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10 Reasons Why Davao City is Safest and Most Liveable City in the Philippines

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With the new president of the Philippines, President Duterte, the spotlight has turned its way to Davao City with more and more Filipinos getting interested on visiting or even living in Mindanao’s premier city. Three times bigger than Metro Manila, six times the size of Cebu, and one of the largest metropolitan areas not just in Asia but in the world, the Philippines’ fastest-growing city has earned nicknames like “The Singapore of the Philippines.” Davao City continues to bring in lots of testimonials and news about its safety, low cost of living, and the best mix of things to do and nature. So, what is the fuss really all about? What’s in Davao City that makes it the safest and most liveable city in the Philippines? Here are 10 reasons why:

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Davao City’s Municipal Hall by OSOmniMedia Design Studio

1) Rules and regulations are strictly being implemented.

A favorite destination for study tours, Davao City is regarded as a model for other cities in the country. The local government is much admired not just nationally but also internationally. It has led in crafting landmark pieces of legislation, pioneering innovations in local governance, strong political will in implementing policies and programs, a high level of self-sufficiency; and its pluralist and liberal political climate result in significant grassroots and civil society participation.

Even with a population of over 1.3 million and an urban density estimated at 2,400 persons per square kilometer, Davao City’s crime rate still remains among the lowest in the country. This has earned for Davao City the distinction as the Most Peaceful City in the East and Southeast Asia for a number of years already.

The city contains also numerous medical  facilities, both private and public, with highly competent medical practitioners. There are three public hospitals: Southern Philippines Medical Center, Paquibato District Hospital and Camp Panacan Station Hospital, in addition to more than 30 private hospitals, excluding clinics and lying-in centers. Some hospitals are capable of performing complex operations from kidney transplants to heart surgeries, as well as providing luxurious medical tourism facilities.

The city also has an Anti-Smoking Ordinance implemented in 2002. Primarily, the intention is to protect the public  from the hazard of second-hand smoke.

The city has policies to keep its remaining environmental frontiers intact and rehabilitate those which have been destroyed by development and lack of concern. These are in the form of ordinances and issuances, prominently among them the Watershed Code, the Marine Protected Area Ordinance, the Ordinance Banning Aerial Spraying of Farms, and the Anti-Smoke Belching Ordinance.

It has also affiliated with the Clean Cities Coalition of the Energy and Clean Air Project of the United States Agency for International Development or USAID to be able to create the necessary mechanisms to help address the issue of global warming.

It also leads the Davao Gulf Management Council, which is now undertaking the Environment Sensitivity Index (ESI) on the city’s gulf water. The ESI is a combined satellite, aerial imaging and ground truthing which identifies areas where sea creatures including coral reefs and sea grasses thrive and those that should be protected.

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Davao City’s 911 by Rodincouch of SSC Davao

2) 911 Team always on-the-go.

Davao City is the only Asian city that has an integrated emergency response system similar to that of the United States and Canada, the difference being that in Davao City, the service is absolutely for free and totally subsidized by the local government. Central 911 responds to all kinds of emergencies : medical, fire, police assistance, natural or man-made disaster. The Davao City Disaster Coordinating Council has been cited as the best prepared disaster coordinating council in the country.

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Davao Light by Davao History Blog

3) Potable and safe water and abundant supply of power are available here.

Davao City’s tap water has been tested for quality and was adjudged as one of the best in the world in terms of cleanliness, safety, mineral content, and taste. No need for boiling, distilling, purifying, adding of minerals. The Davao City Water District (DCWD) is the number one water utility company among the 50 water utilities in the Asia- Pacific region.

Also, being the third largest privately-owned electric utility in the Philippines, Davao Light & Power Co. is the country’s most efficiently run power utility. The city is also the first in the country to have an  adaptive traffic signalization system and has a state-of-the-art traffic system similar to the system in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Davao Police by Philippines Lifestyle
Davao Police by Philippines Lifestyle News

4) It has high police visibility, low crime rate and vehicular accidents.

Have a holiday in the city that boasts of having one of the lowest crime rates (averaging 0.8 per 10,000 population per month). The Davao City Police Office has consistently been chosen as the Best Police Office in the entire country. The Davao City Peace and Order Council has been elevated to the Philippine Hall of Fame for consistently being the best performing in the country.

From Top Left (Clockwise): Mangosteen, Philippine Sashimi, Durian Fruit, Kinilaw. Photos by OSOmniMedia Design Studio and Women Daily Magazine
From Top Left (Clockwise): Mangosteen, Philippine Sashimi, Durian Fruit, Kinilaw. Photos by OSOmniMedia Design Studio and Women Daily Magazine

5) Low cost of living.

In Davao City, the ideal quality of life does not come at a high cost! When in Davao City, you enjoy the freshest and highest quality agricultural produce. It exports large volumes of banana, pineapple, orchids, and tuna. Its pomelo, durian, and mangosteen are sought-after by many, yet these remain affordable and accessible to the locals on a daily basis.

Davao City: Clean and Green by OSOmniMedia Design Studio
Davao City: Clean and Green by OSOmniMedia Design Studio

6) It has maintained cleanliness in its surroundings.

Davao City takes advantage of environmental laws which ensure proper collection and disposal of garbage. The city is known for its well-disciplined residents plus a localized version of Ecological Solid Waste Management Act which is now being implemented. A huge sanitary landfill in place, regular and systematic collection of garbage from fixed points, and proper segregation have maintained cleanliness in the surroundings.

Zumba in the Park – People’s Park, Davao City by Br. Jeff U. Pioquinto, SJ

7) Low mortality rate. Healthy lifestyle.

Live a wholesome and healthy lifestyle in Davao City! The city pioneered the regulation of smoking in public places in the Philippines that gave birth to the National Anti-Smoking Law. Davao City has been a recipient of the prestigious Red Orchid Award of the Department of Health in 2010 and 2011 during the World No Tobacco Day. It has tough policies against dangerous drugs, violence against women and children (including prostitution and human trafficking), and environmental pollution. It has addressed the concern over aerial spraying in large plantations and banned the use of firecrackers and similar pyrotechnics. It leads in the conservation of endangered species such as the country’s national bird, the Philippine Eagle, as well as the protection of the city’s watershed, coastal areas, rivers and gulf. Davao City boasts of having one of the most progressive and comprehensive reproductive health program in the world.

Davao_city_at_night

8) It’s business-friendly.

Surveys and evaluations on the best places for business have always cited Davao as among the best performers. These include distinctions as being the Top 10 Asian Cities of the Future by the FDI magazine of The Financial Times, the Most Competitive Metro City in the Philippines with the Best Quality of Life by the Asian Institute of Management and a long list of numerous recognition and distinctions as the city has received in the recent years. All these are proof of the continuous and decisive strides in making Davao City a home for many productive ventures and endeavors.

Mount Apo by Byahero Snapshots
Mount Apo by Byahero Snapshots

9) Davao City is the Food Basket of the Philippines.

Harvests are bountiful in Davao City. The cultivation and propagation of natural resources dominate the economic landscape of the region as the city is surrounded by many different plantations and stock farms supplying both local and export markets. With the richness of agribusiness opportunities in and around the city, it’s no wonder that Davao City is considered the Food Basket of the Philippines.

Davao City. Photo by Bernardo Agulo
Davao City. Photo by Bernardo Agulo

10) It’s a great place to live, work and play.

Davao City has been cited in Asia for its high livability index, where residents can easily switch between fast-paced business transactions and soothing relaxation options. It is considered a major tourist destination in the East Asian region with an increasing number of international visitors since the 1990s.

The designation of the Tagurano-Catigan-Eden Tourism Development Zone as the Mountain Resort and Agro-Tourism Capital of Southern Mindanao illustrates determined efforts leading to the desirable transformation of the city as the Summer Capital of the Philippine South. Additionally, the presence of world-class beach resorts both in the city and on nearby Samal Island (30 minutes away by boat ride) has allowed Davao to offer a complete tourism package for all visitors.

Beyond just visiting, Davao is also seen as a retirement haven for people seeking a slower pace, due to its relaxed atmosphere, low cost of living, and numerous recreational options.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Come to Davao and experience it yourself!

References: Davao – Life is Here and Trending News Portal


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Philippine Festivals: August

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Street dancers from Mati City, Davao Oriental won the Indak Indak sa Kadalanan street dancing competition and the cash prize of Php500,000, August 16, 2014 in Davao City. Photo by Erwin Mascarinas, InterAksyon.com.

Parades, street dancing, theatrical plays, religious or cultural rituals, trade fairs, exhibits, concerts, pageants and various games and contests – all these and more give color and life to fiestas around the nation. These celebrations honor the moments in history that has defined identity, culture, and locality in the areas where they occur. They highlight traditions indigenous to the locale.

Philippine Festivals came with Christianity, during the Spanish rule. Many of the communities in the country had a patron saint assigned to each of them. Fiestas were days in honor of them. It became a key to spreading the Catholic religion throughout the nation.

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Left: Pasigarbo sa Sugbu Festival Queen 2012. Photo by Archie Mercader. Top right: Manaragat Festival. Photo by Government of Catbalogan. Bottom right: Cordova Dinagat Festival. Photo by Archie Mercader.

Now, there are so many Philippine festivals. And they mean food – lots of them. Usually, houses are open to anybody who wants to eat. It feels as if everyone are friends with each other. Also, festivals could mean day-off to most employees as they are declared as public holidays.

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Photo courtesy of Rain de Ocampo and Wikimedia

Here’s a list to help you experience festivities this August:

DAY FESTIVAL LOCATION DESCRIPTION
1 Almasiga Festival Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental Governors celebration in the town.
Aug 1-4 Cabibi Festival Lal-lo, Cagayan The patronal town fiesta of Lallo, the former Cuidad Nueva Segovia – the capital of Cagayan during the Spanish colonial period is highlighted with street dancing, trade fair, Balikbayan tribute, among many others.
Aug 1-5 Padagyaw Festival Dumarao, Capiz Being held every year mirrors the spirit of unity and cooperation of its people. One of the few is the street dancing and pista ng bayan. These are the concrete example of group effort. From one fermented idea of planners, action men, and executions, they have translated their ideas and concepts into mass action of well rehearsed and well executed play, dancers, and graceful rendition of songs and dances. A delight to the eyes of the heart.
Aug 1-7 Pangapog Festival Island Garden City of Samal A thanksgiving festival celebration bountiful harvest features parade, indak-indak sa dalan, cultural presentation etc.
Aug 1-8 Mercedes Fishtival/Mercedes Kadagatan Festival Mercedes, Camarines Norte It is a fishermen’s celebration of thanksgiving for the blessings and bounty during the seafaring, fishing expedition and fish farming endeavors. The fishtival is also a moment of retrospect and recognition of Mother Nature for having endowed Mercedes with a gift of vast fishery resources, magnificent shorelines and other aquatic potentials and the wise utilization and preservation of ecological balance for the attainment of environmental dignity and beauty.
Aug 1-10 Sal-lupongan festival New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province Celebrating the fiesta of sal lipongan.
Aug 1-31 Buwan ng Wika Batangas A month long activity celebrating “Buwan ng Wika”. The activities undertaken are campaign for using Pilipino as a medium of instruction, hanging of streamer and short program.
Aug 1-31 Kasuotang Pilipino Exhibit and Show Museo ng Makati, Makati City A yearly exhibit mounted at the city’s museum featuring the evolution of Filipino costumes per region in celebration of the month of Filipino Costumes.
2 Udyakan sa Kabankalan/Charter Anniversary Kabankalan City A weeklong celebration by an agro-industrial fair showcasing the indigenous products of the farmers and the cooperatives. Creative booths that display these products are constructed by the different barangays at the city plaza.
2 Adlaw Hong Butuan Butuan City It’s the charter day celebration of Butuan City. It is highlighted by the thanksgiving mass, motorcade recognition of outstanding Butuanons & City employees night.
2 Palagsing Festival Butuan City A competition for the longest and the best tasting palagsing
Aug 4-5 Palo-palo Festival Basco, Batanes A cultural presentation of the different municipalities of Batanes, showcasing their ethnic group”s rugged yet storied existence.
Aug 4-13 Sta. Clara Festival Tigaon, Camarines Sur A celebration held in honor of Patron Saint, St. Claire of Assisi. Various activities are lined up including cultural shows, job fair, concert, fairworks display, beauty pagent, firworks display, battle of the bands and the highlight activity which is the Sta. Clara devotional dance.
5 Feast of our Lady of Snows Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental Nuestra Señora de los Nieves is the patron saint of the city. Parishioners celebrate the event with the Holy Mass and a procession around the city streets and capped with a cultural show in the local catholic school.
5 El Salvador Fiesta El Salvador City Agro-Fair/Parade/cultural show.
Aug 5-9 Bayombong Festival Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya The four day event features a typical fiesta with fireworks display, parade, peoples night, streetdancing and a beauty pageant competition. August 8 is also the feast day of St. Dominic, the town’s patron saint.
Aug 6-10 Pagpasidungog Festival Panit-an, Capiz Meaning to honor. The Panitan Municipal Government gives honour and recognition to every Paniteño who has given something for the social, cultural, educational and economic development of this town. Pagpasidungog honors those whose successes in life give inspiration to our young generations. This festival also honors their “KASIMANWAS” who brought fame, honor and recognition for Panitan.
8 Nalupon Festival Lupon, Davao Oriental Celebrating the feast Rean Daanoy
9 Bonga Festival Sibonga, Cebu The celebration is in honor of the town”s patron saint, Our Lady of Pilar and Santa Filomena. Among its highlights is the street dancing and ritual/showdown competition. “Bunga” is a Cebuano word which means fruit in English. This festival is a form of thanksgiving for all the blessings and graces the Sibonganhons have received for the abundant fruits found in their town.
9 Maliputo Festival San Nicolas, Batangas The festival is a showcase of local maliputo (Caramax Ignobilis) and its contribution to the growing industry of fish in the area. The people of San Nicolas enduring efforts to promote and cultivate the maliputo as a source of income to local residents is highlighted by a streetdancing parade showcasing the different concepts and themes of maliputo fish.
Aug 9-11 Fruit Festival Kidapawan City, North Cotabato Kidapawan takes its fruit growing industry to the streets literally as the city celebrates its annual fruit festival. There are cultural shows, a parade of local fruit products, a bevy of exhibits, street dancing competition and selected lectures on fruit preparation.
Aug 10-16 Cordova Dinagat Festival Cordova, Cebu The celebration honors the town’s most prized source of livelihood-fishing. “Dinagat” means “anything” pertaining to the sea”. It showcases Cordova’s distinctive cultural heritage though authentic traditional rituals and dances.
Aug 10-17 Pavvu Rulun Festival Tuguegarao, Cagayan The patron fiesta of Tuguegarao City. It is being celebrated yearly in honor of St. Hyacinth, which is being venerated at the Ermita de San Jacinto. Pav-vurulun which means comng together allows all members of the community to join in the celebrations from the well applauded street dancing competitions, drum, bugle and lyre competitions, beauty pagent, agri-trade fairs and job fairs, among many others. The highlight of the event is the outdoor cooking and pancit eating contest of the Pancit Batil Patung, a local noodle delicacy in the city.
11 Kaadlawan Han Samar Catbalogan, Samar Festivities to commemorate the foundation day of Samar
11 Kaahaan Festival/Araw ng Kinoguitan Kinoguitan, Misamis Oriental Display of various agri- products of the municipality Kinoguitan, Misamis Oriental.
Aug 11-13 Araw ng Cabanglasan Cabanglasan, Bukidnon Agro-Fair/cultural show.
Aug 12-16 Santones Festival Liliw, Laguna A five day festivity featuring the sweet santol and lanzones fruits raised in the locality.
Aug 12-17 Arandurugan Festival Guinobatan, Albay The festival is held to coincide with the town fiesta and as a form of thanksgiving for the bounties from the land. Various activities are lined up to drumbeat the affair.
13 Araw ng Tayabas Tayabas, Quezon Designated as the day for commemorating heroism of Tayabasins. The event calls for unity, strengthens social bonding and encourages Tayabasins to renew its commitment to service. Araw ng Tayabas pays tribute to the historical event in August 13, 1898 when the Spaniards surrendered to the revolutionaries of Tayabas.
13 (2nd Saturday) Pasigarbo sa Sugbo Cebu City In celebration of the province’s founding day, the Cebu Provincial Government stages this event where the best of what Cebu can offer is showcased. From world-class furniture and handicrafts, to the different delicacies that Cebu is well known for, this event showcases the talent and diversity of the Cebuanos to the world. The event is capped with the presentation of the different festivals in Cebu and fireworks.
14 Kalibongan Festival Kidapawan City, North Cotabato August 14 marks the celebration of the Kalibongan Festival. Kalibongan is a manobo term for a Grand Festival which is celebrated yearly in Kidapawan, Cotabato. The Manobos, Bagobos, and other highland tribes from the different parts of the province go down to Kidapawan to show off and proudly display their tradition and cultural heritage. The natives display thier own version of “party” with a traditional horsefight, a “blood compact” peace ceremony, etc.
14 Pasaka Festival Tanauan, Leyte Pasaka is a waray word meaning invitation to progress, health and luck for the inhabitants for the coming year. Religious homage, cultural dance parade in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption. A form of thanksgiving for the blessings received and a way of welcoming the visitors.
14 Caro-tao Festival Mawab, Compostela Valley Province Feast Celebration.
Aug 14-16 Kumbira (Food Festival) Cagayan de Oro City Food & culinary competitions sponsored by the Cagayan de Oro Hotel and Restaurant Association (COHARA).
Aug 14-20 Kalubihan Festival Jordan, Guimaras Celebrated in support to the National Coconut Week Celebration in recognition of the efforts of the coconut farmers and other stakeholders of the province. Activities include “karituhan”, a parade of caritos artistically decorated with coconuts and its products, poster making and painting contests. Hataw sa Kalubihan-games and cultural presentation, food festival and highlighted by a coronation of “Nanay sang Kalubihan.”
Aug 14-21 Kadayawan sa Dabaw Davao City Celebration of the thanksgiving, this cultural festival’s highlights include street dancing, floral float parade, cultural shows, exhibits, etc.
15 Lubi-lubi (Coconut) Festival Calubian, Leyte The humble coconut tree gets its day in the spotlight as the town celebrates its Lubi-Lubi Festival.
15 Feast of our Lady of Assumption Boac, Marinduque A celebration in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption.
15 Pasakan Festival Tanauan, Leyte Religious homage/ cultural dance parade in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption
15 Sirong Festival Cantilan, Surigao del Sur A war dance between Muslims and Christians, reflecting the Christianization of the early Cantillanons
15 Sumayajaw Festival Jabonga, Agusan del Norte Held during the town fiesta of Jabonga. It is a thanksgiving celebration for the bounties showered by the Heavenly Father through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Lady of Assumption.
Aug 15-17 Coron Festival Tiwi, Albay “Coron” is a Bicol dialect meaning clay-pot or potteries of which the town of Tiwi is popularly known for. Thus, the festival’s main feature is the municipalities pottery industry which is done with skills passed from parents to children and perfected through long years of practice without the benefit of written manuals.
Aug 17-19 Kumbira Culinary Foodshow and Competition Limketkai Atrium, Cagayan de Oro City A yearly culinary show and competition usually participated by hotels, restaurants, and schools.
18 Sundayag Festival Cagayan de Oro City A showcase of the Best of Northern Mindanao featuring Agriculture, Trade, & Tourism destinations.
18 Lumin-awa Festival Lubuagan, Kalinga A festival that showcases a parade, cultural presentations, fashion show, and field presentations from different barangays of Lubuagan.
18 Araw ng Alubijid Alubijid, Misamis Oriental Street Dancing competition
19 Quezon Day/Angono Day Angono, Rizal Anniversary of Independence , the residents of Angono led by the Municipal Tourism Office, prepare a weeklong celebration characterized by trade fairs, arts exhibits, symphonic band concerts, cultural presentations, etc. Flower offering to the statue of President Quezon is being observed, as it is also his birthday.
20 Pilgrimage to Joroan Joroan, Tiwi, Albay Held every 3rd Saturday of August to pay homage to the miraculous image of Our Lady of Salvation, Patroness of Albay. It is highlighted by a maritime procession where the image is carried by the menfolks down to the beach where a large and well-decorated trawl boat is docked. An entourage of similarly decorated pumpboats follow, carrying the pilgrims and devotees to the shores and village at Sogod where a concelebrated mass is held.
20 Bankaton Festival Lavezares, Northern Samar Exciting motorboat race in honor of the town’s patron saint
19 Coco Sabutan Festival/Quezon Birth Anniversary Baler, Aurora Celebrated every year in honor of the Patron Saint of Baler, San Luis Obispo, and in commemoration of the birth of a great leader and statesman, President Manuel Luis Quezon. The long week celebration features Coco-Sabutan Festival, street dancing, Search for Little Ms Baler and Binibining Baler, Historical Quiz Bee and merry making activities.
Aug 21-25 Sabutan Festival SanLuis, Aurora Province Highlights the importance of growing palm trees locally called Sabutan on the community’s economic wellbeing. The raw material is used to weave a variety of useful products and ornamentals like hats, placemats, fans and even native dress. The festival features native dance presentation among school children, trade fair, cultural shows and exhibits.
23 Anniversary of Cry in Pugadlawin Pugad Lawin Shrine, Brgy. Baha Toro, Quezon City Another historical event celebrated yearly with a flag-raising and a wreath-laying ceremony followed by a civic parade and a program.
23 Manaragat Festival Catbalogan, Samar Manaragat is the local dialect for fishermen. This festival honours St. Bartholomew as the miraculous Saint who maintained the richness of Maqueda Bay as a major fishing ground of the province of Samar. It is interpreted by colours, dances and the sound of drums that echoes through the deep culture of the fishing industry that stayed long in the history of Catbaloganons.
Aug 23-24 24-Hour Mountain Bike Endurance national Bilibid Prison Land Reserve Area, Muntinlupa City A competition among the elite and amateur mountain bike outdoor sports athlete from across the country. The event will test the competitor’s mountain biking skills in the varied crisscrossed paths of the NBP Land Reserve Area.
25 Tsinelas Festival Gapan, Nueva Ecija To mark the anniversary of the town’s cityhood, Gapan City holds its annual Tsinelas Festival, with street dancing, parade of floats decorated with regular to gigantic 7 ft. slippers the famous slippers bazaar. The festival is aimed at bolstering the new city’s claim as the North Slippers Capital.
25 Iloilo Charter Day Iloilo City Iloilo City received its charter on August 25, 1937 during the American Commonwealth Government in the Philippines.
Aug 25-30 Pasa-Pasa Ikaw Festival Pasacao, Camarines Sur The festival showcases the town’s rich cultural heritage forever reminding its people of the significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the province of Camarines Sur and the region, in general.
26 Alcala Town Fiesta Alcala, Cagayan The local government unit of Alcala has highlighted the agricultural products of Alcala town like corn and rice presented a lcoal street dancing versino and the colonial past of the town depicted in its centuries-old church – St. Philomene Church.
26 Higa-onon Dance Festival Cagayan de Oro City St. Dancing and Tableau presentation of Higa-onon dancers. a festival participated by diff. groups showcasing Higao-non tribal dances & culture.
Aug 26-Sep 8 Daragang Madayon Daraga, Albay A historical and religious celebration in honor of the town’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Gate. It aims to showcase tha cultural life of Daragueños. Various colorful activities are lined up for this celebration.
27 Native Manok Festival Mabunao, Panabo City One of the highlights of Brgy. Mabunao’s araw, this festival is in thanksgiving of the bounty given as the Native Manok is one of the major products of Mabunao.
27 Bahandi Festival Alcantara, Cebu A street dancing celebrated during the town”s fiesta honoring the town”s patron saint, Señor San Augustine. The dance expresses the town people”s joy for the Bahandi (Treasure from the environment) that were given to the municipality.
27 Cagayan de Oro Golden Float Festival Cagayan de Oro City A float parade and competition highlighting the historical and cultural interpreted into colorful and unique floats. The event is participated by government organizations, civic organizations and various academic institutions in the city.
27 Kaumahan Festival Opol, Misamis Oriental Series of activities such as beautification , parade of farm products , agro and trade fair, cultural shows.
Aug 27-28 Madyaw, Hugyaw Samal Festival Peñaplata, Davao del Norte Festival of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest and blessings.
Aug 27-28 Jinawa Festival Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte A local rendition of the classic Christian-moro conflict interpreted through songs and dances.
28 Lambagohan Festival Cagayan de Oro City A fluvial parade and a river festival with fully decorated outrigger boats complete with live band musician & ethnic dancers usually participated by various barangays of the city; this is also held to honor St. Augustine, the Patron Saint of the City.
28 Paladong Festival Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur A festivity of arts and rituals. The art of performing the ritual of “ladong” conducted by a “landongan”, a person who has the power and ability to cure as medium to call the spirits and relay the wishes to the clients through an offering.
28 Kalumunan Festival San Agustin, Surigao del Sur A reunion of relatives and friends during town fiesta of San Agustin celebrated through street dancing.
28 Kagay-an Festival Cagayan de Oro City A street parade and competition showcasing the Higaonon and Maranao influences of the city participated by various schools and groups.
28 Kariyawan Festival Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province A thanksgiving for the municipality’s rich agricultural harvest and abundant mineral resources. It features street dances depicting its wealth of cultural heritage and trade fairs.
29 Buyogan Festival Abuyog, Leyte “Buyog” (bees) dancer depict the origin of the town’s name in a well choreographed dance.
29 National Heroes Day SanCarlos City, Negros Occidental A celebration paying homage to people who fought for freedom, usually held with a cultural program and flower offering at the foot of the Unknown Soldier Monument.
29 Nagsabado Festival Pasig City A re-enactment of the revolutionary action against the Spaniards leb by Valentin Cruz and Andres Bonifacio in 1896. The historic revolution happends to fall on a Saturday that”s why the event is called “Nagsabado”.
29 29 de Agosto Brgy. Hagdang Bato Itaas, Mandaluyong City Travel back to history as the city observes its First Cry of Revolution against Spaniards in 1896. A commemorative program and an evening of Kundiman are special activities for the occasion.
Aug 29-31 Tilawng SaPagkaong Nan Surigaonon Food Festival Surigao City, Surigao del Norte A celebration of Surigao City’s diverse bounty of seafoods and unique Surigao flavour and food culture. An annual event designed to provide opportunity for caterer’s / food handlers and individuals to showcase their culinary talents as they create their own Interpretations of a uniquely Surigaonon dish. It is also an avenue for the restaurant staff and students to showcase their skills and expertise in basic restaurant services.
30 Siloy Festival Alcoy, Cebu The festival promotes the Mag-abo forest with its famous Black or Siloy, the town”s scenic white sand beaches and dive spots and in honor of the town”s patroness Saint Rose of Lima.
30 Kayaba: Guimaras – Iloilo Cross Channel Swim Iloilo City A cross channel swim to create awareness to preserve the Iloilo river, promote tourism in Guimaras and Iloilo and encourage endurance swimming as a competitive sport.
30 Mandaue Charter Day Celebration Mandaue City, Cebu The Mandauehanons celebrates this eventful anniversary with parades, games and variety shows. The Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry spearhead the holding of the Mandaue that will start off on this day.
30 Turumba Festival Teresa, Rizal This is done every year during the feast of Saint Rose of Lima called “Turumba sa Birhen” which means a unique dance dedicated to Saint Rose of Lima, the patron saint of Teresa. Song and dance rites are practiced during the turn of the 19th century up to this time. It is participated by children, young and old who dance with the accompaniment of the musical band. They are clad in colorful costumes with big salakot decorated with multi colored Japanese papers and dance their way from the church to the different barangays of the town. They get hold of any branches of trees and shrubs found on their way to use as their swaying instruments for the dance.
30 Battle of Pinaglabanan Pinaglaban Shrine, Municipality of San Juan National / local celebration of the Battle of Pinaglabanan, a Battle which sparked the Philippine Revolution of 1896. There will be mass at 7:00 am followed by wreath-laying ceremony
31 Birth Anniversary of President Ramon Magsaysay Iba, Zambales Morning activities which consists of flag raising, flower offering to the monument of the late Pres. Magsaysay. After the celebration infront of the Pavilion, the celebration was continued to the Ancestral House of President Ramon Magsaysay for the program.

Credits: Wikipedia.org

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Philippine Festivals: July

sandugo
Sandugo Festival. Photo courtesy of PhilJa.com

Parades, street dancing, theatrical plays, religious or cultural rituals, trade fairs, exhibits, concerts, pageants and various games and contests – all these and more give color and life to fiestas around the nation. These celebrations honor the moments in history that has defined identity, culture, and locality in the areas where they occur. They highlight traditions indigenous to the locale.

Philippine Festivals came with Christianity, during the Spanish rule. Many of the communities in the country had a patron saint assigned to each of them. Fiestas were days in honor of them. It became a key to spreading the Catholic religion throughout the nation.

combined
From top left (Clockwise): Lubid Festival, Kinis Festival, Sagayan Festival, Banana Festival, Banig Festival. Photo courtesy of GMA Network, Floyd Evangelista Flores, TheAmazingAmado, TripWow Trip Advisor, and Joanna Mae Figues, respectively.

Now, there are so many Philippine festivals. And they mean food – lots of them. Usually, houses are open to anybody who wants to eat. It feels as if everyone are friends with each other. Also, festivals could mean day-off to most employees as they are declared as public holidays.

PhilippineFood
Photo courtesy of Rain de Ocampo and Wikimedia

Here’s a list to help you experience festivities this July:

DAY FESTIVAL LOCATION DESCRIPTION
1-10 Banana Festival Tagum City Street dancing, agri trade fair to highlight Davao del Norte as “banana country”
1-31 Sandugo Festival Tagbilaran City, Bohol Bohol’s annual commemoration of the Blood compact (mardi gras parade) between Rajah Sikatuna and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. Highlights of the festival are the Sandugo street dancing & Mardi Gras. These dances depict the theme of “friendship among equals and international diplomacy” expressed in the participating group’s traditional culture.
1-2 Feast of our Lady of Guibang Gamu, Isabela Annual feast day of the Miraculous Lady of Guibang
1-2 Feast of our Lady of Piat Piat, Cagayan Annual feast day of Our Lady of Piat highlighted by the procession of the Marian Image being venerated for centuries.
1-7 Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival Cabanatuan City A celebration in promoting Nueva Ecija as the source of Carabao’s mil, with 5 cities / municipalities as top producers of Gatas ng Kalabaw namely: Science City of Munoz, Llanera, Talavera, San Jose City and  Sto. Domingo.
1 San Carlos Charter Anniversary San Carlos, Negros Occidental Usually celebrated with a Thanksgiving Mass, sports activties, concerts, parade, beauty pageant and awarding to the city’s achiever of the year.
1 Araw ng Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental Digos City, Tagum City, Mati Celebration of the division of Davao into three provinces. Consist of agro trade fair, civic military parade, sports competition, horsefight, tribal dances, beauty pageants, etc.
1 Sinugdan Festival Maasin City, Southern Leyte A religious street pageant as homage to the Holy Child Jesus,  with its theme – “One Beat, One Faith, One Southern Leyte” features the different festivals of Maasin City and the 18 Municipalities of the province.
1 Tanggogoan Festival Digos City Celebration of Araw ng Davao del Sur every July 1. Highlights of the celebration are Search for Mutya ng Davao del Sur, street dancing and tribal dance competition.
2 Araw ng Pasig Pasig City A grand celebration of the Pasig day highlighted by different activities like the Mutya ng Pasig Pageant, Dancing Parade, Outstanding Pasiguenos Night, Arts & Literary Competition, Palarong Pinoy, Kusina Pasigueno, etc.
3 Banig Festival Badian, Cebu In celebration of Badian’s Annual Fiesta, the festival showcases the Cebuano & Badianganon culture, tradition, delicacies & local products especially its famous “mats” (banig).
3 Feast of the Holy Cross of Wawa (Pagoda sa Wawa) Bocaue, Bulacan The feast features the Pagoda, which is a gaily-decorated structure riding on a huge banca that glides along the Bocaue River.
4 Sagayan Festival (Maranao War Dance) Tubod, Lanao del Norte This festival depicts the rich Maranao culture pageantry war dance performed by warriors & fan dance by the Maranao maidens held during Araw ng Lanao del Norte.
4 Phil-Am Friendship Day Baguio City Revival of friendship among Filipinos, Americans & other Nationalities accented with the sale exposition of variety products.
5 Araw ng Hagonoy Hagonoy, Davao del Sur Executive Order No. 596 creating Hagonoy into a municipality last July 5, 1953. Highlights include parades, field demonstration, trade fairs & traditional festivities.
8 Alegria de Isabela Isabela City A festival based on a legend that tells how the early townsfolk survived a raging storm, where St. Isabela was seen blocking a giant wave. Celebrated with a regatta & procession of the image and merry- making beside the cathedral
12-16 Lubid Festival Malilipot, Albay A weeklong celebration showcasing abaca hemp – locally known as lubid which the municipality is known to be the region’s major producer. Various activities are highlighted by a street dance parade where participants are colorfully dressed in abaca costumes.
12 Hudyaka Festival Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental Street dancing competition which depicts the historical events of how Laguindingan become one of the municipalities of Misamis Oriental
13-18 Tinalak Festival Koronodal City, South Cotabato An annual celebration of the Province of South Cotabato that demonstrate the importance of T’nalak cloth as the cultural image of the Province.  The variety of activities of the festival mimics the T’nalak cloth, being a piece of cloth weaved to varied designs.  The festival activities are characterized by its focus on people and development anchored on tourism, history and culture and Arts.
14-15 Sinarapan Festival San Buenaventura, Buhi, Camarines Sur Showcase the world’s largest fish locally known as “sinarapan” which is found abundant in the area.  Various activities are lined up highlighted by the float competition.
15-16 Subayan Keg Subanen Festival Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental A week-long trade fair/ street dancing depict songs, dances and other forms of simulated social expression of the rich Subanon cultural heritage
15-30 Cordillera Day Baguio City / CAR Provinces An annual celebration of the creation of Cordillera Administrative Region.
15 S’lang Festival Malungon, Sarangani Province A municipal celebration that gives importance to the B’laanl Culture and traditions being the original inhabitants of the place.
16 Pahinungod Festival Carrascal, Surigao del Sur Highlights include a Mardi Gras performed around the streets of Carrascal in honor of their patroness, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
17-23 Binuhat Festival Tagum City An advocacy celebration recognizing the rights and social contributions of the gay community in different fields of endeavors from technical aspects, business, academe, creative and performing arts that foster acceptance of their gender in the society.
18-25 Kinis Festival Panganiban, Catanduanes Panganiban is one of the municipalities that host natural sanctuaries for hard-shell crabs or locally known as  “kinis”. Dubbed as the “Crab Capital” of the island, the town celebrates its annual ‘Kinis Festival’ on the month of July. The highlights of the festival include the street dance competition, crab racing and trade fare (One Town One Product) that aims to promote the town’s crab industry.
19 Padigosan Festival Digos City The day is utilized to commemorate the founding of Digos as a municipality.
22-25 Libon Paroy Festival Libon, Albay Katalingkasan which means freedom and rebirth, is held in conjunction with the Libon Town Fiesta and the feast of its Patron Saint, St. James the Greater. The festival aims to revive the rich cultural heritage of the town and at the same time promote local tourism.
22 Kaliga Festival (Street Pageantry) Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental Street dancing, trade fair & cultural presentations in observance of the City Charter day.
22 Birth Anniversary of Apolinario Mabini Talaga, Tanauan An annual celebration commemorating the birth anniversary of our Sublime Paralytic.
23 Ibid Festival Caibiran, Biliran Ibid Festival portrays how the town of Caibiran got its name from the species of monitor lizard locally known as “ibid”.
23 Araw ng Nabunturan Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province Founding anniversary of the municipality.
23 Subilan Festival Batangas City An annual celebration wherein a ritual dance is being done to pay homage to the Holy Cross as a sort of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest.
24-25 Kinabayo Festival (Battle of Covadonga) Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte A re-enactment of the Spanish-Moor wars, particularly the battle of Covadonga.
24 Sinulog de Tanjay Tanjay, Negros Oriental A street dancing with mock battles between Moros and Christians followed by a reconciliation through the intercession of the patron Señor Santiago.
July 25-Aug 1 Buganihan Festival Compostela Valley Celebration of Buganihan
25-31 Balikcarcanmadcarlan Cantillan, Surigao del Sur Week-long activities participated by all Balikbayans.
25 Kadagatan Festival Cortes, Surigao del Sur A yearly thanksgiving of Cortesanons done through street dancing. Costumes and props of dancers symbolize marine life.
25 Panagsogod Festival Sogod, Cebu A celebration which traces back the roots of the Municipality of Sogod where the white and black sands in the area provided early settlers a productive livelihood.
25 Kutoo Festival Cateel, Davao Oriental Pre-harvest ritual of thanksgiving.
25 Saint James the Apostle Fiesta Compostella Valley Feast of St. James the Apostle celebration.
July 26-Aug 2 Tourism Consciousness Week Butuan City Several tourism-related activities are lined-up for the week such as Nightly Cultural show, Palagsing Festival, Laro ng Lahi, Photo Exhibit, Speech Contest, Quiz bowl, Sining contest in Butuanon Competition; Mountainbike, Motocross and BMX exhibitions.
26 Pakapya-Agtike Socorro, Mindoro Oriental The festival is being held annually to commemorate the town fiesta.  It is a ceremonial tradition practiced by Tadyawan Mangyans as a thanksgiving ritual to praise the Almighty for bountiful harvests.
26 Sta. Anang Banak Taguig River Festival Municipality of Taguig A fluvial parade in honor of the town patroness St. Anne. The thrills and excitement of the fishers are replayed after year by the “pasubo” where fluvial parade participants in Colorful boats and spectators by the riverbanks toss goodies of fruits and native delicacies to each other.
26 Kaumahan Festival Barili, Cebu A festival of revelry where merry making and showcasing of Barili’s agricultural products takes center stage which give rise to the tow’s agricultural and economic development.
30 Anniversary of the Battle of Paye Balimbing, Boac, Marinduque The first officially recorded encounter between the United States troops and the Filipino Revolutionary forces in the island of Marinduque wherein the latter in spite of poor weaponry emerged victorious.
31 Kahimoan Abayan Festival Butuan City A riverside festivity in honor of Saint Anne, Patroness of Agusan River highlighted with baroto races and indigenous games for men, women and children capped by a fluvial procession.
31 San Ignacio de Loyola Fiesta Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province Celebrating the feast of San Ignacio de Lotola.

Credits: Wikipedia.org

Go to Philippine Festivals: August —>

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Deal of the Day: Fly to Bangkok, Manila, or Singapore for Under $250

VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock.com

Japanese carrier ANA is offering great deals from the U.S. and Canada.

Thanks to some mistake fares from Japanese airline ANA, you can score a multi-city Asian vacation this spring for rates as low as $245. The trick to finding one of these fares is to use the travel search site Momondo and select different destination and departure cities in order to make it work. You will most likely need to either drive one leg or buy another ticket to complete the trip, but the deals are good enough that even with an additional segment you’ll still be saving money.

Here’s one example: A flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok, with a return from Manila to Vancouver, costs $245. That does mean you’ll need to figure out how you want to get from Bangkok to Manila and from Vancouver to L.A., but if you can be flexible and like the idea of hitting multiple destinations on a single trip, this is a great deal. That said, you may need to do a bit of digging to find the best routes for you.

manila

In addition to Bangkok and Manila, the other Asian city with ANA deals is Singapore. According to blogger Scott Keyes of How to Fly For Free, you must leave from one of seven U.S. airports (Chicago-O’Hare, Houston Hobby, Los Angeles-LAX, New York-JFK, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, or Washington-Dulles), but you can return via Vancouver or Toronto, with dates in April and May. Happy hunting!

Credits: Conde Nast Traveler (http://www.cntraveler.com/)

5 Places I Have To Visit In 2016 | Matt Gibson

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Photo: Matt Gibson

A lot of my travel blogger friends are always on the move. They count the number of new countries they visit each year and many seem to have the goal of visiting every country in the world.

I don’t.

Not that there’s anything wrong with traveling like crazy. But, working on the road gets quite hectic. Time spent on flights and buses adds up, and the constant search for fast WIFI also eats up time and makes you unreliable to work with.

Having started a new business last year, I appreciate having regular Internet and regular hours to be productive. And, as I get older (I turned 37 last year) I appreciate more and more time spent at home cooking for myself, exercising regularly, swimming, running, surfing, and riding my bike.

Choosing to spend more time at home is a quality of life decision. (It doesn’t hurt that I’ve found a nice little beach in a quiet corner of Thailand so settle on.)

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel any more. It does mean that I’m more careful about the destinations I choose to visit and how I spend my time there. I only visit (or revisit) countries I feel strongly attracted to and — when I do visit — I spend more time and focus on activities I really want to try.

If you’re even a little familiar with me, you know I love adventure. So, I usually seek out mountains (or volcanoes) and oceans, which are both well represented on this list.

These are the five destinations I want to visit this year more than any others, and the reasons why.

Nepal

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Photo: Rabi/Pixbay

Last year I visited Bhutan for the first time, which has strong ties to Nepal. The trip definitely reinforced my desire to visit “The Roof of the World” and explore the Himalayas and the country’s strong Buddhist heritage.

I’ve always wanted to visit Nepal. But there’s a more important reason why I want to visit this year.

In April of 2015, an earthquake rocked Kathmandu, destroying many of the city’s iconic sites, including the 183-year-old Dharahara Tower and the city’s oldest palace in Durbar Square. Following the earthquake, many countries put out travel advisories about travel to Nepal, which made it effectively impossible for anyone in those countries to buy insurance for travel in Nepal. As a result, income from tourism plummeted at a time when the country needed it most.

Last year — although I didn’t visit — I partnered with Nepal Now to help send bloggers to Nepal and get out the message that Nepal is safe and open for business.

This year, I want to visit Kathmandu and then head out trekking on either the Annapurna Circuit or to Everest Base Camp.

Iceland

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Photo: Guide to Iceland

Iceland has created a lot of talk in the travel world over the past few years. The dramatic Game-of-Thrones landscapes and geographic oddities have made the country popular with travelers around the world. But unique outdoor adventures are what have really peaked my interest.

Scuba diving between two tectonic plates in the Silfra Fissure is the underwater equivalent of Jasper’s Maligne Canyon Icewalk, which blew my mind last year, so I really want to try that.

In the age of global warming and glacial retreat, glacier hiking in Iceland — especially to places like the iconic Vatnajökull Glacier — is high on my list of things to document for my grandchildren.

As a Canadian, I’ve seen the Northern Lights a few times. But, like spotting a bear in the woods or a dolphin in the ocean, watching the dance of the Aurora Borealis is something I’ll never tire of.

Indonesia

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Photo: werner22brigitte/Pixbay

Indonesia is basically beaches and volcanoes. Over the past 5 years, I’ve developed a passion for surfing and Indonesia’s 17,000+ islands have some of the best and least-crowded breaks in the world — which is perfect for me because I’m not all that great of a surfer, so I prefer less-crowded spots.

I’m also eager to explore Indonesia above sea level — way above sea level. Indonesia has 127 volcanoes that make for epic trekking. Many of them (like Java’s Mount Bromo) are highly active, but are also said to be some of the top sunrise-viewing spots in the world. So, I’ll definitely be breaking out my trekking gear, strapping on a good pair of boots, and doing some volcano climbing.

Philippines

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Photo: Miguel Navaza/Flickr

This year’s visit to the Philippines won’t be my first or my last, but I can’t wait to get back to the lime green rice terraces, remote beaches, and mind-bending culture that made me fall in love with the Philippines so long ago. The Philippines is a country I’ll never tire of visiting.

This year, I’m ready to surf the world-famous Cloud 9 peak on Siargao Island, an island known as the country’s surfing capital. I also want to dive among the technicolor reefs below around Palawan. Palawan is known for its postcard-like scenery above water and some of the best wreck diving below.

And, if I have a chance, I’d love to get back Leyte, where you can be boated out to remote, empty bay to swim with the whale sharks.

Home

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Photo: Matt Gibson

This one may be last on this list, but it’s definitely a top priority. Over the past few years, I lived with a family who lost a daughter to cancer, saw my own father pass away, and have gained one niece and one nephew.

As much as I love travel and living abroad, for me no trip is more important than the trip home.

I’m not just me being sentimental about my family. I think, in general, people need a fixture of stability and permanence in their lives. A lot of travel bloggers I know have started to feel unsettled and disconnected after spending long periods of time on the road. Many of those who have been in this line of work as long as I, also treasure time at home.

Also, after living abroad, I’ve developed a new curiosity about the area where I grew up. On my last few trips home, I’ve climbed mountains I’d never climbed before and explored nearby Jasper and Calgary, discovering amazing things I never knew existed just outside my front door. There’s treasure everywhere.

There are a lot of travel bloggers running around out there selling a dream of perpetual travel when, the truth is, there really is no place like home.

— Matt Gibson

Credits: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Philippines: Passenger has entire plane to himself on Philippine Airlines flight

Philippine Airlines
A Philippines Airlines’ passenger had only empty seats on a domestic flight from Manila to Boracay. (Getty Images)

A Philippine Airlines‘ passenger had his own ‘private jet’ experience, when he found himself surrounded by empty seats on a domestic flight from Manila to Boracay. The only other people on board were the two flight crew members and two pilots .

Alex Simon, 28, an Austrian travel blogger, said he first realized he would be getting a taste of the high life when he was told the flight will leave in 30 minutes instead of the planned two hours, because he was the only passenger. “I was little bit surprised and I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was dreaming. Later, while boarding, I just realized  that it’s gonna be a special flight because this time I didn’t even need to line up,” said Simon.

Upon boarding the plane, Simon said he asked the flight attendant if he can take a window seat. In reply, the flight attendant told him, “You can sit anywhere, because you’re the only passenger.”

Speaking of his experience, Simon said, reported MSN, “It was an unforgettable feeling to take a flight to one of the most beautiful islands of the world, but to be alone and to feel like a superstar made it more special. I just had luck, I think, that no one else was interested on this day to fly to paradise.”

Simon who lives in Ischgl, Austria, filmed himself amongst the empty rows in air. Before the flight took off, Simon chatted with the pilots inside the cockpit and spent the rest of the time chatting with the flight attendants. Simon was heading to Boracay, a small island located 315 km south of Manila with award-winning white sand beaches.

In 2015, British passenger, Nigel Short, found himself travelling solo on board an Air Zimbabwe flight from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls. The Boeing 737 flight typically has a capacity of over 100 passengers. “I was served by two ladies and all of the announcements were directed to me. They would say things like, ‘Mr. Short, we’re beginning our descent’ … I fly a lot and have been to well over 100 countries. And once in a while you’re on a flight with not many passengers. But, there’s a difference when you’re the only passenger,” Short told Today.com.

Credits: Maria Khan, International Business Times

Philippines is a Budget Travel Destination for 2016, Forbes Says | Choose Philippines

A business magazine already said it!

American business magazine, Forbes, included Metro Manila in the list article “The Ten Best Budget Travel Destinations for 2016.” In the piece written by Alexandra Talty, founding EIC of StepFeed in the Middle East and contributor at Forbes, last December 2015, she noted that the Philippines “has long been overlooked as a south-east Asia travel destination, but it’s now starting to attract the attention it deserves.

(Photo from Paulo Alcazaren; January 10, 2016)
(Photo from Travel Insider Rehj Payunan Medina)

The Philippines ranked no. 4 in the list. She zeroes in on Manila, despite the pollution and congestion, as a capital city that’s just waiting to be discovered and explored. It is the home of Intramuros, also called the “Walled City,” which was  fortified with defensive walls during the Spanish colonial period to protect the seat of government from foreign invasion. At present, the old buildings, walls, and ruins are maintained as parks and heritage sites that serve as tourist destinations.

The contributor also cited Laguna, a province near Metro Manila, as a perfect place for adventurers and nature-lovers. It has the famous seven lakes of San Pablo, hot water spring of Los Baños, and loads of water sports at Caliraya.

Hulugan Falls, Laguna (Photo from Travel Insider Tobiel St. John)

Other places on Alexandra’s list are George Town in Malaysia, Xi’an in China, Barcelona in Spain, Thrace Region in Turkey, Morocco, Hungary, Croatia, and Puerto Rico.

What are you waiting for? Pool together your money and book the cheapest flights to the Philippines’ many awesome destinations!

Credits: Alexandra TaltyChoose Philippines

10 Photos that Prove the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo is Worth Going To

Nicole Villaluz/20 Jan 2016

 

We’re only a few days away from 2016, which means…another round of Philippines’ biggest festivals are about to commence again! Kicking off on January is, of course, the mother of all Philippine Festivals—Kalibo’s legendary Ati-Atihan!

Did you know that the Ati-Atihan is about 800 years old? The festival started way before the Spanish colonized the Philippines and turned it into a Catholic celebration. It was initially a thanksgiving celebration of Malay immigrants in Kalibo to the local Atis. The Malays, who were said to be white-skinned, would cover their bodies up in soot to make themselves look like the native Atis while they performed song and and dance performances in display of gratitude for the land and livelihood that was graciously shared with them. Thus the name “Ati-Atihan,” or “make believe Atis.”

With the rich and deep-rooted history behind the festival, Ati-Atihan has become one of the most (if not the most) popular festivals in the Philippines. To date, people not just from around the country but from all around the world would fly to Kalibo just to witness the grand week-long spectacle of vibrant and meticulous costumes, exotic dances, and the overall experience-of-a-lifetime.

Not convinced yet? Here, below, are 10 photos from the Ati-Atihan festival that will surely convince you to just book that ticket and go.

10. Statues of the Sto. Niño are a staple in the festival. When the Spanish took over the Philippines many centuries ago, they deemed the old Malay celebration a form of Pagan worship. However not banishing the fest completely, they did add the Sto. Niño into the mix, turning it into the religious celebration it is known as today.

9. Look at all the splash of colors!

8. The intricate design of the costumes is one of the best known traits—and pride—of the Ati-Atihan Festival.

7. “Hala Bira! Pwera Pasma!” This phrase is often shouted at the fest while holding a Sto. Niño to give praise.

6. Face paints are a thing at the fest, too. Not just for the performers, but for all festival attendees!

5. For an entire week, witness the streets of Kalibo be taken over by a spectacular parade of technicolors.

4. It is been said again and again that the fascinating thing about Ati-Atihan is the distinct positive energy that people bring to the fest. Just look at that smile!

3. Grand festivities aside, Ati-Atihan is first and foremost a cultural experience that allows you a peek into the rich history of Kalibo. Let this fest be a great learning experience for yourself, too!

2. If you enjoy good photography (or are simply keen with your Instagram shots), the visual beauty that is Ati-Atihan will surely blow you away.

1. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. After all, Ati-Atihan is a celebration rooted on friendship between two cultures. There are no divisions here. No matter the religion or the race, just come here with an adventurous heart and an open mind, and the wonders of Ati-Atihan will unravel on its own for you.

Don’t miss Ati-Atihan this coming January 8-17, 2016!
Credits: https://flipboard.com

Asia’s Best Beaches

Beautiful beach view in Perhentian Island, Malaysia (Shutterstock)

Asia’s best beaches – with extra thrills…

8th December 2015

There are loads of lovely places to just flop on the sand – but where’s the fun in that? Here are the South-East Asian beaches that offer a bucket load of adventure

Best for… Hiking

The beach: Telok Pandan Besar & Kecil
Where to find it: Bako National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

Bako is Sarawak’s best bits in microcosm – all the state’s seven vegetation types are found here, on a chunk of land brimming with wildlife and frilled by mangroves, rocky headlands and pristine beaches. It’s also criss-crossed by 30km of walking trails, enabling exciting hikes between deserted sands.

Beach at Bako National Park (Shutterstock)
Beach at Bako National Park 

A 2.5km route from park HQ at Telok Assam (telok meaning ‘bay’) passes a riot of fan palms and pitcher plants to reach the cliffs above inaccessible – but beautiful – Telok Pandan Besar, before continuing over an exposed sandstone rock and through shady forest to reach sandy Telok Pandan Kecil.

Best for…. Sea Kayaking

The beach: Hat Lo Paa Raet & Hat Tiikut
Where to find it: Koh Yao Yai island, Ao Phang Nga National Marine Park, Thailand

Think part-romantic Chinese landscape, a smidgen of Halong Bay and a bit of James Bond and you have the bay of Ao Phang Nga, which takes up most of the National Marine Park of the same name. Encompassing some 400 sq km of towering karst, gnarled caves, blue waters and maze-like mangroves, the bay is best explored by kayak: paddling is really the only way to wend between the sunken tree roots, find cliff-backed crescents of sand and duck into hongs, secretive lagoons reached via tunnels eroded in the rock.

Ao Phang Nga Bay National Park, Thailand (Shutterstock)
Ao Phang Nga Bay National Park, Thailand

One of Ao Phang Nga’s islands was home to Scaramanga’s lair in The Man with the Golden Gun; unsurprisingly, this is one of the most touristy spots. Instead, stay on the quiet island of Koh Yao Yai, accessible by boat from Phuket and Krabi. The finest beaches here are Hat Lo Paa Raet, where the sand sparkles and coconut palms sway, and Hat Tiikut, backed by casuarina trees.

Best for… Rocks

The beach: Hai Pai
Where to find it: Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam

Want to see some famed Vietnamese coastal karst landscapes? Well, Lan Ha is as lovely as UNESCO-listed Halong, but with fewer people. Technically, this bay on the east side of Cat Ba Island is the southern adjunct of more famous Halong, but fewer boats make it here, leaving Lan Ha’s inlets, 300-odd limestone outcrops, fish-rich reefs and spectacular beaches all the quieter.

Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam (Shutterstock)
Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam

Hai Pai (also known as Tiger Beach) has the requisite good looks – blue sea, yellow sand, picturesque pinnacles – as well as developed climbing routes if you fancy trying to master the karst. It’s possible to camp right on the beach too.

Best for… Sand

The beach: Mui Ne
Where to find it: South-east Vietnam

Plenty of travellers have discovered Mui Ne. But that’s because the coast around this little fishing village in southern Vietnam, about 200km east of Ho Chi Minh City, is backed by some of the region’s most impressive, Sahara-style dunes. Mui Ne Beach curves for 12km around a bay on the South China Sea; largely low-rise resorts back much of the shore, but the area around the original village, at the eastern end, tends to be quietest.

White sand dune in Mui Ne, Vietnam (Shutterstock)
White sand dune in Mui Ne, Vietnam

The dunes themselves ripple and roll just behind – the White Dunes are bigger, but the Red are more photogenic and fun to sled down. Indeed, Mui Ne is a bit of an adrenaline hotspot, with the surf swelling from August to December and breezes attracting wind- and kitesurfers from October to April – fun to watch, even if you don’t fancy having a go.

Best for… Architecture

The beach: Balekambang
Where to find it: East Java, Indonesia

Balekambang isn’t necessarily the best beach for solitude – despite this long sandy stretch’s remote location on East Java’s south coast, it can be busy at weekends. But that’s because people come to see its unusual architecture: at one end of the beach, a bridge runs from land-side Wisanggeni Island to the tiny outcrop of Ismoyo Island, around 100m off shore.

Balekambang beach temple (Dreamstime)
Balekambang beach temple 
The rock is topped by a Hindu temple, where offerings are made to the sea – especially in the three days before Nyepi (Hindu Balinese New Year; usually in March). Visit the temple and laze on the tree-backed sand before heading inland: the steamy calderas of Mount Bromo National Park are just to the north.

Best for… Adventure

The beach: Secret Beach
Where to find it: Bacuit Bay, Palawan, Philippines

It’s tough to pick a best beach from the many on offer around sublime Bacuit Bay. Off the north-west coast of Palawan, this scatter of karst islets and outcrops, incised by jungly rivers and highlighted by luminous strips of sand, is one big sand-lover’s fantasy. But Secret Beach offers extra thrills.

Bacuit Bay view from Taraw Cliff (Shutterstock)
Bacuit Bay view from Taraw Cliff 
Hidden away on Matinloc Island, enclosed in towering craggy cliffs, this scrap of white fringes an almost inaccessible sinkhole. Almost. You need to take a boat and drop anchor by a tiny crack in the rock, then swim underwater, avoiding the boulder almost blocking the other side, to emerge in a magical fish-filled bowl, where the waters lap rock walls as well as that tiny little beach. It’s best visited at noon, when sunlight streams in.

Best for… Birds

The beach: Koh Thmei
Where to find it: Ream National Park, Cambodia

Ream National Park, a wild expanse of mountains, mangrove swamps, coastal forest, coral reefs and clear rivers in southern Cambodia, also comprises two islands. And one of those, Koh Thmei, is the ideal escape for bird-loving beach-goers. There’s just one rustic, eco-minded accommodation option here: the cunningly named Koh Thmei Resort, an hour-long boat trip from the mainland fishing village of Koh Kchhang (a 45-minute drive from Sihanoukville).

Small beach at Ream National Park, Cambodia (Shutterstock)
Small beach at Ream National Park, Cambodia

Its simple cabins sit on a fluff of yellow, shell-scattered sand and make a good base for both snorkelling and staring at the skies: around 150 species of birds – including grey-headed fish eagle, white-bellied sea eagle and Brahminy kite – live in Ream. Dolphins are often spotted playing offshore too.

Best for… Snorkelling

The beach: Pink Beach
Where to find it: Komodo Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

The region just west of Flores is best known its oversize lizards: big, black Komodo dragons maraud on the dry, hilly islands of Komodo and Rinca. But this area, protected within a national park, is also an exceptional place to take to the seas. Pantai Merah (Pink Beach) is a pretty prospect – formed from fragments of red corals, it has an unusual rosy tinge.

Pink Beach in Komodo National Park (Shutterstock)
Pink Beach in Komodo National Park 
But offshore it’s even more colourful – there is world-class snorkelling directly from the beach, the sand sloping right into a pristine reef of vibrant corals and sponges, teeming with technicolour fishes. These waters also offer chances to see snappers, parrotfish, the occasional turtle, reef sharks, manta rays, dolphins and dugongs.

Best for… Local Culture

The beach: Ma kyone Galet
Where to find it: Bo Cho Island, Myeik Archipelago, Burma

There are more than 800 islands in the Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago, and goodness knows how many beaches. But the sand fronting the village of Ma Kyone Galet isn’t just forest-fringed and pretty, it’s a prime place for meeting Burma’s Moken – the so-called sea gypsies. The Moken traditionally live their whole lives on the ocean, coming ashore only in the roughest weather, but recent years have seen several hundred settled on Bo Cho.

Giant reclining Buddha at the harbor of Myeik (Shutterstock)
Giant reclining Buddha at the harbor of Myeik 

Dropping anchor here, you can stroll along the sandy main street, lined with shops and stilt houses; you can walk up to the small Buddhist temple; and you can watch the men bring the catch ashore in the morning before feasting on the freshest of fish for lunch. The best way to get there, and to the rest of the Myeik Archipelago, is on a multi-day cruise expedition from Kawthaung, southern Burma.

Best for… Location Kudos

The beach: White Sand Beach
Where to find it: Samosir Island, Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia

This particular sliver of waterfront sits on an island within the world’s biggest crater lake, dimpling the island of Sumatra. As you laze on the pale grains, Lake Toba laps the shore, water buffalo work the surrounding pastures and the rugged edges of the vast caldera lie off in the distance – a compelling view.

Batak house on Samosir Island (Shutterstock)
Batak house on Samosir Island 

The beach hugs Tuk Tuk, Samosir’s main tourism hub, where boats zip across from Parapat. The village also offers an intro to the island’s Batak people and their culture – a mix of Christian and animist beliefs, puppet dances, stilted rumah bolon houses and cannibalism (phased out in the 19th century). Head south to the traditional settlement of Tomok to see the elaborately painted and gabled houses, neat rice barns and the impressive tomb of a key Batak chief.

Best for… Turtles

The beach: Turtle Sanctuary Beach
Where to find it: Perhentian Besar, Malaysia

Sunshine, salt-white sand, crystal-clear seas… the Perhentian Islands, off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, tick the basic beachbeauty box. But on larger Perhentian Besar, a 30-minute speedboat ride from Kuala Besut, there is also the opportunity to join a local community-focused Ecoteer project to help protect the region’s endangered sea turtles.

Pulau Perhentian Kecil island, Malaysia (Shutterstock)
Pulau Perhentian Kecil island, Malaysia

Tasks include night patrols to safeguard females that come onto the beach to nest as well as active daytime research: the seas here offer high-visibility snorkelling, and volunteers collect data on the habits of individual turtles while swimming alongside them.

 

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