Fulfill Your Artsy Barkada’s Fantasies in these Spots near Manila

Picture this: you and your barkada of creative souls and inquisitive minds are looking to get some inspiration. Sure there are museums and galleries abound in Manila, but maybe you’re looking to get out of the city too. Is there a place you can go where your creative juices can be stirred without the stresses that come with traveling in the city? The answer is a resounding yes, there are awesome barkada destinations near Manila that artsy groupies like you can venture.

Not only are there quaint galleries and museums to be discovered outside the metro, but there are also places where you can get your hands dirty and let the creative juices freely flow. Bonus points: many of these spots entail a road trip and some good food too!

Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden and Restaurant

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Photo by eLjeProks | CC BY

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Established in 2000, Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden and Restaurant has remained an underrated destination in Tiaong, Quezon. But for aspiring potters, hungry foodies, or just admirers of finer things, this place can’t be missed. Ugu Bigyan is a renowned Filipino pottery artist who decided to open his lovely home and even more delightful garden to the public.

Artsy barkadas can come here to participate in a pottery workshop, where they can learn the basics of the art. You can come here to shop Ugu Bigyan’s exquisite Continue reading Fulfill Your Artsy Barkada’s Fantasies in these Spots near Manila

Try this Laguna Visita Iglesia Itinerary for a Memorable Holy Week

Visita Iglesia is an intrinsic part of Filipino culture during Holy Week. Visiting 7 churches not only appeals to our piety, but to our natural penchants for lakwatcha as well.  Thus over the years the traditional Visita Iglesia has evolved into a family or barkada affair that also involves travel and adventure. So this year, try out this Laguna Visita Iglesia itinerary for a prayerful and cultural Holy Week.

San Pablo 

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Photo by jopetsy | CC BY
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Image source

One of the largest cities in the province of Laguna is San Pablo. It is most famous for its Seven Lakes, which are a major daytrip destination. For a quick trip, visit the largest of the lakes, Sampaloc Lake, which is just behind the city hall. Take a quick stroll around the lake or have a bite at Café Lago for a sweeping lake view. Continue reading Try this Laguna Visita Iglesia Itinerary for a Memorable Holy Week

These Underrated Spots in Ilocos Norte will Redefine Your Vacation

by Julia Escaño

Ilocos Norte, the northwestern-most province in the island of Luzon, has become synonymous with windmills and white beaches. Rightly so, we think, with these popular sights truly a breathtaking experience. But while tourists crowd all the usual spots, there are lots more to see in this rich and laid-back province. Check out these underrated spots in Ilocos Norte for a one-of-a-kind trip (and unique selfies!).

Cabo Bojeador Lighthouse, Burgos

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Also known as the Burgos Lighthouse, the Cabo Bojeador Lighthouse was first lit in March 1892 and is still operational up to this day. It marks the northwestern-most tip of the country and serves as a beacon for ships entering our waters from the north. The lighthouse offers commanding views of Cape Bojeador from its hilltop location. It’s perfect for sunset selfies against the structure’s beautifully preserved Spanish colonial architecture. The lighthouse’s volunteer staff also offer short guided tours where guests can learn all about its Continue reading These Underrated Spots in Ilocos Norte will Redefine Your Vacation

Have this Unique Manila Daytrip by Taking the Pasig River Ferry

Think you’ve seen and done it all around the Metro? Think again! The Pasig River Ferry service may have been opened in 2007 (and reopened in 2014), but it remains to be a secondary and oft-forgotten means to get around the city. With this Manila day trip itinerary, however, not only will you evade traffic, but you’ll also get to discover another side to the city itself.

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Photo by Noel Perlas | CC BY

Operating from Mondays to Saturdays from 6:00AM to 4:15PM, the Pasig River Ferry includes the stations of Plaza Mexico, Escolta, PUP, and Sta. Ana in Manila; Guadalupe in Makati; and San Joaquin and Pinagbuhatan in Pasig. For rates and Continue reading Have this Unique Manila Daytrip by Taking the Pasig River Ferry

This Bulacan Itinerary is Perfect for Every Weekend Warrior

Bulacan is one of the most historical provinces in the Philippines. From the Malolos Constitution to the Battle of Quingua, many momentous events in our country’s story took place here. It’s also rich in culinary tradition and natural resources, making it a great destination for short vacations.

So for you weekend warriors out there, we created a list of the must-visit tourist spots in Bulacan! Choose between natural wonders, cultural landmarks, and delicious food for a fun weekend with the gang.

Tour Angat Rainforest Eco-Park, Norzagaray

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Photo by Albert Lozada | CC BY

The Angat Watershed isn’t only responsible for the potable drinking water or the electricity within Manila and its surrounding towns and provinces. It’s also home to a diverse species of flora and fauna native to the Philippines. A tour at the Angat Rainforest Eco-Park, which is part of the Angat Dam Continue reading This Bulacan Itinerary is Perfect for Every Weekend Warrior

This Heritage Town in Laguna is a Living Museum Worth Visiting

by Julia Escaño

If the constant stream of tourists in places like Vigan and Taal say anything, it’s that there’s still space in the Filipino’s heart for culture and history. After all, there’s no better way to get a feel for the olden days than to visit a town that’s pretty much a time machine. One such place is the Pila Heritage Town in Laguna.

Pila’s historic town center is located in Barangay Sta. Clara Norte. In 2000, The National Historical Comission (NHC) declared it as a National Historical Landmark, but didn’t gain traction as a mainstream tourist spot until a few years ago. If you’re looking for a cultural weekend experience and a quick break from the city, check out Pila Heritage Town for a good dose of history.

It’s only 1 of 4 such towns in the country

Over the centuries, one war or another obliterated most of our rich heritage. After 300 years of Spanish colonization and the subsequent American reign, we were left with only 4 towns recognized as national historic landmarks. These are the city of Vigan, the town of Taal in Batangas, Silay in Negros, and Pila, Laguna.

It’s like going back in time

A visit to Pila Heritage Town is an excellent way to get a real feel of the Philippines in that era. Its rareness and the stellar condition is a unique peek at the way the country once was. It’s also an opportunity for some great photos, with blocks and blocks Continue reading This Heritage Town in Laguna is a Living Museum Worth Visiting

8 Artsy Activities to Enjoy in Manila

Sure, Manila gets a bad rap for its horrendous traffic and pollution. And while many people (locals and foreigners alike) love to hate this frequently misunderstood city, the country’s capital is teeming with fun things to do and cool places to see—particularly for the artsy and creative. If you’re happiness revolves around arts, crafts, and music, do check out these 8 creative activities in Manila.

1. Visit museums

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Image source

Visiting museums is not just all about appreciating or interpreting art. It is also one of the quickest ways to better understand a city. So needless to say, whether you’re into arts or not, a trip to the museum should be on your things to do in Manila list. Admire artworks, sculptures and artifacts at these museums*:

The National Museum
Artists of all levels and skills should pay the National Museum a visit, as it holds some of the most significant artworks and archeological pieces about the Filipino culture. Many of these national treasures date as far back as the 18th century, such as the 3,000-year-old Manunggul Burial Jar. Of course, our very own version of Mona Lisa, Juan Luna’s Spoliarium, will surely give you heart-wrenching feels and chills. Artworks by Hidalgo, Botong Francisco, Luz, and Manansala, are also a must-see. Continue reading 8 Artsy Activities to Enjoy in Manila

Where to Best Experience Christmas Spirit in the Philippines

Saying Christmas season is a huge deal among Filipinos is an understatement. Being a predominantly Catholic country, the Philippines just can’t help but live and breathe Christmas. We excitedly start the countdown as soon as the “ber” months roll in. The anticipation further builds up when radio stations start filling the airwaves with Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas songs. And for some reason, we automatically start LSS-ing to its catchy tunes, much to our dismay or guilty pleasure. Then Christmas-themed events and bazaars, both old and new, begin to pop-up everywhere. So if you’re looking for places where you can truly relish the spirit of Christmas, don’t miss some of these top Christmas attractions in the Philippines:

1. Ayala Triangle Gardens’ Festival of Lights

Photo by Marc Gerard Del Rosario | CC BY
Photo by Marc Gerard Del Rosario | CC BY

Conde Nast Traveler deemed The Festival of Lights in Ayala Triangle Gardens as one of the most spectacular places in the world to see Christmas light displays. Like a destination straight out of fairy tale, this miniature forest right smack in the middle of Makati CBD transforms into an enchanting paradise at night. Its millions of twinkling lights that hang from trees and Christmas hymns that fill the air will surely melt even the Grinchest of hearts. Now on its 6th year of offering holiday cheer, this synchronized lights and sounds show runs daily until January 8 from 6pm-10pm every 30 minutes.

2. Silay City’s Christmas Village

Photo by Tj Samson
Photo by Tj Samson

Christmas celebration is a serious matter for the Silaynons. Every year, participating barangays in Silay City, Negros Occidental goes head to head and vie for the best belen and arc. These intricately-designed Christmas belens and arcs are exhibited at their public plaza that they meticulously convert into a Yuletide- Continue reading Where to Best Experience Christmas Spirit in the Philippines

These Eerie Spots Near Manila Will Get You Into the Halloween Spirit

by Julia Escaño

Between visiting departed loved ones and partying in your chosen costume, Halloween season is always full of festivities. But is this really what Halloween is about? Or is it about letting the spirits and elementals of the netherworlds roam freely for one night?

No matter your flavor of Halloween, there’s no denying that ghost hunting and horror stories are part of the holiday. Looking for a destination to get your hands on some hair-raising excitement? These top haunted places near Manila are sure to give you a taste of Halloween’s essence. So bring your brave buddies, strap on those running shoes (just in case), and get the ultimate Halloween experience!

St. Pancratius Chapel, La Loma Cemetery

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Photo by cyndayco/ CC BY | Photo by cyndayco/ CC BY

Approximately 132 years ago the La Loma Cemetery, then known as the Cementerio de Binondo, opened its original wrought iron gate to the gentry of Manila. Since then, dozens of the country’s elite have been laid to rest in its grounds, lying beneath ornate tombs and magnificent mausoleums. It has also been years since the old St. Pancratius Chapel at the heart of the cemetery was put to use.

As creepiness goes, the abandoned chapel with its baroque design and skull and crossbones details is pretty hair-raising, especially when you visit it on a quiet afternoon. If you’re lucky enough to peek through an open window, the empty hall and debris on the floor are a haunting remembrance of decay. That said, actual horror stories at the St. Pancratius Chapel are pretty rare, so there should Continue reading These Eerie Spots Near Manila Will Get You Into the Halloween Spirit

24 Hours in Bataan: A Day In The Country’s Cultural Haven

by Julia Escaño

The weekend is coming, and you have nothing planned. Maybe your bones are still a little sore from that climb you did last weekend. But there’s the undeniable travel itch, and you just have to get out there and do something. You want to travel, but hopefully somewhere not too far it will take up your whole weekend again.

We get it. Wanderlust on a time budget is a thing, and we’ve got you covered.

Bataan province is a promising destination for culture and history enthusiasts. The best thing is that it’s only 2 hours from Manila — easily accessible by bus or car! Between shrines, memorials, and beautifully preserved colonial architecture, there is so much to see and do here to foster national appreciation.

If you’ve only got a day for exploration, make every minute count with this handpicked selection of things to do in the country’s cultural and historical mecca. You can kiss your travel itch goodbye for now.

In the morning: Get in touch with history in Mt. Samat National Shrine

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Photo by Storm Crypt | CC BY

Start your morning with a solemn but exhilarating bird’s eye view of Bataan’s hills and rice terraces at Mt. Samat Shrine. A scenic drive to Continue reading 24 Hours in Bataan: A Day In The Country’s Cultural Haven