You could tell if a destination is gaining ground in terms of tourism when their infrastructure starts improving. During my recent visit to Tawi-tawi, I was able to climb Bud Bongao again. I certainly noticed a new building, paved stairways and other pleasing developments. It was eight years ago when I last climbed Bud Bongao. A time when there still a heavy stigma hovering over the province. But now that stigma is slowly lifting. People are learning that Bongao, Tawi-tawi is relatively safe which resulted to a three-fold increase in tourism arrivals just this year, 2017. At the forefront of the province’s tourism project is the Bud Bongao Eco-Tourism Park. A 342-meter high sacred mountain with an imposing presence at the center of the island.
Driving out from one of the country’s fanciest airport, the Iloilo International Airport, the transformation of Iloilo City is already evident. Nine years since my last visit and I was just stunned on how urbanized the city has become. It felt like Metro Manila with easier traffic. The Spanish and American influence which took hold of the city for a time still lingers along with modern commercial establishments and high rise residential towers. Before, the city was a mere transit point for me to visit Guimaras, UNESCO listed Miag-ao church and nearby waterfalls. But my recent visit with Asus Philippines showed me a different Iloilo. Armed with an Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, we visited interesting spots in the city while lending our time to help out for Operation Smile.
We need more museums than malls. I sure am glad we have another National Museum opening its doors real soon. On October 29, 2017, National Museum of the Philippines celebrated its 116th year anniversary. As a treat, they opened the National Museum of Natural History for a day. It was a great way to preview what the museum would offer once it officially opens sometime early 2018. With this development, Manila adds another knowledge enriching landmark to compliment the Fine Arts, Anthropology and Filipino People Museum in Manila.
With Boracay consistently cited as one of the best islands in the world, there’s a constant wave of people coming and going the island all year round. Finding an accommodation with a peaceful environment for sound sleep yet close enough to the White Beach may seem a challenge. Believe it or not, there are still pockets of quiet near the bustling main road of Boracay. Agos Boracay Rooms and Bed is a secluded guesthouse yet only steps away from the busy streets. Centrally located and only a few minutes walk to the main beaches.
It took me three visits to Tawi-tawi before I finally set foot on the famed Panampangan Island. It’s not an easy island to reach like most of the islands in the region. Hiring boats have a hefty cost especially for independent travelers. An invitation to cover the Kamahardikaan 2017 festivity includes a visit to the island. It was an opportunity that’s hard to pass. Panampangan Island is considered the longest sandbar in the country.
From my window up 15 floors, I see the EDSA traffic but thankfully couldn’t hear it. I’ve passed through this area time and time again, mostly onboard the MRT and what I remember is the long stretch of not-so-idle land in between the intersection of Quezon Boulevard and the corner in front of SM City North EDSA, as well as the space where an MRT train makes a detour, parked quite away from motorists plying the main thoroughfare Then, Trinoma happened. Now, a newer, more prominent landmark has opened this side of Quezon City — Seda Vertis North.
“San ka galing? (Where did you come from?)”
“Sa malayo! Sa merloquet! (Somewhere far! At Merloquet)”
For Zamboangueños, ‘merloquet’ used to be a fabled place pertaining to somewhere far far away when used in colloquial conversation. Nowadays, it pertains to Merloquet Falls that has gained popularity in the recents years due to its wide pour and lovely wall of cascades. It is still far far away in Zamboanga City but I managed to visit the place as a side trip while in the region.