A glimpse of the Philippines’ scenic history and bodies of water

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On the east rim of the Asiatic Mediterranean, bounded by the West Philippine Sea, the Pacific Ocean, Sulu, and the Celebes Sea, lies an archipelago comprising over seven thousand islands called the Philippines. As surrounded by seas and oceans, the Philippines is known for its abundance of different bodies of water, such as beaches and waterfalls. The country is also home to world-renowned natural wonders like rice terraces and underground rivers. Barring from its wonders of nature, the Philippines also has a wide array of historical places and buildings that exude the magnificence of architecture and history.

The Spaniards came to the Philippines during the 16th century for the main reasons of spreading Christianity and acquiring a share in the spice trade. The colonization lasted for over 300 years and ended in the 19th century, resulting in the remodeling of Filipino culture and society, adhering to the Hispanic standard. Before the Spaniards came, the country had already established its culture, customs, and justice system. However, after the Spaniards founded a colonial government in 1565, the country’s habits, customs, trades, and language changed into something similar to that of the Spaniards. The colonization gave birth to the name “Philippines” after being named after King Philip II of Spain.

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The dark past that befell Filipinos in the hands of colonizers could be observed in areas of the country where colonizers primarily built their political or religious centers or where war and revolution happened. One of the most famous historical places in the country is the Intramuros in Manila. Also known as “Walled City,” Intramuros was strategically placed by the Spaniards near Manila Bay with a nearly three-mile-long circuit of stone walls to protect inhabitants, usually Spaniards, from attacks. It was the seat of the Spanish government and the center of education, commerce, and religion. Hence, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, Fort Santiago, and the old campuses of the University of Santo Tomas and Ateneo de Manila University can be found within the fortified city. Aside from sightseeing in different museums and houses in the area, nowadays, visitors can join Carlos Celdran’s afternoon tour or shop at Silahis for some Filipino crafts and Philippine-made souvenirs and foods like dried mangos and coffee. Visitors can also enjoy a Calesa tour around the city. The Calesa, or Kalesa, is a horse-drawn carriage, one of the earliest modes of transportation in the Philippines, brought by the Spaniards. Or just sit and relax at the Sky Deck View Bar and get a glimpse of a picturesque view of the city and the sunset.

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Another historical site and tourist destination in the country can be found in the mountains of Banaue, Ifugao. The Banaue Rice Terraces were carved about 2,000 years ago by ancestors of the Igorot. The Banaue Rice Terraces are man-made terraces located about 4,900 feet above sea level and used for planting rice. It represents ancient civilization and is a cultural treasure for the Philippines. It was even considered by Filipinos as the 8th wonder of the world.

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As mentioned, the Philippines is encircled by seas and oceans on all sides, which is the primary reason for the country’s abundance of beaches and other water-related attractions. Siargao is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines. The little island in the shape of a teardrop may be found in the northeastern section of Mindanao. It overlooks the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean. The island received the nickname “The Surfing Capital of the Philippines” due to the abundance of both small and large reef breaks on its shores. On the island of Siargao, you’ll find Cloud 9, widely regarded as one of the finest surfing locations in the world. Its waves are among the best in the world; thus, surfers come from around the world to ride them. Paddle boarding is a fun activity that can be enjoyed at Cloud 9. The Magpupungko Tidal Wave Pool is another well-known destination for vacationers on the island. The natural rock and sea-water pool known as Magpupungko may be found along the eastern coast of Siargao, and the best time to go there is when the tide is low. Island hopping is yet another experience tourists to Siargao shouldn’t pass up when they’re there. Local trips available will take you island hopping in the Naked Islands, Guyam, and Daku.

In contrast to other islands, Naked Island comprises nothing more than a little white sandbar encircled by clear blue waters. Because there are no rock formations, trees, or different types of vegetation on the island, as well as no eateries, it got its name “Naked.” The Maasin River is yet another well-known landmark on the island of Siargao. It is famous for its rope swing hung on a bent palm tree and its gorgeous outlook. Last but not least is the Sugba Lagoon, which features azure and green waters and is open to those who like to swim, dive, cliff jump, or kayak in them. The island of Siargao has the potential to provide further exciting opportunities and stunning settings that are just waiting to be found and developed.

In addition, beachgoers and adventurers should head to the northern coast of Mindanao, where another small island is just waiting to be discovered. One of the beach-filled islands in the Philippines that deserves more recognition is Dinagat, located in the province of Palawan. The Dinagat Islands are located about an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of the city, and they feature beaches with sand that looks like white powder, mystery mountains, pristine waterways, and fresh seafood that is mouthwatering and economical. There are seven municipalities on the island, and each one features several reasonably priced beach resorts and other tourist attractions. The Islander’s Castle and the PBMA Shrine are well-known attractions in San Jose, the capital of the province. Glenda Ecleo, who served as Governor of Dinagat Island in the past, owns and resides in The Islander’s Castle, a genuine white castle perched on a hill. The name “Lalaking Bukid” refers to the peak that can be found on an island that can be found close off the coast of the cities of San Jose and Basilisa. Pocket beaches such as Bitaog Beach, Duyos Beach, and Pagkawasan Beach are located there. These beaches are well-known for their white powder-like sand and crystal clear, emerald waters. On the other hand, the “female mountain” known as Babaeng Bukid, located within the Libjo municipality, is an excellent destination for hikers. Legends tell that Lalaking Bukid and Babaeng Bukid were the remains of Princess Dina and Prince Gat, whose tribes were at war, so they eloped and went to an island in the Pacific. Lalaking Bukid and Babaeng Bukid are said to have been the descendants of Princess Dina and Prince Gat. Nevertheless, they were dismayed by the islands, so they fled again, never to be seen or heard from again. Other tourist attractions on the island include Lake Bababu, a meromictic lake with a deep emerald hue of salt and free water; the Blue Lagoon or Pangabangan Tidal Pool located in a forested islet in Libjo; the Isla Aga, which is composed of limestone rock formations and growing vegetation found in Basilisa; and the Linao Spring Resort in the municipality of Loreto, which is famous for its fresh and cold spring water.

Lastly, but not the last on the list of tourist attractions in the Philippines, it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The historical Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located in Palawan, an archipelagic island along the West Philippine Sea. It flows underneath the St. Paul Mountain Range, running directly to the sea, and is more than eight kilometers long. It is renowned for its rock formations and caverns, which are home to complex ecosystems.

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