A new year is once again upon us and, as always, I have already listed the goals that I want to achieve this 2018. i leveled up on my goals this year by identifying small steps that I need to do regularly to help me achieve these goals. I am also taking more initiatives now on identifying the actions that I need to take in line with achieving my goals for the year. As always, part of my goals are my travel plans for this year which I am sharing later on this blog.
But before anything else, let me share with you how I fared with my 2017 travel goals and my top three Philippine destinations from my 2017 travels.
2017 was a year of weekender trips for me. I was able to visit 19 local destinations in 15 provinces and roamed around 2 districts of Manila. I conquered 3 goal destinations from the initial 7 that I laid out at the start of 2017. I have to admit that I got waylaid from my travel goals last year considering that three of my unachieved travel goals are just a bus away from Manila. The wrap-up of my "Explore Manila!" project did not take off, as well.
But I feel that I have traveled fairly well during the first and second quarters of 2017. Most of the destinations that I travelled to were the off-beat destinations and it gave me a fresh perspective on local destinations. It also made trips more exciting and unpredictable.
My top 3 Philippine destinations for 2017 fall under the off-beat spots. The rawness and the unpredictability made the whole experience memorable. These were the trips that may have tipped me over but I do not regret taking.
1. Balabac, Palawan
Balabac, Palawan tops my list in 2017. The southern part of this region is one destination that holds a lot of natural attractions that can easily rival the more popular ones. This is where you will find the finest sand in the country, natural infinity pools, and countless white sand bars that you can explore and enjoy. The place defines the true meaning of a beach paradise. The travel may be daunting with a 6-hour land trip from Puerto Princesa and another 2 hours over the Sulu Sea but the rewards are endless. This is a destination that I can definitely say... walang patapon. Check out my blog entries on the following links:
The province of Abra is slowly rising above the common misconception that it is a no man’s land into a tourism gem up north. Although our group had a face-to-face encounter with some “nice people around”, Abra and its tourists spots are safe to visit as long as you coordinate with the local DPWH office in Bangued. Be prepared though for the rough ride to its scenic tourist destinations because it can get really tough. But once you catch a glimpse of its natural wonder, you know that it was worth all the muscle aches. Read more about our rough riding in Abra here.
Another off-beat destination completes my top 3 travels for 2017. My Romblon trip wasn’t exactly what I signed up for but the rawness of the place compensated for the deviations during the trip. It was a good feeling to walk around town to see and feel how locals go about their day. Romblon’s attraction is strewn out on a wide area that advance planning is needed to be able to maximize the experience. I especially liked the “back-to-the-basic” feel of Cresta de Gallo. Our camp out can be likened to a survivor kind of experience. You can read about the twist and turns of my Romblon trip here.
On a side note, discovering Seoul was exciting for both me and Asher. It was interesting to discover the similarities and contrasts in Philippine and South Korean cultures. It was also an eye opener on how we can make a better Philippines by focusing on building a nation that values its identity. You can read more about our South Korea trip here.
2017 was marked by a lot of road trips to off beat destinations which had me focused on Luzon. 2018 is continuing my quest to explore regions in the country which I have not set foot yet - one in Luzon, one in Visayas, and one in Mindanao. I plan to maximize airline promo fares by focusing on Mindanao destinations. I recently figured out that a lot of my still to be explored destinations are in the Mindanao area so in the next two years, my focus will be on the Mindanao cities when airlines offer promo fares.
What are my goal destinations this year?
1. Batanes (Luzon)
Batanes is Batanes and it is probably on everyone’s travel bucket list. I have visited some destinations that boasts similar features to it but nothing beats the original. A good friend of ours was able to score good airline tickets for Batanes last year so this would jumpstart my 2018 travels. (Writer notes: I have already returned from Batanes as of this posting and will be sharing my experience soon)
2. Antique (Visayas)
I guess its time for me to complete the Panay Island loop by closing in on Antique. It is starting to attract local travelers and the sights and the experience are interesting. It still remains to be an off beat destination with its unique experience that other destinations are trying to immitate.
3. Pagadian (Mindanao)
While others are probaby heading out to the more popular destinations, I am opting to go for destinations that is below the radar. This will allow me to have a better feel of what the place has to offer and I think that Pagadian is that type. Its tourism plate may not be as diverse as other cities in Mindanao but I think it can charm travelers with its own cut. If you are from the place, holler up and help me plan up an itinerary.
I enjoyed joining organized tours last year. Out of the four organized tours that I joined last year, three came out outstanding. I loved the friendship that I came across on these trips. This year I plan to join an organized tour to Catanduanes. The Bicol Region is one area that I also need to explore and I want to start off with this province. It would be great to explore the island where the winds howl.
5. Pahiyas Festival
Year after year, I make it a point to join the revelries of a Philippine Festival. I want to enjoy the colorful kipings of the Pahiyas Festival in May.
I am also planning to explore a new ASEAN destination this year. I find Vietnam interesting for its culture and history so I am targeting to fly and discover what Vietnam has to offer.
7. One Random Trip
This year I am planning to take a random trip to a new destination. The plan is not to have a plan. The goal is to start off in a transport terminal and head off to where the next flight or trip is. Now for those who know me, I am a stickler for having an initial travel plan and then working around it. It would be exciting how I can pull this off with the spontaneous nature of the trip.
2018 is going to be another exciting year of discovering the Philippines. If ever I get the opportunity to meet some of you during one of my trips, I would welcome that opportunity. Just buzz me so we can meet or probably join you in one of your travels. You can get updates on my travels or where I am through my Instagram account: marc7del and through my FB page: marc7travels.
It is my hope that by sharing my travel experiences with you, I will be able to encourage you to take that extra step of exploring and appreciating the beauty of the Philippines.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.