10. Thunderbird, Poro Point, La Union
From Pangasinan, we decided to take a quick side trip to La Union, since I really haven't been there to explore. We ended up staying a night in Thunderbird Poro Point. I was pleasantly surprised to like the place. Contrary to what others may say, the exclusive, private and tranquil setting is enough for me to spend a weekend here.
9. Kenyama, Guimaras
As I've said, I have changed in terms of my needs for travel. This year, I was after more of relaxation, not adventure. Although my trip to Guimaras made me realize I can combine both. I decided to go alone for the first time in Guimaras after a business trip in Iloilo. I found a nice resort called Kenyama, which was in Dolores. I felt like a million miles away from home, and got the much deserved relaxation. It wasn't nature all around, since it was a public beach, but since there wasn't anyone around, it felt very private. It was this time that I drafted my Beach House Project.
8. Concepcion, Iloilo
Finally, after 3 years of wanting, I made it to the islands of Concepcion in Iloilo. And to think my trip there was unplanned and unexpected. I was there for work, and I didn't know that I was going to the islands of Concepcion. We were just there for a day, but it gave me an exciting glimpse of what these islands had to offer - warm smiles and great beaches.
7. The Divine Mercy Shrine of El Salvador, Misamis Oriental
I must admit, I didn't like the idea of getting down our van when I was told we were in a shrine. After a trip to the Maria Christina Falls, our driver surprised us with side trip to the Divine Mercy Shrine in El Salvador, just outside Cagayan de Oro. And since it was a year of surprises, this visit capped it off. My eyes couldn't believe what they were seeing when I approached the huge statue of the Divine Mercy on top of the hill. It was our version of Christ the Redeemer. I have never seen anything like this in the country. While the sun set, the statue lighted up, and the dramatic dusk setting made the sight all the more amazing.
6. El Nido, Palawan
I also made it to El Nido this year. We stayed in the Miniloc Resort, but was also able to visit Lagen. I would like the resort of Lagen better, since it was more luxurious, but the setting of Miniloc was way better. And since we were only there for 3 days (which are not enough), Miniloc was a great base to explore El Nido. The Big and Small Lagoons were literally a kayak ride away. I wasn't as amazed with the rock formations though, after seeing all the limestones in Thailand and even Caramoan. Nevertheless, El Nido is still a beautiful destination, which is perfect for families. El Nido is nature in its most luxurious form.
5. Maxima by the Sea, Samal Island
What can I say about one of the best vacation rentals in the country. And it was in one of my favorite islands as well, Samal. Maxima By The Sea is a 4 bedroom house built on the sea. From the dining area, you could get off the board and snorkel or kayak whenever you want, for as long as you want. And staying here meant free trips to Maxima as well, where you can use their water slide that drops to the sea, whenever you want, for as long as you want. Oh, pure bliss indeed.
The mystical island is more than what I imagined it to be. But it was also not the Siquijor I expected it to be. I wasn't able to visit the mountains and look for the mangkukulams and the faith healers. What I saw instead were fabulous beaches and unspoilt seascapes that made me feel I was millions of miles away from civilization. It was like Bohol, but far less developed and more relaxing even. If the local government plays their cards right, Siquijor has so much potential to grow.
3. Asya Premier Suites, Boracay
The top 3 begins with the best resort experience I had since Bellaroca. I have been raving about Asya Premier Suites since I left the place. It was the resort in Boracay that made me feel I was in a place better than Boracay itself. With 18 suites, it was exclusive indeed, which made the experience more personal and memorable. I just hope they still have the excellent service that we got during our stay. This visit made me realize that the best resorts offer the best service, no matter what the price is.
2. Palaui Island and Anguib Beach, Cagayan North
To most people, Cagayan North is unheard of. I really wanted to escape to the Babuyan Islands such as Camiguin Island, but the currents were strong, and the trip would take 8 hours more. So we decided to settle in Palaui and nearby Anguib Beach instead. I have never been to Batanes (hopefully I would make the trip soon), but I think Palaui, especially Cape Engano would definitely have a close resemblance to it. The lighthouse at Cpae Engano was probably one of the most isolated places I have been to. The view from above was spectacular. Anguib Beach, a sprawling white sand beach on the Eastern coast of the country was calm and had beautiful coral formations near the shore. I was happy that it wasn't as abused as most nice beaches in the country. Our trip to this part of the world was very fulfilling, and I would definitely brand Cagayan North as the next eco destination.
1. Biri, Northern Samar
It was a no brainer. The crown this year goes to the Biri Rock Formations in Northern Samar. I was expecting amazing, but I wasn't expecting out of this world. Our jaws dropped literally in wonder. We had to cross a forest of tiny mangrove tress that were lined in perfection for almost a kilometer. We climbed the moonlike surfaces, and swam in saltwater pools formed by mini waterfalls created by the wild splashes of the Pacific Ocean. It was nature as its rawest form. It was an experience unlike any other.
To end, I would like to repost the last paragraph in my entry on Biri:
The Biri rock formations should be included in the Wonders of Nature list. This is something that we Filipinos can be proud of. A unique, almost extra terrestrial landscape that is found here in the Philippines. I invite all backpackers in the world to visit Biri and make it known. It's just too beautiful to keep secret.
Really, it's that beautiful and amazing. Happy 2011 to everyone! More travels to come.