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Now is the time to travel

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By Johannes Chua

The time to travel is now.

Filipinos are traveling in droves outside the usual destinations such as Hong Kong or Singapore. Today, Filipinos can be ‘heard’ – or be seen in social media – swimming in Maldives, hiking in the Alps, or strolling in Edinburgh.

JUST AS ENCHANTING – A tourist swims out of the ‘Secret Lagoon’ in El Nido, Palawan, which is just one of the many tourist destinations in the country other than the world-famous Boracay Island that senior lawmakers want to be promoted. (EPA)

JUST AS ENCHANTING – A tourist swims out of the ‘Secret Lagoon’ in El Nido, Palawan, which is just one of the many tourist destinations in the country other than the world-famous Boracay Island that senior lawmakers want to be promoted. (EPA)

Travelling has indeed become easier with the advent of technology. From booking a flight, reserving a hotel room, to researching places where to dine and relax, all these can be done with just a smartphone and a reliable Internet connection. You can do all these things inside a crowded coffeeshop, in the middle of a farm, or even at the comfort of your own bed.

Though traveling has become easy, it still needs the ‘human factor’ – the drive to discover new places, the passion to learn new cultures, the curiosity to taste a new cuisine. All these will make travel more memorable and worth it.

Much ado about budget. Though travel has become easier, there is still the ‘monetary’ factor to make it happen. There are expenses entailed to move you from one place to the other and of course, tickets to purchase and meals to take. However, a limited budget is not an excuse to just spend the holidays / long weekend at home.

In fact, for a limited budget, these are a lot of options if you just look ‘deeper’ in our own country. Forget Maldives, we have our Boracay experiencing a renaissance; forget the Alps as you can hike inthe cool trails of Mt. Pulag; forget Edinburgh as we have our own Crisologo Street in Vigan. Millennials who are on a budget can always find ways to create an experiential moment – and fill their IG feed – without breaking the bank.

Here are some travel suggestions for various budgets. Take note that these are just estimates per person based on our research and includes transportation. For the exact figures, visit the respective website or call the town’s tourism office.

If you have PhP1,000 to PhP2,000: Option 1: Visit the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. A lot of people have not been to this historic church even if it is just 42 kilometers away from Manila.

After touring the church, there are a lot of pasalubong shops in the town, make sure to bring the ‘inipit’ back home. Option 2: Head south to Pansol, Laguna. Though this town is known for private pools, there are a lot of water parks and wave pools in the area. Going there, pass by the Rizal House and learn why it is painted green. Don’t forget to drop by the church where the young Rizal was baptized.

If you have PhP2,500 to PhP4,000: Option 1: Tagaytay is not only a weekend destination as there are a lot of activities that can be done there any time of the day. Start breakfast with strong Tagaytay coffee, go around the park and breathe in fresh pine-scented air. For lunch, savor bulalo while enjoying a panoramic view of Taal Lake and Volcano. For a more breathtaking experience, ride on one of the country’s tallest Ferris Wheel at the Sky Ranch.

Option 2: For a lesson in history, a lot of people are not aware that there is an Aquino Center and Museum in Luisita Commercial Complex. Numerous artifacts are located inside the modest museum and will make one appreciate the contributions of the Aquino couple to our identity as a nation.

If you have PhP5,000 to PhP7,000: Option 1: Go farther down south and discover the Laguna-Quezon province via Viaje del Sol (or Way of the Sun). Private organizations and travel agencies offer this tour but you can also devise your own itinerary. Visit the churches of Nagcarlan and Liliw; drop by the pottery studio of Ugu Bigyan in Tiaong; appreciate art and antiques at Sulyap in San Pablo. There are more stops to discover in these two provinces and we are sure that it is worth every minute.

Option 2: Baguio can be done on a budget. In fact, a lot of attractions in this holiday destination are free. Enjoy the sights at Burnham Park, walk around the public market, stroll along Session Road. What makes a Baguio experience unique is when you time your visit during artists’ meet or writers’ events. There is a strong artistic community in this side of the Cordilleras. After all that art, indulge in some ukay-ukay shopping especially at night near Burnham Park.

If you have PhP8,000 to PhP10,000: Option 1: Yes, Boracay is just so enticing especially after its rebirth. But again, it is not Boracay who has the monopoly of white sands and pristine waters. Fly to Cebu, take the Ceres bus to the northernmost town which is the location of Hagnaya Port. Here, take a ferry bound to the island-paradise of Bantayan. You have to see it for yourself why this tiny island deserves a mention. It is hoped that progress that is creeping in the island would not be detrimental to its pristine environment.

Option 2: Now is the time for Mindanao! Davao is now, rightfully so, overexposed because of our President but other destinations in this region deserve a mention. Head to Siargao where the surf is up and the beach culture is thriving. But for those who want to stay away from the sun, we suggest Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon. CDO balances modernity and nature very well while Bukidnon has expansive farms and pineapple plantations that will truly make a trip unique and memorable.

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