By Cesar M. Cruz Jr
With the Philippine archipelago having 7,640 islands, there is no shortage of beautiful places to explore. Places like Baguio, Tagaytay, and Boracay are just some locations that have long been popular tourist destinations for Filipinos and for good reasons. On the other hand, there are still many wonderful destinations in the country waiting to be discovered. It is a funny thing how we sometimes get curious about a particular local destination after a prestigious international travel magazine, for example, considers it to be among the top beaches of the world, or when group of foreign scuba divers raves about their unforgettable animal encounter in the Philippines. It was right under our noses the whole time and we failed to recognize its value.
To shed light on the topic of emerging destinations, Experience Travel and Living recently consulted an authority on the subject who is no other than former Department of Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor. Having extensively travelled throughout the archipelago, she is no doubt a gold mine of knowledge and experience on the topic. These are her handpicked destinations for Filipino travelers.
This ‘Boracay of the North’ is making a name for itself for its natural white sand. Pagudpud is one of the small neat town on the north coast of Luzon Island.
Be sure to visit Saud Beach which made it to the list of the 25 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World by Travel and Leisure. Saud Beach is more popularly known as Pagudpud beach. If you are tired of densely populated beaches, then it is high time to give Pagudpud a try.
Pagudpud is uncommercialized. Its prime attraction are its coves, caves, and rocks. Fresh seafood abound. You can even have a lobster if you wish. The name ‘Pagudpud’ comes from an old Ilocano word that refers to soft sand soil.
Bus lines travelling the Manila – Pagudpud route take about 10-12 hours. You can opt to board a 45 minute flight from Manila to Laoag and finish it off with a two hour bus ride to Pagudpud.
This attraction is the pride of Alaminos in Pangasinan. Those who brave the 123 steps staircase of Governors Island will be handsomely rewarded with its majestic panoramic views. Be sure to have your trusty camera with you.
Hundred Islands consist of 124 islands spread out in the Lingayen gulf. Getting there takes four to five hours of land travel from Manila. Once there, island hopping is a breeze. Its idyllic beaches and waterfalls are guaranteed to relax your mind and body.
If water activity is your thing, then you will have a heyday here. Get your fill of snorkeling, helmet diving, kayaking, banana boat ride, parasailing, and more! To maximize your fun in the sun, April maybe the best month to go as it enjoys almost nine hours of sunshine per day. Oh, and remember to try Alaminos sausage while you are there.
The place got its name from Mina de Oro – the name the Spaniards gave it centuries ago, regarding it to be a repository of gold. Mindoro is known as the Rice Granary and Fruit Basket of Southern Tagalog.
Be in wild admiration of the marine environment of Puerto Galera. Dive into the world-class Apo reef on the west coast. Immerse yourself in the Mangyan culture. Visit its wilderness, and you may get a chance to see the Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo if you are lucky.
For an amazing beach getaway, put Oriental Mindoro in your bucket list. The experience is pure gold.
The fastest way to get to Mindoro from Manila is to drive/ride a car to Batangas port and ferry. It takes roughly three hours and thirty minutes.
It was once a quiet coastal village until the discovery of the whale sharks by a group of scuba divers more than twenty five years ago. Tourists can interact with these gentle giants by diving and swimming alongside them. A boat ride which can accommodate seven passengers is led by a guide to ensure safety rules are observed. Passengers, complete with their snorkels and fins, gets to appreciate the whale sharks up close. However, they are not allowed to touch the animal for obvious reasons.
Despite its name and size, the whale shark is not a whale but the world’s largest living fish.
The coastal community of Donsol has been accorded the title, “Whale Shark Capital of the World” in 1998. Furthermore, the town was featured as “The Best Animal Encounter” by Time Magazine in 2004.
Aside from swimming with the whale sharks, tourists can also avail of a firefly tour as well as a shrimp catching at night in Donsol.
To reach Donsol: fly from Manila to Legaspi ( or take a bus) then take a public or private van ride to Donsol which is one and a half hours away.
It is always a good idea to see what the Pearl of the Orient has to offer. The next time you travel solo, go on a family vacation or a company outing, consider these four emerging destinations. You might just find yourself being an ambassador of Pagudpod, Hundred Islands, Mindoro , and Donsol in no time at all !