The Halsema Highway is one of the Philippine’s engineering feats. Its 130kms road stretching from La Trinidad Benguet to the Bontoc Mountain Province has an elevation of up to 7400 feet. It is the highest highway in the Philippines and is one of the most scenic drives you can experience in the country. Whenever I embark on a 6 hour journey from Baguio to Sagada via public transportation, I’ve always wished I could somehow stop for a while on some points of the road. That came into a realization when I became the local guide and assistant photography mentor for Jim Cline’s first Philippine’s Photo Tour led by Humanitarian Photojournalist Karl Grobl. With our own mini-bus at our disposal, the group made a few interesting stops along the Halsema Highway.
Sometimes I just want to be selfish and keep a place to myself, I thought while I was gently swaying on a hammock, under the trees, with refreshing breeze blowing, view of blinding white sands, deep blue horizon and birds enthusiastically in concert above me. But then again, people will always find a way to discover a place like this Nagsasa Cove in San Antonio Zambales. And once word gets out, people would flock here. Just the thought of this quiet cove turning into another crowded tent city beach makes me cringe. I know it’ll be inevitable but for now I’ll make sure I enjoy and every minute I’m here.
It’s really a challenge to go to places not really on everyone’s radar. Atimonan isn’t really a tourist hot spot. It has a few known sights like the Pinagbanderahan, Quezon Memorial Park and its Zigzag road known as Bitukang Manok. Aside from that, it is mainly a transit town often passed by. I did some further research and found some sites of interest like the Bantakay Falls, since I always like to incorporate nature elements in my trips. Good thing I got a hold the number of Atimonan’s tourism officer, Cecile and were able to ask directions on the phone.
I have vague memory of the last time I stayed in this seaside town of Atimonan, Quezon province. There was a time from my grade school to high school days where the family would have an annual holy week vacation in Atimonan then in Bicol since both are my dad and mom’s province respectively. We were always looking forward to this each year since it was a really fun place to be. Our cousin’s simple house of four concrete walls and iron sheet roofs at Baranggay Buhangin was close to the sea. It was an enjoyable simple life just being there as a kid.
While I found the first Lakbay Norte in 2010 a bit cramped and rushed, it was still a fun trip going through the 8 provinces in 4 regions in 7 days that’s why when an invitation came for Lakbay Norte 2, I decided to join again. I checked the itinerary and there are new places I haven’t been to that caught my interest. And this time around there are two separate legs where media participants can choose which one to join or both. Let’s see where this year’s Lakbay Norte 2 will take us.
There’s what we call the Great Migration, in which living beings move from one place to another to survive and we humans are no exception to this chain. When our habitat condition is deemed unliveable we move to a new location. A perfect example of this of course is the migratory birds that fly endlessly around the world and live temporarily on environments favourable to them. The Philippines, particularly the Candaba Wetlands in Pampanga has been an annual host to these birds
I’ve been up north several times already but it’s not often I get to tag the family along. The Ilocos Region is probably one of the easiest place to travel by road and add to that, it has a number of sights from beautiful old churches, heritage houses, delicious food, mega structures and wonderful beaches. Even from the several times I’ve visited the place there’s always something new to try and discover. This trip was last September 14-16, 2010. It’s a bit cramped and covers the ‘usual’ sights first timers in the region and more manageable sights.