Last December, CA and I had the pleasure to visit my homeland. I was excited because, for the first time in 11 years, I finally spent Christmas in the Philippines and had Noche Buena in the house I grew up in.
A lot of things have changed in my province since I left in 2003. The city has become more industrious and western influences are prominent than ever. The roads are busier, and options for public transportation have risen. Two lane roads transform into four and sometimes, six lanes during rush hour, but despite of it all, the Philippines is my home. No matter how much it has evolved, it will always have a special place in my heart. After all, this is where I first rode a bike without training wheels.
Despite the delayed flights, long lines at the bus station, and several hiccups in my planned itinerary, it was the most enjoyable trip I’ve had thus far. I was able to spend time with some of my childhood, elementary, high school, and college friends even for just a short period. My parents were fantastic and very patient hosts, not to mention, their 20% senior discount perk everywhere we went. We gained weight after the trip, but we also gained a brand new perspective on things. Allow me to share some of the highlights.
Pristine waters, friendly locals, spectacular limestone formations, and incredible beaches are among the many sites in Palawan. It’s definitely the most beautiful island I’ve ever seen, almost something out of a dream. Below is the picturesque Kayangan Lake in Coron- dubbed the cleanest lake in Asia.
My journey from my hometown to Batad was indeed an adventure and an exhilarating experience. It involved a five hour standing only room in a non air-conditioned bus going 80-90 miles per hour, a 3am transfer to a blasting air-conditioned bus, an unforgettable ride atop a Jeepney and finally a 45 minute descent to our Inn. The 2,000 year old rice terraces were truly extraordinary. These terraces were carved into the mountains by ancestors of the indigenous people. The picture below was taken during our trek down the Batad amphitheater.
Boracay had rapidly become the top destination in the Philippines for its powdery white sand and a myriad of water sport activities from snorkeling to cliff diving. Over the years, the island has become more and more touristy. Hotel establishments and businesses seemed to have doubled since the last time I visited in 2011. Its vibrant night life is filled with musical bands and fire dancers. One thing is for sure, Boracay sunsets are among the most stunning ones I’ve seen.