Earth Spotting in the Philippines
Summer of 2020 is something that a lot of us will surely remember because it had locked us inside our houses. No thanks, of course, to the COVID19 crisis that had us just daydreaming for the beach. For most of us, this is the time of the year that we all look forward to - the beach spots, getting that much-needed tan, the backpacking trips, and partying the humid nights away. I guess, we would have to make do with enjoying summer online or by leafing through our summer escapades from the previous years.
This summer will stand out for me because I finally got to participate in the #OneWorld2020 project of @ProjectHeadshotClinic. The initiative was launched during the celebration of Earth Day last April 22 and the theme revolved around healing at the time of the COVID19 health crisis while the earth heals itself. The main goal is to spread the positive vibe while we all get transformed to a new way of life in a re-energized earth.
Merging our summer blues and the celebration of Earth Day, I want to share with you seven Philippine destinations where you can get energized and refreshed by nature. We are going to virtually travel from north to south of the country to get that summer vibe by communing with nature. These destinations allow you to see, hear, breathe, and feel the natural beauty of the Philippines.
Batanes is a destination straight out of a movie. Its magnificent and rugged views, its laidback vibe, and its meek locals are the perfect ingredients for one amazing trip. It has its own world that dictates its own time and its own pace. You will feel it in every corner of Batanes and it will draw you into its world.
Read the first part of my Batanes adventure here.
You can spend hours and hours of communing with nature in Batanes as you immerse yourself with the view of its hills rolling to meet the sea. You can just lie down on its grassy hillside and feel the earth under you and the sea wind blowing gently. Or you can choose to walk barefoot along its sandy or rocky shores and feel the cold water wash your worries to the sea.
Read the second part of my Batanes adventure here.
The culture and meekness of the locals blend perfectly well with its rugged natural beauty. The bounty that surrounds them is something that molded their humility and appreciating what the earth provides for them. Beyond getting energized by nature, a trip to Batanes will also teach you that the best things in life are free.
Read the third and last part of my Batanes adventure here.
Sagada, Mountain Province
Sagada brings you back in time. It brings you back to the time where people live with what they have. It brings you back to the time when people value life’s basics more than profit. It brings you back to the time where people understood how nature is valued and how it protects people from harm.
The most striking story that stayed with me during my trip to Sagada was how Bomod-ok Falls kept the town safe during earlier times from raids. A different crashing sound was heard from the water cascading down the base of the falls served as an early warning to villagers of an impending attack. Locals have a unique understanding in nature and it is reflected in their culture and day-to-day runs.
You can read about my Sagada adventure here.
Sagada is a sanctuary for the mind, body, and soul. Tucked within the mountain ranges of the Cordillera, it is another perfect spot to commune with nature. You can always find a spot where you can enjoy the mountain views and breath in its crisp pine-scented air. The adventure that it offers allow you to walk through nature’s artwork that was slowly crafted by nature’s activity. Interestingly, Sagada’s traditional burial practices has a unique way of telling us that, even after life, we always come back to be one with the earth.
Daraitan, Tanay, Rizal
If you are from Manila and you are looking for a quick weekend escape, Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal is a great place to head-off to. This destination, east of Manila, is a favorite day and weekend destination because of the rustic adventures that it has to offer. You get the thrill of exploring without traveling very far.
Read about my daytrip hike to Tinipak River here.
A trek to Tinipak Cave and River is a good way of exercising while enjoying nature. The trail to Tinipak River will keep you entertained with its views of the river and the mountain ranges that surround it. The view of white limestone rock formations of Tinipak River and a dip in its cold and clean spring water are natire’s reward after your hike. You can explore the Tinipak cave or just enjoy its cold spring waters under the shade of the trees. These activities remind me when I was growing up in Baguio and Cavite.
Read about my fitspiration travel to Kuta Bungliw here.
Kuta Bungliw is a great place to spend a night away from the hustle and bustle of the city lights. It is a no-frills kind of accommodation perched along the side of Mount Daraitan. The campsite was designed to blend with its natural setting so do not expect it to be a resort-kind of experience. This is the best place to just sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. This is where you can sit back and enjoy the awesome view of Daraitan and the river that flows through it from the top.
Palawan will always be on my list... I guess, it will always be on my list at any given time. The province is the last frontier of the country and it has a lot to offer from its northern tip down to the southern tip. It will always have something to offer to any type of traveler.
Read the first part of my Balabac trip here.
Beach lovers... Balabac is one destination where you can get to your sun and sand fix to the brim. You are talking about kilometers and kilometers of untouched white sand shorelines, awesome sunsets, and amazing underwater scenes. You will get enough of waking up every day to discover new beach spots, dip into natural infinity pools, and getting soaked on the summer combination of sun, sand, and sea. There is nothing else to do but just to enjoy and live the beach life. You leave the place energized, amazed that such beautiful natural spots exists, and wishing you could stay longer.
Read the second part of my Balabac trip here.
Balabac is slowly getting more attention now, from the time that I visited the municipality. I have to admit that it has re-defined my definition of beach spots that to this day remains to be THE standard. Spending hours and hours of exploring virgin white sand beach spots was more than enough for anyone to get fully charged and energized by nature. Balabac’s energy lingers for a long time and its memories linger longer.
Antique may not be on everyone’s immediate travel list but it is one off-beat destination that is worth exploring. Most of its attractions remain untouched by commercialism so this is the closest that you can get to its natural setting. Whether you choose to enjoy the inland attractions or the nearby islands, Antique has something to offer.
You can check out my Tibiao and Mararison adventure here.
Tibiao was my favorite spot in Antique. It gave me the sense of freedom from being detached from the humdrum of the fast-paced world - no mobile signal and no television. It was a rustic night where I got to enjoy the relaxing sound of a spring water running down the stream and the chorus of crickets at night. The night sound lulls you to a relaxing sleep.
Mornings were no different as I hiked up to a nearby waterfall and splashed around the river on a tube. A warm and relaxing “kawa” bath completes the Tibiao adventure. To cap off my day, I scooted to the nearby Mararison Island to hike up its rolling hills to watch its golden sunset.
Lake S’bu, South Cotabato
The slow-paced life of the T’boli tribe in South Cotabato revolves around the bounties of nature that surround them. Most of their cultural heritage are intertwined with their respect towards earth and nature. Water is the central element of their community with a lake that is central to their lives to the seven waterfalls that run through their ancestral domain.
For a guest of Lake S’bu, the day starts off with a tranquil canoe ride across the lake. Mornings become brighter with the blooming of the lotus as the sun rises from the horizon. This early morning treat is a feast for the eyes as part of the lake transforms into a sea of pink blooms. The adventure continues on as you explore the two accessible waterfalls within their domain. You can get refreshed as you dip your feet in its cold water as you admire its mighty cascade. The night orchestra of evening sounds crickets and nocturnal animals while you rest by the lakeshore is a great way to cap off the day’s exploration.
Read about my Lake S’bu adventures here.
Beyond the beauty of what nature bestowed upon Lake S’bu, one cannot help but notice the cultural heritage of the T’boli. From their T’nalak dream weavers to their wide collections of trinkets, gongs, and ornaments, its inspiration is drawn from the connection of man and nature. These T’boli ancestral domain in South Cotabato is a perfect example of how man and nature come together to create a functional society. It teaches us that all that we need is just around us.
A close encounter with stingrays made my visit to Hinatuan and Bislig a memorable one. It was even made more special by the fact that it was a first and last summer trip for 2020 because we had to rush back to Manila before the community quarantine was to take effect. Nevertheless, the natural attractions of both destinations did not fail to make me excited to come back and explore it again.
Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig was a stunner. The view of its wide cascade was just simply beautiful and, if you happen to be at the right location at the right time, you can catch the rainbow at the edge of the falls. The park has a lot of viewing spots where you get to enjoy the different characters of this famous waterfall. Take the time to enjoy its cool waters running over your feet while basking in the morning sun. The feel of the rocks, water, and the heat of the sun is energizing.
Read about my Bislig and Hinatuan experience here.
Just an hour away from Bislig is another natural attraction that is now being developed by the local government - the Hinatuan Enchanted River. The river was said to be once the dwelling place of “engkantos” that gave the river its amazing deep-blue and green color. Taking a dip in its cool waters can be a challenge because of the strong water current towards the sea. The opening of the cave is where the freshwater from the underground river meets the seawater of Hinatuan Bay. You can just relax, enjoy the greens that surround you, and enjoy the water as it slowly nudges you.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
I am one of the lucky guys who managed to slip in a summer escape just right before the #CommunityQuarantine was declared. Although it was cut short, I am happy that I got to pull a fast one rather than having none at all. It is true that, when we finally get out of our quarantine, everything will be different. We will be living in a different kind of norm.
One good thing about this quarantine is that it did refurbished the earth that we live in. Nature has a unique way of cleansing and re-energizing itself, in the same way that it can renew and re-energize us when we commune with it. So when we finally step out, take the time to breathe in earth’s energy. Take a trip to the nature spots that I shared with you or to your own earth spot to enjoy nature as it churns the day and breathe in its energy. It will be therapeutic and healthy.
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Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.