Now Reading
36 revenge travel destinations

36 revenge travel destinations

Bernard Supetran

For many travel-starved Filipinos, the recent dropping of the RT-PCR or antigen requirements in nearly all domestic destinations sounded like the announcement of visa-free entry to the United States. With the vaccination card (or certification) and the S-Pass and valid IDs as travel requirements, happy days are here again for road trippers who want to drive another day when situation allows. Needless to say, the lowering of Alert Levels is an invitation to take you home to the country roads where you belong. To celebrate the Inquirer’s 36 years of motoring with its readers, we are giving you 36 ideas for the so-called “revenge travel” to make up for the lost time we have been shackled by the quarantine classifications.

1. AKLAN. After basking and partying in Boracay’s powdery sands, visit its mother town of Malay which offers a back-to-basics experience. Afterwards, motor to the capital town of Kalibo where you fly back home through its newly upgraded airport. In between the 90-minute journey are natural pitstops such as Hurom-Hurom Springs, Katunggan It Ibajay, and handwoven piña fiber stores in Kalibo.

2. ALBAY. Gazing at the perfect-coned Mayon Volcano has become a modified enhanced activity over the past few years with the opening up of tourist facilities with a mesmerizing view. Arguably the best place to do volcano-ogling is at Sumlang Lake where you can also go rafting and kayaking at a lagoon, feast on succulent dishes offered, and frolic in its newly-opened resort and campsite.

3. BOHOL. The first province to introduce the travel bubble and its own travel app card. With a new international airport and cruise ship port, and a splendid road network, more attractions are being uncovered away from the iconic Chocolate Hills. But still, Panglao’s white beaches and luxe resorts remain to be the preferred spots for staycationers.

4. CAMARINES SUR. Bicol region’s biggest province and the hub of car dealership, its vast land area and extensive road network is dotted with Spanish-era churches, farm tourism sites, lakes, beaches, contoured mountains, theme resorts and food stalls. Must-sees are CamSur Watersports Complex, Consocep Mountain Resort, Lake Buhi and Caramoan town of the “Survivor” reality TV fame.

5. SORSOGON. The GMA teleserye has literally brought the spotlight to this province on Luzon’s southernmost edge, which an extreme 600-km driving challenge. If the TV series has tickled your fancy, drive the long and winding road and discover why you will leave your heart in Sorsogon.

6. NUEVA ECIJA. Beyond being the archipelago’s traditional rice granary, it has also earned the title of “agri-tourism capital” due to the concentration of agricultural institutions and enterprises. The opening of the Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX) will make the province’s interior towns and attractions more accessible by bypassing the bottlenecks along the Maharlika Highway.

7. SIARGAO. The archipelago’s surfing capital, this island paradise also lures non-surfers with its idyllic islets, lakes, tidal pool, waterfalls, boutique resorts and wide array of dining hotspots. Comprised of nine municipalities, its aggregate land area is about the size of Metro Manila which is best to navigate on two wheels. Don’t forget to do vlogs on your journey which can be used as a sequel to the film festival entry a few years ago.

8. SARANGANI. In the blue corner of southern Mindanao, this province is known for its succession of power punches packs with its beaches, paragliding, diving, and assortment of watersports, as well as cultural sites for indigenous peoples and Moro communities. Ranked by the government as seventh best province in infrastructure projects, it is an emerging route for bikers and motorcyclists because of its paved scenic roads with Instagrammable spots.

9. UPLAND CAVITE. Tagaytay Ridge has been the top-of-mind favorite of Metro Manilans for day trips even before the pandemic. The NCR Bubble Plus has compelled travelers to go beyond the all-too-familiar and crowded ridge and discover the raw allure of Cavite’s cavities such as Indang, Maragondon, Magallanes, Amadeo and Bailen towns.

10. BATAAN. Placed under ECQ status for a prolonged period, day trippers can once more retrace the World War 2 Death March route, mostly located along the roller-coaster like Roman Superhighway. A sought-after getaway is Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a heritage resort hotel which is a favorite location for media test drives and special events. Beach, water theme park and golf lovers can have a three-in-one experience at Camaya Coast which is reachable by fast craft from Manila.

11.    BATANGAS. There was a time when its boundaries were like the North and South Korean DMZ because of the police checkpoints, where beach-goers had to be turned back. Today, its provincial roads are wide open so motorists can breeze through the coastal, upland and Taal lakeshore towns, farm resorts and beach estates.

12.   LAGUNA LAKE LOOP. One of the old road trip favorites, it cuts across Laguna and Rizal never fails to amaze motorists, bikers, riders, and even commuters. With the diversity of roadside wonders of century-old churches, ancestral homes, native crafts and cuisine, dizzying zigzags, and panoramic viewpoints, traversing this loop will seem to take forever with the irresistible pit stops you will surely make.

13.    CEBU TRANSCENTRAL HIGHWAY. An upland meandering road which connects Cebu City to the western towns, it is a two-hour drive and visual treat with of farms, gardens, quaint shops, mountain ranges, and alligator lizards in the air. Already a hotspot among big bikers, the Department of Tourism Region 7 is stepping in to harness this promising subsector under the Motourismo program.

14.    CATANDUANES. Dubbed as the “Happy Island”, this province promises happy endings to travel buffs with its beautiful roads less-traveled. If it’s your lucky day, you can come across head-turning vintage models of Volkswagen cars owned by Gov. Joseph Cua. It can be can reached by air via Virac Airport, or by boat via the Tabaco City Port in Albay.

15.    CAMIGUIN. One of the last to drop the RT-PCR requirement, this island province beckons you to indulge in its white sandbar, natural springs, waterfalls, dive sites, homey resorts, mountain peaks, sweet lanzones and much more. For the is best to ride around the 64-km circumferential road on motorcycles which you can rent at rock-bottom rates. After going through all these, you will surely come again to Camiguin.

16.    DAVAO DEL SUR. This under-the-radar spot is among the exciting entry points to Mt. Apo, the country’s tallest peak. But if mountaineering isn’t your thing, you can just gaze at it Digos City’s upland barangays and engage in adventure recreation and immerse with indigenous communities. For beach bums, there’s Pasig Islet Aqua Eco Park just a swimming distance away from Sta. Cruz town.

17.    MARILAQUE. Unless you have heeded the “stay home” pandemic advisory to the letter, you should know that this is among the most-frequented roads by motoring enthusiasts, particularly those on two wheels. An abbreviation of Marikina, Rizal, Laguna, Quezon, it is an upgrade of the old highway leading to the port town of Infanta, which is the jump-off to the Pacific island municipalities. The scenic four-lane road is dotted with local enterprises, mobile food outlets and accessory shops, and a melting pot for making new friends among riders.

18.    BILIRAN. An island province connected to Leyte province by a bridge, it is a wondrous waterworld with its series of waterfalls, cascades, natural pools, beaches, islets and newly-found dive sites. Don’t miss the Higatangan Shifting Sandbar, Ulan-Ulan Falls, Agta Beach and Sambawan Island.

19.    CLARK. If you think you have seen the former US air force base in its entirety, look again. This freeport is an emerging aerotropolis or metropolitan area built around the new international airport and the adjunct New Clark City, which is already part of Tarlac. Situated in the heart of Pampanga, this is a growing enclave for leisure, logistics, light industries, car dealerships, and outdoor recreation. For a change of mode of mobility, explore the vast land on horseback through El Kabayo Stables and gallop through the lahar trail in Sacobia River.

20. BONDOC PENINSULA. For mid-distance driving away from the madding crowd, hie off to this enigmatic southern part of Quezon province which is sandwiched by Tayabas Bay and Ragay Gulf. The newly-completed Lopez-Catanauan Road and Eco-Tourism Highway will cut driving time significantly, and lead you to coastal towns and less-crowded beach resorts.

21.     MARINDUQUE Considered the geodetic center of the archipelago, this island province was observing its centennial founding last year when it was rudely interrupted by the nationwide lockdown. It’s time to resume the celebration and drive around the heart-shaped island and dip in the beaches and hot springs, visit the gardens and farms, ascend the peaks, go island-hopping, and parade with the masked moryons. If you are a 4 x 4 enthusiast, its interior upland roads are waiting for you to conquer.

22.    BUSUANGA. Situated north of mainland Palawan, this island is also an exciting drive destination on top of its popular beaches, islets and dive spots. Composed of Coron and Busuanga municipalities, it is the core of the Calamian Group of Islands which includes smaller intriguing island towns such as Culion and Linapacan.

23.    BULACAN. For a blend of culture, cuisine and adventure, metro’s northern neighbor is beckoning us not to look far away. The towns of Bustos, Baliuag, San Rafael, San Miguel and Dona Remedios Trinidad (DRT), which are often overlooked when heading north, won’t disappoint. If you are into trekking and chasing waterfalls, DRT, the province’s last frontier is just the right stuff for you.

24.    ROMBLON. An archipelagic province off Luzon, this is an ideal place to roam where you can observe a 100-meter physical distancing with the person closest you. Known for its vast deposit of marbles, it boasts of some of the most stunning but unspoiled beaches, mountainscapes, and vantage points which will surely compete for your attention while driving. Its biggest island is Tablas where the airport, main seaport and most of the towns are located.

See Also

25.    NEGROS ORIENTAL. The smaller half of Negros Island, the province has some of the most alluring tree-canopies highways, roadside attractions, mountain-top lakes, and sea-based attractions. Of late the upland towns of Valencia, Mabinay and Pamplona are among the trending locations because of the cool climate and open spaces. Dauin, dubbed as the province’s “resort capital” is the hub of scuba divers and water sports enthusiasts.

26. VALENZUELA. For an out-of-town feel without living the big city, head off to NCR’s northernmost city and former part of Bulacan which has managed to retain its rural allure. Head off to Polo, the old poblacion, and Bgy. Tagalag, which is dotted by seafood restaurants and fishing villages. Discover the city’s narrow streets and vestiges of its checkered past on a bicycle.

27. SIQUIJOR. A small island province wrapped in mystery, it is reputed for the age-old practice of healing and witchcraft, and other old wives’ tales. But instead of witches, guests should be more interested in the white beaches and dive sites which are Siquijor’s main tourist magnets. While not yet “visa-free” for the fully-vaccinated, it is just a matter of time before it fully opens up.

28. PAMPANGA. If it’s food trip you’re after, this northern province dubbed as the country’s “culinary capital” is a hands-down winner. Leave home with an empty stomach and drive and dine around the cities and towns as you splurge on sisig, palabok, kamaru, kakanin, halo-halo, and an assortment of fusion food. In between pigging out, feed your soul by visiting old churches, museums, ancestral homes, and other cultural stuff.

29. AURORA. Surfing the internet will tell you that this Pacific seaboard province isn’t just a haven for surfing but also for breathtaking motoring. But if wave-riding isn’t your thing, you can hop from one beach to the next along the whole stretch from Baler to Dilasag. You can also wax nostalgia and revisit the sites where the film “Apocalypse Now” was shot, and retrace the last days of Spanish rule as told in the movie “Baler”.

30. ZAMBOANGA. Brush up on Spanish language 101 and visit “Asia’s Latin City” where the unique Castillan-inspired Chavacano is widely spoken. Apart from the language, its Spanish influence is evident in the architecture, cuisine, music, and way of life. One of the country’s biggest cities, it is a shipping hub to Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the gateway to the Zamboanga Peninsula Region.

31. ORIENTAL MINDORO. A backbone of the country’s nautical highway which connects to various parts of the Visayas, the province takes pride in its pristine bodies of water—rivers, lakes, bays, and waterfalls. The northern town of Puerto Galera is acknowledged as among the best bays in the world and the heart of the Coral Triangle, the center of the planet’s marine biodiversity.

32. BUKIDNON. A highland province in central Mindanao which poses challenging zigzags in its northern and southern boundaries. Tucked in between these twist and turns are indigenous lumad tribal communities, farm- and garden-themed resorts, sprawling pineapple plantations, placid lakes, cattle ranches, and adventure theme parks.

33. BENGUET. With Baguio bursting at the seams with visitors trying to get in, this next-door neighbor beckons with its vast land across the Cordillera mountain ranges. While it may not have the luxe tourist establishments of the City of Pines, it more than compensates with the close-to-nature experience which is closer to the traditional highland way of life.

34. DAVAO OCCIDENTAL. A new province carved out of Davao del Sur in 2013, it hugs western Davao Gulf and is reachable via Digos City. A tourism frontier in southern Mindanao, its two islands are the last two stops of the Philippine leg of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition in 1521 before it finally reached its original destination in Indonesia. The provincial capital of Malita and the other 4 town are largely unexplored, and you can channel your inner Magellan instinct by navigating its roads.

35. SAMAL. Separated by a narrow strait from the mainland, this 301-sq km island can be reached via a 15-minute boat ride from Davao City. Officially known as the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos), it long name tells you what to see here. With a splendid circumferential road network with no traffic, every NCR motorist would wish that he is driving Samal out there instead of EDSA.

36. MISAMIS ORIENTAL. With bustling Cagayan de Oro City as capital, it is the aerial and maritime gateway where you can reach most parts of Mindanao. Hugging the coast of Macajalar Bay, the provincial artery is blessed with a soothing seascape which makes the long ride less taxing. You can hang around CDO and nearby towns for its blend of urban and countryside living.