime.

      Anyway, another work week is about to start - it may already have started for you - so I hope that it is a good one.

      Your # 1 Fan in London

  4. No probs :) I respect the decision. Wish you a good start of the week too

  5. I have been to 4/7 of yours. What are the other two sites you still have to visit?

    1. Hey Dave :) The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan and the Mount Hamiguitan in Davao known for dwarf trees.

      Visiting your blog now in a while :)

    2. Thanks Maria. I now remember the Tubbataha Reef but didn't know about Mt Hamiguitan. Added to my list :)