North of Manila, the island of Luzon tempted me with some wonderful mountainous areas, volcanic landscapes and a beautiful coastline dotted with heavenly beaches. Heading up the west coast from Subic, the Zambales coast amazed me being dotted with laidback resorts, while the Hundred Islands , as they say, a favourite weekend trip from Manila, gave me an idea on what to visit this summer. As I remember, further along the coast, the province of La Union draws visitors particularly for its surfing. North of here is Ilocos Sur, known primarily for the old colonial city of Vigan, where horse-drawn carriages bounce down narrow cobblestone streets. This scenario made me go back to the ancient times. As I was able to remember, the area around the capital of Ilocos Norte province, Laoag, features a number of sites related to former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was born in the nearby village of Sarrat. Another spot was Palanan – the jump-off point for the barely explored Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. For many visitors, though, the prime attraction in Northern Luzon is the mountainous inland Cordillera region.
Highlights here include the mountain village of Sagada with its caves and hanging coffins, and the stunning rice terraces around Banaue and Bontoc. In the village of Kabayan in Benguet province, it’s possible to hike up to see mummies, discovered in caves in the early twentieth century. Kabayan also provides access to Mount Pulag, the highest mountain in Luzon, as I was able to remember being discussed as “Mt. Pulog”. Finally, far off the northern coast lie the scattered islands of Batanes province. For me, this region is the best in choosing destinations for a vacation.
When it comes to Visayas, I do love their place, especially Cebu City that of which includes traces from the Spanish and religious past, specifically the fight between Lapu-Lapu and Magellan in Mactan. On Mactan island, tourism is well developed. Many dive centres and dive resorts (more than 75) arrange day excursions and diving safaris to the surrounding dive sites. Not only in the nearby waters, but especially to the nearby small islands. Cebu became the country’s top tourist destination. Another place that I remember was Samar. Here, I saw the famous San Juanico Strait and the Leyte Gulf. I also remembered some of our histories wherein Magellan gave St. Nino to one of it’s Rajas, that of which was not burned during a fire incident.
Next would be the National Capital Region (NCR), otherwise known as Metro Manila. It is the center of Luzon and the capital region of the Philippines. Unlike the other 17 Philippine regions, NCR does not have any provinces. It is composed of 16 cities – namely the City of Manila itself, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay, Pasig, Paranaque, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela – and the municipality of Pateros. As I was able to remember, Metro Manila is composed of almost all the cultural groups of the Philippines and the primary language used is Tagalog with English as the secondary language. As we all know, the region is considered as the political, economic, social, and cultural center of the Philippines because it is the central capital of the Philippines.
The Malacanan Palace, the official office and residence of the President of the Philippines, and the buildings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines are based in Metro Manila. Metro Manila is also considered as the shopping center of the Philippines. Three “megamalls” are located in this region. Going to Makati, it was regarded as the main central business district of Metro Manila while Ortigas City is the second most important business district in Metro Manila. Another fact about it is that Metro Manila is rich in historical landmarks and recreational areas.
Located west of Metro Manila is the famous Rizal Park, also known as the Luneta Park. Rizal Park features the Rizal Monument, a statue of the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Near Rizal Park is the 400-year-old Imperial City known as Intramuros, a walled domain which was once the seat of government during the Spanish Colonial Era and American Period. Luckily, I was able to vist all of these and was enchanted by their atmosphere. From what I know, Many students from all parts of the Philippines head to Metro Manila to study.
Last would be Central Luzon. As what I remembered, known as the fertile central plains, the rice basket of the Philippines, Central Luzon produces most of the country’s dining staple: rice. And because of this abundance of rice and vegetables, the cuisine is simply superb—from the Kapangpangan biringhe and sisig to Bulacan sweets! It is also one of the earliest areas converted into Christianity by the Spanish 50 years after conquistador Hernando Magallanes first stepped on Philippine soil.
Not without a fight though. One of its provinces is Pampanga. These provinces further gave birth to noble heroes who fought for freedom against oppressors—all three major world super powers in the span of 500 years. Here, we can find medieval churches that stand not only as architectural masterpieces, but witnesses to a dramatic history. There are a lot of places that will lead us back to the ancient times. Apart from all of these, I enjoyed the lively discussion done by the group who presented it.
All in all, I was able to appreciate our country, and was familiarized on those places aside from my own. I began to imagine myself travelling from one end to another just to experience those discussed from the reports, though it was just happening from my imagination, especially the delicacies that I was able to expereince in class. This presentations are truly substantial.