|El Nido, Palawan|
Dubbed as the country’s last frontier, Palawan has maintained its fascinating natural habitat through the years. Situated north of Mindoro and north of Malaysia’s Sabah Island, Palawan is the country’s largest province spanning 1.5 million hectares. An ideal breeding ground for tropical flora and fauna, Palawan has more than a thousand islands and islets where monkeys, squirrels, bear cats and zebras thrive with wild tropical plants and corals.
Palawan’s population follows the same pattern. The province has attracted peoples of all backgrounds and it is said that today’s Palawenos are a fusion of 81 different cultural groups. Foreigners, too, have grown to love this quaint province.
Palawan consists of about 1,769 islands: the Calamian group to the north, the Cuyo group to the northwest, and the Balabac-Bugsuk group to the southwest. For a leisure ttrip, Honda Bay is an ideal destination. From there, you can take your pick of your own little hideaway from Cowrie Island and Pandan, to La Isla Bonita and Isla de Nagusuan.
|Boracay Sand Castle|
Boracay is paradise for certified sun worshippers all over the world. In fact, local and foreign tourists have made Boracay their yearly destination. Others have chosen to live in this haven.
Sheltered from the fierce easterly typhoons, Boracay is on the northwestern tip of Panay in Aklan, a province on the Visayas island known for its colourful Ati-Atihan festival.
Boracay’s thousand-hectares boast of all the elements of a tropical paradise – crystal blue waters, powder white sand, swaying tropical palms, flowering plants, and a healthy and diverse marine life.
The culinary fare in Boracay is as diverse as the nationalities of its visitors. French, Chinese, Australian, Belgian, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Thai – are often fused into the native cuisine. Truly, Boracay has become the premiere destination of beach lovers around the globe.
3. Cebu – Bohol - Camiguin
|Sinulog Festival in Cebu|
Cebu, the country's second biggest metropolis, is the political, economic, educational, and cultural center of the Visayas. It is every traveler's dream of a tropical island paradise come true - balmy weather, pristine beaches and luxurious resorts equipped with modern facilities. Shopping malls, entertainment centers, casinos, and golf fairways abound to every tourist's whim.
East of Cebu is Bohol, the country's 10th largest island, with rolling hills, pplateaus and crystal springs and beaches. It is picturesque province replete with ancestral homes and centuries old churches. Bohol for its relatively small size has much to offer in terms of history and natural attractions. Bohol is home to the world-famous Chocolate Hills and the world's smallest moneky, the Tarsier.
Camiguin, derived from the word "Kamagong", the name of a tree in the ebony family, is a pear shaped volcanic island in the Bohol Sea. Marvel at the island's wide array of flowers and taste the juciest "lanzones" in the yearly Lanzones Festival. Explore majestic volcanoes, hot springs, magnificent waterfalls and its famed underwater cemetery.
(image source: Lakbay Pilipins)
Davao is an anchor tourist destination, a natural haven for both sedate and daring pursuits. It is the jump-off point to satellite destinations on the island of Mindanao.
Davao's topography dazzles with a variety of picturesque landscapes. Fruit plantations and orchid farms mantle volcano-fed hills and valleys. Virgin forests nurture rare wildlife. Coral islands lie on mirror flat water. And the country's highest peak, Mt. Apo, magnificently lords over the hinterland.
Just as enchanting is its brilliant tapestry of harmony, woven from the diverse cultural threads of its people. In Davao, the contemporary fuses with the traditional as migrant settlers from all over the country peacefully co-exist with a sizeable expatriate community and numerous ethnic tribes who continue to live as they did centuries ago.
Davao is home to the majestic Philippine Eagle, the country's national bird and considered the largest eagle in the world. It also boasts the most prized Philippine orchid species like the Vanda sanderiana and some of the most exotic fruits like durian and mangosteen.
5. Metropolitan Manila and Environs
|Ayala Triangle Garden during Christmas Nights|
The capital of the Philippines - its heart and soul - is Manila. It sets the archipelago's rhythm and is a pulsating hub that blends the Oriental with the Occidental, the quaint with the modern, the mundane with the extraordinary.
At the heart of Manila's history is Intramuros. It features the grand Manila Cathedral with its detailed stone carvings and stained glass mosaics: Fort Santiago, the site of torture chambers and dungeons; and the San Agustin Church, a favorite wedding venue.
Metropolitan Manila or the National Capital Region is a bustling megacity of 16 cities and one municipality where the country's most prestigious business addresses and the trendiest leisure establishments are located. Luxurious hotels, restaurants, discos, music bars, boutiques, and specialty shops are centered around the sleek Ayala and Ortigas Centers.
6. Subic and Clark
|Hot Air Balloon Festival at Clark, Pampanga|
The Subic Bay Leisure Zone, a 37,000-acre virgin triple-canopy rainforest with wildlife and rare marine life, is a destination one should not miss. The former U.S. Navy Facility was vacated in 1992 and i now among Asia's emerging tourist destinations.
Trekking through the tropical rainforest on foot or on horseback accompanied by native guides is both a challenge and delight. One can enjoy the numerous beaches, or go camping, or just take a tour around the zone.
Similar to Subic, the Clark Special Economic Zone was a former U.S. Air Force Base and has long been the principal aviation center of the Philippines. Aside from popular Fontana and Mimosa Leisure Parks, duty-free shops, and excellent golf courses, Clark also hosts one of the largest annual hot-air balloon festivals in Asia.
7. Laoag and Vigan
image captured by Leonardo Villasis
Ilocos Norte, the northwestern tip of Luzon, is wedged between the steep Gran Cordillera Central in the east, the rugged Ilocos Mountains in the northeast, and the Ilocos Range in the south.
The centuries old churches that dot every town of Ilocos are testimonies to the colonial past. They form part of the nucleus of the plaza complex town planning instituted by the Spanish colonizers.
With a coastline that stretches to 90 statute miles, Ilocos Norte is blessed with rich marine life - shells, giant turtles, seaweeds, starfishes, and a variety of fishes. Ilocos Sur is located along the western coast of Northern Luzon. It is bound by Abra on the northeast, Mt. Province on the east, Benguet on the southeast, La Union on the south, and the China Sea on the west, Ilocos Sur's topography has elevations ranging from 10 to 1,7000 meters above sea level.
8. Baguio and Banaue
|Banaue Rice Terraces|
image source: Our Awesome Planet
A mountainous topography of towering peaks, plateaus, and intermittent patches of valleys, the Cordillera mountain range has a history as vast and beautiful as its mountainous curves. Populated by the Ifugaos, a gentle yet fiercely proud ethnic community, the Cordillera enjoy abundant mineral reserves. Metallic ores such as gold, silver, copper, zinc, and non-metallic reserves are found in Abra, Benguet, Kalinga Apayao and Mountain Province.
The people in the region enjoy a cool climate throughout the year, particularly in highly elevated places like Benguet, Mt. Province, and Baguio City.