This is the Department of Tourism video of the Visit the Philippines Year 2015.
Within hours, as I write this post, the world will turn a new leaf and usher the year 2015 in our midst.
It’s another great year to enjoy life to the fullest and make a difference in the world.
As a student of life where the world is my classroom, I always thirst for new things to unravel. That is why I pore myself reading books and relevant websites, connecting with various kinds of people, and traveling different kinds of roads to explore what else is there that needs to be seen and be known.
And one favorite laboratory of mine is the 7,107-island nation that I call home, the Philippines, where its diversity provide multiple colors in my travel pallet that create various hues and tints of adventure.
The year 2015 is the perfect time to explore the Philippines. The Department of Tourism has declared it and rightfully so. Check out their websites – Visit the Philippines Year 2015 (VPY2015) and It’s More Fun in the Philippines – for the guide of what’s in store this coming year here in our land. It has listed why and I have more reasons to add. But allow me only 15 excuses why you need to be in this part of the globe this 2015!
1. Friendly people
Filipinos are hospitable and friendly, by nature. We are a bunch of helpful people, save for some bad tomatoes; but, we truly are kind. From the boatman-slash-tour-guide in the Underground River in Palawan to the 100-plus-year-old man in Batanes, we are eager to put a smile on everyone’s face. Special shout out to my hometown, the City of Smiles – Bacolod – where almost every man on the road is willing to lend a helping hand to you.
We met this lolo (grandfather) who welcomed us in his home in Batanes.
2. Colorful festivals
From January to December, the Philippine calendar is filled with colorful festivals. The Sinulog in Cebu, Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Dinagyang in Iloilo, Panagbenga in Baguio, Pahiyas in Quezon, Masskara in Bacolod, Kadayawan in Davao… the list goes on. Whichever festival you take part in, you’ll definitely bring home the fun memories with you.
Pahiyas in Quezon province.
Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.
3. Historical landmarks
Take a stroll down the cobble-stone streets of Vigan or walk around the heritage district of Silay, church-hop in century-old structures, tour the walled city of Intramuros, or ride around Corregidor Island, there is always an interesting story and a piece of history that the Philippines can share. From the datus and sultans in various parts of the archipelago, to the arrival of Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish fleet, to the galleon trade with Acapulco, to the American era and the Japanese invasion in World War II, the Philippines unfold many facets in history that makes it one of the world’s melting pot.
Remnants of WWII in Corregidor Island.
4. Underwater life
There is a different world down there. Dive or snorkel in the depths of Coron where you will find sunken ships and swimming tortoises. Have you found a natural cathedral in Anilao, Batangas? Swim with a school of fishes in Apo Island. Visit the giant clams in Camiguin. With waters surrounding the whole country, expect beautiful gardens hidden in its depths.
School of fish in Anilao, Batangas.
Colorful corals in Coron, Palawan.
5. Breathtaking beaches
We have 7,107 islands and a coastline of 36,289 km, so expect thousands of beaches from north to south and east to west. Boracay is dubbed as one of the world’s beautiful beaches. But you can also roll on the sand bars of Bais or of Camiguin. The provinces of Bohol, Mindoro, Dapitan, Ilocos, Batangas, Camarines Sur, Cebu and Negros Occidental are some of the places with beautiful beaches, but there’s more that never made it to any list. These beaches, unfrequented by tourists, are the main attractions in this part of the world. Imagine fine, white sand and clear waters all to yourself. And, well, maybe with four or five other people. That’s what you call relaxation at its finest.
Fine sand in Boracay Island.
Dakak Beach in Dapitan.
Honda Bay, Palawan.
Sand bar in Bais, Negros Oriental.
6. Natural wonders
Century-old rice terraces in Banaue, the Underground River in Palawan, the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the perfect-cone shaped Mayon Volcano in Bicol, or the smallest volcano Taal in Batangas, there are several natural attractions that will keep you in awe of the wonders in the Philippines.
Underground River in Palawan.
Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
7. Artful transportation
Take the artistically-designed jeepneys in major cities or the paraws (boats) in Boracay or the vintas in Zamboanga and you’ll find that the Filipino’s love for art and color is just found everywhere. So hop on and enjoy the ride!
8. Beautiful flora and fauna
The Philippines is rich in natural beauty, especially when it comes to its flowers, plants and trees. In almost every household, you’ll find a natural garden kept within its yard. Antique has the largest flower in its forest. Davao has several beautiful orchids. Baguio honors these flowers through its Penagbenga festival. When you visit the Philippines, you’ll surely find time to stop and smell the roses.
A flaming red flower.
Ming’s Garden in Tagaytay.
9. Amazing animals
Go to Bohol and you’ll be enamored by the tiny tarsier with its large cute eyes looking back at you. Dive in Sorsogon’s waters and be amazed by the gentle giants – the whale sharks – called Butandings. Dolphins are also everywhere, but they are best spotted in Bais. If you want to see the fierceness of the Philippine Eagle, you’ll find some of them in Davao. Have a fun day in Calauit Island and get up close with free-roaming giraffes, zebras, deers and other animals in its savannah.
The dolphins in Bais.
10. Religious devotions
What’s to watch out for in 2015 is the visit of Pope Francis in Manila and Tacloban. But apart from this much-awaited event, there are several other religious activities throughout the year that will take place in the Philippines. From Christian and Catholic feasts, such as that of the Black Nazarene in Manila, the Moriones in Marinduque, and, of course, the four-month long observance of the Christmas joy, including the 9-day dawn masses from December 16 to 24, to Islamic rites, to indigenous practices, the Filipinos will show you what faith means to them.
Giant lantern festival in Pampanga marks the early celebration of Christmas.
11. Great bargains
Markets in the Philippines are full of cheap buys and great finds. You can have a walking tour in Binondo and Divisoria, where very affordable goods are found. Little towns in far-flung areas still observe market day where locals troop to the market at this time of the week when the produce are brought to their locality.
A market in Sarangani.
12. Organic products
The Philippines, with its vast land and seas, is rich with organic produce. In Victorias City, Silay City and Kanlaon City, all in Negros Occidental, I have seen vegetables grown without the use of chemicals. Cashew nuts are aplenty in Coron, Palawan. Tagaytay is teeming with vegetable gardens with restaurants that have become tourist attractions. Every province, town, and city in the Philippines has an organic produce to offer.
Organic produce grown in Penalosa Farms in Victorias City.
Ready for a salad? This is the Fresh Start salad in Silay City.
13. Diverse menu
The Philippine street food is an interesting point for you to start getting a taste of the local flavor. Pampanga is known for its delectable food. Bacolod is a magnet to sweet lovers because of its delicious desserts. Cebu and probably almost every island in the Philippines are havens of sumptuous seafood dishes. Tour around the world and you’ll find so few Filipino cuisine. Well, we love to keep them to ourselves as we prefer them served in our homes, cooked by our mothers and grandmothers. Nevertheless, not finding Filipino cuisine elsewhere is the more reason for you to really visit the Philippines and feast on our food. Did I suggest that you try balut or dinuguan?
Kinilaw or raw fish soaked in vinegar and other spices.
Suman and mangga or sticky rice with mango, a local dessert.
14. Wonderful music
The Philippines is a land of music lovers. Singing is our favorite past time. Probably, it is because nearly every babe in the Philippines has been lulled to sleep with a song. Almost everyone can carry a tune and a large populace can belt out high notes without so much effort. Stroll the beach of Zambales or the streets of Dumaguete and you’ll find a karaoke machine in one of those cottages or small stores. Major cities have videoke or KTV bars, now a favorite hangout place of friends for bonding and having fun. We love to join or watch singing contests so it’s no wonder that even in the international scene, Filipino singers take the center stage.
Every one loves to sing. This foreigner can’t help but join in the singing.
15. Talented individuals
Apart from singing, Filipinos have the talent, resourcefulness, and ability to shine in whatever field they belong. There’s boxing great Manny Pacquiao, singing superstars Lea Salonga, Apl de Ap, and Charice, and brilliant beauties Gloria Diaz, Margie Moran, Lara Quigaman, and Megan Young. Plus, many more names that I haven’t mentioned. Most of all, the Filipino has the spirit to rise above every challenge. You can just look at the residents of Leyte and Samar who survived typhoon Haiyan, or the millions of Filipinos worldwide who painstakingly do their work with their zeal and determination. We can take the example of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, who excelled in various fields and raised the bar of achievement, not just in our country but also in other shores.
Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao.
The year 2015 is really a big year for our country. Apart from the Papal Visit, the Philippines is also hosting the APEC. Many hotels and attractions are opening. If you want to have a meaningful travel, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for you where you can also help local communities.
When you come to the Philippines, you’d probably find 15 other reasons and more why you’d want to go back and have more fun in our country. And if you have visited Luzon, Palawan, or Boracay, there are 7,104 islands more waiting for your return.