I was mesmerized by a majestic waterfall that cascades far and wide. I woke up to a cold morning to watch a lake bloom with the morning sun. I enjoyed a peaceful afternoon with Jose Rizal. I tried walking the length of the longest white sand beach in the country. And yes, I smiled with one of the most colorful festivals of the country. All these adventures made my local travels in 2019 amazing and memorable!
As I welcome 2020 with open arms and a lot of excitement, let me look back at my top 3 Philippine destinations that I got me thrilled in 2019.
Lake S'bu, South Cotabato (March 2019)
Lake S'bu is a destination that froze time and freezes time. The slow and laidback vibe of its provincial life will leave a mark to anyone who visits the place and it would make you wish to stay longer. It is a Philippine spot where the beauty of nature, the rustic ambiance, and its colorful culture blend into one fascinating and memorable experience.
Nature has truly blessed Lake S'bu from sun up to sun down. At the heart of its natural landscape is a lake that has captured the hearts of many with its blooming lotuses giving it a mystical morning ambiance. You can explore its seven waterfalls, the two other lakes of the municipality, and its natural cave complex as you breeze through the day. Evenings are amazing as you enjoy the sounds of nocturnal creatures as you gaze up the evening skies.
Lake S'bu is a place that is deeply connected to its rich culture and traditions. It is the home of the country's dream weavers who weave their stories into its famous fabric - the T'nalak. A visit to Lake S'bu is not complete without getting immersed to the colorful lives of the T'boli. They open their doors to showcase their warm hospitality molded by their century-old culture.
Lake S'bu is one Philippine destination that one can easily fall in love with. The vibrance of its culture, the richness of its natural beauty, and its rustic vibe are simple perfect for a laidback vacation. It is a must-see Philippine destination where nature and local traditions amazingly come into life.
You can read about my Lake S'bu experience here.
Lakawon Island (May 2019)
I love summer and I love the beach. Getting marooned on an island with white sand shoreline and sandbar, a view of the sunset, and a floating bar is MY definition of a perfect summer getaway. Lakawon Island clearly defined our family summer in 2019.
Lakawon Island is a very photogenic island off the coast of Cadiz City. You get to appreciate how instagrammable the place is as soon as you step onto the island's boardwalk. The island is still being developed and it stores a lot of activities that promises an exciting stay for every member of the family.
The Tawhai Floating Bar is not to be missed. The bar is the largest floating bar in the country and it offers an amazing view of the island and the waters around it. A perfect spot to enjoy the summer breeze over cold drinks and yummy bar chows. It is a great place to relax and unwind after a busy week.
Lakawon Island is a thrilling summer destination that requires you to leave all your worries at its doorstep. You simply can't help but relax and refresh while on the island. As you watch the skies change color during sunset, you know that it was a day well spent in Lakawon Island.
You can read about my Lakawon experience here.
San Vicente (July 2019)
Have you ever tried walking along a white sand beach where the shoreline seems to stretch on and on? That is exactly how I would sum up my San Vicente experience. The sun, the sand, and the sea were perfectly aligned for an amazing beach experience to cap off my 2019 summer.
San Vicente's claim to fame is its 14.7-kilometer stretch of white sand beach that's dubbed as the country's longest. Stretching from the Alimangoan to Inarayan, the stretch remains untouched for now and its beauty unparalleled. With the recent opening of the San Vicente Airport to commercial flights, we can expect development to boom in the area.
But beyond Long Beach, San Vicente has a lot to offer - untouched beach spots, island destinations, and inland attractions, that complete th travel experience. These attractions and the easy access puts the municipality as another top attraction in the province of Palawan with the likes of El Nido and Coron.
San Vicente holds a lot of potential as a tourist destination. As I enjoyed the views at Bato ni Ning Ning, it was great to see the rawness of the place before it goes full blast on its tourism growth. It is exciting to see its potential and its impact to its local community.
Read on my San Vicente Unang bugso adventure here and the ikalawang bugso here.
2020 is going to be another exciting year of travels with my #WanderIn2020 destinations. "Gumala-gala" is the direct Filipino translation of the english phrase "wander in" and this year will be another year where you will find me "na gumagala-gala" in and around the Philippines. As always, priority destinations would be Philippine locations that will complete my #GOT81 project.
So where are we heading this year?
#Mindanao1 continues on this year as I plan to explore the cluster of provinces in CARAGA. This region has some of the most amazing and popular destinations that has caught the eye of a lot of local and international travelers. I think that it is about time that I get to see it up close and personal so get ready to backpack Amazing Race style.
2. Tacloban / Bells of Balangiga
After Yolanda, Tacloban has been on my radar. I have that tugging feeling to visit the typhoon's ground zero and see how the region managed to rise up from the calamity. And while I am in the region, I hope to get a chance to visit the historical Bells of Balangiga that were returned to us during the term of PRRD.
3. Sorsogon / Quirino / Nueva Vizcaya / Isabela
Six provinces in Luzon still remain to be a mystery to me. This year I hope to be able to make weekend trips to four of this destinations to uncover its beauty. Sorsogon for its whale-shark activities and raw beach spots. Quirino for its rustic beauty. Nueva Vizcaya to discover its tourism offer. Isabela to uncover its history.
4. Zamboanga City / Zamboanga Sibugay
Zamboanga City is a colorful city and I am planning to do a family trip to give my daughter a face-to-face look at the beauty of the Muslim culture. This would also be a great opportunity to explore the rural life in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Jomalig Island has been on my list for the longest time. Its golden sand beaches has piqued my interests that I am really looking at unlocking this destination this 2020. Well, it is looking like it is going to be a golden summer this year!
Yes, 2020 will have me wandering in and around the Philippines. My goal is to have at least one Luzon province, one in Visayas, and one in Mindanao ticked off this 2020. You will definitely find me wandering around and, should our travel paths cross this year, let us share our stories over a meal or coffee on me.
I am really excited to share my local travel stories this year as #iWanderIn2020.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.