It’s already March and one thing is for sure: SUMMER IS HERE! It surely is a hot time and other than indulging oneself with cold halo halo or hitting the malls for the nth time, what better way to make these awaited vacation months worthwhile than follow a list that I’ve drawn up of top 10 things to do.
This is Part 1. Part 2 follows.
1 Go fly a kite
The wind is noticeably strong, long sunny days and blue skies dominates from March to May while the school year has just ended. Call the kids, sharpen the knife and prepare bamboo sticks, glue and papel de hapon (Japanese paper). With a spool of string, hold, let go and pull that kite. Be it the simple sapi-sapi (the familiar diamond shape kite as known in Cebuano) to elaborate and huge contraptions called the binaki (froglike), bandera (flag) and other designs attached with a vibrating film that sound from afar. If making such is a hassle or skill challenged, ready made Chinese products are very much available.
Open grounds at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta and several kite festivals around the country can get crowded with flyers. Or why not just sit on the ground, look up and gaze at the skies?
2 Hit the beach
Sun, sea and sand. The country just abounds with gorgeous beaches from north to south, east to west. Hang out and get lost in the overcrowded coastlines of Boracay, Puerto Galera and Pagudpud in parties and raves. Here, you not only try to dodge other goers but touts and pesky vendors as well.
During Easter Sunday, the end of the solemnity of the Semana Santa (Holy week) means a deluge of bathers to public beaches. It’s a sight to behold as almost every available space is overtaken with people in the waters, drinking at some cottages, grilling meat or singing their hearts out with a karaoke.
But for the contemplating soul, secluded coves and coastlines are available but it might be an effort to find or too far from the city to venture. But isn’t this also the perfect time to hit the road? Islands and islets are just there, waiting for the intrepid adventurer to conquer.
And if you get bored lying under the sun, go underwater.
3 Go on top of the world, climb a mountain and experience nature at its best
Why climb a mountain? Because it’s there! We mountaineers used to say. Yes, the Philippines has hundreds of peaks and mountains, a consequence of its violent geological past, waiting to be conquered. It just takes a good amount of will power, fitness and a sense of adventure and taking on challenges. To conquer a mountain is to conquer oneself.
Be it the tallest peak in the land, Mt. Apo, or the leech infested slopes of Mt. Halcon in Mindoro, the three day and excruciating traverse across Mt. Amuyao in Ifugao, to the leisurely ascent up Gulugod Baboy in Batangas, mountaineering is indeed one of the best nature sport here in the country.
Waterfalls are always welcome respites from a hard day’s foray. Looking at Tappia Falls in Batad, Banaue after a long downward hike, or marveling at the longest cascade in the country, Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel, Davao Oriental or the three tier Tinuy-an Falls in Bislig, Surigao del Sur is enough to dissipate one’s worries and tiredness.
Other than mountains, and waterfalls, treks abound with the best hiking trails in the Cordilleras. Not only that, being with nature is such an invigorating experience.
4 Explore new environments
Batanes is such a wild country. Even looking over at Niadi Hills, you always feel its isolation, its remoteness and ruggedness. But it’s all beautiful. How can I forget the spectacular rock formations in Sabtang? Or tasting day old dried flying fishes? Or when I climbed Mt. Iraya halfway on my birthday thinking I can go down the same day but was forced to spend the night at a small house where locals prepare edible ferns? Experiencing first hand trapping and baiting coconut crabs was educational. Or woken up from my slumber at dawn with the melodious calls of “hot pandesal?”
At another island, Homonhon, this time, off the coast of Guiuan in Eastern Samar, the two hour trip atop the boat offered wonderful views but without sunblock, darkened my skin for a few months. It was there that I learned that Magellan and company stopped over when they entered the Philippines centuries ago. Or how, because of man’s avarice, mining has scarred the environment and caused a big portion of forested area to be burned. But little joys like having white sandy beaches facing the Pacific Ocean all to myself and eating fresh seafoods are always fondly remembered.
I always look forward to exploring new places and environments. These areas just offers lots of surprises and stuff that always amazes, enough to fill a lifetime of reminiscing and wide eyed delight.
5 Hit the road and travel like there’s no tomorrow
As I said before, reaching the destination is just one part of the travel experience. Hop on a bus or start your vehicle, board a plane or a boat and go to places you’ve never been to before. Then go to another place. There’s always new experiences awaiting the traveler.
Based in Luzon? Why not do a trip around the northern part of the largest island in the country? I’ve done it before and would want to do it again. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the Manila – Cagayan leg via Baguio and the Cordilleras? Want a longer trip? Then do the Luzon – Visayas – Luzon loop. It’s taxing but worth it.
When in Mindanao, The Cagayan de Oro – Bukidnon – Davao – Surigao – Cagayan de Oro loop is also worth a try. Or take a plane from Manila, land in Surigao, take a bus to Cagayan de Oro then to Ozamiz and all the way to Zamboanga City before going back to Manila should be something and I would want to try it this year. And the grandest travel of all, a continuous bus trip around the country that, I think can be done minimum a month which I’m setting my eyes to do in the future.