Tawi-Tawi Sunrise at the Capitol

Tawi-Tawi Sunrise at the Capitol

2008 has been blessed with so many travels. I actually had a very very hard time deciding the best-of-the best on all the destinations visited on 2008. While each destination offers something unique on its own, each decision is based on my deep experience which characteristics resonates most on the place. So this ‘best-of’ is based on my personal opinion but feel free to share what you think. So here goes….

Ati-atihan Festival in Boracay Island

Ati-atihan Festival in Boracay Island

Best Fun/Party Destination – Boracay Island, Aklan
While I may not fully agree with the overblown development happening on the island of Boracay I can’t deny that Boracay is an ideal place if you are looking more into parties or fun with barkada (friends) on a beautiful white beach setting. There’s a bunch of activities here to keep you occupied and the wide array of food choices for the voracious eater. While you can visit Boracay anytime of the year It’s best to go during the first quarter of the year where there’s a lof of happening on the island.

Camiguin's White island

Camiguin’s White island

Best Beach – White Island, Camiguin
If you want an unadulterated beach, pure white beach, free of vegetation and annoying establishments, this is the perfect place. An island sandbar, wide and desolate. One of a kind island in the Philippines.

A place to take a rest

A place to take a rest at Nagarao Island

Best Beach Island Resort – Nagarao Island, Guimaras
This island really placed an enchantment on me. It’s a wonderful little island off the south coast of Guimaras. What charmed me most here is the vegetation, landscaping and the quaint accommodations they have. The beach have a variety of ruggedness and fine ones too. This windswept island is perfect place if you want to just have a quiet getaway closer to nature and away from the crowd.

Camiguin's Tuasan Falls

Camiguin’s Tuasan Falls

Best Waterfalls – Tuasan Falls, Camiguin
I realized I have visited only a few waterfalls this year but the best one I have seen is deep inside the Volcano Island of Camiguin which is the Tuasan Falls. It’s almost an hour hike through the forest, boulders and some river crossings but seeing this layered falls sure is worth it. It doesn’t have the height of the nearby Katibawasan but its layers of pools is much more majestic.

Bud Bongao

Arching clouds at the peak of Bud Bongao

Best Mountain Climbs – Bud Bongao, Tawi-Tawi and Emeishan, China
I only had very little climbs in 2008 but the ones I like locally and internationally are both sacred mountains. in China I was able to climb one of the Four Sacred Buddhist mountains – Emeishan. This 3,099m mountain boast stunning above the cloud views, temples and of course a bit of snow. In the Philippines the petite mountain of Bud Bongao in Tawi-tawi was another uniquely fond experience. Bud Bongao stands only about 390m and is a very sacred Muslim Mountain. The experience of climbing with numerous Macaque monkey companions along the trail and leaving knots of wishes was really memorable. Muslims in Tawi-tawi said that you haven’t been to Tawi-tawi if you haven’t climbed Bud Bongao.

Halong Bay Karsts and Junks

Halong Bay Karsts and Junks

Best Natural Wonders – Coron, Palawan and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Two countries and two destinations that have a big similarity came into this one. The thousands of karst wonders of Ha Long bay Vietnam is a truly wondrous sight. But not left behind despite its smaller numbers, the Karst wonders of Coron Palawan and its crystal clear lakes is more scenic than the former.

Leshan Giant Buddha Profile

Leshan Giant Buddha Profile

Best Architectural Wonder – Leshan Giant Buddha and Miagao Church
Two religious structures from two countries were my favorite architectural wonders. The Giant Buddha of Lehsan which is the tallest Buddha structure in the world shows how belief and fate can change the currents of flow of a river. While the beautiful fortress church of Miagao displays how religious inspiration produced the elegant base reliefs on its church facade.

On the road to Chavayan

On the road to Chavayan, Batanes

Best Scenic Destination – Batanes
This northern province never sieze to amaze. No doubt one of the most scenic places in our country. Landscape photographers will find this as heaven. Romantics and poets will find this a paradise. Not to mention the honest and kind people of Batanes makes this place almost a utopia. I was fortunate to visit this place last 2008 but am planning to get back here for a longer stay to re-visit and explore the distant island of Itbayat.

tianmenshan up the stairs

Heaven’s gate at Tianmenshan

Best Adventure Travel – China South West and Central
With more than 2000 miles within China, 5 provinces, 4 UNESCO sites, 11 days and a budget of less than Php 30,000 which includes all airfares from Manila, transfers within China, park fees, food and accommodations this was my most ambitious trip last year. It was quite an experience that I’m hoping to top this year.

Panda Fun Snack

Panda Fun Snack in Chengdu, Sichuan

Best International Destination – Sichuan, China
Going deep into Mainland China in Sichuan province is another unforgettable travel in 2008. Climbing the sacred mountain of Emei, looking up from the foot of a Giant Buddha, getting up close to the gentle Pandas, tasting the fiery dishes and experiencing its culture will surely make its mark in memory for quite some time. While the province suffered a major earthquake, it is fast in picking up the pieces.

Bongao Tawi-tawi Morning Mist

Bongao Tawi-tawi Morning Mist

Best Philippines Travel Destination – Bongao, Tawi-Tawi
Of all the travels within the Philippines, Tawi-tawi is the destination that suprised me most. So many myths and misconception (mostly brought about by Bad Media Coverage) about this place has been broken when I visited here. It’s a melting pot of culture and the most ideal co-existence of religions I’ve seen in a place. More that I really miss is the warm and kind people we met, and the cultural experience here that go along with the place. It’s a destination I’m definitely sure to come back to.

A Glimpse of 2009

In terms of the blog post, expect to see entries more on Camiguin and Tawi-Tawi. For travel I already have another 2 weeks major travel this first quarter and am just finalizing logistics and more local destinations. If you have any ideas in mind or suggested destinations drop a comment here. You might get yourself some goodies.

Thank you very much for the great 2008. It’s YOU readers who keep me inspired sharing more travel adventures and photography in this blog. More blessings and travels this 2009!

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Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlinesโ€™s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlinesโ€™ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacificโ€™s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

40 Responses to “Ironwulf’s Best Travel Destinations for 2008”

  1. grabe, the places you go to, amigo.
    it’s really hard to pinpoint which of the places are the best kasi they all have their own charms and quirks.
    but i agree with your choices. i also agree with your choice of tawi-tawi kasi it’s really far from the strife-infested place
    that mainstream media paints it to be.

    here’s to a lot more trips, a lot more assignments, a lot more journeys this 2009 ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Your photos are absolutely precious Ferdz! I’ve never been to Halong Bay but I imagine that it is really like Coron. I remember when I went to Cayangan Lake, I was jumping up and down on the boat because I couldn’t believe the beauty of it.

    That photo of Tawi-Tawi looks like a painting!

  3. Lahat sila maganda. When I read travel blogs especially entries about local travel within Philippines, I can’t help it – I get really envious. While I’ve been to many different countries, my untimate travel dream is to visit all the beautiful places around Philippines. I want to save enough so I can afford a year long holiday pero matagal pa siguro yon…

  4. What an eventful and adventure-filled year for you bro. Way to go. I am a bit surprised that your travel to Tawi-Tawi, which is my father’s home province has been one of your best travel highlights of 2008. Maybe I should be visiting there sometime soon, it’s been years since the last time.

  5. Wonderful destinations you had last year! I hope this year will be the same or better. Be sure to share them with us. Dapat at motto ninyong magkakaibigan ay “Have camera, will travel.” Have a great and interesting travel year!

  6. Thanks Oggie, I really had a hard time. But I really stand my ground on choosing tawi-tawi as my best local destination in 2008. More to enlighten people about the place as well.

    Nice to see you back Toe! Glad to hear you enjoyed Coron. Love that place. Bongao, Tawi-tawi does indeed look like a painting with the mist and light in the morning.

    Thanks Den sa pagsubaybay. I also love like that photo.

    Guimaras and Camiguin are great places. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them Angeli. Thank you very much for dropping by.

    Ganda ng view from the Capitol Erick!

    Naku, if only I can afford to have a lot of time and money to make my rounds on all Philippine destinations I would. Ang daming magandang lugar talaga sa Pinas. I’m sure it would be worth the wait Nina.

    Thanks Bai Estan! Have a great year as well.

    Medyo mahirap nga Nina, bet let’s see what 2009 has in store. Here’a to more travel in 2009!

  7. Wow! Your father came from Tawi-tawi Major Tom? that’s great to hear. I will definitely be back there to explore more.

    hahaha! Pwede nga yung motto BertN! Happy new year as well.

    Don’t miss out on Coron Pao!

    Thank you very much Barok for giving us Kit’s contact numbers. That’s a very big help rin. I’m sure you’ll be able to visit the place as well.

    Yep! More travel Photo Cache!

    Wow Idol Joel! Thanks for dropping by. Let’s cook up a photo shoot soon.

    Happy new year bai Allan!

    Thank you very much Rayts! good luck to you as well for the new year.

  8. (jaw dropped) you make me wanna go there in tawi-tawi right at this moment. your photos are like dreams ferdz – soooooooooo beautiful. no wonder you are the BEST here. Congratulations for 2008 and you really make me proud to be a travel-blogger. Cheers for more adventure in 2009.

  9. Really appreciate the comment Oman. I don’t know about the best but thank you very much. More travels to you as well in 2009.

    Sure Joel!

    Thanks for dropping by Redge! Just a matter or timing things and being lucky I guess. Happy new year!

  10. you’ve made traveling even more exciting for us last year ferdz. you’ve even convinced me that china is beautiful in many perspective. it lead me to buying a book lonely planet on china.

    from your trips last year, i like your china trip the most. maybe because it was something very different from the things that we can see here in the philippines. i also liked your vietnam trip with oggie. i’ll never forget sapa rice terraces. your detailed feature of the island of sabtang will always be on my travel box as i will need it when i get there.

    plus all the achievements you’ve received this year. 2008 was indeed a great year for you. this is indeed the best travel blog in the philippines.

  11. Hi again! Naputol!

    You’re one of the most well-travelled pinoy photobloggers i have come across in the blogosphere! My hats off to you!

    I would recommend BALUT ISLAND Municipality in Davao del Sur, the ancestral homes and white sand beaches of the municipality of Glan in Sarangani and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato as additions to your travel plans this year.

    You will be amazed! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Happy travelling!


  12. Hi Ferdz!

    Your blogsite is amazing… with your shots of the places/events you’ve visited/witnessed. I really adore you. You might not know it but I frequent your site every now and then. Actually, I’ve been wanting to create my own site sometime ago and you’re one of my inspirations. Finally, I’ve started na.

    Galing mo! Keep it up.

    The best….


  13. hi! great places u’v been.. like you, i’ve been going places around philippines! been to camiguin too, and that island is really.. really.. beautiful! grabeh! gusto ko nga magstay ng 1 week run! hahahaha.. i suggest you go also to cagayan de oro for a lot of adventure! also to sagada.. one of the best place i’ve been before camiguin! whew! that’s all.. love the way you took your pix!

  14. Congratulations. I am new here but i learned you are Ferdz, so hi Ferdz. You are a great photographer, laglag ang mga mata ko, hehe. I traveled some few countries as well, but the recollections in my mind cannot be translated in photos. When i looked at your photos, nanghinayang ako sa mga travels ko kasi wala akong remembrances na ganyan. I’ve been travelling around the country, except for Batanes, El Nido, Tawi-tawi and Camiguin, but i have also glimpses of the best, the difference is i dont have wonderful photos! Inggit talaga ako sayo!

    I encourage you to visit Guilin and cruise the Li River. I can already visualize your wonderful pictures of the horizon. I will be in Turkey in April and i haven’t been so guilty of not studying photography earnestly earlier, whenever i see your photos. They really are super inspiring!

  15. P.S. I forgot to recommend the Tinago Falls in Marawi, actually between Marawi and Cagayan de Oro City. It is far from the road and you have to go down 365 circuitous steps, but it is worth it. I know you will like it too. Be sure to have a guide from the local people. Kadugtong sya ng Maria Cristina Falls, but Tinago is better, ‘yan ang sabi ng mga tao dun sa Marawi kaya dun kami dinala.

  16. Hi, I just found your site through the net while surfing. I was so amazed on your travels and adventures. I also love traveling and I’m sort of making them come true through my own means, ways and of course luck. Your site is so great and it inspires me to travel more and to give in to my urges to visit other places. By the way, do you travel alone? May you have more travel years to come and more people to inspire. Thanks! I’m looking forward to your future posts. c”,)

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