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 2. Check Part 1 out.
6 Soak in to some heritage and culture
The imposing red brick wonder of Tumauini Church in Isabela just takes one’s breath away. And so does the interior of San Agustin Church in Intramuros, the oldest religious structure in the country. In many old towns, there are still many examples of bahay-na-bato houses, witnesses to the history of the place of which the ones in Vigan and to some extent, Taal in Batangas are prime example. However, those in San Miguel and Malolos, Bulacan are unique in how the exterior is embellished. In Manila, art deco edifices can still be found like the Metropolitan Theater and the Far Eastern University.
As Holy Week is near, why not join in singing the age old pasion during a pabasa? Complete the seven churches for the Visita Iglesia and witness flagellants as they do their panata or contemplate and reflect on the significance of Lent. When it comes to heritage and culture, there are just too many things to do and visit. Every town has its own history and best kept food secret as well as fiestas to attend of which the Pahiyas of Quezon comes to mind.
Know your heritage and culture, and you will know yourself.
7 Learn a sport or a craft
The best time to learn something is now! Head to the CCP grounds in Manila and sign up for a chance to work those arms and upper body rowing on a dragon boat. Try your hand at lace making in Lumban, Laguna or if you’re feeling adventurous, the vertical cliffs of Atimonan in Quezon, Wawa in Rodriguez (Montalban) and Cantabaco in Cebu offers several rock climbing opportunities from starters to pros.
A gastronome? Join several cooking/food tours that explore the cuisine of Pampanga and other provinces. And if you want to know some kickass chops and manuevers, the escrima (stick combat) clubs in Cebu are the best places to learn.
8 Go back to the barrios
Learn more about your roots by spending time back at the ancestral home at the barrios in the province. Get familiar again with unvisited grandparents, cousins and relatives. Know how to climb that coconut tree, drive that kuliglig, hunt for kamaru or frogs in the fields or just have a lazy afternoon bathing at the river or sea.
If you’re still young, have that summer fling for memories that you can cherish when you get back to the city or reminisce a few years after. If it’s fiesta time, don that traditional dress and participate in the Santa Cruzan. Life in the provinces is just slow paced and unhurried and where you are wonderfully pampered.
9 Travel abroad, it broadens the mind
Nothing beats a good vacation than learning about new cultures, languages, customs and cuisines. And most of the times, you will realize that what you think is unique to the Philippines can also be found in other countries.
Southeast Asia and Hongkong are good springboards for trips and tours. No, don’t go to Disneyland. Instead, linger in the old markets and hawker stalls, marvel at the Grand Palace complex and temples in Bangkok and befriend a Thai. Try eating fried chili just like the locals do without crying a few minutes later.
When in Singapore, try not to have another shopping binge at the malls. Just walk around and be amazed that at 7 PM in the evening, it’s like late afternoon in the Philippines. If you’re being adventurous, go backpacking, solo. Take the train from Thailand to Kuala Lumpur and when there, try not to be fooled by taxi drivers who charge exorbitant fares for a long ride to a near hotel.
10 Offer your time, volunteer
It’s not all about merrymaking and pampering yourself. Give your time to a worthy cause. Help people and change lives. Volunteer! Give a hand in making one of the “benetton” houses of Gawad Kalinga, so called because of the pastel, multihued colors of the abodes. Teach young minds in rural areas or if you’re religious, May is a good opportunity for catechism classes around the country. Join outreach activities be it medical or disasters of which fires are rather common in March.
Go green and help survey whales offshore. The World Wildlife Fund can be a good starting point. Releasing turtle hatchlings can also be an enriching experience.
That’s it. Top 10 things to do this summer!