2008 has been blessed with so many travels. I actually had a very very hard time deciding the best-of-the best on all the destinations visited on 2008. While each destination offers something unique on its own, each decision is based on my deep experience which characteristics resonates most on the place. So this ‘best-of’ is based on my personal opinion but feel free to share what you think. So here goes….
Best Fun/Party Destination – Boracay Island, Aklan
While I may not fully agree with the overblown development happening on the island of Boracay I can’t deny that Boracay is an ideal place if you are looking more into parties or fun with barkada (friends) on a beautiful white beach setting. There’s a bunch of activities here to keep you occupied and the wide array of food choices for the voracious eater. While you can visit Boracay anytime of the year It’s best to go during the first quarter of the year where there’s a lof of happening on the island.
Best Beach – White Island, Camiguin
If you want an unadulterated beach, pure white beach, free of vegetation and annoying establishments, this is the perfect place. An island sandbar, wide and desolate. One of a kind island in the Philippines.
Best Beach Island Resort – Nagarao Island, Guimaras
This island really placed an enchantment on me. It’s a wonderful little island off the south coast of Guimaras. What charmed me most here is the vegetation, landscaping and the quaint accommodations they have. The beach have a variety of ruggedness and fine ones too. This windswept island is perfect place if you want to just have a quiet getaway closer to nature and away from the crowd.
Best Waterfalls – Tuasan Falls, Camiguin
I realized I have visited only a few waterfalls this year but the best one I have seen is deep inside the Volcano Island of Camiguin which is the Tuasan Falls. It’s almost an hour hike through the forest, boulders and some river crossings but seeing this layered falls sure is worth it. It doesn’t have the height of the nearby Katibawasan but its layers of pools is much more majestic.
Best Mountain Climbs – Bud Bongao, Tawi-Tawi and Emeishan, China
I only had very little climbs in 2008 but the ones I like locally and internationally are both sacred mountains. in China I was able to climb one of the Four Sacred Buddhist mountains – Emeishan. This 3,099m mountain boast stunning above the cloud views, temples and of course a bit of snow. In the Philippines the petite mountain of Bud Bongao in Tawi-tawi was another uniquely fond experience. Bud Bongao stands only about 390m and is a very sacred Muslim Mountain. The experience of climbing with numerous Macaque monkey companions along the trail and leaving knots of wishes was really memorable. Muslims in Tawi-tawi said that you haven’t been to Tawi-tawi if you haven’t climbed Bud Bongao.
Best Natural Wonders – Coron, Palawan and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Two countries and two destinations that have a big similarity came into this one. The thousands of karst wonders of Ha Long bay Vietnam is a truly wondrous sight. But not left behind despite its smaller numbers, the Karst wonders of Coron Palawan and its crystal clear lakes is more scenic than the former.
Best Architectural Wonder – Leshan Giant Buddha and Miagao Church
Two religious structures from two countries were my favorite architectural wonders. The Giant Buddha of Lehsan which is the tallest Buddha structure in the world shows how belief and fate can change the currents of flow of a river. While the beautiful fortress church of Miagao displays how religious inspiration produced the elegant base reliefs on its church facade.
Best Scenic Destination – Batanes
This northern province never sieze to amaze. No doubt one of the most scenic places in our country. Landscape photographers will find this as heaven. Romantics and poets will find this a paradise. Not to mention the honest and kind people of Batanes makes this place almost a utopia. I was fortunate to visit this place last 2008 but am planning to get back here for a longer stay to re-visit and explore the distant island of Itbayat.
Best Adventure Travel – China South West and Central
With more than 2000 miles within China, 5 provinces, 4 UNESCO sites, 11 days and a budget of less than Php 30,000 which includes all airfares from Manila, transfers within China, park fees, food and accommodations this was my most ambitious trip last year. It was quite an experience that I’m hoping to top this year.
Best International Destination – Sichuan, China
Going deep into Mainland China in Sichuan province is another unforgettable travel in 2008. Climbing the sacred mountain of Emei, looking up from the foot of a Giant Buddha, getting up close to the gentle Pandas, tasting the fiery dishes and experiencing its culture will surely make its mark in memory for quite some time. While the province suffered a major earthquake, it is fast in picking up the pieces.
Best Philippines Travel Destination – Bongao, Tawi-Tawi
Of all the travels within the Philippines, Tawi-tawi is the destination that suprised me most. So many myths and misconception (mostly brought about by Bad Media Coverage) about this place has been broken when I visited here. It’s a melting pot of culture and the most ideal co-existence of religions I’ve seen in a place. More that I really miss is the warm and kind people we met, and the cultural experience here that go along with the place. It’s a destination I’m definitely sure to come back to.
A Glimpse of 2009
In terms of the blog post, expect to see entries more on Camiguin and Tawi-Tawi. For travel I already have another 2 weeks major travel this first quarter and am just finalizing logistics and more local destinations. If you have any ideas in mind or suggested destinations drop a comment here. You might get yourself some goodies.
Thank you very much for the great 2008. It’s YOU readers who keep me inspired sharing more travel adventures and photography in this blog. More blessings and travels this 2009!
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.