The Philippines on a Sampler Platter Series: Preparing the Menu
Menu of Experiences: Travel Philippines
I always make a point of promoting the Philippines while traveling and meeting fellow travelers along the way. Emma, a friend that I met while backpacking across Europe, decided to come pay a visit. I realized that she had little time to see everything, but I wanted her to see the best of the country while catering to her own liking and “travel style”.
So I made up a “menu of experiences”. I sent Emma an A-Z of what she can do in the Philippines complete with pictures. All she had to do was pick out those places that caught her interest. Sounds easy and simple, but my next task was to see how all those places and activities can be turned into a connected and balanced itinerary. Luckily, most of her picks centered on the Visayas Region. Better yet, our friends were more than happy to join us either the whole way or just a portion of it.
We decided to start the journey in Clark, Pampanga. The first stop? Mt. Pinatubo! This is something that I haven’t done before and has been always been a part of my bucket list. Emma enjoyed the authenticity of such an experience. With this, she experienced her first 4×4 jeep ride through the rocky landscape of Mt. Pinatubo. We headed there on a cloudy Wednesday, which meant that it wasn’t too hot nor energy-draining for a long trek. It was perfect for someone who had to get used to a “constant state of sweating”, as Emma put it.
Our hike to Mt. Pinatubo was followed shortly by a flight to Kalibo. The next stop? Boracay, of course. The moment Emma saw the famous white beach, she exclaimed, “How does this exist in the Philippines? It’s amazing!” After a few action-packed days of parasailing, ATV riding, swimming, and partying, we flew out to the Queen City of the South, Cebu. Our main agenda was to swim with the whalesharks in Oslob. Since we had time to spare after that, Emma hopped on a motorcycle (In a bikini! Think she could pull that off in Canada?) as we headed to Tumalog Falls for a leisurely lunch by the waterfalls. By then, she already had a taste of well-loved Filipino meals like sisig, lechon, and adobong kangkong. Props to her for being adventurous, food and activity-wise!
From the hustle and bustle of Boracay and Cebu, Emma opted for somewhere more peaceful so we headed on to our next destination, Bohol. Aside from seeing tiny tarsiers up close, taking in the Chocolate Hills, and binging like crazy on a $10 dollar river cruise buffet, Emma enjoyed the serenity of Panglao Beach. She said that she had always wanted to have a massage by the beach. Well, wish granted! We ended our stay with a scrumptious meal in Bohol Bee Farm. Everyone thought it was an amazing dinner and worth every peso.
Since I had just arrived from a 2-month trip across Australia, it was great to say hello to my family and friends during a quick stop in Manila. Soon enough, we were on yet another plane ride to Cagayan De Oro, where we were met with Filipino hospitality by our friend, Jess. In contrast to Emma’s love for sightseeing, tanning, and chilling by the beach, CDO forced her to face (and conquer) her fears! We started off with one of Asia’s longest ziplines in Dahilayan, Bukidnon. We then set out on an adrenaline-filled adventure atMapawa Park where we had to hike, swim, jump into the water from a 25-foot cliff, and rapel down a waterfall. Lastly, we rafted through the white water rapids of Bugsay.
Next was for Emma to appreciate the underwater riches of the Philippines. We bid goodbye to her temporarily as she flew solo to Puerto Princesa andCoron in Palawan. She hopped from island to island, from lakes to seas, and from hot to cold waters.
Finally, Emma spent her last few days in the capital of the Philippines, Manila. Here, she had her fill of shopping and bargaining, and endless pampering with massages, nail spas, hair spas, and facials (for a steal!). She also got to experience the vibrant party scene of Thrilla Manila with me and my friends, who all gave her a warm welcome.
Even with all these, there were still a lot of places that Emma didn’t get to see. Fortunately, she enjoyed her Filipino sampler platter so much that she wants to come back for more!
After fixing the ins and outs of this trip and all the nitty gritty details, I realized how lucky I am to be residing in such a pristine place where a lot of hidden treasures could be discovered (and for an affordable price)!
We’ll talk about each of our stops in our next posts, but for now, here’s a visual summary of what we did (and how much fun we had!). Click click click!
Video made by my dear friend, Kay Dulay