“Back in 1997, my three brothers and I went on a six-day road trip, departing Manila for Bacolod, our hometown. We had no reservations and stayed in budget hotels. I had a roof rack fabricated on top of my Landrover where we boarded three kayaks, a windsurf board, scuba gear, and a porcelain toilet bowl that we had to take to Bacolod. We drove from Manila to Bagasbas Beach in Daet, Camarines Norte where we kayaked and surfed, and stayed the night in a small room; then to Iriga where we climbed up a mountain to reach Lake Buhi, the cleanest body of water in the Philippines at that time, where we kayaked to see beautiful waterfalls. On our third day, we pulled out for Bacon, Sorsogon. Wherever we ended up at night, we always drank with the locals and ate street food. On the fourth day, from Matnog, via Bacon, we crossed to Samar, then on to Ormoc and stopped en route to see the famous Sohona Caves. In Ormoc, we hitched a ride in a container vessel to Cebu. So at 11pm we pitched our tents on top of two trucks full of sand, taking in the night sky on a six-hour journey to Danao City in Cebu. In Cebu, we went diving in Moalboal. Next stop was Santander where we took a ferry to Dumaguete then continued on to Bacolod City. So imagine these six days of no shaving, no car washing, swimming in the lakes and letting our soaked boardshorts dry on our skin.”
“I remember going to far-flung areas like Kalinga and Benguet where we travelled 30km for two hours, crossed rivers and climbed mountains to reach rainforests where coffee grows. From the top of the mountain you’ll see an abundance of trees and the land sliding down. Coffee grows in places about 1300m above sea level in height. We visited the picturesque Ambuclao Dam in February. It’s like what you see in California. The roads are good and it’s amidst mountains. I found Ambuclao very attractive.
"In 2010, I saw the butandings (whale sharks) of Donsol in Sorsogon. We saw six – big ones and babies. Butandings are large gentle sea creatures with smooth skin, really wide mouth and dots on its head. The butanding season is from January to April and me and my friends went in April so it was a good time. In Donsol, they have the Butanding Interaction Officers (BIO) who guide tourists through the experience. They signal once there’s a sighting and then you jump into the water to swim with the butandings. The BIOs guide you in the water so it doesn’t matter even if you don’t know how to swim. I’m scared of the water so all I did was cheer my friends who swam with the whale sharks and marvel at the site.”
The Travelling Trunk
“My friend and I are not fans of planning so we ended up having to take a five-hour long trip on non-aircon buses with live chickens to reach San Vicente in Palawan in 2007. We had beer and seaweeds for lunch and camped in the home of a fisherman we befriended. But we had a vast expanse of beach to ourselves and it was good fun. Best Palawan trip ever!”
Manager of Kusina NaNam in Iloilo
“I fondly remember a road trip to Sagada in 2000 with my sister and friend. It was almost summer and the rice terraces were framed with thousands upon thousands of sunflowers. I was expecting green rice paddies and instead got glorious fields of yellow. From that moment on, I will always remember Sagada with a yellow glow.”
Find more exciting activities in the country with Archipelago's picks of wild adventure holidays for 2016.
Cover photo illustrated by Mark David A. See.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller August-September 2010. Updated July 2016