시간 있어요? 그래서 MANILA-BANAUE-SAGADA-에 갑시다!!!

Every well-planned travel has hidden excrescence but its excrescence once known in the course of the journey will give us life lessons that will make us stronger. And that makes every travel meaningful. Its meaning is given color by the special people we are with and special places where good memories are created.

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I’ve seen a bunch of these mossy-colored-woods in Sagada. When I caught them in the lens of my camera, I was filled with enough astonishment.

December 21, 2016, was one of the happiest days of my existence. I was bound to Luzon for a 10-day trip. And this travel lets me explore a number of places such as the famous Luneta Park, Manila Zoo, Intramuros, the busy Greenbelt malls, the cold temperature of Banaue and Sagada. Yay!!! This was another tick on my bucket list! True enough, this trip really showed me varieties of tourist spots that every traveler will enjoy in the Philippines. My country is definitely rich in tourist attractions that I believe will really be affirmed by local and foreign tourists.

Every traveler has his ideal trip. Well, I suggest you really have to define what kind of attractions that will give you nirvana. Is it the coastal areas where you can bathe on the sand and do beaching? Is it the mountainous regions where you can do one hell of goofy mountain climbing and experience that wrong-turn-movie feels and have goosebumps from the swooshing leaves and tree branches? Is it a plain field where you can do endless strolling while watching picturesque views? or Is it the man-made creations covered with dramatic tales written in the history books of the place or country you visited? Well, you can just love them all, that’s kind of real wanderlust. Right? But, just in case you are a nerdy type or historian-like fellow then, you’ll probably appreciate the masterpieces of men which entail profuse tales. If so, 그런 다음 Luneta Park, Intramuros 에 가야합니다.

Intramuros and Luneta Park will give you a glimpse of Philippine’ history. Well, studying the past of a country is pretty off for some but, information like this will lead you to appreciate the real essence of traveling. That it’s not just about taking a lot of selfies for your Instagram but it’s all about knowing the history and culture of a place. Every place is unique.

Since the Philippines was colonized by Spaniards for 333 years, it’s undeniable that this beautiful country is influenced by Spanish culture, tradition, cuisine and of course architecture. Perhaps, Intramuros, a place located in Manila, is an existing proof that Spaniards had occupied the country for three centuries. Needless to say, it is a place where you can enjoy a very Spanish-atmosphere as if you’re not in the Philippines. When we arrived at Fort Santiago, we found lots of tourists who were photographing and sightseeing. To rove around Intramuros we actually had options either to stroll or ride a calesa. Roving Intramuros through a calesa, the cochero will charge the passenger/s 500 pesos for 30 minutes trip. Five hundred pesos is good for utmost 6 persons. Not bad! In our case, we chose to stroll around the area. It’s relaxing cos Intramuros is not crowded and we really enjoyed the Spanish vibe while strolling.

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The walls in Intramuros which stand in the test of times.

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This mini golf course scenery is viewed when you’re on top of the borders.

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The Manila Cathedral which is visited by local and foreign tourists.

Another tourist attraction adjacent to Intramuros which plays a weighty role in Philippine’ history is Luneta Park. Luneta Park was renamed Rizal Park in order to honor the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal on December 30, 1896, who was killed for his dissent of the Spanish rules. His death paved the beginning of the 1896 Philippine Revolution against the Regime of Spain. Yes, Filipinos who were fighting for liberty succeeded and achieved the long-sought freedom.

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Photo Taken from Diamond Hotel Website. The statue of Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine hero who fought for liberty through his mighty pen.

Since we went to Luneta Park in December, we witnessed the colorful dancing light at night accompanied by a Christmas song. It was an amazing experience roving around the busy Luneta Park with such an incredible sight.

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One of the architectures which caught my attention while we moved around the park at night.

Our next stop before heading to the Northern part of Luzon was the Manila Zoo. Even if how much I wanted to describe this tourist attraction much in favor for my country, however, I just can’t overrate it. I expected so much from the zoo but to my dismay when I saw an area which lacks maintenance and some of the animals in there felt tired and weary. It is not highly recommended but I would still want you to check Manila Zoo because your experience could be different from mine. Change is the only constant in this world. Probably, the Local Government Unit has done its part to bring back the beauty of Manila Zoo. During our visit there, we tried horseback riding. I was quite afraid because the horse appeared to be small for me. I doubted its capability.

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Is the horse tired and thin for you, too? For me, it is.

Even if it was something that deviates from my expectation but still I was able to enjoy a part of my Manila Zoo experience. Lots of animals which I saw for the first time there. Though, I would like to suggest that the management should do something for the enhancement of it. By the way, the entrance fee for adults is 100 pesos. The entrance fee for children is lesser than the adults, however, I forgot how much is it. LOL!!! Perhaps, there’s one more tourist destination in Manila which gave me another delightful experience. That’s when we went to the busy Greenbelt malls. When we’re there, we witnessed a lot of busy shoppers rushing around to buy last-minute gifts for their loved ones. It was great to see the Filipinos genuinely embracing the Filipino culture during the Christmas season. Not only that, because we also passed by lots of evening masses held that time in the malls. Not surprising. It’s how we, Filipinos, spend our Christmas season.

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Well, well, well, because of this trip I was able to watch the movie, Star Wars: Rogue One in 3D. I experienced that 3D feels. It brought me so many emotions and reactions like I experienced the movie for real. Yes dear, for real! Well, thanks to my fellow who treated me that 3D-experience.

That’s a wrap for our Manila tour. It was fun and full of learning. Thanks to my fellow for this opportunity to tour around the city of Manila.

Our last five days in Luzon was spent in Banaue and Sagada. Our first stopover was Banaue. We spent a night at Banaue Ethnic Village and Pine Forest Resort. Going to Banaue is a long travel via bus and we needed to get a ticket prior to the departure so, we can catch the late night’s trip. Quite a different set-up with Cebu because there’s no need to book a ticket prior to your travel. In Cebu, no need for booking. You just go to either North Bus or South Bus Terminal and hop on the bus. You’ll get your ticket on your way to your destination. Probably, I experienced a culture shock being a first timer in Luzon.

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The muddy Banaue Ethnic Village and Pine Forest Resort

We stayed at the resort on a rainy day that’s why we didn’t get a chance to ramble around and enjoy the beauty of the resort. As expected, there are profuse pine trees at the resort. Just a reminder, you really need to bring your jacket if you plan to visit Banaue, especially in December. Well, I got this freezing-cold-feeling during our stay. For your information, Banaue is a municipality located in the province of Ifugao. It is known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its famous rice terraces. We did not include visiting the famous rice terraces in our itinerary. We actually dropped by in Banaue because of a tiring travel and at the same time, it was our way to be able to go to Sagada. We chose the Banaue route instead of Baguio. Extreme enjoyment could definitely be achieved if we had a fine weather at that time. We could have had gone to the terraces if we got a great weather on the day. Nevertheless, we were able to have a glimpse of the rice terraces because on our way to Sagada are the breathtaking beauty of sceneries. I was speechless and motionless. That’s why I wasn’t able to capture them because I just enjoyed watching them.

On our way to Sagada we rode a van. We were picked up at the resort and we paid 200 pesos each. On our way to Sagada were various waterfalls beside the road, smoky mountain below (well, we experienced that zero visibility because of the fog), flower and vegetable farms and that huge area of rice terraces was amazing. On our way to Sagada were feelings of excitement and happiness. And I was totally wowed by what I saw during the trip. The long travel was worth it.

When we arrived in Sagada, we stayed at Isabelo’s Inn. I like the Inn because it was very clean and the owner who is also the one in-charge in the reception area is very accommodating. There are no hotels in Sagada. What you can find there for your accommodation are different inns. I like Sagada very much because of the attractions and adventures that it offers to local and foreign tourists. They have lots of adventures from Spelunking, River Rafting, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Strolling, visiting the Hanging Coffins, and many more. Also, I enjoyed the food in Sagada. And their tour guides are the locals. They don’t allow outsiders to take the job. This place has palpably preserved their tourist attractions. It was a clean municipality and you can have it all in the Poblacion, the center of the municipality. It might not be a big town but it has an undeniable strong tourism marketing. There are lots of local and foreign tourists in Sagada.

During our stay there, we tried the spelunking. I took the risk of this activity. I never thought that spelunking could be a real struggle for trippers. When my fellow told me that will try that physically demanding activity, I said no problem because I thought it would just be the same with the Ugong Rock Adventures that I tried in Palawan. But! I was all wrong. The whole course was not easy. Exploring the cave wasn’t easy. Anyhow, even if it was very difficult but the beauty we saw inside the cave was all worth it.

On our way to Lumiang Burial Cave

2017-01-05-16-03-56-358I was wowed by the rock formations I saw inside the cave.

Our Sagada experienced was one of the best that happened on this trip. It brought me real adventures and astonishment. Though, it could have been better if we were able to try the river rafting but sad to say we didn’t because of the weather. It was raining on the second day of our stay there and we couldn’t do the activity. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful and joyful experience for me. Through this, we were able to experience new things and learn real-life lessons as well.

여행에 아름다움이 있습니다. 그리고 열린 마음과 열린 마음으로 여행 할 때 그것을 볼 수 있습니다.

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