Gems of Luzon – Manila Standard
The Israel Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines recently hosted a webinar that would encourage its members and friends to start traveling again, albeit within the country, and free themselves from the bondage of the various quarantine restrictions we have experienced in recent months.
Fanibeth Domingo, Director of Region 2, also known as Cagayan Valley, and Marites Castro, Director of Region IV-A, also known as CALABARZON, were invited to speak at this forum very frequented. They each shared with the public the interesting tourist attractions of their respective regions.
The Cagayan Valley is in the northeast corner of Luzon and includes the provinces of Quirino, Nueva Vizacaya, Cagayan, Isabela and Batanes. Quirino flaunts its tagline “Your Basket of Happiness” to promote its many natural wonders – high, lush mountains crossed by many cool, clear rivers, some of which lead to beautiful tiered waterfalls. Tourists can even go scuba diving or go down the river rapids, for even more excitement.
Nueva Vizcaya wants tourists to “feel the vibe” with its historic World War II monuments and 18th-century Dupax del Sur Church, declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. And, to have a breathtaking view of the natural wonders of the province, you can go paragliding with a licensed professional pilot and enjoy the majestic panorama of the green valleys below.
Cagayan offers heritage tours of its historic landmarks, but the province is a big game fishing mecca for the Pacific Sail Fish, that one with a large dorsal fin that looks like a sail. When hooked, this fish performs acrobatics in the air and really gives whoever tackles it a long and arduous fight, which is why it appeals to adventurous big game anglers.
There is also the integrated agricultural school of Carangue, accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture, the entrance to which is a beautiful bamboo alley with bamboo trees forming a poetic canopy over the path.
Isabela prides itself on its 5,000 hectare bonsai forest, with plants ranging from one foot to seven feet in height. It also has a popular sanctuary for the Philippine crocodile, a critically endangered species which, to this day, is financially supported by Michel Lacoste, president of the famous global clothing company that bears his name.
And there’s Batanes which I know is on everyone’s bucket list. A late bloomer, this province only officially opened up to tourists during Senator Richard Gordon’s “WOW Philippines” when he was Secretary of Tourism. This province of 17,000 people welcomed a total of 49,000 tourists before the pandemic took hold.
Of course, aside from the breathtaking vistas of Batanes, we’ve all heard of and seen that iconic stone house owned by the Dakay family, and the Honesty cafe that was set up near the waterfront by a teacher, to serve travelers coming and going. from the island of Sabtang. It started out serving just water, coffee and cookies, but now it’s become a much bigger coffee and souvenir shop, still unstaffed, still with honesty as a policy.
CALABARZON is an acronym of the letters in the names of the provinces that compose it – Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.
Cavite is not only known for its historical sites, having been the birthplace of Filipino heroes General Pantaleon Garcia and former President Emilio Aguinaldo, it also boasts a wide variety of scenic attractions.
Tagaytay, with its year-round cool climate and the idyllic view of the volcano and Taal Lake, is the main attraction of the province.
The Buhay Laguna tourist circuit promotes the city of San Pablo, the largest in the province, with its seven picturesque lakes and its very diverse flora and fauna. It also pushes towards Nagcarlan with its famous underground cemetery, the only one in the country, and Liliw, located at the foot of Mount Banahaw, for its cold water spas, homemade sweets and baroque church.
Batangas has its Drive and Dive tourist circuit which encompasses Anilao, famous for its incredible marine biodiversity, making it a favorite destination for diving enthusiasts from all over the world. It is at the crossroads of at least thirty popular diving spots.
The multi-faceted province of Rizal has its FFAAN Experience Tourism Circuit, which stands for Food, Faith, Art, Adventure and Nature Experience. Among the favorites of visitors are Cainta’s ‘Bibingka’ and ‘Kalamay’, as well as the artistic masterpieces of Botong Francisco and the Blanco family in Angono.
Almost any type of traveler, whether a nature lover, an adventure junkie, or a history buff, will enjoy what these cities have to offer. I know Pinlac Falls in Infanta is a sight to behold. These and many more interesting places await those of us who now look forward to traveling and enjoying the beautiful sights our country has to offer…an affirmation that, despite this pandemic, it’s still more fun in the Philippines.
The province of Quezon is proud of its REINA tourist circuit, which presents the attractions that can be seen in the cities of Real, Infanta and General Nakar.
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