Monday, January 17, 2011

2010: A Year of Travels in Review

To say that I traveled a lot in the year that just passed is clearly an understatement. I think it has to do with the fact that I made it my top priority. This time last year, I remember making it a goal to travel at least once a month. For the most part, especially during the summer months, I was able to fulfill on that promise. Thankfully so.

Northern Mindanao

Bahay Bakasyunan Sunrise

The year started with a reunion of sorts with my gang from high school. We were celebrating 12 years of friendship with an adventure-filled weekend. White-water rafting in Cagayan and zip-lining in Bukidnon as well as island-touring Camiguin. Those three days were jam-packed full of activities so much so that we arrived at the airport 5 minutes before the flight taking us back to Manila took off. Crazy weekend.


Mount Pinatubo

Pinatubo Caldera

We were well into summer when we did our Pinatubo trek (c/o Travel Factor). A lot of firsts in this trip. My first 4 x 4 roller coaster ride through a desert-like lahar wasteland. My first trek (however short it was). And the first ever volcano caldera I set foot in. With views incomparable to any place in the country, this trip was definitely worth it.


Capas, Tarlac

Capas Shrine

A sidetrip to the Mount Pinatubo trek is a visit to the Capas Shrine, a war memorial dedicated to the Filipino and American soldiers who died during the infamous Bataan Death March. Its a worth-it sidetrip, I think, especially for those who belong in my generation and generations after. It made me realize that even dark and gruesome events like the Bataan Death March should always be remembered.


Quezon Province

Pahiyas

We left early for Lucban, Quezon on that mid-May weekend in time to catch the Pahiyas Festival. And boy, was the festival colorful. It had been a long time since I last experienced a small-town provincial fiesta, as they are done here in the Philippines. I am glad I was there to see one again. (Special thanks to the Raya family for making this trip possible.)


Saigon, Vietnam

Saigon Chaos

June came and I was off to Saigon, Vietnam, my first out-of-country trip. A lot of coffee, a lot of noodles, a lot of history and a lot of motorcycles, as far as the eye can see. I maintain it to this day: Saigon may be an in-your-face kind of city, but I would not want it any other way. Its chaos gives the city its life.


Siem Reap, Cambodia

Bayon

Siem Reap in the heart of Cambodia is enchanting and at times, enigmatic. You may not know much about history but you can be sure that you will be able to appreciate the craftsmanship and the dedication of the ancient Khmer in the construction of their larger-than-life temples.


Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Port, Honda Bay

Once again, I found myself a witness to how sustainable tourism can be a possibility in the country. Puerto Princesa's hotel owners, the local tour operators and even the public transportation drivers are very much aware that Puerto Princesa's beautiful natural surroundings is what gives them their livelihood. And it's impressive to see their advocacy at work in their day-to-day activities.


Intramuros, Manila

Manila Cathedral, Intramuros

I was born and raised in Manila. It was just about time that I took a walk in its historical district, Intramuros. Visiting it is a prerequisite, I think, for anyone to call himself or herself a true-blue Manileño. No worries, though. A walk within the walls of old Manila is a rewarding experience in itself.


Manila Ocean Park

Manila Ocean Park

The Manila Ocean Park is a relatively new attraciton in Manila. It may not be as big as those aquariums in other first-world countries but you can be sure that the biodiversity in our seas can very well compete with other marine parks abroad.


Benguet

Crop Terraces at Natubleng, Buguias, Benguet

My final trip for the year was something I did not really plan. I hitched a ride on the back of my uncle's coaster on the way up the Cordillera Mountains of Benguet. He had a farm in remote Buguias, Benguet, so I took the opportunity and stayed the night. Once I got there, I realized that I never really got past Baguio City whenever I was up in the Cordilleras. The mountain views are breathtaking, literally. Air is thinner up there and definitely colder. Much much colder. (Special thanks to the Baluyot family for accommodating me.)


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