A Bird’s Eye View of the Philippines

Traveling has always been a great way to expand our knowledge about the different cultures and peoples around the world. Experiencing the beauty of a country firsthand and not from just pictures or a movie on TV or something gives our senses a wonderful treat.

The Philippines is known for its pristine beaches, breathtaking dive spots, rich culture and its warm, hospitable people. Situated in what some people call the ring of fire, the Philippines boast more than 7,000 islands. There are 3 regions, namely, Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. The capital of the Philippines, which is Manila, is located in Luzon.

There are so many must see spots in the Philippines, not only for their beauty but also for their cultural significance. Needless to say, you can travel all over the Philippines and see the beautiful beaches almost everywhere. Dive spots on the other hand need to be scheduled but are still easy to find.

Let’s start with Luzon. The Banaue Rice Terraces are entire mountain sides transformed into layers of rice paddies creating a staircase look. The natives in the region still plant and harvest on these terraces. Along with the spectacular view of the terraces, some natives also perform tribal dances and songs.

Another tourist attraction found in the Luzon area is the Mayon Volcano, regarded as having a near perfect cone. Yet another volcano worth going to is the Taal Volcano found in Taal Lake. Not only the view is awe inspiring but local restaurants and food stops in the area catch and cook the unique fish which can be found in the crater lake and serve them to hungry tourists. Still in the Luzon area, is Sagada, where one can see the hanging coffins. These were placed in the rock face of the cliffs by the earlier inhabitants of the area as a tribute to their dead, making them closer to the heavens.

The Visayas area is known for the white sand beaches and marine life rich dive spots. The more famous beach resorts in the Philippines are here, namely, Boracay and Bohol Island. Bohol is also famous for having many beautiful old churches dating back to the Spanish era. Another tourist attraction in Bohol is the Chocolate Hills. These are similarly sized hills which abound in a particular area of Bohol. These are named Chocolate Hills because during the dry season, they look like mounds of chocolate dotting the countryside. Also found in Bohol is the Loboc River Cruise. A boat ride going up and down Bohol’s popular river where one can see the local residents going about their daily lives and also the beautiful flora and fauna of the area.

Just a hop, skip and boat ride (or a plane ride) away from Bohol is Cebu. It is one of the more progressive islands in the Visayas region. Cebu also has more than its share of beach resorts and dive spots. Here we can also find the Magellan’s Cross. Famous for being the cross which Ferdinand Magellan brought from Spain during his exploits. There is also the Santo Nino Church where many a devotee makes their pilgrimage. Another uniquely Cebuano event is the Feast of the Sto. Nino. Otherwise known as Sinulog, this fiesta has locals and visitors lining the streets of Cebu city to watch the parade and participate in the “blackening” of the body or face.

Cagayan de Oro City boasts being the gateway to Mindanao. From here you can travel by boat or by land to anywhere in Mindanao. Cagayan de Oro is famous for white water rafting in the upper Cagayan de Oro River and several nature parks in which one can zip line from tree to tree or take a walk on a rope bridge.

In Malasag Gardens, visitors can go inside real tribal homes and see handicrafts being made. Makahambus Nature Park allows guests to rappel down into Makahambus gorge, almost 50-70 ft. In this gorge is an underground river connected to the city’s main river.

A stone’s throw away from the gorge is the Makahambus Cave which ends up to a rock face overlooking the river. A short drive from Cagayan de Oro is Del Monte Plantation in Bukidnon. This is the home of the famous Del Monte Pineapples and Del Monte world class golf course.

One can also experience an Ati-atihan Festival in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon during the summer months. A little further ahead of Bukidnon, is Davao City. It is said to be the largest city in the Philippines. In Davao one can see the Philippine’s highest peak, Mt. Apo. Here we can catch a glimpse of one of the world’s largest eagles, the Philippines Eagle. Considered to be endangered, the city of Davao has established a Philippines Eagle Sanctuary for this avian treasure. The sanctuary also houses several birds of prey other than the Philippine Eagle.

Iligan City is called the City of Waterfalls. The two more famous waterfalls here are the Maria Christina Waterfalls and the Tinago Waterfalls. The former is used to generate power for some parts of Mindanao while the latter is primarily a tourist attraction. A short land trip from Cagayan de Oro to Balingoan Pier brings us to Camiguin Island. The beaches in this island are mostly black sand due to volcanic rock. The island itself has seven volcanoes although not all are active. All around this small island are different kinds of springs and waterfalls. Found also in Mindanao is Siargao Island. This is where surfing enthusiasts of the Philippines live their dreams. All over Mindanao, one can experience and see traces of their tribal or native ancestry.

This is just a very short description of the beauty of the Philippine Islands and its people. There are more treasures to be experienced as one visit the Philippines.

[Tags]Philippines, Tourism, Tourist, Manila, Mindanao, Visayas, Luzon, Philippine Islands, Cagayan de Oro, Philippine Eagle, Waterfalls, Pinoy, Filipino[/Tags]

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