10 reasons to visit the Philippines this summer

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The Banaue Rice Terraces were created more than 2,000 years ago to efficiently grow rice in the mountains.

There are only three weeks left before summer vacation starts for most CUH students. While it’s a time to relax and have fun, it’s also during these breaks that students have time in their hands to step out of their comfort zones and experience something new.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, can help students do just that.

SITES TO SEE

15th-century Spain
The Philippines was under the Spanish regime for 333 years. Christianity is considered by most Filipinos as the best gift they have given us. To remind us of this, they have built Churches around our archipelago, big and small. Many of these Churches are still intact. In Manila alone, the country’s capital, Binondo Church shows the different statues of Christ and other holy images and the different architectures as well having those built during the 1500s.

Just like the churches, there are many more historical landmarks left during the Spanish

Ther Heritage Village in Vigan brings you back to 15th-century Spain. Photo courtesy of Ludwig Simbajon.

regime. Intramuros is known as the Walled City which served as the country’s capital in the 1500s. It has been able to preserve the 15th century Spanish ambiance and culture. For a tour around the city, visitors may choose to ride a carabao-drawn, or horse-drawn carriage known as the “Kalesa.”

An eight-hour car ride north of Manila will bring you to Vigan and its renowned Heritage Villlage. Residents have kept their houses as they were when Spain ruled the country. Why wait for Marty Mcfly’s DeLorean. The time machine that is Vigan is already here.

Villa Escudero
From Manila, it is a two-hour drive south to reach Villa Escudero in Laguna. During the weekend, tourists are entertained by the resort employees with the Philippine Experience show. The employees will perform different folk dances like the “tinikling” or bamboo dance and sing folk songs like “kundiman,” or filipino popular love songs.

Within the area is also a museum appropriately housed in a Church. There, tourists are presented with the different clothing, furniture, weaponry, etc. of Filipinos throughout the years.

The main attraction in Villa Escudero is their Waterfalls Restaurant where guests may eat by the near the falls as water flow through their feet.

Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers in Bohol
The number one attraction of Bohol is the “Chocolate Hills.” The name is derived from color and shape of the hills which look like mounds of chocolate especially during the dry season when the hills become perfectly brown. Another tourist attraction in Bohol is the world’s smallest monkey, known as Tarsiers. These monkeys are provided with their own sanctuary in order to protect them since they are endangered species. If you have more time, you may visit the different ruins, churches, and islands around the province.

Banaue Rice Terraces
The mountainous region of Northern Luzon is home to the Ifugaos. Ifugao aptly means “mountain people.” They created the Banaue Rice Terraces about 2,000 years ago. The “Hagdan-Hagdan Palayan ng Banawe” is a rice field that appears in levels looking like stairs, thus the name “Hagdan-hagdan,” which means stairs in the Philippine dialect. Covering approximately 10,360 square kilometres in size, this was mostly made by hand.

Beaches and a “Seven Wonders of the World” member in Palawan
One of the new “Seven Wonders of the World” is the underground river in Palawan. Tourists ride a small boat through an 8.2 kilometer stretch known to be the longest in the world. Various rock formations add to the breath-taking experience of the underground river. Aside from that, beaches like Amanpulo and El Nido are some of famous sites because of their emerald green lagoons and secluded beaches. Coron Reef is also another tourist destination since it has diving sites surrounded by cliffs made of limestone.

THINGS TO DO

Isdaan: The Halfway to The North Resto-Park
If you’re going to the northern part of the country, you’ll pass by Isdaan. This establishment is a resto-park which features huge statues of fishes, monkeys, and humans. Huts or “kubo” are built above a lake where visitors take part of various sea foods. The best time to pass by is during sunset when cool air circulates and when the lake is beautifully lit up with lights. An unusual feature of the establishment is the Tacsiyapo Wall on which, for a small fee, visitors to throw a variety of objects like plates and televisions to the wall if they want to vent or simply throw for fun.

Eat Street Food – Isaw, Balut, Betamax, etc.

Tourists can choose from different kinds of skewered street food, which will be grilled for them. Photo courtesy of Pat Cadsawan.

“Balooooooooot! Baloooooot,” is what a common household in the Philippines would hear during the night. Balot is a fertilized premature duck egg which is boiled and eaten in the shell. Eating balot is nothing out of the ordinary in our country. Filipinos eat the duckling but there are those who opt not to eat it but just the other parts of the egg.

This is not the only street food which Filipinos love to eat. Isaw, which is chicken and pig

intestine, and Betamax, which is chicken blood formed in the shape of the infamous video tape (hence the name), are also some of the street food which are eaten every day. Are you up for the challenge?

Santacruzan
Filipinos love to celebrate colorful fiestas or festivals. In the month of May, the Santacruzan or Flores de Mayo is a parade of the maidens of the different towns in the country. While little girls perform as angels, maidens in their 20s portray different symbolic queens such as Queen Faith, Queen Justice and Queen Hope. The star of the parade is Reyna Elena who is not a symbolic queen but is a representation of Queen Helen of Constantinopole who purportedly found and kept Jesus’ Cross. It usually ends with a pageant parade where the escorts carry an arch which is designed with flowers, thus the name Flores de Mayo which means “Flowers of May.” Certain areas in the country hold the event for a week while some finish in a day.

In Pila, Laguna, which is a two-hour drive south of Manila,  dinner for the entire town is served by the family of the maiden who portrayed Reyna Elena. Also, a mini carnival or “perya” is built during the event.

Tiangge
One of the activities that foreigners usually look forward to is shopping in our country. A tiannge is a cubicle which is usually six feet wide, six feet high and six feet deep. They sell different items like clothes, bags and toys. In malls like Greenhills and Divisoria, several hundred tiangges are organized by what they sell and the vendors compete for customers. Go to tiangge stores if you want brand new Nikes for $20, Levis for $5 or Louis Vuittons for $50. Who wouldn’t want that?

Be a Tribe Member
Remember the Banaue Rice Terraces and the Ifugaos? Rather than seeing what they have done 2,000 years ago, why not experience what they do now. The Mayoyao tribe, one of the tribes that make up the Ifugaos, invites tourists to experience their lives. Once tourists commit to the tribe’s policies, there will be an induction highlighted by the roasting (and eating, of course) of a pig. Tourists can wear the tribe’s clothes, learn their dances and learn their songs for however long they want. Tourists can help with the Mayoyao’s rice farming and join the feast during their bonfire.

With three weeks to go, be sure to book a flight to the Philippines. Listed are just a fraction of things to do there. You can choose a lot more places to see and activities to do. Remember to have fun, be safe, and make the most out of your summer vacation.