Chany's Trip to The Philippines 2018

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Philippines Trip - Purpose
The following were the "purposes" for this trip:
  • Escape to a warm climate
  • See cultural stuff
  • Try local Filippino food
  • Relax on the beach
  • Try Civet Coffee (AKA cat poop coffee)
  • Hike a volcano
This was a 28 day trip. As I was travelling solo, I was primarily be staying in hostels and used public transportation such as buses, jeepneys, motorize tricycles, and ferries. I also flew on discount airlines for the longer inter-island connections.





Philippines Map - Cities Visited

This map shows the cities in the Philippines that I visited:
  • Manila: 2018 Nov 15 - Nov 19 (4 days)
  • Batad: 2018 Nov 20 - Nov 22 (2.5 days)
  • Sagada: 2018 Nov 22 - Nov 25 (3.5 days)
  • Baguio: 2018 Nov 25 - Nov 28 (3.5 days)
  • Angeles City: 2018 Nov 28 - Dec 1 (3.5 days)
  • Puerto Princessa: 2018 Dec 1 - Dec 4 (3.5 days)
  • Cebu City: 2018 Dec 4 - Dec 7 (3.5 days)
  • Panglao Island: 2018 Dec 7 - Dec 10 (3.5 days)
  • Manila: 2018 Dec 10 - Dec 12 (2 days)



Manila

The City of Manila is the capital of the Philippines. On a per square km basis, it is the most densely populated city in the world. It was founded in 1571 by the Spanish. A port city, Manila has a tropical climate, basically hot and humid all year round.
The traffic in Manila is pretty horrific. There are not enough road for the number of vehicles, resulting in traffic jams from dawn until late in the evening.
Also known as Luneta Park, Rizal Park is located in the heart of Manila. During the time of Spanish Colonial rule, the park was the site of executions, including that of Philippine national hero Josť Rizal.
The Rizal Monument is a memorial to the execution of Filipino nationalist, Josť Rizal, There are honour gaurds protecting the monument 24/7. It was at this spot that Rizal was executed for the crime of rebellion, as the Spanish claimed his writings inspired the Philippine Revolution.
The Ayala Museum featured exhibit is "Gold of Ancestors: Pre-Colonial Treasures in the Philippines". It is a large collection of gold artifacts from pre-colonial times. The prize piece is the Caste cord from Surigao, a 4 kg cord made from gold.

As well, there is a collection of 60 dioramas that chronicle the history of the Philippines, from prehistoric times to the present. It was a very informative display for anyone that wants to learn about Philippine history
The National Museum is a Philippine institution that houses and displays art and artifacts representative of the cultural heritage of the Filipino people. Their feature piece is the large (4.22 m x 7.675 m) painting "Spolarium", by Filipino artist Juan Luna, depicting fallen gladiators being dragged by Roman soldiers.



Batad

After a 9 hour overnight bus ride to Banaue, a 1 hour tricycle ride, and a 15 minute hike down a narrow trail, I was in Batad. What a view of the rice terraces I was met with!

Batad is an isolated village in Ifugao province. There's no cellular signal, no Internet, no cars, no jeepneys, and no motorcycles. There is some electricity, but otherwise off the grid. it was a great place to get away from things.
When in Batad, most tourists will make the hike to Tappiyah Falls. Because I was doing it without a guide, the trickiest part was traversing the rice terraces along a "dry" path. The path was not clearly marked, so I missed a few turns here and there. It took a bit of balance at times as the terrace path was lessthan 30 cm wide at points. Once past the terraces, there was a steep descent down to the river. Of course, what goes down must come up. The ascent was a good cardio workout.
Part of traveling is not the destination, but the journey there. My next destination was Sagada. To get there from Batad, it involved hiking up a trail for 20 minutes, catching a jeepney to Banaue, catching a mini van to Bontoc, then catching a jeepney to Sagada. The picture shows me riding on top of the jeepney in Banaue. Is this safe?



Sagada

Sagada is known for the ancient burial ritual of the indigenous people there, of burying their dead by hanging the coffin on the side of a cliff. It is said that by hanging the coffin, the body can be closer to the heavens, plus it protected the body from animals.
As well as hanging coffins, the indigenous people also buried their dead by placing the coffin at entrances to caves. At the Lumiang Burial Cave, there are over a hundred coffins here, with the oldest being 500 years old.
I did some spelunking at Samaguing Cave. This was a very popular tourist attraction, so although it was a large cave, it was very crowded as lines of tourist slowly descended into the cave. There were some very interesting rock formations in the cave. It was a wet, slimy experience.
I found a coffee house in Sagada that served Civet Coffee. Civet Coffee is also known as "cat poop coffee", and dubbed, "the worlds most expensive coffee". The coffee beans are harvested from the feces of the Asian Palm Civet. The coffee tasted like coffee flavoured tea, with no bitterness.



Baguio


Burnham Park is an urban park in the middle of Baguio. It is a great place for locals to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I found it to be a nice place to chill out.
The Lourdes Grotto is a Catholic Shrine is located at the top of a hill in western Baguio. After climbing 252 steps, running the gauntlet of people selling rosary beads and candles, one is met with a statue of the Virgin Mary. There is a nice view of Baguio from the top.



Angeles City

Angeles City, located north of Manila, once hosted the largest United States military facility outside the continental United States. The city was devastated by ash from the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 1991.
I wanted to see Mt Pinatubo. To get to Mt Pinatubo, I took a ride in a jeep along a riverbed. it was a rough ride, especially when we had to cross streams. It was interesting to see the river valley, carved out by the previous eruption.
Once we entered the volcano's caldera, a view of the lake and caldera walls was to be had. Since the eruption of 1991, the frequent rains in the area has created the lake.



Puerto Princessa

I did a tour of the Puerto Princessa Underground River. This is a cave system with a river that runs for 8.5 km.
As expected, it was dark in the cave. There were bats and interesting rock formations.



Cebu City

In a small kiosk in old Cebu, houses Magellan's Cross. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan planted a cross in Cebu to celebrate the conversion of the local people to Catholism. Apparently, the original cross planted by Magellan is encased by the cross on display. This was popular with the tourists.
In the Plaza Indepedencia of Cebu is Fort San Pedro. The fort was built in the 17th century and originally was made of wood; it was rebuilt with stone later. The walls are 6 meters high and 2.4 meters thick. Triangular in shape, it was originally built to repel muslim raiders. The fort was surprisingly small in area.
To the north of Cebu is Tops Lookout. Located on the Nivel Hills and rising 600 meters, a panoramic view of Cebu and Mactan is to be had.
Located near Tops Lookout is the Temple of Leah. This temple was built by a local Cebu businessman as a monument of his love for his late wife. Styled after ancient Greek and Roman temples, this is probably what the ancient temples looked like in their glory. I thought this was going to be a trashy tourist site, but there was something oddly touching about the reason for this structure.
In the Beverly Hills section of Cebu is the Cebu Taoist Temple. The temple is the center of worship for Taoism in Cebu, rising 300 meters above Cebu.



Panglao Island / Bohol

Located in Bohol is the Tarsier Sanctuary. Tarsiers are small primates found only in select Southeast Asian islands in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. A distinctive characteristic of the tarsier is the large eye to body size ratio. These are nocturnal animals.
The Chocolate Hills are a geological feature in the middle of Bohol, consisting of over 1200 symmetrical conical hills. Featured on the Bohol provincial flag, the hills are made of grass covered limestone. When the grass on the hills are dried out, the hills take on a brown colour, like chocolate.
Originally built to allow residents to transport their goods across the Sevilla River, the twin suspension bridges, with bamboo slats, is mainly just a tourist attraction.
On Panglao Island is Alona Beach. This is a very popular white sand beach with the tourists. This placed seemed to have the highest concentration of "foreign" tourists of all the places I've visited.



The Philippine Jeepney





The Jeepneys are the "buses" of the Philippines. The original jeepneys were made from surplus US military jeeps left over from WW2. They are privately owned and known for their crowded, cramped seating and garishly decorated exteriors.

The jeepney is the cheapest form of public transportation; thus they are usually very crowded and uncomfortable. As a tall person, there was very little headroom for me.



Philippines Trip - Prologue

The Philippines was hot and crowded, and yet a welcoming country to tourists. Interestingly enough, it seems the most of the tourists I encountered on my trip were the Filipinos themselves. The cost of food, accomodations, and transportation was not expensive. There are many things to see in, from the mountains in the north to the beaches of the islands. I would recommend the Philippines as a vacation destination.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about this trip or travelling in general!


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