Manila Bulletin Lifestyle asks: What are the undiscovered spots in your hometown that people should know about?
The true essence of wandering breaks free upon discovery of a place you’ve never been to before It could be out of curiosity, word of mouth on an upcoming tourist destination, a Facebook travel budget itinerary recommendation, or a road trip off the beaten path. But what better way to know all that than by challenging people to share unknown, untapped places in their hometowns. From our 7,641 islands, it’s not surprising to know there are a lot—sometimes just a stone’s throw away from the country’s hotspots—that have always been at the ready.
Take your cue from these hidden gems once we’re free to travel again.
There are plenty of places to visit in Aklan aside from its famous world-famous Boracay white beach. You have Hacienda Maria if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, a newly discovered eco-tourism destination in the town of Buruanga. In order to reach the place, you’ll have to hike two kilometers up a steep mountain. We also have the amazing Pawa Mountains (to rival the mountains of Bali) in the town of Nabas with its amazing scenic views of the whole island where you can capture stunning panoramas featuring expanses of lush green rice paddies and coconut or magical mountain ranges with a bird’s-eye view of the Sibuyan sea with the sunsets. People can also visit the beautiful cascading natural water pools made from gigantic limestone of Jawili falls in the town of Tangalan. —LESLEY MOBO, fashion designer
Sorsogon Province is a tour-de-force destination in the Philippines, offering rich and diverse tourist spots, historical and cultural heritage. We have the Gibalon shrine in Magallanes, where the first mass in Luzon was held. The whale shark capital of the Philippines is also here in Sorsogon. We have a lot of surfing spots here where you can surf freely in gigantic and playful waves. In Irosin and Bulusan, we have hot and cold springs. Let’s also not forget the Bulusan lake where you can take IG-worthy pictures. In Barcelona and Juban, nostalgia can be felt when you enter the hundred-year-old church and traditional houses. I live in Matnog, which is the southernmost part of Luzon and here, we are blessed with pinkish-white sand beaches and crystal clear sea waters. We offer a lot of tourist spots to choose from, and people definitely won’t regret coming here to experience the #MahalKongSorsogon magic. —MARIA ISABELA GALERIA, fashion model
People should try swimming with the sardine run in Panglao Island, Bohol. There’s something so calming about watching them swim, glide, and swirl past you. Under the right light, they’re a dynamic mass of silvery streaks that will leave you in awe. But I must emphasize the importance of responsible ecotourism. If you come to swim in places like these, try not to leave a trace of human recklessness. If we want other generations to witness these underwater wonders too, then we must treat these creatures and their home with respect. —GABI NAZARENO, visual artist
Well I’m from Aklan, Boracay more specifically. While in Boracay, first and foremost is to enjoy the white sand and sea, while still making sure to take care of it. Don’t leave litter and clean up after yourself. We only have one Boracay so let’s keep it beautiful for other generations. Check out the sunset with a quiet beer and music at Bombom bar. —JOSH BOUTWOOD, chef
One must visit the beaches and pristine islands in Southern Leyte. It is a haven for nature-loving individuals. One must also try our local delicacies and fresh seafood you can enjoy all while hanging out under the sun. —SAFA NESSMARIE RODAS, chef
In the city, people should not miss out on The Pig and Palm and Morals and Malice. Owned by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, The Pig and Palm has the best menu selections and cocktails, so you could pick anything and be satisfied. Morals and Malice is a bar I designed, so I always feel at home there. It’s a cozy café during the day and comes alive at night as a club with really good energy. For something a bit more adventurous, diving with thresher sharks in Malapascua would be one for the books. It’s a small island at the tip of northern Cebu, where you can also find the most beautiful white sand beaches if swimming in close proximity with sharks isn’t for you. —KENNETH COBONPUE, furniture designer
I love the stories of my Lola Balbina, especially those about her hometown, San Remigio, Antique, which is just a couple of hours from Iloilo or Kalibo. I used to imagine the scenery while listening to her tell that tales of the hidden version of San Remigio rice terraces, the beautiful and serene lake Danao with the picnic baskets on the lakeside, and the bamboo rafts on the placid waters. The sporty, who love extreme recreational challenges, have the breathtaking castle-like Ibaclag cave nestled in the middle of the rainforest to explore, within which you can find the biggest flower in the world, the Rafflesia! Lately, I was told there were strawberry farms, which make it even more worthy of a visit. —MARILYN DE MESA, travel executive
In all my years of living in Rizal, one thing I realized is that the further you go, the more beautiful it gets. One of my favorite places here that I consider “hidden” is the Pililla Wind Farm. It’s not as popular as those up north, so it gets second attention. I love the view here. You get to see the city, lakes, mountains, and winding roads, all in one place. It’s also obviously windy here. —GIA CATIMBANG, writer
People should visit the Pingganon Lake in Toledo City, Cebu. It is a unique five-hectare man-made lake situated in the middle of serene mountains. It was formerly the site of Atlas Mining operation, which was stopped in 1994. —CONCORDIO CAMOCAMO, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle reader