Why I love my Philippines

Stuck in day to day heavy traffic, empty promises made by some pompous politicians, little income but high taxes, and  corruption are only few of the things we dislike about this country, but if there are 100 obvious reasons to hate this country I see five big reasons to love my Philippines.

#1 Waters

Philippines an archipelago made up of over 7000 islands, a home for stunning waterfalls, rivers, lakes and beaches. To name a few there is Potipot island known as the little Boracay of Zambales for it has powdery white sand and crystal blue waters. You can reach the island through a small boat in less than 10 minutes from Dawal beach. It doesn’t matter if you are just a curious tourist who wants to drop by and check how beautiful the place is or someone who is in a quest of finding oneself looking for some alone time with nature so decide to try primitive living, set up a tent and stay overnight. Surely, you will enjoy the beauty of this little island with or without accompany the way I did.

Potipot Island_WhyILovePH

Looking for a place beautifully developed; make your way to Puerto Galera white beach in Oriental Mindoro. Recognized for its wonderful diving spots fall in love with the rich life underwater or enjoy the surrounding view of lush green mountains during daytime.  Can’t stand a night without partying?  Have fun watching fire dancers doing flare routines, and enjoy conversing with friends over good drinks. How can I dare say no to this place?

If the beach doesn’t sound interesting maybe a trek to Kabigan (kaibigan = friend) waterfalls is. A 120-foot waterfall with a base forming a natural pool shape hiding deep inside the forest of Brgy. Baloi Pagudpud Ilocos Norte waiting to be discovered. On your way to the falls, you will find a river stream too! Pretty certain that it would be an alluring experience for nature junkies.

Kabigan Falls_WhyILovePH

#2 Histories

Subjugated by foreign countries hundreds of years ago Philippines is also a country rich in stories that needs to be told. Try to go anywhere and I guarantee there is an interesting story behind those big old walls. The Bantay (Bantay meaning guard.) Belfry that sits on top of a hill in Ilocos Sur for example, built in 1590, said it has served as a watchtower and was part of the city’s defense during the Spanish regime. And the grounds around the tower were believed to be the same grounds where Diego Silang with his troops fought the Spaniards centuries ago. If the tower looks familiar, that is because scenes of the movie Panday were shot there. How cool is that?

Bantay Belfry_WhyILovePH

Want to hear a folklore? Here’s the one I find lovely interesting:  The story of the star crossed lovers Marin and Duque. There’s a beautiful Princess named Marin who had many suitors including the Datus (Royal leaders.) of Camarines, Mindoro and Laguna. But Marin is in love with a modest man Duque. Despite the absolute disapproval of her father Datu Batungbakal they continued seeing each other secretly. Until the Princess decided to follow her heart and leave the royal life, she was born with. So, one night they rode a boat heading Tayabas Bay. Unfortunately, her father learned about their plan so Datu Batungbakal together with the Datus of Camarines, Mindoro and Laguna the persistent suitors of Marin sailed after the lovers. When Marin and Duque thought that they would be caught, they decided to drown themselves. Years had passed when a heart shaped land emerged from the spot where the ill-fated lovers drowned. They named the island Marinduque – the heart of the Philippines. See we have our own version of Romeo and Juliet.  

#3 People

Branded as the country of smiles, I bet it’s no news that we Filipinos are naturally… happy people (well, except for those who are having a bad day! 😛 ). Very hopeful and full of sense of humor, Filipinos can find happiness even in the most dire situation. And believe it or not we are honest people, *Laughs* this trait may be hard to see among our politicians but Filipinos are honest. Just look at the Ivantans (Locals of Batanes.) they are regarded as the epitome of honesty that means we can be as honest if we want to. Creative and hard working these are the most obvious traits we Filipinos have. One good example for me is the Burnay jar makers. They manually pedal the potter’s wheel then mold the bantog clay using their skilful hands very determined to make a beautiful piece of Burnay jar. This is hard work and creativity combined. I am honored to be a Filipino. Are you?

Pagburnayan_WhyILovePH

#4 Food

Filipino cuisine is equally rich as our history and talking about being creative earlier, that works for culinary too. Naturally gifted with wide variety of ingredients needed for cooking, Filipino food is very interesting as the flavors vary from island to island. Give your palate a treat of Ulang Ulang a native dish in Marinduque made of grated young coconut, de shelled shrimps and calamansi. It is an original recipe of Aurora Pitero mother of Rose Sotta the owner of Casa de Don Emilio a restaurant at Boac, Marinduque.

Ulang Ulang_WhyILovePH

Craving for the best Bulalo soup? Drive straight to Mahogany market in Tagaytay. You don’t have to be disappointed for not getting the view of Taal volcano from this side because eateries at Mahogany market are famous for serving the best sinful bone marrow soup that will just make other Bulalo you’ve tasted seem bland. Did this stimulate your taste buds?

Bulalo_WhyILovePH

# 5 Thrilling Adventures

Philippines do have a big room for thrill seekers too! It depends how dauntless you are but there are activities that would shake the hell out of yourselves. If cliff diving is your thing then you must have heard Imelda cave at Marcos island in Pangasinan. A twin chambered cathedral shaped cave with a natural pool said to be 70 feet deep. Climb up to the cave wearing your life vest then jump for as high as 20 feet.

Imelda Cave_WhyILovePH

Like Morroco and Dubai, we also have natural sand dunes in the country. You don’t need to travel so far for an exhilarating voyage just visit Paoay sand dunes in Ilocos Norte. Ride a 4×4 jeep, hold on tight at the steel bars, then enjoy trailing the small, medium (seems like a 45 degree) to high (what seems like a 90 degree) slope sands that would make your knees feel like jelly.

Paoay Sand Dunes_WhyILovePH

How can I not choose to love the country that has so much beautiful things to offer? It wouldn’t be called Pearl of the Orient Seas for no reason, right?

Chia

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The Epitome of Island Hopping: Hundred Islands National Park

Fact Time: Hundred Islands National Park is made of 123 islands and islets that are believed to have formed two million years ago. HINP also known as Kapulo-puluan covers 1,884 hectares of land area.

I was in seventh heaven the next day because finally I am about to see the Hundred Islands National Park! One of my agenda is to count the islands. (I know I am not the only one who is curious to know the answer.)

As mentioned in my last post, Brgy. Lucap Alaminos is still an hour away from Lingayen. So if your main objective is to visit HINP in Pangasinan you can also find quite a few resorts, hotels, and transient houses in Alaminos.

When you reach Lucap Wharf go look for the tourism information office where you have to fill up a tourist manifest and pay for the necessary fees.

Environmental fee – PHP 40/ person for day tour and PHP 80/person for overnight

Pitching fee – PHP 200/camping tent per night

Motorboat fees in PHP:

Boat Size Day Tour Overnight
Regular Service Regular Service
Small (max. of 5 persons) 1,000 1,400 2,000 3,000
Medium (max. of 10 persons) 1,300 1,800 2,500 3,800
Large (max. of 15 persons) 1,500 2,000 3,000 4,500

“Regular” means you’ll only visit the three developed islands where you can stay for a maximum of 20 minutes, but you can choose one island where you can stay for the rest of the day. You have to advise the boat operator what time he will have to pick you up.

While the “Service” means you can take it to whichever island you want to go, developed or undeveloped, it’s your call.

HINP tourism office was overwhelmed with tourists when we arrived proving it is one of the most popular summer destinations here in the Philippines.

We rented a service boat because we prefer the “unlimited” boat service.

We went first to Century Island.

You’ll have to climb up a few steps to see this cave of bats.

Then to Shell Island. I wonder why they named it such, I wasn’t lucky to see any shells after all. Maybe, some tourists who visited this island before me had taken some as a souvenir. (Why people? There’s nothing left for me and others to see.)

We also had a quick stopover at Virgin Island.

HINP - Virgin Island

While across is the Governor’s Island. This is where you can get a better view of the Hundred Islands National Park. The perfect spot if you want to take a “selfie”.

As for the dauntless, this is where you can enjoy a 546 meter zip line connected to Virgin Island. For PHP 250 you’ll get to experience roughly 50 seconds of swoosh and whoop! An AHHH!-some experience that you shouldn’t miss. A small boat will bring you back to Governor’s island or just enjoy a walk via floating bridge connecting the Virgin and Governor’s Island.

HINP - Governor's Island - ChiaChinR

On our way to Marcos Island we passed by the Romulo Island, Crocodile Island, Turtle Island, and Scout Island.

HINP - ChiaChinR

Imelda Cave

If you are hungry for more stunts, then dare to do a cliff dive inside Imelda Cave at Marcos Island.
Stepping on a cliff was terrifying! I remember my heart was beating fast, my knees were shaky, and hands were cold. For a moment I closed my eyes deciding whether to do it or not. So when I had made up my mind, I shouted… WOOHOO!!! There, I had the splash of my life!

Nope! Definitely I wasn’t trying to end my kicky life story (not yet).  Let’s just say I am exploring my limits and enjoying the simple adventures that the world offers while I am still young and capable for I have two excuses: YOLO (you only live once) and YOYO (you’re only young once).

(Friendly Reminder: Please be cautious while you are being adventurous otherwise, your game is over.)

After the aerial tricks, it’s time for something less intense, snorkeling and fish feeding. (blog-blog-blog said the fish. Haha!)

HINP - ChiaChinR

Helmet diving was on our to-do list unfortunately it was already late in the afternoon and the place where you can rent the diving gear had cleared the area. (Leaving me a good excuse to go back.)

So we continued our island hopping. Passing by Old Scout Island, Children’s Island, the Cathedral Cave, then had to stop by at Quezon Island for some munchies.

HINP - ChiaChinR

The sun was setting so we had to go back. On our way, we made sure to see the Bat Island. Right, an island where the bats are nestled. How is that possible that these bats only stay in this particular island? I was interested so I asked the boatman, and surprised to learn that they shoo away these bats whenever they see one in other islands. Thus, bats will only stay on a particular island-Bat Island where no human will shoo them away. (That’s the sad trick.)

Our last stop the Cuenco Island, the attraction here is a tunnel cave. If you pass through you’ll see a restaurant on the other side. (Do you now agree that this is the epitome of island hopping?)

I must admit one day is not enough to explore all of the 123 islands. Are there really 123 islands at the Hundred Islands National Park? Sorry, I lost count so that will remain a mystery for me until my next visit.

I am ending this post with the lyrics from the song Nothing But by John Kay:

“Bring nothing but silence
Show nothing but grace
Seek nothing but shelter
From the great human race
Take nothing but pictures
Kill nothing but time
Leave nothing but footprints
To show you came by”

Chia!

HINP - ChiaChinR

My First Hello To Pangasinan

I would like to start this post with a quote from the movie Annie. I love Annie her smart mouth and her positive vibe. Who wouldn’t love Annie?

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile”Read More »