Visiting my best friends in Philippines
I’ve visited the Philippines on three separate occasions; first time was during a 45 days Southeast Asian cruise, it was only three days visit though. The second time was to attend a conference and promote an airline, literally had no time to have a real adventure. The last was to visit my best friends in Philippines.
I have a handful of friends living in the Philippines, some native and some are expats who just so happened to live there. My friend Emdy was an expat who went to pilot school in Cebu. We use to work together as announcers at our student community radio. The plan was to visit him in Cebu however he wasn’t home when I would arrive.
Cebu Island is probably one of the lesser-known places in the Philippines which is a shame because it’s just so beautiful. I went snorkelling and diving when I stayed there. The underwater views were crystal clear. I could see everything in a great deal.
I took a trip to Virgin Island (which wasn’t owned by Richard Branson btw). Not sure why it was called Virgin Island though. I was worried I might not be able to get in because I wasn’t a virgin haha.
The Philippines’ culture is intriguing. It’s heavily influenced by Spanish colonisation and then American. Filipinos are dedicated Christians, and their language sounds Spanish too. They are genuinely proud of their country. I guess because there had been so many hardships and natural disasters yet they have survived. Many aspects of their pre-colonisation culture are also prevalent, accompanied by local superstitions.
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has enjoyed Manila. The traffic is ridiculous, and you would be better travelling on a cow than using a cab. It was almost impossible to figure out when I would arrive at my next destination.
A family friend who lived in Manila invited me to a party which was attended by local artists and public figures. Since I never watch local TV, I couldn’t really identify anyone. However, the family friend who invited me was working as TV presenter. While I guzzled down wine out of feeling a little out of place and awkward, I had a glimpse of the local painter’s gallery and took a few snaps.
The party was fun, but I would be lying if I said I couldn’t wait to leave Manila. I headed to Baguio city to visit one of my best friends, Jo. The road trip from Manila was horrendous, I couldn’t get a wink of sleep, and it took a mere 8 hours too. When I looked out of the window, all I could see was a deep cliff.
Baguio City was full of surprises
Baguio was freezing cold. I had no idea that it was a mountain city and so didn’t plan ahead. I kept thinking about how I should have brought a jacket with me (and maybe a flask of whiskey).
Once I arrived, I decided to check into my hotel room earlier than expected because I was freezing. I could feel my nipples cut through my clothes. My best friend, Jo, and I were originally planning to meet in Manila. However, he was busy with his studies, so I came to Baguio instead. Fortunately, Jo is a good friend and offered to show me around.
The first place he took me was Burnham park, a huge urban park in the heart of the city which was named after an American architect. There is a diverse range of activities that visitors can participate in, from skating to football to paddling a tiny boat in the lake. You can also rent a bike to get around faster. There are several roads around the park that lead to Camp John Hay. This was a former recreational base for the US armed forces who were based in the Philippines.
John Hay Special Economic Zone
Camp John Hay was really impressive. Jo and I took the opportunity to ride a horse through a forest, a bit scary but worth it in the long run. There was also the Cemetery of Negativism (also known as the Lost Cemetery) which is part of the camp’s Historical Core.
The site was created in the 1980s. It’s a symbolic representation of burying negativities like bad thoughts or feelings or just bad vibes in general. People who died there were not in vain as their makeshift gravestones had messages that reminded us to focus more on the positive things in life.
Jo and I also took a trip to Mines View Park which gave us an impressive view of the mining town of Itogon and the abandoned gold and copper mines. We made our way up a very steep hill to reach the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral. The church conducted masses in English and it was well-maintained. Nearby from the church was the government house which reflected the architecture introduced by the Americans.
All in all, it was a great trip and made even greater seeing my friend. I had no idea that the Philippines was more than just beaches and islands. I definitely will come back. Anyway, special thanks to Jo for showing me around! Just wait for my next adventure in the Philippines 🙂
Alright folks, that’s all from my short trip to Philippines. Thanks for reading this blog! Don’t forget to like and share it with your friends and family 🙂 Read my other blogs here. As always, enjoy your wonderful life and have a nice trip!