Two & half weeks in Philippines… a teaser

This past April, I embarked on another journey. Given the circumstances at office (which I’ll explain later), I decided to go somewhere ‘interesting’. This time, a country which upon researching last year, I realized offered so much more than I thought. I’ll go into the details as to why I took the plunge to go as far as Philippines when I begin this series 2 months from now, but until then, here a few of the 5000-plus photos I took from this 2 & 1/2 week long trip.

South China sea islands from plane
Flew over the South China sea for the first time -- very pretty (Taken on my cellphone)

 

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial sparrow on grave Philippines
First day of sight-seeing: The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial graves
Where 17,202 soldiers, Filipino and American, are buried
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial rainbow sprinkler
A rainbow caused by the sprinkler and sunlight
Aimee Marie Autobus station Manila
Met my reader (& now friend) Aimee who helped me a LOT in Manila
Banaue view from People's Lodge Philippines
Arrive in Banaue the next day
Banaue hanging house Ifugao Philippines
Go on a tour by trike through a region quite prone to landslides
Batad steps down trekking Banaue Philippines
Embark on what became the toughest trek I ever did
Batad villagers pigs trek Banaue Philippines
Seeing these villagers carry livestock and kilos of grain for nearly a 1km through terrain that I found *incredibly* tiring even with hiking boots on, made me want to never complain about corporate life ever again. Listening to pigs squeal (& the resulting echo in the valley) for more than half-an-hour also made me not want to have pork... (that day)
Batad village rice terraces Banaue Philippines
After nearly 1 1/2 of trekking, the view I get in Batad. A village with no access via road and one that only got electricity recently.
Batad hide and seek village children Banaue Philippines
And since these children don't see new faces often (least of all an Indian), played with them for a bit as well
Batad trek landslide path Banaue Philippines
After a break, trek all the way back through tracks destroyed by landslides... but this time, with a local I hired to carry my bags. My body just couldn't take the load a second time.
Banaue rice terraces panorama Philippines
End the day with a view of the grand daddy of them all, the Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue rice terrace farmers Philippines
The sheer size of the Banaue rice terraces are a bit hard to capture on photograph
North Luzon fugao village rice terraces Philippines
The next day, take two jeepneys to get to the small town of Sagada
Sagada rice terraces Luzon Philippines
A small, but beautiful town!
Sagada limestone cave water Philippines
Sagada is also famed for its limestone caves
Sagada limestone caves Luzon Philippines
Which was an amazing 'first' experience for me
Sagada Hanging coffins Echo Valley Philippines
Sagada is also famous for this, Echo Valley. People laid to rest for years on the side of a cliff.
Ifugao province farm Luzon Philippines
Leave the next day and drive through beautiful terrains to get to Baguio
San Fernando Pampanga Good Friday celebrations crosses
Then, on Good Friday, arrive in the town of San Fernando in Pampanga district for the main reason I chose to fly to Philippines at this time of the year.
San Fernando Pampanga praying
Warning: The next few photos are going to be graphic in nature.
San Fernando Pampanga Good Friday flagellation
I don't have to time explain what the rituals are about and why they celebrate it this way, but you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Pedro_Cutud_Lenten_Rites
San Fernando Pampanga Easter Child
Mind you, it was scorching hot that day
Filipino Roman soldier San Pedro Cutud
"You want photo? One bottle!"
San Pedro Cutud re-enactment Good Friday
The famed annual re-enactment ceremony of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
San Pedro Cutud Pampanga Christ crucifixion
People volunteer to be actually nailed to the cross
Good Friday Pampanga nailed hand
And in case you don't believe me...
San Pedro Cutud crucifixion nail leg
Taken on my cellphone because of number of people jostling to get a close up view
San Pedro Cutud Rites Pampanga Philippines
(Also taken on my cellphone)
San Fernando street children smiling Philippines
Street child: "Hey! One photo mister!" (grabs baby sister) (I start to click) Street child: (Oh, he's *actually* taking my photo?) ~shy~
San Fernando night mass parade Philippines
The night mass with beautiful floats of... erm, Christian characters from the bible(?)
Manila Chinatown purple fire engine
Arrive back in Manila for a guided tour by Aimee. The Manila Chinatown was nothing special, but their fire engines were!
Manila Cathedral panorama
Manila Cathedral in Intramuros
Manila mobile phone chicken
I get everything... except the 'chicken' part. As seen in Robinson's mall in Manila.
Cebu Cathedral ceiling
Arrived in Cebu to kick off the second leg of my journey. This was the ceiling at the oldest church in Cebu.
Chocolate Hills Bohol Philippines
Take a ferry to Bohol, hire a trike and drive one hour to see this: the Chocolate Hills
Chocolate Hills panorama Bohol Philippines
1,776 hills that make for a phenomenal geographical formation
Tarsier Bohol Philippines
See Bohol's Tarsiers. An animal I think, became the inspiration for Dobby's appearance (from the Harry Potter films)
Sambang underground river Palawan Mithun in Philippines
Arrive in Sambang in Palawan island to visit the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Sambang Underground River boat going in
The underground river is a 8.2 kilometers long but tourists are only allowed 1.6kms in. The place is in contention for the 'New 7 Wonders of the World' contest.
Sambang Underground River caves
Another interesting and never-done-before experience for me! Also, quite a challenge holding the light *AND* clicking photos
Sambang underground river boat inside
Trust me, there's a LOT more photos from inside the cave but no time for me to work on all of them now.
Sambang beach coconut tree panorama
Once out, had lunch on Sambang beach.
Palawan dog stretching
Wake up early the next day, take the local bus to the Northern most town of El Nido
Sandwich bun ice cream Philippines
Have sandwich bun ice cream for breakfast (Rs. 15)
El Nido beach view Palawan Philippines
Arrive at my guesthouse in El Nido beach. Sit out, stare into what's right in front of me...and do little else. (Taken on my cellphone)
El Nido lagoon swimming Philippines
Go on an island-hopping tour the next day. Snorkel in a lagoon wearing a life jacket...
El Nido kayaking lagoon Philippines
..and attempt kayaking for the first time. It was a lot easier than I thought! (Unfortunately no photos of me doing all this because I was afraid to get my valuable camera equipment wet. I've had previous bad experiences with salt water screwing up my equipment)
Palawan island spade-shaped rock
Stop on an island for lunch
BBQ lunch E Nido Philippines
Which was barbecued fish and pork
Coconut kid drinking Palawan
Kids on this island must be sick of drinking coconut water
Las Cabanas beach sunset Philippines
Watch the sunset on Las Cabanas beach
El Nido lobster dinner Philippines
Have a 'home-cooked' dinner of lobster soup, grilled lobsters, fried tuna and rice, all for Rs.250
Leaving El Nido dog on trike
Leave El Nido the next morning
Sunset Palawan flight Philippines
... and leave the island of Palawan at sunset, thereby concluding my sightseeing around Philippines.

Needless to say, I have many more photos to share and plenty of experiences. This was without a doubt, the best trip I ever made in my life (so far)!

Read the entire series here:

Philippines 2011: Flying over South China Sea for the first time

Philippines 2011: Day 1 — Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Fort Bonifacio

Philippines 2011: Day 2 – Banaue rice terraces; trekking to Batad village

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Banaue town; heading to Sagada via Bontoc

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Sagada’s Lumiang burial cave, Sumaguing cave, Hanging Coffins of Echo valley

Philippines 2011: Leaving Sagada for Baguio, and arriving in Angeles city (Days 4 & 5)

Philippines 2011: Day 6 – Good Friday in San Fernando, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites

Philippines 2011: Day 7 – Leaving Angeles City for Manila, Mall of Asia

Philippines 2011: Day 8 – Manila tour: Rizal Park, Intramuros, Manila Cathedral, China Town

Philippines 2011: Day 9 – Cebu: Fort San Pedro, Basilica of Santo Niño, Taoist Temple

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18 Comments

  • cathy

    11/05/2011

    hi..thanks for writing a beautiful phrases about philippines…..

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Trust me, its easy. From the people I met to the places I went to, I have only good things to say about the Philippines! 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Lady

    20/05/2011

    Like alot!

    [Reply]

  • Sen1122

    27/07/2011

    Lovely photos of the country. 😉 There are 1,000+ islands more to explore!

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks, and yes, many more islands to explore. Unfortunately, to fully explore Philippines, one needs time — and some money 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Chintan

    30/07/2011

    Very interesting blog. I loved this post…and some shocking photos there . I would like to visit this country too now…some day insha-allah!

    [Reply]

  • Sudha

    01/08/2011

    Great photographs. I particularly liked the ones of the cemetery.

    [Reply]

  • Jenny

    14/09/2011

    Hi,

    My name is Jenny and I am the Production Coordinator on a Travel Docu-Series. We are in need of a great shot of the Hanging Coffins in Sagada and we came across your amazing image:

    http://mithunonthe.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/sagada-hanging-coffins-echo-valley-philippines.jpg

    I would love to discuss licensing the use of this image for a few seconds on our show. I thank you in advance for your quick response!

    I can be reached at jennychan309@gmail.com.

    Thanks!
    Jenny

    [Reply]

  • Eva

    02/11/2011

    Hi! Im from the philippines and right now I envy you ’cause despite the fact that I live here, I haven’t gone to almost all of the places you went to.. Its like your giving me tour of my own country.. Haha. Thanks!:) and gorgeous photos by the way..

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    He he, thanks Eva. Hope to come back next year and visit the other places I couldn’t visit this time around. Love the country and its people! 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Ross

    06/12/2011

    I enjoyed reading your Philippine series! You should be writing in some trsvel magazines. Wish you all the bests… 😉

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Sigh, that is the dream dude… 🙂

    [Reply]

  • paul

    21/03/2012

    Hi.. nice blog… and nice trip!!!! i enjoy reading and lookin on the pics. thanks..

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Paul.

    [Reply]

  • Tata

    02/05/2012

    great adventure there dude. those pics and your captions caught my interest. you are a good traveller 🙂

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks man, appreciate your comment!

    [Reply]

  • Louis

    19/06/2012

    I’ve read on your other post that you weren’t able to visit Davao. I’m a local of Davao (born and raised here) If you need help or if you have inquiries about the city just let me know. By the way, thanks for the beautiful feature about the Philippines. Hope you come back real soon, bring some friends down here and explore some of the few 7000 plus islands that you weren’t able to visit.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks Louis, I’m desperate to comeback to the Philippines but I rather find work in Manila so that I can stay longer 🙁

    [Reply]

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