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

Potipot Island Zambales!

Hi there! Summer vacation has just ended here in the Philippines and rainy season is in, so without further ado here’s my last take for summer 2015.

If you want to feel like a castaway from the reality TV show “Survivor”, Potipot Island in Brgy. Uacon Candelaria  Zambales is one place to go. It took us about 9 hours land travel from Manila so you’d better pack extra patience. Well, long hours travel isn’t a big deal for me especially when I am with my favorite travel buddies. (Thankful for the automotive navigation system directions was never a problem.)

Prior our trip my good friend had arranged everything for us. He contacted Aling Minda where we parked our vehicle for PHP 100/day and where we rented a small outrigger for PHP 400 (good for 5-7 pax) to take us to Potipot Island. Aling Minda’s safe parking space is just across Dawal beach resort.

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR
The parking space
Potipot Island - ChiaChinR
Dawal Beach Resort
Potipot Island - ChiaChinR
Aling Minda and Me! (Smile!)

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Aling Minda’s contact number – 0939.323.3459

Other commodities offered:

Tent – PHP 400 good for 6 pax; PHP 300 good for 4 pax

Cooler – PHP 50 small; PHP 100 big

Cooking pot/pan – PHP 100 big; PHP 50 small

Potipot island or should I say Little Boracay of Zambales is only 1 km away from the mainland of Brgy. Uacon, Candelaria. In less than 10 minutes we had our first step on the white powdery sand of the island and felt the small waves gently kissing our feet! (Giddy!)

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

It was already five in the afternoon when we reached the island so we hurried, looked for a perfect spot where we can set up our camp and cooked our dinner. Oh! Before I forget secure your belongings and foods beacause big black rats are always on the lookout. (I freaked out!)

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Note that you have to pay PHP 100/pax for day tour and PHP 300/day for overnight stay. I just heard that Potipot is a private island doubtful I am because they did not issued receipt for the fees we paid. (Hmmm…??? Calling the attention of our Government.)

For those who do not want to set up tents nothing to worry you can rent a simple nipa hut for PHP 1,500 that is good enough for the whole family.

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Lavatories, bathroom, restroom, comfort station, or whatever you call it yes surprisingly and fortunately it is made available! Hooray! There is also a common grilling area if you were not able to bring your portable griller. Another good thing is that there are light posts on the island that were very helpful during the evening.

That afternoon we were lucky to witness some fishermen on the process of fishing they called daklis/pukot.

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR
Daklis Fishing

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Make a bonfire, eat, drink, and share stories with your friends/family all night because there are no loud parties for you in this Little Boracay of Zambales. If you love to see stars like I do well then you can enjoy star gazing without the hustle of climbing up the roof. HAHA!

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

In the morning, walk around the island for less than an hour. Sashay on the sand and swim in the clear light blue waters, or snap scenic and creative photos for your instagram and facebook.

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Potipot Island - ChiaChinR

Whoaw! Pinoy’s favorite taho had crossed the sea and souvenir vendors too!

To be honest I was expecting a very rugged experience and I even (I thought) prepared myself for it, but its ok (as in totally fine) I don’t think I am 100% ready for a total jungle experience yet. Hihi!

Aww…  Summer is over and Potipot Island was indeed a beautiful and simple respite from the urban jungle. More importantly it was an unforgettable experience to wrap up my summer 2015 and I spent it with my favorite travel buddies!

“Hail to your efforts in getting all the power and wealth in life, but your time had passed and soon life will take you, yet still bemoaning you were not able to live your life fully” – Chia