2015 proved to be an interesting year for me when it came to my passion for discovering places and experiencing new adventures. I started the year with two projects in mind – 15 on 2015 and Explore Manila!
15 on 2015 was all about discovering 15 destinations this year. I had a couple of destinations on my 2015 bucket list and I am glad that, with the exception of two, I have managed to get my feet on these grounds. The idea really was to find the opportunities to travel at any given time. A lot of people think that traveling is all about going across distances and discovering some exotic place. On the contrary, the art of traveling is getting yourself on the road to discover a place and find out what is interesting about it.
Having said that, I have also found myself on the road walking the streets of Metro Manila and discovering the unique and interesting sites of the metro. Interestingly, the sites that we sometimes look for in the provinces can also be explored here in Metro Manila. We search for century old churches, century old cemeteries, big open space parks, and heritage houses in different provinces and yet we have it right here in the middle of the metropolis. “Explore Manila!” is all about walking and discovering the streets of Metro Manila.
15 on 2015
I only managed to get to 14 new destinations this year but it is not something to fret about. The 14 destinations were all exciting and uniquely different. I have already written my blog entries for most of these trips but I still have a couple that I would still need to post. Looking back, let me share with you my top 5 destinations for 2015.
Bantayan Island definitely tops my list this year. It is a destination where my love for the beach, food, and history was molded in one destination. Admittedly, getting to Bantayan was quite a challenge especially that our itinerary back then was quite stiff. Yet Bantayan was NOT a disappointment. I enjoyed loitering around the laid back island with the occasional dip into its clear waters.
The drumbeats and the street dancing puts my Dinagyang trip on the second spot. Dinagyang was my first “real” taste of a street festival. It really showed the creativity of Filipinos. I was amazed to watch street dancing as a full flawless production work. It also happened to be the first Visayan festival that I experienced and I loved it. I am to believe that Visayan festivals are a notch higher compared to other festivals that I have watched. It was just plain awesome.
Taking the third spot is another off-beat destination – Calaguas. The island still haunts me to this day and I am sorely wishing to spend a full weekend in Calaguas. I had the chance to experience its beauty together with our fellow viajeros and I have to admit that the destination and the company made the whole trip just plain perfect.
A sudden decision to cross out Mount Samat on my bucket list lands it on the fourth spot together with the stunning sunrise over Taal Lake. Incidentally, both trips were shared with my family. Nothing really beats traveling with the family with the bonding and the moments shared. The morning sun over Taal Lake was just amazing. It was peaceful and serene. It was just perfect! Whilst our recent Mount Samat trip stood out because I saw how my daughter enjoyed the no fuss trip. She was all out smiling and never felt tired until we were onboard the bus heading back to Manila. Watch out as I will be sharing the Mount Samat trip soon on this blog.
I am a sucker for history so my trip to Taal in Batangas really made a mark for me. It has been on my list for a long time and I am glad that I have finally crossed it out. The rural feel was a perfect match to the old ancestral houses of the town. What made it more amazing was sharing the experience with fellow viajeros, both local and international, and was topped by the accommodating owners of these old houses who shared the history of the house. Again, I would still need to share the experience soon on this blog. It was just a great opportunity to explore Taal and share it with a tourist friend.
“Explore Manila!” is still an ongoing project and will run until the first quarter of 2016 as we still have a couple of cities to cover.
The project was born after the idea was shared by a fellow Instagrammer friend and traveler. The idea was to explore the sights and sounds of Metro Manila and discover the gems that lie within the metro. The objective of the program was to give Manila a different look – one that answers the question “If I were to tour a friend in Manila, what other interesting spots should I show him or her?”
Interestingly, the project has shown that tourist spots in Manila go beyond the walls of Intramuros, the sunset of Manila Bay, or the big malls in the city. The real stand outs were Pasig City with its thrust to promote their tourist destinations and culture and Quezon City with its development of the QC Memorial Circle and the UP Campus. I guess a lot of focus needs to be done to really work on developing the unique sights and sounds of Manila and hopefully with this project, I can raise the same awareness to the each local government.
Looking back at my 2015, it made me realize that traveling is not about the unique and interesting destinations that you go to BUT it is all about going to a destination and finding out what makes it unique and interesting. It is easy to call yourself a traveler and talk about I have been here or there. But the real travelers know that the true meaning of travel is immersing with the locals and the culture with the goal of understanding what makes the destination unique and it can start by checking out “your own backyard”.
With that, I would like to send out my warm greetings for a prosperous 2016 to all of you. My wish is that you get to discover a lot more places in 2016 and that you also get to discover how beautiful the Philippines is!
Happy New Year!
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.