In this post, I am listing the seven memorable places that I’ve been to this 2013. Although I’ve traveled extensively this year, these were unforgettable places with beautiful experiences. Thank you 2013!
Magpupungko Rock, Pilar, Siargao
The first time I visited Siargao was more than a decade ago. This year, when I went back with a friend, it was still a memorable place. We didn’t go out to surf but visited Cloud Nine, stayed at swanky Isla Cabana and were amazed at the beautiful tidal pools and rock formation at Magpupungko.
Other than Siargao, I made my second visit to Tinuy-an Falls and my first time to see and swim at Hinatuan’s Enchanted River. It was quite a trip: long bus rides, tired bodies but totally worth the effort and expense.
Loon & Maribojoc, Bohol
The earthquake of 15 October that hit Bohol and Cebu was quite tragic. I went around Bohol for a book project and seeing the old churches badly damaged was heartbreaking. But I wasn’t prepared for Loon and Maribojoc. Both churches in these two municipalities were reduced to rubble and I just quietly cried.
For the past three years, I’ve been planning of going to the municipality of Anda in Bohol. Initially drawn to the other worldly practices of mananambals (faith healers). But I only realized it this year and spent my Holy Week exploring the place.
I was enamored by it’s beautiful white sandy beaches at strip of coast which is the longest in the island province, enchanting and pristine cave pools, mystical caves and practices, a heritage church and a cult.
Last year, I completed visiting all 80 Philippine provinces with a stop in Siquijor. But this year, Davao Occidental became a reality. The 81st province was carved out from Davao del Sur and for the two years I was working in Davao starting 2000, I have not visited this part of Mindanao.
Armed with a free ticket to Davao City, I flew to the south, hopped on a bus and was on my way to history. Davao Occidental is rugged. But not wild. It has beautiful coast lines and mountains but, unfortunately, very less developed. I was just there for a day but the impression of undiscovered places made a mark that I vowed to visit it again in 2014.
Paris and southern France
Thanx to Photoquai 2013, where I was selected to exhibit my photography work along the River Seine in Paris with 39 other photographers, I finally stepped foot in Europe! Paris was just so awesome. I went around either walked or took the metro and marvelled at the sites: Sacre Coeur, Louvre, Notre Dame, and many historical and beautiful spots.
I then traveled to the south of France and went around the city of Toulouse, the towns of Perpignan, and Carcassone. It was a trip that, while expensive, was just too beautiful to pass as I was gazing at lofty cathedrals, ancient buildings and structures as well as savored delicious treats.
Barcelona and Terrassa, Catalonia, Spain
Barcelona and Terrassa in Catalonia, Spain was my other European stop. I didn’t mind going around the main tourist district of Barcelona: La Rambla, the Gothic Quarter… but god, so many beautiful and historic architecture and buildings, churches, and even the remains of a Roman temple! And Gaudi!
While Barcelona was abuzz, Terrassa was more laid back. I stayed at the apartment of my friend Eduard and there are also quite interesting structures that were inspired by the works of Gaudi. Catalan food was also memorable and delicious!
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
I have been wanting to step on Borneo for quite a while now until I got a promo fare to Miri in Sarawak, Malaysia. But a few day’s stay in Kuching, the state capital was not only relaxing in this laid back place but there are lots of interesting architecture, history and culture!
I liked hanging out at the waterfront along the Sungai Sarawak. Or just walking around the many old shophouses and historic structures that abound in the city center. There are even many interesting museums that are free to visitors. But of course, the long bus ride back to Miri introduced me to the rugged beauty of Borneo.