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.

Lake Calibato… At Long Last

Since 2014 we had been touring San Pablo, Laguna’s Seven Lakes, and ended up visiting four of them at least twice. But there was one out of the seven that we never got to visit. Not for any particular reason other than the fact that we could not locate an approach to this lake. Lake... Continue Reading →

A Misty Morning at Tanay’s Highlands

For a long time we’ve been wanting to visit the hilly sections of Tanay, Rizal and view its spectacular sunrise. We tried to drive there late last 2020 only to be turned back by local authorities who were enforcing strict lockdown rules. There was no denying us this time as Covid restrictions have been relaxed and with Leo now able to drive longer distances.

In Search of Karst Landscapes

Karst is a type of landscape formed by the weathering of rocks, typically limestone, resulting in pronounced, often dramatic topographical features such as caves, underground streams, sinkholes, cliffs and steep-sided towers. We were surprised to find out that karst landscapes cover about 10% of the country's land mass.

A Love Affair with Indian/South Asian Breads

Our first encounter with authentic Indian cuisine came during a trip to the Middle East some 25 years ago. A few years later we became part of the Southeast Asia office of our former organization headed by an Indian national. This was the time that Nina learned to prepare Indian dishes from our team leader’s wife.

Our 15 Favorite Philippine Beaches

With 7,641 islands, the Philippines has plentiful sandy beaches, coves and seaside lagoons. Visiting over 50 provinces of the country has allowed us to relish a good number of these beaches but still left out a considerable number in our bucket list. Compiling lists of this sort almost certainly leaves out quite a number of other outstanding examples but we chose to confine ourselves to the beaches we've personally visited.

Peaceful for Now: Taal Volcano

Majority of the time when looking to dine near a nature destination not too far from the urban jungle of Metro Manila, we head out to Tagaytay City in Cavite province. Along Tagaytay Ridge are numerous cafes and restaurants that offer panoramic views of Taal Lake and Volcano in the adjacent province of Batangas.

Waterfall Chasing in Amadeo, Dining in Silang

Leo’s continuing recovery and physical therapy means we won’t be able to do those arduous treks that some of the more spectacular cascades here normally require. But our itch to visit these attractions overcame whatever trepidations we might have.

Rainy Season Al Fresco Dampa Dining

When friends that we haven’t seen for over a year asked to dine out recently we predictably suggested a dinner al fresco date. Friends Boi and Tess proposed we head over to the Seascape Village Bay Market along Manila Bay in Pasay City. This dining destination prides itself as an upscale dampa.

Harbor Square: Returning to an Old Haunt

During Holy Week here in Metro Manila, residents often take the time to escape the concrete jungle for fresh air and mother nature. During the past years, however, our practice has been the opposite: stay in Manila and leave for the provinces before or after Holy Week.

Real, Quezon: Retracing Our Steps

A favorite destination of ours for a quick getaway outside Metro Manila, this coastal town boasts a variety of attractions – pristine waterfalls, lush forests, fast-moving rivers for white water rafting, a ruggedly beautiful coastline and the raging swells of the Pacific for surfing.

Islands of the Giants

It used to go by the names Sabuluag or Salauag after a tree species endemic to these islands. During the Spanish colonial era, coffins containing oversized human bones were reportedly discovered at a cave in one of the islands.

Reminiscing About Negros Oriental

Another province hit hard by Typhoon Odette (Rai) last December was Negros Oriental, one of our favorite places to visit in the Eastern Visayas. Hammered badly were municipalities in the north and central part of the province, especially Bais City and Manjuyod where dozens were killed and estimated damage ran up to hundreds of millions of pesos.

Island-Hopping at Leyte

Leyte for us, and specially for Leo, was a place famous for history – the first landing of American forces in the Philippines during World War 2 and the largest naval battle of that conflict, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, both occurring in 1944. We had not considered this heavily forested and mountainous province as a tourist destination until 10 years ago.

Bohol: A Retrospect

When Category 5-super Typhoon Odette (international name Rai) hit the Philippines last Dec. 16-17, it created a wide swath of destruction over the provinces of Surigao del Norte, Dinagat, Southern Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Palawan. Many towns in the island province of Bohol suffered catastrophic damage and dozens of deaths.

Close Brushes with Mother Nature

In our travels we’ve had various encounters with natural phenomena some by design, others by accident. Some of these encounters should be approached with caution. Most of these were with members of the animal kingdom but experiences with uncooperative weather made for some memorable circumstances as well.

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