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Retiring in the Philippines: First Steps

There isn’t anything like being able to retire to your dream paradise. Some would consider it to be a part if their life goals or what others might call their bucket list. It usually comes with ideas of excitement and adventure. Once people have decided to retire to another country, the next challenge would be to look for their ideal country. There are a lot of places for one to retire to. If you are retiring in the Philippines or any there country for that matter, it would be a good idea to first do your research such as what factors you need to consider before choosing your place of retirement. Here at Expatriate Living & Retirement Alliance of the Philippines(ELRAP), we offer our reliable services in order for you to decide properly and make the most out of your retirement if you choose to retire in the Philippines. Here at ELRAP we provide you with a step by step guide on how to choose your retirement destination properly. Whether you would prefer to live near the country’s capital or near a beach, ELRAP has got it covered

ELRAP provides the information you need and helps match the places that would fit your ideal place of retirement. We provide:

Tours – here at ELRAP we give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the places you would want to visit, from the mountains of the north to the sunny beaches of the south. The country itself is huge, but we make it a priority to give you the most out of the experience.

Retireology – unique to ELRAP, this is our crash course of what you need to know before you make a decision of retiring in the Philippines. From housing estimates to travel logistics, we will help you every step of the way

Directories – being in a new country can be frustrating especially if you don’t know who to contact when your plumbing starts to leak or you want to go drinking but you don’t know where to go. We understand your needs, that’s we offer you a wide list of services available for your use may that be utility service people to the local pubs.

We at ELRAP are with you every step of the way. We would want you to have the best experience you could possibly have when you visit the Philippines. We make your experience here worth remembering to help you decide better. Once you have decided, we would guide you on the needed information before you settle in the country. We want to you to make your retirement worth it, so if you are thinking of retiring in the Philippines. We at ELRAP are here to guide you on your first steps to settling down.

For more information about the Expatriate Living & Retirement Alliance of the Philippines(ELRAP) you can visit our website at bestphilippinesretirement.com or contact us through elrap101@gmail.com. What are you waiting for; begin the journey into a new life with ELRAP!

Sources:

http://bestphilippinesretirement.com/tours/

http://bestphilippinesretirement.com/retireology/

http://bestphilippinesretirement.com/indexes/

https://www.ml.com/articles/retiring-abroad-heres-what-you-need-to-know.html

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/while-abroad/retirement-abroad.html

Santorini: It’s Not Just in Greece

Why are people so in love with Santorini? It’s the most popular island in Greece, and it may even be the most popular island in the world. People love this place simply because of its spectacular sceneries and the history that comes with it. However, did you know that you can also find Santorini-like places in the Philippines? Yes, you read that right, places. Not just Greek-inspired places, we have all sorts of beautiful sceneries here that will make you think of retiring in the Philippines! From ancient ruins to beautiful beaches, we have them all

 

First on our list is Balesin Island Club. This destination of unmatched natural beauty is located in Polilo, Quezon, off the eastern coast of Luzon and is designed to recreate some of the most beautiful and alluring destinations around the world. Plus, it was also designed keeping the environment in mind in order to keep the place in perfect harmony with its surroundings. Enter this 500-hectare tropical island paradise and you might just never want to leave!

 

 

 

Next up is Camp Netanya, a Greek-themed resort located in the tropical paradise of Anilao, Batangas. Experience staying in Santorini-inspired villas with a touch of classic warm Filipino hospitality. Here, you can also expect amazing sunset views from their gorgeous infinity pool and delicious food. For adventurers out there, this resort has access to Anilao’s world-class diving and snorkeling sites, fun family activities, and hiking trips to Mt. Gulugod Baboy. What’s not to love?

 

 

Here it is, ancient ruins! There is something that is simply very captivating when it comes to abandoned places. Knowing that it has once been a place full of life and laughter makes people eager to visit and get a glimpse and feel of that once glorious place. This beautiful relic can be found on Fortune Island located at Nasugbu, Batangas. To fully enjoy your visit to this place, here are some things you can do: find a spot to relax and enjoy the view, trek to the lighthouse, snorkel in the island’s pristine waters, scuba dive, take pictures, and set up camp at night to end the day.

 

 

Another destination with Santorini-inspired architecture, named Bellaroca Island Resort and Spa, can be found in Marinduque Island. Like the resorts mentioned above, this is a place where civilization meets the sea. With its rolling terrain contrasting with the azure sky and the clear water in its surroundings, Bellarocca truly offers a unique and fantastic experience unlike any other place in the Philippines. So for expats looking for a little bit of Greece, visiting this place might just make retiring in the Philippines the best decision you’ve ever made!

Vitalis White Sands, a place as beautiful as its name. Combining contemporary design, seaside charm, and top-of-the-line service with the romantic allure of the North, this place really does have it all. Located near a local fishing village in Sabangan Santiago, Ilocos Sur, guests will get a glimpse of the simple living and how life was lived a hundred years ago. Just like any other place, Vitalis has its own charm, and what a charming place it truly is!

 

The Philippines is a beautiful place full of natural wonders just waiting to be discovered. Just imagine, who would’ve thought that Santorini could also be found here? Places themed and recreated not just for the benefit of the locals, but also for foreigners who are looking for unique and beautiful places to visit. So if you’re looking for the perfect place to settle down after retirement, why not think about retiring in the Philippines? Live in a place full of life and love with beautiful people and an explosion of cultures. Here, you will never have to part with your adventurous spirit. Take the first step with us at bestphilippinesretirement.com. We at ELRAP will be with you every step of the way!

The Philippines – The Beautiful And Ugly Truth

The Philippines is a great place to live in for expats. It has a number of natural wonders from mountain views to beachside landscapes. Most people are relatively westernized, meaning they speak English and understand common trends from America. There is a diverse cultural profile, with different indigenous groups residing in the island of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Living conditions vary from spacy and chic cosmopolitan condominiums to quiet countryside homes. The cost of living is relatively cheap, as the mere glint of a dollar can turn store owners’ and small-time vendors’ heads. Provided the right set up, an expatriate retiring in the Philippines can nestle into both a comfortable and exciting post-retirement life here.

There are plenty of options for low cost retirement in the Philippines, which we offer at our website including exposure and informative tours to helping you with your relocation phase. Visit us at www.bestphilippinesretirement.com. There are plenty amenities and points-of-interests that may attract the non-local and foreigner to settle in and find their own niche for their life after retirement. There is no denying the great beauty in these lands, but to be frank, there is ugliness too.

As most societies and nations are plagued with their own unique problems, the Philippines is also host to a variety of different issues. From the top-down, the nation is ripe with its own political, social, and economic plights that penetrate the government to the people. There is corruption and mismanagement from the nation’s supposed leaders. Education is overlooked, taken-for-granted and delivered poorly in some instances. Workforce talent, think-tanks and grassroots leaders are scoffed at or even smart-shamed. There is chaos from the people themselves especially when it comes to cities where the rat chase is god. Pollution is almost everywhere, careless smoking and littering on the streets, as well as huge amounts of impoliteness. Poverty is rampant, with a huge chunk of the population living considerably below the poverty line. The middle-class is fortunate enough to enjoy the comforts typically found in an American home like a microwave, a decent bathroom, or a front yard. These are things that Filipinos encounter on a day-to-day basis. Most of them just overlook these issues, coming to accept it as a part of their lives, while a few frown on the status quo and try their best to change it despite people actually discouraging them from doing so.

The picture may seem painted destitute and discouraging, but was there any good art made without a little heartbreak? Much like how a tree is challenged by encroaching pavement, allowing its roots to break through the asphalt and find room to breathe, communities that are faced with demands and issues have funny habits of rallying to answer the challenge. While a number of grassroots leaders are shot down (figuratively and literally), a few more are inspired enough to take up the mantle. A few genuine hearts extend helping hands to those in need, working hard to find solutions to the problems the country faces. Resilience is found strongest when there is adversity, precisely because it is given a challenge to answer to and to test itself. The same can be said with the Filipino people—despite the hatred, the corruption, the social ills, there is still love, there is still hope, and there is still bayanihan (the Filipino virtue of helping one another) that can be found in families and communities that look out for each other despite the harshness of the real world. There is genius and incredibly moving sentiment in the stories of the people—ordinary human beings that are able to provide for themselves and their families despite the difficult conditions they face. There are no fantasies here, but there is the spirit of goodness that keeps the Filipino going.

If you’re considering retiring in the Philippines, keep this in mind: America isn’t called repulsive and disgusting because of a few bad decisions, or a few bad cities. Sure—sometimes what it does crosses the line, but it still has that original and genuine spirit which its forefathers envisioned, and what it continues to stand for. The Philippines is no different. It is not a clear-cut diamond, rather, it is that impressive old gem that still maintains its first shine, which was the reason why you fell in love with it in the first place.

For more information about retirement options in the Philippines, contact the Expatriate Living and Retirement Alliance of the Philippines (ELRAP) by visiting our website at www.bestphilippinesretirement.com or e-mailing elrap101@gmail.com.

Treasures of Bolinao

Bolinao is well-known for its pristine beaches, fresh seafood, enchanting caves, and its lighthouse. It may not seem popular for people who aren’t from the Philippines , so it would be a good idea to experience its perfect beauty before it gets crowded and trampled on! Knock on wood on the trampling!
bolinao1One of the best places to visit is the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse which is located at Patar, Bolinao. It rises 351 feet above sea level in the top of Punta Piedra Point, a towering hill of solid rock which is the sharp point of Cape Bolinao itself. It was constructed by the American, British, and Filipino engineers in 1903 on a 351 feet high point at the western area of Cape Bolinao. The lighthouse still sends signals to vessels passing by the area. This is a recommended place to catch the sunset.


bolinao2Enchanted cave – the place completely justifies its name. You will come to recognize it if you plunge yourself in its crystal clear water. It is so pure and captivating and has the power to refresh your soul. Enchanted Cave is one of the must visit attractions of Bolinao. The entire place is truly enchanted since it is a huge coral reef that emerged from underwater.The coral remains, evidence that the beachhead of Bolinao extended almost a kilometer from the current beach line. The cave, on the other hand, was a product of nature’s peculiar tricks. From walls of coral stones, we descended into a labyrinth of corals and limestone walls.


bolinao3Swim and dive at Bolinao Falls, This also ranks as one of the best places in Bolinao as it has a large area to swim and a 15 feet high main waterfall and another which was about 20 to 25 feet high. The surrounding trees and the fine clean waters unite to create a green colored water with shades of blue. The water is so clear that you can see rocks at the bottom.


bolinao4From the white sand to the rock formations, the best view of Bolinao is just in front of the coast. It is truly amazing! The stunning view extends to about 20 kilometers of rocky formations on the left end. It is still unknown to many, so go see this natural wonder. Bragging its clashing features of rock formations and its elegant stretch of white sand beach on opposite ends, it can awe just about anyone!!

In contrast to other famous tourist destinations in the Philippines though, where you can easily spot a number of bars, restaurants, cafés, and fast food chains, the establishments in Pangasinan, where Bolinao is located, are quite limited. So if you have your own ride, make sure to shop for your needs prior to taking the trip. Enjoy!!!

Of Great Heights and Amazing Views: Baler’s Paradise

view from lighthouse - retrieved from thedriveandgrind.wordpress
If you are looking for the best place to retire here in the tropical islands of the Philippines, then Baler, Aurora may be the perfect place for you! This small town has been featured in numerous shows and publications as well as visited by a lot of notable personalities both from here and abroad. Baler is known for being the last stronghold of the remaining Spanish forces in the country during the Philippine Revolution and Spanish-American War. The Spaniards took shelter at the Baler Catholic Church as its last show of resistance but eventually surrendered, finally ending the 300 dark years of Spanish rule in the country.Aside from this historical siege, Baler also prides itself for its one of a kind geographic formations, breathtaking views, rich culture and tradition, as well as its very hospitable locals.Retiring in the Philippines, especially in the simple town of Baler, will undeniably give you that peace, comfort, and adventure that you are yearning for.

Dubbed as “the birthplace of Philippine surfing,” Baler has the splendid Sabang Beach that is a perfect spot to learn how to ride the waves. It can get up to a towering nine feet in height which greatly attracts surfers from across the globe during the surfing season from September to February. Aside from these huge waves to ride, Sabang Beach is also the best place to have some ‘vitamin sea’ – feel the warmth of fine sand under your feet, enjoy the cool Baler breeze, soak up some sun, and enjoy the beauty of the ocean this side of the world.

You can also reconnect more with nature while you venture on a hike up to Baler’s Lighthouse. If you want more adventure than just sunbathing on the beach or surfing the waves, then hiking is definitely for you. Baler’s Lighthouse, popularly known as Parola, is one of the newest tourist spots in town. It is found along the line of the impressive Diguisit Rock Formations which you will reach after a 15 to 20 minute mountain climbing. The path is very steep and slippery after a rain, but you can already see a stunning view of the ocean as well as Baler’s shoreline halfway through the hike. It may be a challenging adventure but it absolutely pays off when you get to the top of the lighthouse where you get a superb 360-degree view of the seascape!

If you prefer biking over surfing or hiking, then you can enjoy the way to Baler’s PAGASA Weather Station. Located at the hilltop of Barangay Zabali, you are going to have to bike quite a lot up to this area that is around 178 meters above sea level. This is a very popular destination for bikers because who would not want to enjoy an incredible view after a very exciting and adrenaline-inducing activity? Just like at the lighthouse, what you see from this hilltop is breathtaking! You will be taken aback with how spectacular the view is – you breathe in fresh air to catch up with all the exhaustion, cool down with the refreshing light breeze, and marvel at the beauty of nature.

Being situated along the Philippine east coast, you can expect that most of the wonderful spots in Baler have jaw-dropping views of the serene and sparkling bodies of water.Just remember that these are only some of the places you can check . Baler has plenty more to offer than just unforgettable views! If you are looking into a low cost retirement in the Philippines, you can be at ease in Baler, living a peaceful life with the ever friendly Baleriano. People in Baler help each other in every way they can, coming from a very collectivistic culture. Filipino people in general, greatly value relationships with their family, friends, and other people. You will not have a hard time adjusting to your new environment. There are other expatriate retirees who live comfortably well in Baler, who can give you tips on how to cope. Moreover, you will not have to spend much in moving and living here from your home country.

Baler is just a small and simple provincial town in Aurora. It may not seem like much but it is a worthy place to settle in when it comes to retiring in the Philippines. It may not have all the luxurious things you find in a city but when it comes to humble and quiet living, Baler can be the perfect place for you.
view from pag-asa - retrieved from tupanggala

The Filipino Culture: Love for Food and Family

For the last few years, the Philippines has often been highlighted as a must-go-to destination for a perfect tropical paradise vacation. With its 7,107 islands (and counting), there are a lot of different islands to visit that are just the epitome of the perfect beach holiday. With the natural, geographical barriers of the country (the separation of islands), you’ll experience a variety of different cultures, no matter which part of the country you decide to visit. And with these different cultures and traditions, specific characteristics of the Filipino people stand out – characteristics that makes anyone who has visited or lived in the country fall in love with it in an instant.

There are so many different aspects of the culture in the Philippines that can just steal your heart in a beat. First of all, a culture that revolves traditions and morals around the love for food is a culture no one can resist. In the Philippines, this is evident – anywhere you go, with anyone you meet. By simply entering someone’s home, you will always and automatically be offered a meal or a snack. Every occasion calls for the celebration of food and the gratitude one has for its abundance. This love for food has built a food culture that revolves around many Filipino adaptations of different cuisines. And this means that the variety of tastes found in the food culture in the Philippines is one you can’t beat. The love for food is contagious.

There is always this conservative romance that can be felt anywhere in the Philippines. Family is valued with utmost importance. This love is often reflected in many cultural traits of the country. The love of family can be seen through the generosity and kindness of the Filipinos not just to their own but to anyone that they welcome into their home. There’s plenty of care, kindness, and hospitality that’s spread around. This romance is felt through the famous hospitable nature of the Filipino culture, a romance that’s so easy to fall in love with.

To find a culture that celebrates giving love through the hardships of life, generosity despite scarcity, and kindness in a world of cruelty, there’s just so much to love about the culture in the tropical paradise we call the Philippines. Discover the country of hospitality and fall in love with everything this great country offers!

The Secret of Ganduyan: The Pride of Mountain Province

Ask anyone from the Philippines or anyone who has travelled around this country, and I can guarantee that only the rare and observant individuals know of the beautiful town of Ganduyan. Before you even try to search it on Google, there really isn’t any information that is easily attainable on Wikipedia. Ganduyan is a municipality discovered only by those who visit it and have the curiosity to ask how it has become what it is now. Let’s just say, it is a town that’ll make you wish of retiring in the Philippines!

Here’s my first hint. Ganduyan is the beautiful town known as the pride of Mountain Province.It is the most culturally preserved town in the Cordillera region of Luzon. The locals have not only preserved their traditions that date back hundreds of years, but according to the Ganduyan Museum, the elders of Ganduyan were part of the only tribe in the Cordilleras that managed to defeat all intruders who tried to take over their land. And for further proof of these triumphs, they overcame these outsiders who had rifles and guns, with just hand crafted weapons and spears. Now that’s a true victory! Any guesses yet?

Ganduyan is not purposely kept a secret, but it is the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. Ganduyan is actually the traditional Kankanaey term for the beautiful town of Sagada. The name Sagada came from an old story told by local elders. The tale goes that there were these two explorers who went to the town and asked a local farmer what the local name of the town was. This local farmer was carrying traditional Filipino brooms, or ‘Sagad’ as they call it in the local dialect of Ilokano, and he thought these foreigners were asking what he was holding. So, the farmer responded with ‘SAGAD’. The explorers from then on assumed the name of the town was Sagada, and the rest was history.

Sagada or Ganduyan is a beautiful town filled with untouched traditions and cultures that can only be seen in the Cordillera regions of Luzon. It is specifically known for its historical burial tradition it shares with only a few cultures in China and Indonesia – theHanging Coffins. This tradition of hanging coffins on the side of the mountains was believed to be more in-tune with giving back to Mother Nature. They have been preserved for hundreds of years and is really a fascinating site to see.

Sagada is so serene and lovely in its own charming way. It is a small town where locals not only make the most of their beautiful agriculture and land, but they also respect it and take care of it dearly. Because of this, everything you can and will eat when in Sagada is organic, tasty and cheap – from their large choices of fresh vegetables to their appetizing red and black rice, and let’s not forget their delicious coffee! If you want low cost retirement, Philippines has Sagada to offer. This town in the mountains is really an easy choice to take.

If there is anything I love about exploring new places, it is discovering new things that you can’t see anywhere else in the world. Sagada’s unique delicacies such as ‘Pinikpikan’ and their traditions, including the different ways they show their respect to their land, are really something anyone should get the chance to experience.

From their Hanging Coffins, to their many discovered and undiscovered underground caves, and the beautiful town itself, Sagada, or may I say, Ganduyan, is one travel-goal I could recommend to anyone who wants to experience truly preserved traditions and a culture that dates back hundreds of years. Like I said, it’ll make you consider retiring in the Philippines.

Life in the Philippines from a Young Expat

In my short time in the Philippines, I have experienced quite a bit. I have lived here for just 6 months but I have been blessed to see many different parts of the country. I have seen some amazing places both in the city where I live and in my travels. And now I have a better understanding of the phrase “low cost retirement in the Philippines.”

I live in Baguio City which is known as the summer capital of the Philippines. I have traveled up and down the West Coast of this country and have yet to explore the East Coast of the Philippine islands. Although I am making my first trek to Puerto Princesa next month, I will take some time to tell you about my travels along the West Coast.

Baguio City
I am told that those who live in Manila come to Baguio to get away from the heat. I grew up in a region that snows 4 months out of the year so I cannot handle the heat. Baguio is nearly the perfect temperature with its cool evenings and mild days. The absolute best and mind blowing part about the weather here is that the only change is how much it rains. In the summer, it rains more; in the winter, hardly at all. Other than that, Baguio offers some gorgeous mountain views. Some of my favorite places to visit are Mt. Santo Tomas, Camp John Hay, Mines View Park and anywhere that doesn’t include the mall. I am more of a nature lover and I prefer to stay away from the center of the city.

If you are looking to eat in Baguio City, there are a few very delicious restaurants I could suggest. Café in the Sky is one of my favorites because of the amazing view with your meal! The coffee is also delicious there. If you are looking to eat at a place that will please the entire family, there is a food community called “Ketchup Community” near Wright Park that has something for everyone. Some of my personal favorite eateries are Amare pizza (just up the road from Wright Park) and the Baguio Craft Brewery. You absolutely cannot go wrong with any of their craft beer.

San Juan
If you are looking to try your hand at surfing, there are some amazing resorts along the beach in this area. I have stayed at some of the nicest hotels in my life along the coast in San Juan. My favorite place to stay is Awesome Hotel which offers a beautiful beach front property complete with a pool and swim-up bar. There is nothing I crave more than to come in from the beach to lounge around a shady pool and be served drinks with my swim. The surf is also very serious in San Juan. There are surf instructors littering every beach and you can take a lesson for very cheap. For the more serious surfer, there are also several places to stay away from beginners and catch some insane waves.

Anawangin Cove
This was one of the very first places I visited during my stay in the Philippines. I was very surprised, after a 4 hour drive from Baguio, at how amazingly beautiful the beach was at our hotel. The first morning that we stayed at Canoe Beach Resort, we took a hike around the backside of the mountain and came out in the beautiful and non-developed Anawangin Cove. Not only was it one of the most beautiful hikes that I’ve ever taken, but I was so thrilled to come on to a beach not surrounded by giant buildings or resorts. There was no electricity and the only noise came from several boats ready to take us back to our hotel when the sun went down. This part of the trip was so relaxing and lovely, I would surely return!

These are only a few of the places we have visited in our time here. We have seen some amazing sites, and the people of the Philippines are always friendly. If you are looking to take a trip or an extended stay or even retiring in the Philippines, rest assured knowing that you will see some beautiful sites, enjoy some delectable food and be welcomed by the friendly smiles of the locals.

When in the Summer Capital of the Philippines – Baguio City!

I have been living in Baguio City for years, but I have to admit that I never really explored the city. Every time a friend shows up and asks, “So, where should we go?” I would give a blank stare and say, “I don’t know…SM?” – a supermall with branches all over the country. Then, we would discuss on where to go, until yup, we end up in SM.

If you ask me about places I have been to in the city? Here are a few – Burnham Park (who would miss the park at the center of Baguio?), Wright Park, Mines View Park, Camp John Hay, Philippine Military Academy, The Mansion, The Diplomat Hotel, and most of the MAIN tourist attractions in the area. Aside from the low cost retirement, Philippine’s Baguio doesn’t disappoint when it comes to tourist attractions.

But when I said “explored the city,” I was actually pertaining to other matters like places to visit when you need quiet time for yourself (or someone special), when you want a good cup of coffee or a new dish you never tried, or simply a great place where you can do some catching up with a friend. Here’s a short list of places I have never been to in Baguio and nearby areas in Benguet but would definitely try this coming 2016. (I heard that they are really AMAZING!)

Café in the Sky
As the name suggests, it’s a café in the sky – skies of Santo Tomas, Cabuyao that is. The restaurant is located at one of Baguio’s highest peaks (near the “twin radars”), which means you get to have a great view of the city if it’s not covered in clouds (which works perfectly for me, either way).

The restaurant has a high-ceilinged spacious dining area. Also, it’s got a fireplace (ooohhh, sounds cozy) where you can warm yourself up in case it gets a bit cold, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Their menu is mainly Chinese Food such as stir fried highland vegetables, beef with broccoli and fried lemon chicken among others. They also serve noodle pasta dishes, rice toppings, desserts, and different beverages (hot, cold and alcoholic).

Actually, I have seen the place, because I’ve been to Mount Cabuyao a few times for some hiking, outdoor rappelling and rock climbing activities, but Café in the Sky was not in operation at that time. I guess I have another reason to visit Mount Cabuyao early next year.

Ketchup: The Food Community
Visiting the place is like hitting five birds with one stone (yes people, FIVE!). It’s actually a place that features five locally owned restaurants, so I guess that’s where “The Food Community” term was coined. A friend once told me, “If you want to dig into good-tasting food while enjoying great ambiance and distinctive architecture, this is the place to visit.”

The five mini restaurants include Rancho Norte which serves Filipino dishes, some you might not have tasted before like their specialty dishes tapangbaboyramo, tapangusa, and tapangkabayo. If you are into Thai-inspired dishes, then Happy Tummy is your place. I heard that their Crispy Tilapia in Tamarind Sauce is a must-try (noted!). If you are searching for oriental dishes, Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines are served at Rumah Sate. As for those who are health conscious, try out Green Pepper. This is a healthy gourmet diner that aims to preserve culinary traditions and serve meals from the freshest organic ingredients. They also do catering services! Finally, there’s Canto which is probably the most popular of the five because of their Lomo Ribs. This is an American restaurant that offers tacos, fries, steaks and the like, so I guess that’s another reason why it’s well-known.

Wow, after all that, I won’t know where to start when I finally do visit the place. Soon, I hope! It’s located near Wright Park.

Baguio Craft Brewery
Okay, I may not be your drinking buddy, but I can buy you a drink or two! And, I want to see the place simply because it sounds cool when you can say, “Hey, I’ve been to Baguio Craft Brewery, and the place is awesome!” Also, I am honestly curious about their strawberry craft beer “Lagud” because a lot say it’s sweet. I got a sweet tooth! Also, they have a roof deck where you can enjoy the cool breeze of Baguio and the view of the city while enjoying your craft beer with family and friends (or your special someone, again).

Baguio Craft Brewery is the first and only craft brewery in Baguio. They offer 16 different freshly brewed beer which you can taste individually if you are undecided which to gulp down. So, for beer lovers out there or those who want to buy pasalubong (gift/souvenir) for their beer-lover friends, Baguio Craft Brewery is located at the RKC Building along Marcos Highway, just 15 minutes from Session Road!

Mt. Cloud Bookshop
I LOVE books (and the smell of it!). Unlike a movie – (I also love movies by the way!) – you are free to imagine things as you read them and create whatever world you want that fits the story (or not!). Everytime that I get to walk the streets of the city, I try to drop by any bookstore whenever possible. It’s always an exciting thing for me because you’ll never know what you can find. And one thing I learned from past experience is: If you see a book you like, it’s either you buy it or lose it; that guy behind you is eyeing it too!

That being said, Mt. Cloud Bookshop is definitely a place to visit for people who love reading books, bibliotaphs out there. This is located at the top of Session Road, right beside Hill Station, Casa Vallejo Building. See you there!

BenCab Museum
For someone who loves art, like myself, having not visited this museum is a crime. Guilty as charged! I don’t even have a good excuse as to why I never stepped foot on the place! What’s worse is, my siblings have already seenit! This is definitely one of the places I NEED to visit!

The museum is located along Asin Road in Tuba, Benguet about 30 minutes from Baguio City (without traffic). This is a four-level building that features the artworks and collections of Benedicto Reyes Cabrera (Ben Cab), a National Artist for Visual Arts. From time to time, it also features works by some contemporary artists from all parts of the country. And, after satisfying yourself with incredible art masterpieces, you can also go and satisfy your tummy with home-cooked specialty dishes at their café downstairs. It features some of the family’s own recipes. Oh, I can’t wait to meet Sabel (and Mr. Ben Cab of course)!

So, there you have it, a short list of must-visit places to start my/our 2016. Life’s too short to be spending hours thinking of where to go when a friend shows up on your doorstep. And to those retiring in the Philippines, particularly in Baguio City or Benguet, then you can try out these places, too. Let’s all find out how good they are!

Mt. Pulag: It’s more than just a Sea of Clouds

When Mt. Pulag enters the conversation, people immediately associate it to a “Sea of Clouds.” Well, not for me (or at least not yet). The thing is, I’ve been to Mt. Pulag twice but have not seen that infamous “sea.” A friend of mine had no luck three times! And, I am quite sure that several other people have not had the best of days more than thrice. Please, do not feel sorry for us, because if you have not been to Mt. Pulag, we should feel sorry for you.

Before we proceed, I would like you to know that I am not an expert mountaineer nor do I have a lot of mountain climbing experience. So, do not take this as expert advice, because I don’t want anyone ending up in a ditch. I am just sharing my own experience in the hope of giving you inspiration to pursue the things you may have always planned to do, but failed to even take the first step. Also, this is a way for me to give back to the wonderful creation we’ve been blessed with – The Philippines. So, join me as we take a short hike to the highest peak in Luzon.

1

Welcome sign at the DENR Station.

The Geography
Towering at 2,922 meters (9,587 feet) above sea level, Mt. Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak, and the Philippine’s third. This alone made me antsy days before my first climb, aside from the fact that it is usually included in many Filipinos and foreigners’ to-do list – mountaineer or not.

The peak of this majestic mountain meets the borders of three provinces: Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Viscaya. It is one of the premier national parks in the country and home to 528 documented plant species, including the endemic Dwarf Bamboo, and 33 bird species. If you are lucky, you will also get to meet the Philippine Deer, Long-Haired Fruit Bat and the Giant Bushy-Tailed Cloud Rat (locally called “Bowet”), which I believe are not really that sociable, as none of us got the privilege to see a hoof, a wing nor a tail (maybe next time!).

The Trails
To reach the summit, there are four major trails to take you there – three from Benguet: Ambangeg Trail (easiest), Tawangan Trail (second longest), and Akiki (most difficult/challenging); and one from Nueva Viscaya: Ambaguio (longest). Our team took the Ambangeg Trail, as most of us were newbies.

The Journey
I heard a lot of Mt Pulag’s beauty – the fauna and flaura, the people, the grasslands, and yes the majestic “Sea of Clouds” – so when a friend of mine invited me, it took me half a second to say “Let’s go!” And, it also took me another half a second to realize I did not have the proper gear (as I said, I am not a mountaineer). Luckily, my friend, who is a walking gear shop, lent me a backpack and a sleeping bag, and told me not to worry about the tent, because he was bringing in two (or three?). A real pro this guy, so he had things a beginner friend like me could borrow. Also, he was the organizer of our team of 15.

Everything was planned and readied, then the day came. Of course, I was so excited for at last one of my desires would be scrapped off my to-see-list. The fun all started when we took a hired jeepney to the Mt. Pulag National Park Protected Area Office of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to have us registered, pay some fees (which is for the maintenance of the park and a portion for the people), and undergo a short orientation of the DOs and DON’Ts in the park. We even got to “top load” along the way. Be advised, however, that this is not safe and that an accident was reported to have cost a man’s life a few weeks after our trip which prompted local officials to prohibit “top loading.”

2

A view of the vegetable fields at the start of the hike.

From the DENR office, we headed to the Ranger Station where the hike would start. It was also where we hired a guide, as it was mandatory. When everything was set, we stretched some muscles and started to walk via the Ambangeg Trail. Being one who spent almost 25 years in the mountains and surrounded with green and nothing but green, I found the trail quite easy. It is actually something I would recommended for a novice climber. The only challenge you will face during the hike is not the trail itself but your baggage – food, water, extra clothes, utensils, tenting gears and other essentials. However, if you know how to pack light (which is something I have yet to learn) then you will not even find it a problem.

Our destination for the first day’s hike was Camp 2 where tents were set up for the night. What I enjoyed most about the hike was the beautiful landscapes that surrounded us, and for most parts, the trail is shaded with trees which offered us cool and clean air to breathe. Luckily, the weather that day was great considering that rain predominates the whole year, and showers are almost always expected. As we made our way through the seemingly endless trail of mossy forest, one question echoed more than a hundred times, “How much farther is it?” and the answer would always be, “Almost there.” Then, we would burst into laughter and amuse ourselves on how sweaty and haggard we all looked. At an average speed, including a lunch break at Camp 1, plentiful rest periods in between and picture taking sessions (of course), it took us about three hours to reach Camp 2.

The Mossy Forest we had to go through to reach Camp 2.

The Mossy Forest we had to go through to reach Camp 2.

The Camp
When we arrived, the first thing we did was to find a suitable place to anchor our tents, especially that the weather was turning cold and rain was just around the corner. Then, while the others were resting, I found myself exploring the area (typical me). The place was just magnificent! And I was thrilled just by thinking of what the summit had to offer. I took a few pictures then went back to camp.

Golden grasslands hit by the setting sun.

Golden grasslands hit by the setting sun.

The skies grew even darker, and as expected, there was a downpour all afternoon until late that night. And in between, two of my friends were cursing inside our tent because we were almost drenched, and it was quite difficult to catch some Z’s.

A rainbow graced us with its colors against the dark skies.

A rainbow graced us with its colors against the dark skies.

When the rain stopped, you could hear other campers protesting. Everybody was just soaked, except for a few in our group. So, some of us decided to come out of our tents and enjoy the night under the beautiful stars. It was freezing cold, but we managed to keep ourselves warm by drinking hot coffee! Yup, remember that walking-gear-store friend of mine? He did boil water for us. In fact, for almost all other adjacent campers. First, we hear from a neighbor tent say, “Do you have extra hot water please?” and the next things was, we were collecting water from others and boiling it so that they could keep themselves warm as well. I was not dry and cozy that night; I was tired and cold, and only managed to catch an hour’s sleep, but that experience is something I treasure.

The Summit
At around 3AM, we were up and preparing for our summit ascend. Then after 30 minutes, we were all lined up on the trail, ready with our flashlights and headlamps. Careful with our every step, we reached the summit by 5AM just in time to watch the sun rise. The weather was great; the sun played several colors of red, yellow and orange, but there was one thing missing, the Sea of Clouds! The horizon was not completely covered, so I guess we could call it the“Lake of Clouds,” instead. “Where is it?” – I knew was the question in most of the climbers’ minds. But me? I honestly did not feel any disappointment or frustration. I was lost in the moment and was relishing every second of the experience. I was so grateful for such wonderful creation and that I got the chance to witness it.

With a partial Sea of Clouds, we waited for the majestic sun to light up the day.

With a partial Sea of Clouds, we waited for the majestic sun to light up the day.

And as the sun was rising, the amazing grasslands were also being slowly revealed to us. Then I noticed one thing and thought to myself, “Wow. One wrong step and it would be my last.” Apparently, losing your balance in certain areas of the trail could lead you down to who knows where, but I shrugged that thought off. Then before we knew it, it was time to head back to camp. I didn’t want to leave, but boy was the sun burning hot! So, as we made our way down, I was still taking more pictures with my camera and my memory. I guess, we all were.

Trying to take a picture of the beauty that is Mt Pulag and saving it in my memory. Thank God for this wonderful creation.

Trying to take a picture of the beauty that is Mt Pulag and saving it in my memory. Thank God for this wonderful creation.

Although the Sea of Clouds is a huge plus for the experience, I honestly believe that Mt. Pulag offers a lot more than just a view of a cloud-filled horizon. There are no words that can capture its magnificence. It’s something you need to experience to understand. And with that, I leave you with this maxim that every traveler should bear in mind, “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints; kill nothing but time.” But let me add, “Buy nothing but souvenirs (haha), and keep nothing but memories.”

Journey to and in the Philippines by Morson

-A Diving Adventure-
By Christopher Morson

Christopher Morson recently visited the Philippines on a reconnaissance trip, with an eye toward retirement here. An avid diver, he took the opportunity to indulge his passion on board the M/Y Vasco through Cebu in the Visayas to Tubattaha Reef. He has kindly allowed us to share his impressions, both of the diving and of the Philippines…

A delayed flight meant missing the connection to Manila, so I arrived about seven hours late at Moalboal Blue Orchid Resort in Cebu. Not bad, very mellow resort owned by an English expat and former taikwondo (I think) world champion who now lives mostly in Japan.

We dived the Cathedral and the sardine run, millions of these fish in a concert of movement, and one beautiful wall full of soft corals. We went from there onto Malapascua Island where we saw the Thresher sharks (go to YouTube and search Thresher Sharks and Malapascua).

Chocolate was a great site where we saw sleeping sharks, the millipi (a huge nudibranch that disguises itself as a weed), Frogfish,mating crabs and sea horses amongst other beasts, great and small, of the sea.

Next was Kalignan, an idyllic island about 90 minutes from Malapascua,but it was beset by a lot of inexperienced divers which made the experience a little less than it could have been, but diving with Freddy,a Swiss expat dive-operator from the Red Sea, saved the day.

We continued on to Sea’s Springs in Anilao where Mike,the owner’s son, was a great divemaster.The place has profuse macro wildlife, and I will be back to explore this area more thoroughly.

Onboard ship, the M/Y Vasco…first night was a little boozy as they had an electrical issue and couldn’t pull anchor, which resulted in the ship’s crew providing copious amounts of alcohol in compensation. As divers we were obliged to help the captain with our consumption! There is now a new cocktail we have christened as the ‘Vasco’….gin ,ice and green tea…..very refreshing and surprisingly tasty.

We have a lovely group of people on board with a good level of competency underwater. Francois, an excellent 75 year old underwater videographer shared some of his experiences in Lembeh and Raja Ampat; Brooke from Tasmania; a couple from Montreal (he works with artists and the creative side of media marketing);Nico a young French guy who has dived 48 days in a row until yesterday; an American woman, Jocelyn,who works for TI in the Philippines; a Filipino doctor, ‘Pipit’, from southern Mindanao; Bob from San Diego who has dived in almost every condition imaginable and in some extremely remote places (he also is extremely knowledgeable on the fauna and flora); and Mike from Vancouver who is in the construction industry–a grey fox who is probably the least experienced of us, but fun and knowledgeable.

We dived Apo Reef for the first day, which reminded me a little of the northern Red Sea when I was there in the late 70’s and early 80’s. White tip sharks,turtles, a large tiger or bull shark which was difficult to identify as it was deeper and going away,profusions of nudibranchs and clouds of chromis. We saw tuna hunting in the blue and other species, too many to mention here.

I have to say that being out on this converted Russian spy trawler, with the sunsets, warm waters, good company and food, feeds the soul,exercises the body, and relaxes the heart and mind. I am content.

Francois and I are discussing how to use his video. He wants me to do the English commentaries and we are discussing how to market them in the US under the aegis of a 503c where we can use the proceeds to do something in sustainable maritime ecology. Hopefully there are ways to educate the dynamite fishermen and provide alternative ways to help them support their families. At least that is the direction we are headed.

Quimatin turns out to be quite memorable…..an interesting garden of macro creatures. It is a huge volcanic rock in the middle of nowhere. There were some extraordinary nudibranchs, a diversity of crabs, one of which nobody, at least on this boat, has ever seen before….a crab that had ‘buried’ its back in what may have been a white sponge….a very large and heavy disguise maybe thirty times the size of his body…..not a decorator crab, but something akin, but small like a porcelain crab.

So we are now underway to Tubattaha Reef, a seventeen hour steam overnight to this UNESCO protected reef.

What a place.

Visibility today was, in places 140+ feet. Walls,walls, walls…white soft coral forests, huge sea fans and sponges I have not seen the like of since the Red Sea in the 70’s! Turtles,oceanic white tips, a huge tiger shark,reflective white sand with coral formations, a rare dart fish,clouds of snapper, schools of sturgeon and jack, so much that the senses are overloaded in the mill pond conditions and warm water! The magnificence is hard to describe, and the over-used word ‘awesome’ does not seem to do it justice.

As I write the sun is setting and the sea has turned pink, reflecting the colors on the horizon in the water.

Day 2 in Tubattaha:

This morning started with a sunrise, naturally (ahem!).
A great orange ball slowly emerged from beneath the mirrored sea, casting some kind of golden path that glistened and lead to nowhere. Sleepy heads emerged from below,slightly resentful but expectant of the impending dives,clutching tea and coffee mugs that helped us all introduce the day to our brains.

We boarded the tenders in still damp wetsuits, from last night’s night dive, and then dropped into gin clear water over the reef. I know it may be boring to read that once again we visited with turtles, sharks (grey reef and oceanic white tip),moray eels, clouds of jacks, an incredible profusion of chromis, of trigger fish busy building nests (they form a circular depression in the sand,clearing it by blowing water and then picking the small exposed pieces of dead coral and rock in their mouths, and placing them around the periphery),schools of fusiliers,nudibranchs and other macro life. The walls here have a plunging magnificence reaching in places to 100 metres before the next ledge, and after that so sheer,deep and straight that even with this wonderful water clarity there seems to be no bottom. Sea fans grow into the current and have spans that are larger than an American SUV, and we saw sponges the size of a Fiat 500.

This is challenging diving as, between the currents that will push you along and take you deeper than planned, there is also the problem of cumulative nitrogen uptake (from 4 + dives daily), and maintaining rigorous depth management and air consumption monitoring. Not for rookies, if one is to get the best experience from one’s surroundings.

Day 3:

Well this morning’s dive was a bit abortive…..it started out fairly calm but ended in the washing machine….the current was probably eight or nine knots and had vortexes in it…you could have gotten flushed! We saw very little except in passing (quickly and don’t blink!).

The second dive was definitely more interesting, and easier,some turtles but of greater interest were the two Thresher sharks we saw while at depth…perhaps 5-6 foot bodies and eight to ten feet with the tail.

Third dive today was pretty special; same place as this morning but without the current.Two encounters out in the blue with sharks, the first was impressive but the second was really quite extraordinary ……at the very least a dozen, schooling around a school of jacks,round and round and round but no attack we (I) saw. It is thought generally–and I agree–that they were Silky sharks, which are quite rare compared to white tip and grey reef sharks which are more solitary Pelagics. Afterwards, since we had been deep and most were at,or close, to obligatory deco stops, we spent time in the ‘octopus’ coral garden at 15 or 20 feet looking at young fish and beautiful corals of every different hue.

Day 4:

One abortive dive looking for hammerheads in the morning, but this afternoon’s dive made all the difference. I found another operculum on the way out to the reef drop off, then we saw schooling grey reef sharks up close who were hunting a school of Jacks. There was a great shoal of barracuda, a huge Merou (Malabar Grouper) maybe six feet. A large tuna cruising the reef edge passed me within two or three feet, and a large marble ray, but the highlight, of course, must be my first whale shark, about 20 or perhaps 22 or so feet in size would be my estimate,taking into account that things seem bigger underwater. On the reef I have seen Napoleon Wrasse (which is endangered) and bump head parrot fish amongst many others. What a magnificent beast….gentle,huge and deceptively fast.

Juan was in the right place at the right time photographically and we think he got some great shots.

One more dive to go on M/Y Vasco…can it get any better?This was a very special trip and one that I will not forget. I will return.

We are leaving for port, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, and the seas are rolling, so it will be an interesting night.

El Nido (Palawan):
After disembarking and an ‘exciting’ van ride from Puerto Princesa to here, I checked in my hotel.

The driver of a grossly overpacked van with children, chickens, baggage and the bag boy riding the roof was, to say the least, a little creative with the accelerator. The guy in front of me who spoke no English (unusual here in Philippines), simply made the sign of the cross,EVERY time, we started after dropping or picking passengers! Not guaranteed to give me hope for a long and enjoyable life.

Anyway safely here, and met a nice Finnish guy…we spent a few beers together. I have done three dives in surprisingly cold water, only one of which was really good, but I am told this is exactly the wrong time of the year for this spot. One dive was particularly interesting though, a devil,or Mobular Ray,a large area of cabbage coral, schools of jacks, some tuna, barracuda, clouds of xanthia , a smaller version of a kind of tuna(?)in schools and a profusion of copulating nudibranchs. Fish too…..seems that Spring brings the urge of love wherever you are….

Also have met a lovely Filipina who lives and works in Singapore and she has been wonderful about teaching me about the language and culture in the few days we have dived together.

I am getting increasingly comfortable here, liking the people, the weather, the joy in simple things that the people express, the food…and most of all the SMILES.

Off to Coron, Manila and Davao next…..

Ingat ka (take care) until my next missive!

St. Luke’s Medical Center: Internationally acclaimed Health Care Facility

St. Luke’s Medical Center:
Internationally Acclaimed Philippine Healthcare Facility

st-lukes-global-cityJust recently (April 2015), a website whose mission is to provide high-quality information to help people make the best decision about nursing education has ranked St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) – Global City as number four among its list of 25 Most Amazing Modern Hospitals in the World. This is not the first international recognition that SLMC has received. Back in 2012, it was also named as one of the most beautiful hospitals in the world by HealthExecNews.com, a “health care information network and daily publication focusing on trends facing executives working in the health care industry.” In the list, this hospital was ranked 11th place. And yet another one in 2014 when the Diplomatic Council cited St. Luke’s Medical Center – both Global City and Quezon City branches – as two of the “20 Best Hospitals Worldwide.”

There is no question that SLMC is one of the best hospitals in the Philippines, if not the best. It is a wellness-centered infrastructure that offers state-of-the-art medical technology and 5 star hotel-like ambience. Because it is one of the internationally recognized hospitals in the country, it regularly receives patients from across the globe, including Asia, Middle East, Micronesia, Europe and the United States. The hospital holds a 650-bed capacity and houses a team of over 1,700 physicians and 2,600 non-medical employees. Some of the technological advancements the hospital is ready to offer you include 3-Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 3D echocardiography, 4D ultrasound, 64-slice CT scanner, electron microscopy, positron emission tomography scanner & cyclotron , radiofrequency ablation, and several others.

SLMC has earned the admiration and respect of both local and international organizations. It is accredited by the following organizations:

The Joint Commission International (JCI)

This US-based, independent, non-profit organization is the international arm of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO) which is the oldest and most prestigious health care accreditation institution in the world.

TEMOS (Trust. Effective Medicine. Optimized Services.)

This is a German-based independent certification body that certifies hospitals, dental clinics and primary health care centers worldwide based on adherence to their stringent and comprehensive criteria and the Quality Management Systems standards.

The Diplomatic Council

This is a non-government organization established as a Global Think Tank which adheres to the principles of the charters of the United Nations. They strongly believe that commercial diplomacy is the foundation of international understanding which is key to a more peaceful interaction among nations.

American College of Radiology (ACR)

stlukes-medical-center-qcACR is a non-profit medical assistance association based in Virginia dedicated to serving the society by empowering radiology professionals to advance the practice, science and profession of radiological care. Since their establishment, they have accredited over 35, 000 facilities in 10 imaging modalities.

Aside from accreditations from the different international organizations mentioned above, St. Luke’s Medical Center was given the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand Award 2014 during the annual brand performance survey where seven Asian countries participated in. The hospital also received the Gold Brand in Hospital Category in 2007 and 2008; and a Platinum Trusted Brand from the year 2009 to 2014. Furthermore, SMLC is affiliated with the following international hospitals: New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Both Quezon City and Global City branches of St. Luke’s Medical Center are a state-of-the-art healthcare canter that fuses the expertise of locally and internationally trained and experienced doctors, and medical and nonmedical professionals. Partnered with high-end technology, facilities, techniques and procedures, SLMC is one of the best hospitals, not only in the Philippines, but across the globe.

For more information, you may visit:

http://www.stluke.com.ph/aboutus/accreditationsandaffiliations

http://www.bestmasterofscienceinnursing.com/25-most-amazing-modern-hospitals/

http://www.bestmasterofscienceinnursing.com/25-most-amazing-modern-hospitals/

Philippine Expressways: Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX)

TPLEX

FvfTarlac0101_13

The Philippines has a network of expressways, mostly found in Luzon, providing a smoother and faster travel time for motorists. The first expressway systems in the country built in the 1970s were the Northern Luzon Expressway (formerly North Diversion Road) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEx, formerly South Super Highway). In 1999, the first Elevated Toll Road in the Philippines called Metro Manila Skyway was completed, while the first Electronic toll Collection was introduced in the SLEx and Skyway Systems in 2001.

Highways are very essential structures that not only greatly improve the transportation system, but also a country’s economy. With the increasing number of automobiles, the need for more highways or expressways becomes even more apparent which is why another expressway is currently on the works and is expected to be completed as early as this year, 2015, or early of next year 2016, three years earlier than the initial projected date of completion.

The Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) is a four-lane express way currently under construction north of Manila. It stretches 88.85 kilometers, connecting northern and central Luzon with its northernmost terminal currently located in Rosario, La Union, and its southernmost terminus located in Tarlac City, Tarlac. So, people (especially those traveling north) will experience a virtually traffic-free ride with the opening of the TPLEX. Once the entire project is completed, it will only take about three hours of travel time from Balintawak, Quezon City to the country’s summer capital, Baguio City. Imagine the time saved – families from Manila who want to enjoy a cool weekend and breathe fresh pine-filled air can absolutely have what they want!

Coolest Cities and Towns in the Philippines

The Philippines is framed by the equator and the Tropic of Cancer, making it a generally hot and humid country. However, there are certain places that locals and even tourists visit during summer – aside from the breathtaking beaches! – to escape the heat of the sun. These are the “cool towns” that are an ultimate paradox to the country’s tropical climate!

Baguio
Burnham-Lake- Baguio-City
For 99 years, the city has been celebrated as the Summer Capital of the Philippines. It was once the playground of the Americans who built the city in the 1900’s for a sanatorium for heat-oppressed soldiers, which later was transformed into their vacation spot.

At 5,200 feet above sea level, the city enjoys low temperatures – the coldest morning on record was at 6.2 degree Celsius in January of 1961.

Sagada

Hanging coffins-Sagada

This is a municipality in Mountain Province which is not only famous for its hanging coffins and incredible caves and waterfalls, but also for its cool climate that can reach as low as 10 degree Celsius in the months of January and February. It is situated 5,300 feet above sea level, offering an ideal climate for those seeking for refuge from the summer’s heat.

Tagaytay

Tagaytay
If you want to escape the heat of the city, particularly Manila, then Tagaytay is the perfect place to go. This is among the popular tourist destinations of the country because of its outstanding scenery, most especially the view overlooking Taal Volcano. It has a cool climate being 2,300 feet above sea level and is easy to get to since the travel only takes an hour and half from Manila.

Banaue

Banaue Rice Terraces
A municipality in the province of Ifugao that is widely known for its Rice Terraces and for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Batad and Bangaan Rice Terraces. With its highest mountains towering at 4,900 feet above sea level, the town experiences about 20 degree Celsius during the months of April to September, and about 16 degrees Celsius from November to January.

Don Salvador Benedicto

Don Salvador Benedicto
This is dubbed as “Little Baguio,” and “Summer Capital of Negros Occidental.” This town was built primarily for the consolidation of the remote Barangays (towns) of a city and two municipalities that seemed neglected. It is 2,500 feet above sea level with the coldest months – December, January and February – having temperatures ranging from 16-27 degrees Celsius.

Canlaon City

Canlaon
You might have heard of the country’s famed oldest tree that is believed to be more than 1,300 years old in this municipality in Negros Oriental, but this is not the only reason why people visit the place, especially during summer. Aside from the numerous waterfalls and an incredible trek experience up Mount Kanlaon, the city has a cool micro-climate being 2,600 feet above sea level, appealing to those who want to stay cool during the warmer seasons.

Davao City

Davao
Contrary to the concrete jungles and high-rise structures that dominate most Philippine cities, Davao City will welcome you with towering mountains and breathtaking green landscapes.

This is also one of the three cities that share Mount Apo, the country’s highest peak at 9,692 feet above sea level. You can also opt for the mountains of Toril, Marilog and Calinan for pine-canopied trails, fresh air and invigorating waterfalls.

Lantapan

Batanes
Bukidnon is a province that houses cool locales, including Dahilayan and Malaybalay (another “little Baguio”). However, the coldest among these plateaus is Lantapan. With its fertile land at 4,000 feet above sea level, it is not only an ideal basin for vegetables but also for people who want to experience a cool climate. Additionally, it is also known as the gateway to the country’s second highest peak – Mount Dulang-Dulang.

Itbayat
Located only 200 meters from the tip of Taiwan, this is the northernmost municipality of the country. Farthest from the equator, Itbayat actually has four seasons instead of two, and can have temperatures as low as 7 degrees Celsius from the months of November to December.

THIRD WORLD CHAOS AND WHY WE LOVE IT

There are a lot of trade-offs in the third world when it comes to third world chaos that the author describes as freedom. If you have never been to the Philippines, the drivers can be insane. Because of there is little law enforcement in many areas, the law of the jungle does exist. To describe this, you would have to see the way that folks drive here which is absurd, but there is rhyme and reason to their driving habits, and it is just a part of the learning curve.

When driving and you are trying to change lanes or make a turn in traffic you will have to take a directive which is usually by using hand signals. Since there is so much third world craziness in the Philippines, it may take some time to adjust. Other examples of chaos are people throwing their trash on the street, smoking on the street, vehicles belching smoke, among others. Does a long term resident like myself enjoy these things? Well, of course not. I as many other expats have learned to adjust, yet again, it is a trade-off. The last time I visited my family in the States and was driving through a residential area, I was warned not to go even one mile over 25 miles per hour. There were signs on the streets saying that there was photo radar. My father explained to me how his car that I was driving would be billed for speeding and it would be sent through the mail.

There are so many rules and regulations in the first world unlike the Philippines which is the complete opposite to that and therefore something that I call freedom. Obviously, many will disagree, but who likes liter on the street, vehicles belching smoke, and crazy drivers? but from another perspective, freedom lovers as myself hate rules and regulations. In sum, there are pros and cons to living in the Philippines when it comes to the third world chaos, but for many like myself, this is an acceptance for what we describe as our freedom.

– Bruce Silverman