2020 was not a year for travel for all of us. The COVID19 pandemic came at a time when we were just starting to pack our bags and getting ready to head out and break in to summer. In a matter of days, we had to lock up inside our homes and, for the next 10 months, had to endure keeping our feet in its place for our safety and everyone else.
Looking back at 2020 and the travel goals that I laid out at the start of the year, I partially explored only one destination that I initially intended to explore. I still vividly remember how the quarantine came around on me in the middle of the trip - the surprised feeling, the confusion, the rush, and the relief that came after. It was a flood of emotions that had me torn between heading back home versus continuing with the trip. There was that voice at the back of your head that was telling you that it’s probably not as bad as we think but there was also that gut feel that it is. In the end, the decision to fly back to Manila proved to be the best decision back then.
Things may not have been the best this 2020 but I did manage to squeeze in a few trips that gave this year a bit of spice. Let me share with you my top 3 destinations for 2020 from my meager list of trips this year.
Surigao del Sur
A majestic waterfall and an enchanting river in Surigao del Sur are my 2020 travel icons. Interestingly, I also happen to be on this trip when the community quarantine was declared and we had to cut it short just for us to get back to Manila just in time before the lockdown took effect. I remember coming back to Hinatuan after a day of exploring the two attractions when the news broke out that PRRD will address the country that evening. We had a a hunch and, in a snap, we had to change our plans.
Tinuy-an Falls is a popular spot on this side of Mindanao and was dubbed as the “Niagara Falls of the Philippines” because of the breadth of its cascade. The attraction was developed by the local government making access to it easier. The development also allowed guests to explore the cascade up close with ease and from different angles. It was a real beauty to admire that I was simply mesmerized by its beauty. I enjoyed the cold water flowing over my feet as I explored the different corners of this majestic waterfalls.
Hinatuan’s Enchanted River is a charmer. The rustic and calm ambiance of the place, matched by its natural beauty, gives the place a mystic feel. The local tale of the river adds spice to its beauty. A dip in its cool waters was an refreshing and energizing as you are surrounded by lush vegetations and serenity. It was really a unique experience in a bucolic setting.
Surigao del Sur is not just about these two iconic destinations. My visit allowed me to interact with sea creatures and get a feel of its old town vibe. Too bad that we had a health crisis that had us canceling the rest of the trip. Well, that means that is is another travel opportunity to complete the experience.
Check out my Surigao travel blog here: #CARAGALangHa: Surig-WOW-ed
Or you can also check out my Surigao adventure video blog here: #ByahengOffTheGrid CARAGA
Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan
A post-quarantine trip to Dona Remedios Trinidad had me in awe of the place. I was surprised to find a ruggedly beautiful destination like this that is close to the metro and offers a lot of activities. DRT was a welcome break from the months of being quarantined at home.
Tila Pilon showcases the rugged terrains of this landlocked municipality. You get to see how blessed this province is with its natural resources and it will get you excited with the possibilities of still-to-be-discovered destinations on this side of Bulacan. The municipality is the least traveled spot in the province and it seems that there are still a lot of places to explore and discover. Now, that is really exciting.
13 Falls was another great day trip adventure that had me trekking and clambering over rocks. I realized how much I missed the outdoors and the physical activity that go with exploring a destination. With a number of cascades to choose from, you are bound to find your own spot to enjoy. Mine was a natural jacuzzi spot at Waterfall #10. This is one destination in DRT that is worth exploring. You will get a full experience of enjoying nature’s beauty while getting physically challenged.
Of course, a 13 Falls adventure is best capped off with the warm savory broth of Binalakawan of Kuya Larry from Avalon Eco-Farm. The local dish will give your taste buds the simple and unique flavor of DRT.
Check out my DRT travel blog here: Dona Remedios Trinidad Na Yan!
Or you can also check out my DRT adventure video blog here: #ByahengOffTheGrid Dona Remedios Trinidad
The political will of Yorme is giving the city of Manila a major facelift. The changes have, no doubt, sparked interest among travelers to take another look at the city. I did took on that challenge this year when I checked on what was happening on this side of the metro. The city is not about to disappoint.
An old and neglected underpass was given a major facelift and has now become a major attraction. A historical park was cleaned up and was given a fresh and hip coffee place to become a huge hit among the younger generation. I will not divulge much about my visit pending the release of my travel blog.
The old city of Manila is getting a fresh look and it is attracting a lot of travelers because of these changes. It was also good that it came in at a time when travel is limited giving the city more opportunities to be re-discovered. It just proves that with the Yorme’s political will and the current health crisis spelled out opportunities for Manila.
POST TRAVEL NOTES
We are coming out of a pandemic that paralyzed the world. Our country needs us more than ever as we recover from this crisis. We need to focus on strengthening local economies by patronizing local products, and that includes patronizing local destinations. I will always repeat the call that we go #PinasMuna. As I have said before, this is the best time to discover Philippine destinations.
As we bid goodbye to the challenging 2020, let us keep our hopes up for 2021. We all look forward to traveling more in 2021 and I hope that we put Philippine destinations as our priority for travel. Let us all contribute and work together for a stronger Philippines in the new year!
Happy New Year, ka-Viajeros!
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.