Mangodlong and Buho: The Rocks of Camotes

Karst formations may be found all over the Philippines, comprising some 10% of its land mass. Most of these karst landscapes are found in coastal locations and would often be situated alongside white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons. The Camotes Islands are no exception and during our recent visit we were treated to the rock formations at Mangodlong and Buho Rock Resorts.

Tulang Diot: Paradise Minus the Crowd

Cebu province has several gorgeous beaches but, since most are easily accessible, they can also get a bit crowded especially during the hot and dry months. The Camotes Islands are not too difficult to reach from Cebu City so we were expecting a good number of people on this beach. It was therefore somewhat of a shock when we set foot at Tulang Diot and discovered that we had it almost completely to ourselves.

Bakhaw & Himensulan: Camotes Islands’ Under the Radar Beaches

For a destination that is somewhat under the radar, the Camotes Islands has at least some tour spots that are familiar to local travelers. Santiago Bay Beach which we featured in our last post is one of them. However, we realized during our recent visit that there are many more beaches, caves and other noteworthy destinations that are scattered all over the 3 islands that make up Camotes.

Hideaway at Santiago Bay, Camotes Islands

Cebu province has a myriad of destinations from the gorgeous Sumilon Sandbar and the whale sharks of Oslob down south to the white sand beaches of Malapascua Island up north. Somehow, lost in that maze of tourist spots is a group of 3 islands lying to the northeast of Cebu City that has somehow evaded the radar of majority of visitors to the province.

Forever Lost: Intramuros and the Battle of Manila, 1945

Recently we had lunch with friends including a couple from San Diego, California at a restaurant inside Intramuros, Manila. Our friend Gin wanted to tour his wife Sharon around Intramuros to give her a glimpse into the history of the district and the city. But a major problem in showing foreign guests around this walled district is the fact that none of the buildings here, save for one church, are more than 75 years old. And this despite the rich 400-plus year history of Intramuros.

The Good Fortune of Pila, Laguna

As we drove back to a relative’s retirement home in Tiaong, Quezon, we were thinking about the misfortune that befell Pagsanjan during World War 2. In the last year of that war, a large portion of the town’s heritage was lost to aerial bombardment and a deliberate firing. Not far away from Pagsanjan, however, is a municipality that was spared this adversity and had seen its ancestral buildings remarkably preserved.

Pagsanjan: More Than Shooting the Rapids

For decades, the town of Pagsanjan in Laguna province has been popular for its majestic waterfall – the Pagsanjan Falls – and for shooting the rapids. The latter is an adrenaline-fueled boat ride where the Bumbungan River flows swiftly downstream over rocks. This boat ride is also the best way to see the Pagsanjan Falls.

The Umbrella Rocks of Agno

Long before the white – actually golden – sand beach of Abagatanen in Agno, Pangasinan became popular, Sabangan Beach was the destination of choice in this coastal town. The beach itself is an ordinary gray sand beach but what sets it apart is a collection of geologic formations called the Umbrella Rocks.

Abagatanen Beach: Secluded Tranquility in a Fishing Village

Two decades ago, we would sometimes go to the beaches of northern Pangasinan when vacationing, especially the Hundred Islands of Alaminos and Bolinao, its beaches, and other natural destinations. Shortly after that we began venturing into lesser-known Dasol and Burgos and their beach destinations and hidden coves in the western part of the province. But we later discovered that north of both towns are equally fabulous coastal destinations in Agno and Bani.

Bolinao Falls 3: A Waterfall Trilogy, Part 2

It is not so often that we get to see three major waterfalls within a 3 to 5-minute drive from each other. That might be the case for cascades deep within the forests here in the Philippines where rivers flowing over rugged terrain create multiple drops within a short distance. In most cases these waterfalls are inaccessible due to the rugged topography. But such is not the case for the three waterfalls of Bolinao which are readily accessible by motor vehicles.

Bolinao Falls 1 and 2: A Waterfall Trilogy, Part 1

Bolinao is one of our favored destinations in Pangasinan province and we’ve visited Patar Beach and other beaches in the town, its caves, a lighthouse, an old church and the Balingasay River. For our December Pangasinan tour, however, we opted to focus instead on other sites we have not yet ventured into such as Agno town and its beaches. But with one exception.

Tondol Beach: Revenge Travel Continued

We were initially attracted to this beach for its expansive white sand and stunning, crystal-clear shallow waters during high tide. On a clear sunny day, this sea of white sand extends hundreds of meters from the shoreline. We first visited Tondol Beach in 2011, then made a return visit last weekend, hoping to experience the same gorgeous scenery.

Pateros: Eating Balut and Revisiting My Hometown

Pateros is the place where I grew up and spent my life until I turned 30. Moving on from there to other parts of Metro Manila and getting married in the process, I eventually ended up living in Baguio City in the northern part of the Philippines, before moving on to San Diego, California and eventually returning to my native country.

Laiya, San Juan: A Beach at Long Last

We’ve been meaning to visit a beach – any beach – for the last two months. But October and November are still well within the rainy season here in the Philippines. November is also notorious for bringing some of the worst typhoons in living memory. We were almost resigned to wait until December before hitting the beach, with rainy weather dominating the last 2 months.

Ternate, Cavite and Ternate, North Maluku: A Migration Story and a Creole Language

For a long time, we have often wondered if Ternate town in Cavite, Philippines is remotely related to a city of the same name in North Maluku in Indonesia. The Maluku Islands are also known in English as the Moluccas and, back during the 16th century onwards, as the Spice Islands – an obvious reference to the region as a center of the spice trade. Ternate in North Maluku is particularly famous for its aromatic cloves.

Chilling Out at Tagaytay and Talisay

On the way to Nina’s uncle and aunt at their retirement home in Hacienda Escudero in Tiaong, Quezon, we embarked on a short side trip to two adjoining towns for our coffee fix amidst the usual views of Taal Lake and Volcano. Although outside Manila, the first destination along the way – Tagaytay – was just an hour and a half away from home. That meant an easy and relaxing drive.

Our Top 12 Philippine Sandbars

A sandbar, technically called a shoal, is a naturally submerged ridge or bank of sand that rises to close to the water surface. It could remain hidden during high tide, therefore constituting an impediment to navigation, but could rise above the water during low tide. Here in the Philippines, many of these sandbars have become picturesque destinations.

The Red Brick Landmarks of Liliw and Nagcarlan

Whenever we wander into the towns of Liliw and Nagcarlan in Laguna province, it’s impossible to overlook two red brick structures that trace their roots back to Spanish colonial times. The Underground Cemetery and the San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist) Church building are undoubtedly the most recognizable edifices in both towns.

Nagcarlan’s Bunga Falls

Named after the betel nut of the areca palm that used to grow abundantly in the area, Bunga Falls has always attracted our interest since we first visited this twin cascade ten years ago. Located along a stream that meanders through a forested area, this waterfall sits in a quiet section of Nagcarlan town near the foot of Mt. Banahaw.

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