They say seven is a lucky number. If it is, I consider myself lucky to be part of the 7th edition of Lakbay Norte. The annual familiarization tour of the north Luzon is made possible by North Philippines Visitors Bureau (NPVB) under Convention and Visitors Bureau. If you have been following Ironwulf for quite sometime, I had participated in several Lakbay Norte tours including the first one which set the foundation of the succeeding tours. Lakbay Norte 7 continues the tradition of a fun whirlwind sightseeing, gustatory and adventure filled trip of the north. We didn’t have to go far from Manila to jump-start the tour. Our first stop in Bulacan has us stretching our legs to walk through the Malolos Historic Town Center and marvel at the ancestral homes, age-old churches and its history.
I’m a long time fan of the TV game show Wipeout. It’s one of those shows that simply makes you laugh when contestants get wiped out off the obstacle course. The harsher the better. I’ve always imagined what’s its like to run that course. When I’ve heard of the Inflatable Island in Subic, I thought this would be a cool playground. It’s not Wipeout levels but there are obstacle course that would be a fun challenge for key attractions on the largest floating playground in Asia.
There’s a whole new different world in Boracay and they call it the Boracay Newcoast. This 150-hectare township is being groomed for upscale development. Amid the hilly greens, wide open roads and quiet white beach coves is the stylish Savoy Hotel. The six-story 559-room hotel has a distinctive modern and dynamic architecture.
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.