2021 went off tangent with all my travel plans for that year. As much as I would like to pack my bags and get back to getting lost somewhere in the Philippines, I opted to be more cautious because of the pandemic. Travel plans were more localized for me while some were harping on their Boracay or Siargao escapes. I was either out re-discovering Manila and Baguio or exploring the country sides of Laguna and the waters of Quezon.
Although my travels were limited last year, the excitement that it gave me remained the same. Exploring nearby off-beat destinations gave me the same thrill and feel like pre-pandemic times. To cap of 2021, let me share with you my top 3 destinations for that year.
Cavinti Underground River and Cave System
This underground river and cave system in Laguna tops my travel list in 2021. This relatively new destination has 100 caves and 36 of these mapped out by locals. It was classified as a Class 2 Cave by the DENR, allowing the locals to conduct tourism activities in the area.
The cave is an amazing work of art by nature. The rock formations are magnificent and reminded me of my spelunking adventure in Sagada minus, of course, the anxiety of tripping into a dark whole leading to God-knows-where. The cave system was easy to navigate and explore. Each chamber had a different character giving its guests different kind of excitement as you traverse through the cave. I really loved the chamber with its skylight because it gave a mystical vibe at the right time when sunlight streams into the overhead opening.
The cave system has a collection of amazing rock formations that will amaze you.
The Cavinti Underground River and Cave System is a destination that would be a hit among day trip travelers in Laguna. It is not surprising that the LGU are taking the lead in making it more accessible. It is a rustic and beautiful destination that is exciting and gives you a different kind of Laguna vibe.
Check out my travel blog on the Cavinti Underground River and Cave System here.
Another amazing destination in Laguna is the heritage town of Pila. This laidback town is a popular destination of history enthusiasts because it is one of the few Philippine towns where heritage houses were well-preserved by its owners. It is a live and walkable museum that gives you a glimpse of its glorious and beautiful past.
Established in 1578, the town of Pila has maintained its original town design where religion, politics, and commerce converge at the town center. A sprawling open field/park serves as the town’s centerpiece where one could sit down, relax, and watch the town’s daily run. The whole town has a collection of well-preserved heritage houses from the Spanish and American period. I enjoyed walking around and exploring streets of Pila searching for these houses. The town center alone was a sight to see with some of these houses around the town plaza.
I enjoyed strolling around Pila and imagining the beauty of its modest past.
Walking around the town was an exhilarating experience for me. It was like walking back to past and imagining the modest lifestyle of the locals. Pila was one of my travel goals for 2021 and it was an amazing feeling to finally be able to finally see these houses up close and personal. You can check out my Pila travel blog here.
The pandemic has limited most of our movements and traveling was a bit more challenging with varying restrictions and requirements. I took the opportunity to continue on with my #ExploreManila! project at this time. I went around some the districts of the city of Manila and it was interesting how much quirks and history the metro holds.
I guess the old charm of the walled city of Intramuros never fails to amaze me. Exploring the inside of the walls is nostalgic with its rich history, spanning from the pre-Spanish period to the Liberation of Manila to the present. While most of its heritage structures were re-constructed, it will give you that sneak peek to the glorious past of Intramuros and the Philippines - the celebrations, the destruction, and the re-birth. It is a worthwhile destination that allows you to relax and chill while learning more about our glorious and colorful past.
Intramuros is a repository of the country's rich history and you get to walk through the stories.
Just like Pila, the Walled City of Intramuros is a destination that would give me the thrill. It is a destination that I would not mind checking out every now and then for its rich history. There is always something to discover in Intramuros. Just like its existence, Intramuros is a timeless destination.
Check out my Intramuros blogs here: North Wall and South Wall.
I am coming in to 2022 with a more courageous and determined will and heart. I seriously think that, the earlier we accept the reality that COVID19 is here to stay, the earlier we can adjust to the changes that we need to do. This would also mean that we take out the fear, start adjusting to the situation, and start moving forward.
I am looking forward to traveling more this year and here are some of the destinations that I intend to explore this year:
This landlocked province has been on my travel list for quite sometime already. Its rustic and rugged appeal has long piqued my interest that it always finds its way to my annual travel list. The province seems to have a lot of natural wonders that gives off that Jurassic Park kind of vibe.
I don’t know but Sorsogon gives me that impression that I should explore it DIY-Camping style. The idea of backpacking through Sorsogon is exciting me that I have made the initial plans for it. Swimming with the whale sharks in their natural environment is going to be a big plus.
This part of Visayas remains untouched for me and I think that it is about time that I explore the region. Tacloban is on my radar this year to see the San Juanico Bridge. If there is one area that sound off with resilience… this is the place to explore.
4. Zamboanga Sibugay
Zamboanga Sibugay is the province that I would need to explore to complete the Zamboanga Peninsula. Mindanao is one destination that holds a lot of wonders that will keep you amaze and in awe. It would also be nice to see and feel the rich culture of our Muslim brothers and sisters.
5. Malolos, Bulacan
Another destination that is full of history and heritage, Malolos is finally coming through this year. My love and appreciation for Philippine history has always had me gravitating towards this old Bulacan town. I am excited to walk its streets and play a find-me-game of its own collection of heritage/ancestral houses.
I am excited to finally start working again on my #GOT81Philippines project. It has been two years since I had to temporarily slow it down because of the pandemic. This is going to be a great year of exploring and finding my way around again. If you can’t find me, I probably got myself lost on one of the islands of the Philippines.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.