Travel is a palliative for the weary soul/sole. And the best thing that happens when we are out there? Getting our own wow moments! Wow as in surprised at such spectacular sceneries. Or in awe at such beautiful experiences. It comes unexpected or what you just read or see in photos and books, you are experiencing it first hand. Everytime we think about it, it makes us smile and makes us relieve such wonderful memories.
In no particular order, these are my WOW MOMENTS this 2014!
1 Getting close to the fabled island cliffs of El Nido for the first time
I got speechless the first time I saw the soaring island cliffs of El Nido in Palawan. But getting close to these spectacular natural formations was priceless! It’s at the same time humbling that one is just dwarfed when passing by. Looking at these rock formations, you just appreciate even more how beautiful the Philippines really is.
READ MORE: Stunning El Nido in Palawan
2 Enjoying a swim at Bantigue Island’s sandbar
I traveled to Isla Gigantes in Carles, Iloilo to unplug, meaning, to go offline as I celebrate a few days alone during my birth week. One of the fun things to do there is to go island hopping and Bantigue Island’s sand bar is part of this tour. I hired myself an outrigger boat and for the rest of the day, I just enjoyed myself swimming in the different island beaches. But swimming at the cool waters of the sandbar was just one of the most memorable ones. I can’t explain it, really, but I just loved the water there very much and I just had a great time!
READ MORE: Swimming at a stunning Isla Gigantes sandbar
3 Night transit across the sea under a blanket of stars
I was speechless and just smiling silly when I gazed up a moonless night while in transit from Brother Island when the full universe came out to shine. There were millions of stars in constellations, at the Milky Way. There was Jupiter and Saturn. All these while riding an outrigger boat, banca across a very calm sea. It was a glorious moment!
4 Seeing the biggest, creepiest balete (banyan) tree in my life at a cemetery
I went to the cemetery of Jimenez in Misamis Occidental to check if there was a Spanish colonial era structure present, considering that this town has one of the best preserved colonial heritage church in Mindanao. While I found the walls and entrance stone arch intact, it was this giant balete tree that wowed me! Creepy because it was at the center of the cemetery but it was also kind of spookingly spectacular!
5 Spectacular Tagpeo Falls in Tubo, Abra
It was one of the best and very difficult adventures that I’ve done in my life but the effort of going to Tubo for almost four hours on the road and a six to seven hour trek to one of Cordillera’s least explored, and inaccessible province, Abra, Tagpeo Falls is a fitting reward after all the effort. Towering at almost 400 meters, it’s the most spectacular horsetail type of waterfall, and the highest, that I’ve seen in the Philippines. Never mind if there were lots of blood leeches (limatik) along the trail.
6 Lost at the Malatapay weekend livestock market
Under the sparse shade of coconut trees, this dusty patch of land near the jump off point to Apo Island in Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental comes to life every Wednesday as livestock farmers and buyers converge in one of the most vibrant such markets in this island. Seeing all these cows, goats, pigs, horses and carabaos intermingling, being sold off, paraded and shown for buyers is such a spectacular sight that I got lost in the thick while photographing.
READ MORE: Photo essay: The Malatapay livestock market
7 Climbing up Mindanao’s tallest tree house
The farther we went up, the more it wobbled. but I wasn’t fazed. One step at a time and I was at the top of Mindanao’s tallest tree house. At around 120 ft from the base of the tree, and located at the Cogon Eco Park Complex which is 22 km from Dipolog City, the forest view from the top is just so spectacular!
READ MORE: Climbing up Mindanao’s tallest treehouse
8 Boat like grave markers of the Badjaos
One of the reasons I got excited with visiting Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga City is to see the Badjao/Sama/Tausug cemetery there. And, oh boy, when I finally visited it, I was in awe. Human effigies riding boat like grave markers gives you a peek of the culture and heritage of these sea borne people. And to learn about them, even through this ritual practice, is priceless!
READ MORE: Boat-like grave markers at a Badjao cemetery
9 Seeing five volcanoes in one spot in Bicol
Seeing Mayon and Isarog for the first time is memorable. But seeing five volcanoes in one spot? That’s unbelievable! Well, at first but once you get to the spot along a highway in Ocampo, Camarines Sur, there, four are lined up in one side, especially on a good day: Mayon, Masaraga, Asog and Malinao volcanoes. Behind is Mt. Isarog!
READ MORE: Where to see 5 volcanoes in one spot
10 Seeing the spectacular town of Sitangkai for the first time
Nothing prepared me on seeing the town on stilts that is Sitangkai, at the southwestern edge of the Philippines. It’s around 2 hours from Malaysia and being there, walking on those wooden foot bridges, passing through the main canal and spending a total of five days there was quite magical! I didn’t think this kind of town existed in the Philippines and it’s so out of this world!