Philippines Travel & Tourism Guide

Travel Quotes:

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. Anais Nin

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience. Francis Bacon

Philippine Heritage Sites Destinations

Tubbataha, Palawan

Located at the heart of the southern Sulu Sea, 98 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, fragile Tubbataha Reef is a marvelous marine wilderness and a special eco-system much appreciated for its beauty as well as its scientific value.

In the heart of Sulu Sea, a wide expanse of sea that lies between Palawan and the Southern Island of Mindanao, nestles Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park. This unique 33,200-hectare underwater splendor teems with abundant flora and fauna of the sea. The name Tubbataha is a derivative of two muslim words, ""Tubba"" (meaning long) and ""Taha"" (referring to something related to shore, reefs, or lagoon). It is composed of two distinct atoll reef systems, the North Reef and the South Reef, separated by a four-mile channel.

Tubbataha's North Reef is a nesting site for sea birds of all kinds as thousands of birds converge there every year. Boobies and terns are some of the birds that fly into Tubbataha to lay their eggs. It is also a nesting site for endangered sea turtles. Its seaworld is a diver's paradise with gorgonian seafans, soft corals, and gigantic sea sponges serving as home to turkey fish, anemone crab, banded sea snakes, nudibranches, starfish, cat sharks, surgeon fish, bat fish, and butterfly fish. Rare fish can be found in the Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, like the unusual-looking Fox-faced Rabbit fish.

Because of its fabulous beauty, the marine park was honored by UNESCO on December 11, 1993, as the first natural site in the Philippines to be inscribed in the prestigious World Heritage List.

Ifugao Rice Terraces, Ifugao

The Ifugao Rice Terraces was inscribed in the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST in 1995 ""because of its great beauty that expresses conquered and conserved harmony between humankind and the environment.""

There are five major rice terraces listed which are similar yet distinct from one another:

Banaue. This is the most famous of all the sites. It is the artistic center of the Ifugao carvers and the Ikat weavers.
Batad. Located also in Banaue, it is home to the spectacular tiered, amphitheater-shaped terraces.
Mayoyao. Located in Banaue. The organic Ifugao rice, Tinawon, in red and white variety, is harvested here in abundance.
Hapao. Its stone-walled rice terraces date back to 650 AD and is located in Hungduan. Mt. Napulawan is located here.
Kiangan. It is home to two famous rice terraces sites known for their size and visual impact: Nagacadan and Julungan.

The Ifugao Epic "Hudhud", Ifugao

The UNESCO World Heritage List has recognized the Ifugao epic ""HUDHUD,"" citing it as among the ""Masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of the humanity.""

The HUDHUD Epic is the only Southeast Asian Cultural Piece selected in the UNESCO list. This was the first time that the UNESCO gave the awards. It was the second time that UNESCO honored Ifugao, after the province's famous rice terraces was included among UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1995.

The HUDHUD, once chanted, will go on for two to three days. The epic is chanted by Ifugao women, usually at harvest time, funeral wakes, and wedding time. There used to be many versions of the HUDHUD but the advent of Catholicism in the province has helped dilute this heritage.

The late anthropologist Fr. Francis Lambrecht, CICM brought HUDHUD to the international scene, which he claims has been sung by generations of Ifugaos since the late 17th century and still is a central part of the Ifugao life. The social characteristic of the ancient Ifugaos as seen in the HUDHUD showed a strong matriarchal society.

Vigan Heritage Village, Ilocos Sur

The historic town of Vigan was inscribed in the World Heritage List in November 1999 because of its outstanding development in architecture, urban planning, and landscape design. It also serves as a testimony to a cultural tradition which has disappeared.

The justification for inscription is as follows:

Criterion (ii): Vigan represents a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning.

Criterion (iv): Vigan is an exceptionally intact and well preserved example of European trading town in East and South-East Asia.

The name Vigan was derived from ""Biga"", a giant taro plant that grows abundantly along the banks of the Mestizo River. This river was central in the development of trade and community activities in Vigan during the 16th to the 19th centuries. Established in the 16th century, Vigan is the best preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines and from China with those from Europe to create a unique culture and townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.

Places to visit in Vigan include:

Calle Crisologo
Located at the heart of the Mestizo district. Lined on both sides by centuries-old Vigan Houses, it is made of cobblestones. Ground floors of the old house at Calle Crisologo have been turned into shops where souvenir items and Vigan furniture could be found at reasonable prizes.

St. Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral
Built by the Augustinians in 1790-1800 in distinctive ""Earthquake Baroque"" architecture. It has three naves, twelve altars, and a choir loft. Chinese influence is evident in its baptistery altar, brass communion handrails, a pair of Fu Dogs, and moldings on the façade. Most of the original church interior features are still in place. The octagonal belfry is located 10 meters south of the cathedral.

Arzobispado (1783)
The only surviving 18th century arzobispado in the country, the palace served as headquarters of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898 and the invading American forces under Col. James Parker in 1899. Its Museo Nueva Segovia showcases antique portraits of bishops, a throne room, archdiocesan archives, and other ecclesiastical artifacts gathered from various colonial churches all over Ilocos Sur.

Plaza Salcedo
The elevated elliptical plaza west of the cathedral features the 17th century Juan de Salcedo Monument, the oldest of its kind in the Northern Luzon. It was in Plaza Salcedo where Gabriella Silang was executed by public hanging in 1763.

Burgos National Museum
The ancestral house of Padre Jose Burgos is an excellent showcase of archeological and ethnographic treasures, antiques, dioramas of local historical events, and photographs of Ilocano heroes and achievers. A priceless collection of 14 Esteban Villanueva canvasses depicting the 1807 Basi Revolt is exhibited on the upper floor of the museum.

Mindoro Beach Resort, Syquia Mansion Mira Hills Eco-Park, Pagburnayan Jar Factory, Crisologo Museum, Terracotta Red Clay Industry, Abel-Iloco Weavers & Native Delicacy Makers.

St. Paul Subterranean National Park, Palawan

A picturesque stretch of a river, running for an unknown length that overwhelms the beholder, is the main fare offered by the Subterranean River. Emptying itself into St. Paul bay, this physical wonder was appropriately described by a visitor thus: "Nature sculpture is everywhere." Carved by time itself, unaided by the hand of man, there reposes a complete and finished griffin. Between stately stone pillars rises a series of steps leading from the water to some temple within. Then the cavern stretches away, an almost perfect rectangle with walls and ceiling decorated with many colors - surely the deft work of an artistic, designing hand. One sharp turn of the way and there appears a huge stalactite glittering like a chandelier from the ceiling of some great ballroom. Suddenly, one boat glides into a great chamber resplendent with colors and decoration like a stage set for a scene in some grand opera.

Ethnographic Site Museum, Palawan

Bataks and Tagbanuwas system of writing which can be found in the museum. The site museum in Barangay Cabayugan, right in the heart of the Puerto Princessa Subterranean River National Park presents two very distinct ethnic groups: the Batak and Tagbanua. These two groups show different cultural perspectives that play a major social context in Palawan in the conservation and preservation of their living heritage.

The Bataks are rapidly disappearing while the Tagbanuwa is one of the few remaining ethnologuistic groups in the Philippines still using a type of syllabic writing wide spread in the country prior to coming of the Spaniards. This system of writing has been declared in 1999 by UNESCO as "Memory of the World."

Batak, Palawan

The Batak, the smallest of the Palawan ethnoliguistic groups, are becoming extinct. Approximately there are about 1,780 Batak. A shy but hospitable people, they are of Negrito affinity. They occupy some thirteen settlements located along the seacost and in the interior mountains north of Puerto Princesa, in the area between Babuyan River and Barangay Malcampo.

Their language in Austronesian in origin. The Batak hunt and gather food in the forest. They trade forest products such as honey, rattan and almaciga resin in exchange for clothing, food and knives with their Christian, Cuyunon, and Tagbanuwa neighbors.

Tagbanuwa, Palawan

The Tagbanuwa, taga (from)+banuwa(village), are village dwellers. Their villagesare found along the coastal and riverine areas of Central Palawan extending between Puerto Princesa to Panakan on the east, and between Napsan and Birung on the west. The Tagbanuwa are southern Mongoloid type and Austronesian language group.

Rice, the Tagbanuwa staple crop, is produced with dry shifting cultivation technology. Root crops are grown small scale and vegetable gardens are kept nearby houses.

Fishing and hunting are additional source of food. Forest product such as honey and rattan are valuable trade items.

Philippine Baroque Churches, Manila City

The Philippines' Baroque churches are cited on the World Heritage List because of their unusual interpretation of a major artistic style. Baroque architecture, which was the dominant western style from around the mid-16th century until the death of France's Louis XIV shortly after 1700, reflects a life dominated by the desire to impress through exuberance and extravagance.

Although the style has produced celebrated works, it takes its name from barroco - Spanish for a large, irregular, and expensive pearl considered bizarre rather than beautiful. Baroque evolved as Europe was undergoing relentless religious wars; architecture and its ornamentation became tools to woo a congregation's loyalty.

The Filipino brand of baroque began in the late 16th century when Catholic missionaries came from Spain and Mexico. The local version contrasts with courtly Europe's rendition - although at first glance, there are the familiar gilding, florid floral themes, fully decorated pillars and fancy backgrounds. Four parishes in particular are considered of unquestionable importance to understanding the baroque attitude and human creativity.

Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church, Iloilo

In Central Philippines, on the island of Panay, is the Vicarate of Miag-ao in Iloilo Province. Its Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva is an Augustinian mission station built as a squat, massive fortress to protect townsfolk from Muslim invasion. Made of a distinct local yellow-orange sandstone, the fortress-church took ten years to build, beginning in 1797.

Miag-ao's church is ""the most outstanding example of the peripheral baroque style blended with embellishment [from] naïf folk motifs found in the Philippines,"" according to the 1992 report of Jorge Gazano, an architectural expert of ICOMOS, the United Nations' International Committee for Monuments and Sites. Any visitor will be able to translate the jargon into layman's language just by looking at the profusely ornamented church-front. Reigning over its fully hand-sculptured pediment is St. Christopher, dressed Filipino-farmer style with his pants rolled up, and carrying the Christ Child on his back. The holy figures stand beside coconut, papaya and guava trees ready for harvest. They were rendered by folk artisans working from their imagination and whatever guidance the priest, who had no architectural training, could offer. No similar tropical-Asian composition exists.

Nuestra Señaro de la Asuncion, Ilocos Sur

Another mission that doubled originally as a fortress is Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria town of Ilocos Sur, a province on the country's northwestern seaboard. The citadel complex was the hub for evangelizing pagan peoples living in adjacent highlands. The best way to appreciate the architectural mood is to ascend the church's grand stairway of 85 wide steps starting at the town proper. Another stairway descends to a circular cemetery overwhelmed by exuberant foliage and an air of romanticism.

San Agustin Church, Ilocos Norte

Moving northwards into the adjacent province of Ilocos Norte is the Church of San Agustin in Paoay town. Built from 1694 to between 1702 and 1710, it is the premier example of Philippine Earthquake Baroque, an architectural solution to the area's challenging, natural setting. Both sides of the nave are lined with the most voluminous stone buttresses seen around the islands. They are decorated with huge scrolls, and topped by decorative pinnacles. A coralstone belltower stands a safe distance away to spare the sanctuary in case of collapse. Originally, the church roof was thatched; and it is conjectured so that buttresses not only support walls but give roof access during fire and typhoon.

Source: Tourism.Gov.Ph

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Travel Quotes:

The attention of a traveller, should be particularly turned, in the first place, to the various works of Nature, to mark the distinctions of the climates he may explore, and to offer such useful observations on the different productions as may occur. William Bartram

Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water. W. C. Fields

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