Top 5 Awesome Travel Experiences in 2010!

(I’m finalizing this article to be published in EYP. Please provide comments and feedback, please. 🙂 )

The Philippines is starting to be discovered not only by foreigners but by our local tourists, thanks to the availability of cheaper flights and more bargain options for local travelers. I believe that the upswing in local tourism is also greatly influenced by travel bloggers and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

In 2010, it is now considered cool to travel and explore locally. Boracay will retain its standing as THE ultimate beach party place, but local tourists will most probably look for something more special and exciting — something new to discover and experience, a way to get to know our country a little bit more.

Here are the top 5 awesome travel experiences in the Philippines in 2010:

#1. Let’s Go To Palawan!

Palawan continues to be the number one local travel destination, not only because of El Nido (which has the best resort and best beaches in the Philippines), but also because of three key developments in the area:

First, in 2011, the Underground River in Puerto Princesa will be voted as one of the 7 New Natural Wonders of the World. Filipinos who have not been there will be encouraged to see it before it becomes a major global tourist attraction. It wouldn’t be cool to let people know that one hasn’t been to a natural wonder of the world that is in one’s own country.

Second, Coron will be touted as the new place to be in Palawan. It boasts of relatively cheap accommodations, a rural immersion experience, and the opportunity to swim in one of the cleanest lakes in the country — Kayangan Lake. If you want to have a more luxurious experience, you can go to Club Paradise, El Rio y Mar, or the new Coron Gateway Hotel in the heart of town, near the market.

Third, the vision of Boracay 2 in Palawan will take form. A lot of the resort owners in Boracay have already invested in their own little islands in Palawan. Just imagine being able to hop from one island resort to another, each with sugar-like sand beaches with a breathtaking backdrop of limestone cliffs…

With an International Airport being built in San Vicente, Palawan will be the premier tourist destination in the Philippines. ☺

#2. New Lusso Escapes

The hotel industry is now discovering that there is a market for affordable luxury travel, even just among locals. Some people save up, join contests, wait for bargains like travel fairs, or exhaust any means possible just to be able to go to the latest lusso escapes in the Philippines:

Fundacion Pacita in Batanes is one of those places that you have to visit before you die. Its “Wuthering Heights” experience is heightened, especially with its rooms that have a terrace overlooking the sea, mountains and an almost-270-degree view of the sky.

Bellaroca in Marinduque is the talk of the town lately because of its Santorini-inspired architecture. It is literally an island escape, where you can just go and hang out with your family and friends and imbibe the Greek vibe.

Shangri-La Boracay is another good reason to escape to Boracay. It offers a different luxurious experience for your family and loved ones. For the people who adore Shangri-La in Mactan, they would love Shangri-La Boracay even more with its spacious resort and fun activities for the family.

#3. It’s Cool To Be In Bicol

There are 5 reasons why it is cool to start exploring Bicol in 2010:

1.    It is one of the few sites in the world where you get to see the Whale Sharks up close in Donsol, Sorsogon. At the moment, majority of the international tourists in the Philippines only go to these three places: Boracay for the beach, El Nido Resorts for one of the best Green Resorts, and Donsol, Sorsogon for the whale sharks.

2.    CAMSUR Wakeboarding complex has reinvigorated the tourism industry in this region. It plays host to international wakeboarding competitions and is the site of the Iron Man competition in the Philippines.

3.    Caramoan Peninsula was the talk of the town in 2009. It was made famous when the French franchise of Survivor was filmed in Gota Beach. As part of the deal with the government, they developed the Gota Beach Resort, which tourists can visit during the off-season of Survivor.

4.    Misibis Island Resort, managed by Discovery group, is one of the luxurious eco-park destinations in Albay. It is now the jump-off point for exploring Mayon Volcano, where they offer Lava Treks to see the famous landmark up close. (It is not a good idea to do it while there is a threat of an eruption.)

5.    Calaguas Islands — my favorite destination in Bicol, located in Camarines Norte. It is a bit far away, though. You have to travel across open seas to see the beauty of this undiscovered and undeveloped white beach paradise. You can join eco-adventure tours here. I think it will still be some time before we will see major investments in the island.

#4. Rediscovering the North

Baguio is becoming popular again, not just because of the cool climate but because it is gaining a reputation as a unique culinary haven in the north. The all-time favorite Café by the Ruins, the weekend buffets at Mario’s, the healthy restaurant of Oh My Gulay, Manor by Chef Billy King, and Honey in the Rock Cafe make a road trip to Baguio worth it. ☺

People have also started traveling again to Subic because the travel time is much shorter (about 3 hours) because of the SCTEX highway. Another reason for Subic’s popularity is that it has one of the best resort communities ever developed — Anvaya Cove by Ayala Land.

For an affordable beach escape, Pinoys are flocking to La Union, Hundred Islands and Bolinao in Pangasinan. I think these are better alternatives to Puerto Galera. (I was never a fan of Puerto Galera because the boats traveling in that area are not sea-worthy.)

For the ultimate road trip (12 hours!), people prefer to travel to Pagudpud (rather than journey south to Bicol) because of the beautifully paved roads leading there. Pinoys have discovered the Blue Lagoon (or Maira-ira beach) in Pagudpud versus the main Saud Beach. Blue Lagoon got its name because of its clear blue waters — natural raw beauty at its best.

A trip to Pagudpud is not complete without a stopover in Vigan for its heritage houses and its famous empanada.

#5. The Next Level of Adventure

If you have completed these experiences:

–    You’ve been to the three white-water destinations in the country — Chico River in Kalinga, Cagayan de Oro River, and Davao River;

–    You’ve tried Camp Sabros’ longest zipline in Davao with Mt. Apo as your backdrop; 

–    You’ve conquered the Mapawa River Trek in Cagayan De Oro;

–    You’ve climbed Mt. Pinatubo and saw the blue waters at the peak; and

–    You’ve already surfed and explored Siargao

then you’ll be looking for the next level of adventure for you and your thrill-seeking companions.

This year, adventure-loving Pinoys can go on these escapades:

–        The Extreme/Eco/Educational Adventure Tour in Danao, Cebu;

–        Asia’s Longest Zipline (for now)– the 840-meter dual ziplines of the Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon;

–        Baler in Aurora — the “Bali” Surfing destination in the Philippines; and

–        Mt. Apo in Davao — the highest peak in the Philippines!

There are only two types of Pinoys in the country: those who prefer to travel to Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong Disneyland for vacation because it seems more economically convenient to do so, and those Pinoys who have fallen in love with the Philippines and have committed to discovering its beauty and hidden gems, proud to put local exploration before foreign travel. So, which one are you?

In 2010, the coolest resolution you could ever have is to Travel The Philippines First!

Live an Awesome Life, 


Anton Diaz
Mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627) 
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P.S. #6 Antipolo is the New Tagaytay. With SLEX constructions in full swing in 2010, it would take 2 hours now just to go to / from Tagaytay. Antipolo is becoming an exciting option because it is very near (1 hour with traffic) and new Art Places and Interesting Restaurants are opening in Antipolo.  

71 thoughts on “Top 5 Awesome Travel Experiences in 2010!

  1. thanks for the suggestion. i really want to visit and explore our country first. i know that there are a lot of hidden treasures yet to be explored before going out to other countries.

  2. I love to travel and if I was a good writer — I’d love to do what you are doing. I have a group of friends whom I travel with and with the advent of budget airlines — was able to go to many destinations that we previously would not be able to afford. (would be great to have you write an article about the effects of budget airlines in domestic and international tourism–incoming from other countries too).
    Anyways… I have seen almost all the destinations Cebu Pacific has – both local and international and I can definitely say that when we talk about island paradise… we have the best to offer in Asia. I felt so sad to be in Phi Phi with boatloads full of caucasians and wondering why they are all there and have not gone to our islands that are far far nicer? We spoke to several of them and their travel agencies in europe dont usually include Philippine destinations. There was one couple doing a month long travel of southeast asia… and the Philippines was not even one of their stops… I see bombardment in CNN of ads promoting Malaysia, Korea… why arent we there? My friends and I have asked — how can we do our part? How can we bring them here? Why are they coming in droves to our neighboring countries… our people would have benefited from their tourist spending.
    There was a couple who saw El Nido in a magazine somewhere and insisted to go but when going to their local european travel agency, they dont have it and pushed the couple to Thailand. Why arent we being represented by foreign travel agencies?
    I too would like to push this to happen… I know its your goal to expose the beauty of our land… there are many of us that would love to help… how do we do it? We are in every part of the world… literally there even in Iraq… why cant we tap these folks to be our contacts to establish these links with travel agencies? They can make it their sideline (and help their country too in a grander way).
    Tourist spending is a big key to alleviating poverty especially in the country side. Tap me and my friends if you have a plan or need more bodies to help you =) we have talked about it but so busy with work and life to act on it.

  3. mixed feelings about palawan being boracay 2. boracay’s getting so congested and the local government doesn’t seem to properly corral the number of resorts being built over there. hope it doesn’t end up being like galera.
    to bring that sort of tourism to palawan could be destructive, so the local government & community need to play a strong role.

  4. Yeah it would be interesting to see how they would manage the influx
    of tourism in Palawan. The tour system in the Underground River was
    managed very well. As for Coron, I don't know because a big high-end
    hotel was already built beside the market in the heart of the city. It
    loses its rural appeal a bit because may hotel na…
    I'm planning to go to the site of Boracay 2 and see for myself…
    exciting but we don't want Palawan to be like Boracay in terms of
    urban planning.

  5. Hi Anton, great post as always! It’s definitely one of my resolutions, to Travel the Philippines first! I just want to point out The Extreme/Eco/Educational Adventure Tour in Danao. Isn’t this located in Bohol instead of Cebu? Thanks and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  6. Thanks for the comment. Very insightful and I came to the same
    conclusion. I bet a lot of pinoys would share the same sentiment.
    I'm coming up with the Awesome Pilipinas Tours program directly
    addressing this issue and market awesome Philippine packages to the
    European market. I would need your help in inputing into the design of
    the tours and marketing the tours.
    We need to entice or "court" foreign tourist to explore our country 🙂

  7. Hi Anton, huwag naman ganun where you said “There are only two types of Pinoys in the country: those who prefer to travel to Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong Disneyland for vacation because it seems more economically convenient to do so, and those Pinoys who have fallen in love with the Philippines and have committed to discovering its beauty and hidden gems, proud to put local exploration before foreign travel. So, which one are you?
    I enjoy foreign trips to enjoy their food, history, culture and learn from them. And also enjoy trips in different parts of the Philippines for the same reason. In recent 3 years, I had the opportunity to explore more of Pampanga, Quezon, Tagaytay, Baguio, Camiguin, Negros and Bicol.
    Paano yan – I’m neither of the two. And I think there are quite a few people like me, too out there.

  8. Philippines really is an awesome destination…It is just now that travelers around the globe are starting to take notice. Btw, does anyone have any information on Tau Hai Villas Spa in Nagcarlan, Laguna? It was published in a book featuring Philippine Spas…

  9. im a baguio lover myself. if ever you’re there, you should try rose bowl in harrison road. it’s chinese food family style. there camaron con hamon, sweet and sour pork and fried rice are yummy.

  10. sadly, Anton, i know way too many Tsinoys who prefer to go abroad than travel their own country. they might travel the country, but not as much as Vietnam or Thailand, for pleasure. what’s lusso? when my Tsinoy balikbayan friends from Canada come over, would you like to meet them to find out how to market to Canada?

  11. hi anton! i placed a link to your post in my blog ah. hehe 🙂
    i was actually surprised to find out that i’ve been to many of the places you mentioned.

  12. anton… we will be going to bora this march. any suggested activities that we should do? kung may contacts ka din po, baka pwede mahingi. =)

  13. Nice article Anton. I’m just wondering will the Philippines ever have a Disneyland just like in Hong Kong to attract more tourist…. foreign and local alike?
    I know foreign investors have doubts of putting business here in our country because of the corruption and instability of our government but you’ll never know.
    Please give us an update if there is going to be a Disneyland in our homeland. I know you want it too.

  14. I love the beaches…love the Philippines! This is a good list. I was checking the places that I have been to (am glad that I already visited many of the places on d list) and those that I will hopefully visit this year. Our country is so beautiful indeed. Too bad it’s really cheaper now to travel to Hongkong, Thailand and Singapore with all the travel deals. Been wanting to go to Batanes but it’s just too expensive for me. Just the airfare will cost me 12K! A CDO or Davao trip will be my next target. Time to start saving-up!
    God bless!

  15. Hi, Anton… although there’s a Danao City in Cebu the Eco Tourism adventure you mentioned is actually in Bohol…
    I enjoyed reading this article, since I’ve been to most of the places you’ve mentioned… (although I must admit that my family and I have also had our share of out of the country trips).
    I was in Palawan recently, and it has a lot more to offer than the subterranean river and the beaches… it has a lot of falls, Tabon cave, hot water and cold water springs… and very soon, a white beach in the North is going to have an airport, casino and world class beach resort/s…
    Am so happy that you’re making this article on places to see in the Philippines… that way, more people will be interested to tour domestically…

  16. The Danao in Sir Anton’s first post is indeed in Bohol. It’s currently being featured in Sports Unlimited right now.

  17. You’re welcome. Or perhaps, consider rephrasing – to make it more encouraging for us to keep enjoying the Philippines more.

  18. Some reasons are this, cebu pacific was offering budget friendly airfares, and guess what, sometimes they are even cheaper than domestic flights (except cebu pacific domestic maybe), that’s why people says, that’s still Philippines, add some more money and we’re already in a different country. One thing more, only baguio and tagaytay are the cooler weather here, most places are too hot to enjoy especially during summer break.

  19. I just hope that the govt will finally build all the necessary infrastracture (road network, transportation, accommodation) for all these destinations. Even as simple as road signs would do great.

  20. Anton,
    For places to dine in baguio, there’s the Bliss Cafe housed inside Hotel Elizabeth. That’s vegetarian and another great place to hang out is the PKNY below the Pink Sisters’ Convent. Outside Baguio just a few kilometers beyond the Capitol of Benguet is the Tomay Farm, a salad eaters’ paradise!

  21. weee! a lot of the places you have on this list iv already been to for the past 2 years!!! and im excited to be at the other places in this list too this year!!! 🙂 cant wait for my CDO and Davao adventure!
    i hope zamboanga would be cleared of the negative image too! i had my former officemates from manila here last september… iv arranged a 3-day adventure here for them (including the pink sand sta cruz island!) and they really really had fun! i was able to entice another guy from davao to experience zamboanga too! and his group enjoyed it as well… 🙂

  22. hey anton, so surprised to see calaguas in your list. I thought it was still a secret. ;p It is, by far, the best beach I have ever seen.

  23. Haha! Secret pa rin niyo because it would take time before people
    would have the guts to visit that place. I agree that's one of the
    best beaches here in the Philippines!

  24. Yes it is fun to do the road trip. But I would advise that you leave very early in Manila or late at night. There are some parts of CamNorte and CamSur that would be very scary at night for road travel.

  25. ive been planning to go to calaguas for my upcoming bday! (sana matuloy)
    i want to discover more of our islands!:) thanks for the other destinations!

  26. This is true, most caucasians haven’t explored the scenic Philippine beaches yet. During our HK trip last November 2009, we came across two British travellers. When asked where we’re from, we said from the Philippines. When we asked if they have been here, they said no and then we knew that they have travelled back and forth Asia already.
    We immediately “advertised” Philippines to them especially our beaches (since this is what they usually go to when in Asia) like Boracay and Palawan. They said they’ll be trying it out the next time. 🙂

  27. Hi Anton,
    Thank you for this article. My husband and I are now in the look out for a vacation place for this coming summer for our family. We initially thought of going to our nearby Asian neighbors but decided to think “local” and visit the good spots here in the Philippines.
    rgds, candy (Lorenz’ friend)

  28. Hi Anton!
    Hopefully magkaroon ng backpackers havens sa Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao (parang Kao San Road pero better and cleaner version)para naman sa mga OFWs at mga Foreign tourists na rin na limited ang budget.
    Also sana makarating sa mga kinauukulan – 1. Iyong mga vendors sa taas ng Taal Volcano dapat presentable/malinis naman sila at huwag naman sanang sobrang taga ang presyo ng buko at beer. 2. Dapat rin siguro pagbawalan din iyong ibang mga bangkero at mga tricycle drivers natin na hindi magsigarilyo kasi ang tendency pag tapos nilang magsigarilyo tinatapon lang sa lupa/sa body of water ang natirang sigarilyo. Kailangan iyong mga frontliners na naka-base sa ating mga tourists spots dapat lahat sila mag-undergo ng training tungkol sa environment, how to talk and treat tourists, etc..
    God bless the Philippines!

  29. Thanks for the comment Teng! I would agree that we should have a backpackers haven sa MM 🙂 Thanks for your suggestions as well…

  30. Hi Anton,
    My friends and I went to Palawan last weekend. It was a 3-day-fully-booked-trip because we were able to manage everything in just 3 days, or it’s more likely 2 days. This is my first time in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and I really really really enjoyed our trip. We visited the Underground River, Honda bay, Mitra’s Ranch, Baker’s hill, and Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (formerly known as Crocodile Farm). How I wish that I will be able to go back to this oh-so heavenly place with my family. It’s very memorable and super duper fun experience I’ve had! =]

  31. You really should add a climb up Mt. Pulag to your list. As a weekend climb it’s far more accesible as compared to Mt. Apo. And it offers vistas and experiences that are absolutely stunning.
    And I find your exhortation to people to start exploring the Phils. (as compared to S’pore/HK etc.) really refreshing. way to go. 😉

  32. San Vicente: The ‘next big thing’ in Philippine tourism?
    KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson (The Philippine Star) Updated July 12, 2009 12:00 AM
    How big is big? That’s the first question. Second: Do you know the way to San Vicente?
    Well, now I do. It’s a 3.5-hour drive north from Puerto Princesa. The first two hours are on a good concrete road built by a South Korean contractor, a good part of it still within the city’s boundaries, albeit as a national highway — until one reaches Roxas town, still on the eastern coastline. The rest of the way it turns rough, veering off northwest to cross the breadth of the island, up and down a mountain to the west coast, where El Nido is also located farther north.
    The first-class municipality of San Vicente is 194 kilometers from the humongous capital. The last 50-something kilometers wind through verdant forest, where one slows down on a mostly dirt road with patches of mirage-like concrete here and there. In the rainy season it turns muddy, with rivulets running down from hillsides. Parts are being upgraded by work crews. The plan is to have it all cemented to cut down travel time to 2.5 hours.
    For some years now, we’ve heard of San Vicente as yet another relatively unknown destination touted as “the next Boracay.” In fact those who have a stake in the area contend that it’ll surpass Boracay when it does get developed. The prime boast is the fabled 14-kilometer Long Beach of white sand — the gently undulating coastline between barangays New Agutaya and Alimanguan.
    If you Google “San Vicente, Palawan” you’ll find most of the entries leading to websites making various pitches for real estate. One objective commentary has it: “And what does sleepy San Vicente have? Well, it has a long stretch of beach… No hotels. No resorts. No restaurants. Nothing. Only raw land, pure and simple… (It’s) all so far just a real estate play.”
    A 2.5-hectare beachfront property is being peddled online for a discounted P17.5 million, while a whopping P37.5 million is the tag price for a 1.5-hectare lot with a 60-meter beachfront directly facing Imuruan Bay, said to be only 10 minutes from the new airport.
    Indeed, ground has been broken for an international airport, with backhoes and bulldozers already leveling hectares of former rice fields close to the town proper. The powers-that-be reportedly managed to convince most of the rice farmers to sell and move out, while a few have remained adamantly in place despite continuing pressure.
    Presently, everything seems to point to a grand conundrum for the future of San Vicente. While it’s touted as “the next big thing” for Philippine tourism, environmental issues appear to be hounding its planned development.
    At least a couple of artist-friends have established idyllic havens in the area. One is the painter Diokno Pasilan, who with his Scottish-born wife purchased a 150-meter-long beachfront at Kabantagan 10 years ago, and built a large wooden house cum terrace that rests two meters above ground on large poles.
    Red squirrels frolicking on coconut trees at sunrise and spectacular sunsets are daily fare. Now that the couple is based in Australia with their seven-year-old son, the solar-powered house may be rented at a modest P1,500 a day or P7,500 a week. It comes with a caretaker, an outrigger, drinking water from a waterfall nearby, an LPG-powered ref, and beds and linen for six.
    In 1988, Ma. Mercedes “Ditchay” Roxas leased 11 hectares of shore and forest in Daplac Cove in Boayan Island, the largest of the outlying islands off San Vicente. For 21 years now, she and her family have lived in harmony with the fisher folk, pioneering efforts to conserve and protect the ecosystem of a prized habitat of endangered species: the Tabun Bird, white Philippine cockatoos, green sea turtles, and fragile species such as Palawan hornbills, eagles, falcons, kingfishers, parrots and giant pigeons, monitor lizards, the bearded wild boar, and rarely seen sea otters.
    Her house of no walls, fences or barriers has been featured in various magazines. It has hosted Palawan officials as well as a Tourism undersecretary, who lauded her fine example of land stewardship. For her pains as an assiduous caretaker, now her family has been declared illegal occupants of timberland, with criminal charges filed against them. Why? Because Daplac Cove is being eyed as a satellite resort development to complement the big plans for San Vicente.
    But a robust brava! for Ditchay, who’s fighting back the best way she knows, appearing in environmental forums, writing in provincial publications and leading a crusade by way of the Internet. She argues eloquently that the campaign against her is simply “to pave the way for a huge real estate and resort development project of a well-known Manila-Boracay resort group… Once again money and greed are buying up huge tracts of land, displacing people and destroying the inestimable natural capital of the public for the sake of private interest.”
    What price development? The question has been asked countless times in our islands, no less so in Palawan, which as a lovely last frontier faces serial tug-of-war on such issues as logging, mining, quarrying, and unabated commercial development.
    Last month, on the occasion of the week-long Baragatan festival, the opportunity presented itself for the long drive to San Vicente to check out fabled Long Beach. Little did we know that our small party would be in for quite a shock.
    We saw the airport site clearing operation, and surmised that the “visionaries” behind it must have rendered quite a sales pitch to have successfully included San Vicente as part of the President’s Super Region Growth Corridor in Western Visayas. Puerto Princesa already has an international airport, and completing the highway for a 2.5-hour ride to San Vicente seems more feasible, let alone cheaper. Presently, the town only enjoys four hours of electricity, so that concerns are raised over the viability of a future power plant.
    And yet the airport a-building is scheduled to open by next year, or 2012 at the latest, with rosy predictions of direct flights from Bali, Kota Kinabalu and Bangkok, so that San Vicente can compete with Phuket, Pattaya and Bali, “and will make Boracay a small congested dot in the local tourism arena.”
    That boast is part of the ongoing sales pitch for real estate, similar to what follows: “Price of properties, particularly beach front properties, has steeply risen in the past two years due to the construction of the new airport that can handle an Airbus 300-320 and Boeing 737-400… Property prices now range from P2,000 to P3,500 per square meter for beachfront property in Long Beach. As soon as the first airplane lands on or lifts off the runway, property price will also skyrocket up to P10,000+ per square meter. The minimum price of Boracay’s beachfront property now is P20,000 per square meter. Act now before it is too late. Invest in San Vicente and watch your investment grow in a matter of 4 years.”
    Hmm. So is Long Beach all that great to attract investments and impel concerted growth?
    We stepped on the beach and marveled at the shimmering stretch north and south, as far as the eye can see. The sea was calm and rolling in gently. The usual aroma bushes and a few coconut trees dotted the foreshore. The sand was soft and powdery, but it certainly wasn’t dazzlingly sugar-white, rather cream-ish pink, conceivably golden at magic hour. Nor was the beachfront as wide and of the gentlest slope as in Boracay.
    The feeling was not unlike being in Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte, except that there it was an extended crescent beach marking a large bay. Long Beach is definitely enticing, as one can look up and down the coast and feel so minute as an intruder.
    There are actually over 50 kilometers of non-contiguous white beaches in the area, inclusive of bays and coves and outlying islands. The next big thing in Philippine tourism? No one can close the door to the idea, but what a grand vision and strategic plan it’ll take. Maybe in 20 years it will be set in place, albeit we hope that not too many transgressions against both habitat and habitués would have been committed.
    That hope is instantly dashed when on another road back to the poblacion, we’re confronted with the sight of a mountain that’s been chopped off. The site called Logpond in Sitio Panindigan is in full view of the town proper. We drive right to the location, and indeed, despite the signs we’ve seen posted around town warning against any quarrying, this mountainside has been dug up, trees and all, and all the soil apparently relocated to what looks like a vast flatland across the road.
    It turns out that the dumping site used to be a six-hectare fishpond maintained by San Vicente Mayor Antonio Gonzales. Now it’s been filled up with all the ground that’s been scoured off the mountain. The purpose? To convert those six hectares into a marina that will extend from the nearby coastline, to complement a planned “first-class resort.”
    Back in Puerto Princesa, we learn that a case has been filed against the mayor for “illegal extraction of quarry and illegal hauling of filling materials,” since the operation that started last April has been conducted without any permit from the provincial government. Last May, the mayor was served a cease-and-desist order from the Provincial Mining and Regulatory Board (PMRB), but he reportedly dismissed the procedure, claiming that the company that owns the 14-hectare mountain site already had an MOA with the DENR with regards tree-cutting, and that even the registration of chainsaws with the Palawan Council for Sustainable development (PCSD) was unnecessary.
    Thus, the extraction and disposition of quarry materials continues. After all, it’s in the Mayor’s very own turf. Even more curious, the resort development company is said to involve other Palawan small-town officials as well as a private investor, Michael Gleissner. Now that name rang a bell.
    Gleissner made his I.T. fortune in Germany and fell in love with Mactan, where he’s set up his version of “Hollywood East,” the Bigfoot studio and post-production facility training young Pinoy filmmakers besides churning out B-type action movies. A naturalized Filipino since 2006 by act of Congress, Gleissner has reportedly plunked down a billion pesos for the grand plan for San Vicente. But did he know that a mountain would be illegally lopped off as part of the development vision? We doubt it.
    Local officials involved apparently ignore environmental laws because they couldn’t care less, save for future profit. Besides, a padrino is a peso billionaire whose name everyone in Palawan knows to have been associated with logging before the ban on the profitable enterprise. Jose “Pepito” Alvarez is a nephew of Mayor Antonio Gonzales of San Vicente. But it’s the uncle, also a Palawan migrant, who is the nephew’s henchman. Pepito Alvarez plans to run for Governor of Palawan next year.
    Before we can even talk of so-called ecological viability requirements as the main feature of the Strategic Environment Plan (SEP) for Palawan, per RA 7611, or the Forestry Code or any Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) zoning plans for the province, maybe we should just put it all down into one re-formed question:
    Do we know the way for San Vicente?

  33. ty, Jack. my Tsinoy friends have been going abroad even before the budget fare era. my mom visited caves in Australia–or was it New Zealand?–e me caves naman tayo rito, mas mura pa. my friend’s mom wanted to go boating in Vietnam, but she wouldn’t go boating here. i think that it’s the “imported” mentality. Vietnam is just as hot and supposedly worse than Manila, that my sister and her friend swore never to go back there. but how did Vietnam draw all these tourists to go there in the first place?
    i do agree about the heat, Jack, but i think that we’re not like most tourists. i’m an anti-beach creature myself. i’ve told my friends that i only want to go to a cooler place, and it’s easier to take a plane to HK than to sit in a bus or car to Baguio for hours.
    Anton, when’s the best time to go to Boracay, from May to August:

  34. my mom wondered what the big deal was with Amanpulo, why it was more expensive to go there than to go to HK. she went to Amanpulo because i had won a trip there. when she came back to Amanpulo, she wished that she could go back because she enjoyed it so much!

  35. You haven’t really seen the true beauty of the Philippines until you go underwater, Anton.
    Try to get a scuba diving license, and go to Tubbataha reefs in Palawan.
    The underwater world heritage site in the country certified by UNESCO.

  36. Hi Anton!
    I am from Palawan and I am so in love with the place. I’ve been to a lot of countries about 17 countries but now that I am involved with the travel & Tours business in my place Palawan, i realized that the Philippines is really a gift from God. We have the most beautiful places, beaches and resorts. Even though only few places i’ve been to here in the Phil. i would say that by reading your blogs, it feels like i’ve been there also. I’m planning to have a trip around the Philippines after I graduate because my views where changed when I started my business and just like what you said from your blog I am a Pinay who have fallen in love with the Philippines and have committed to discovering its beauty and hidden gems, proud to put local exploration before foreign travel. Thank you so much, you are my inspiration for doing this and i hope to hear more from you.
    Michelle Tiotangco

  37. Wow, what a wonderful article, and blog in general.
    I’m not from the Philippines, but I travel here a couple of times a year. Like most foreigners, I’ve been to Boracay (which was so-so), and Palawan (which I loved). Other than that I’ve only seen a few places just outside Manila. Now thanks to you I have a list of many more places to explore while I’m here.
    Keep up the great work!

  38. good day to you Mr. Anton..I find this this article very nice & helpful since I’m planning on our next destination here in the Philippines(actually I check your articles every now & then) and thanks to you I had a lot of tips..
    My family and I are planning to go to Coron (we’ve been to Puerto Princesa already)..What affordable, comfortable & nice resort or hotel can you recommend? Also are there not so expensive packages available;you see we’re not rich but we make it a yearly ritual to go some place here in our country (there are a lot of beautiful things to see here)and I want to make sure it fits my budget.
    Thank you

  39. It is better that you reserve in the Coron Inns… the Coron Travel lodge are quite reasonable. Also, better to organize your own itinerary and book the cheapest flights.

  40. Good afternoon Mr. Anton.. i love your articles every informative and tempting to do hahaha 🙂 I prefer to travel within the country first before i go travel outside the country, because i believe knowing where you came from is best than knowing what’s outside the country.. ive have been traveling since 2004 with my mountaineering friends within the country,also outside the country with my family between the both i still love the beauty of this country .. hopefully i could experience the places you wrote 🙂

  41. Hello isn’t The Extreme/Eco/Educational Adventure Tour in Danao, you mentioned is in Bohol and not in Cebu ? …with their suislide and is something to try 🙂

  42. ei, any place you can recommend in Batangas for the Holy Week? not pricey and with beach. thanks!

  43. To add credit to Palawan’s long list of recognitions, National Geographic Traveler chose the country’s last ecological frontier as one of the best travel destinations in the world this year. I hope that this would spur the volume of tourists (especially Filipinos) to explore its wonders. Sadly, Palawan is being hounded by mining applications, which could pose a serious threat to the island’s biodiversity. A group of locals earlier launched a campaign to gather 10 million signatures in a petition against mining activities in the province. To know more about how to save Palawan, visit

  44. I think I’m both.. I visit one South East Asian nation every year but get to travel 3-4 uber awesome beach of ours.. hehe
    I noticed, you do not have Bohol or Camiguin on your list. 🙂

  45. Hi.. my friend sand I will be in Phuket next year. We need place to stay. Is Kata near the Phuket airport?

  46. Wow! Finally I got a web site from where I be capable of really get useful facts regarding my study and knowledge.

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