MANILA– In a country stepping forward to modernization and internet dependency, specially in Luzon, many are puzzled that the country still has a lot of time locked spots in the island.
For those who are seeking a short break from our fast phased ‘online life,’ I suggest that you visit these seven wonders in Luzon that will surely take you back in time.
#7 Malolos, Bulacan
The epicenter of establishment of the First Philippine Republic, Malolos is home to a number of wooden ancestral houses and the historic Barasoain Church or Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish which earned its title as the Cradle of Democracy in the East and the most important religious building in the Philippines.
Pre-Hispanic settlers dates back from 10th century CE as part of Huangdom of Ma-i until its official establishment as Civil Town in 1580 by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. This day, Malolos become the capital city of Bulacan province.
Public: From Cubao or South Caloocan (Monumento), simply take a bus bound to Malolos.
Private: Take North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), exit to Tabang Exit then drive straight to the city center of Malolos.
#6 Taal, Batangas
Founded in 1572 by Augustinian friars, the heritage town boast a cluster of ancestral houses, museums and the largest church in Asia, the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours (Es: Basílica Menor de San Martín de Tours) or colloquially known as Taal Basilica.
Over its long history the town has produced notable Filipino men and women that contributed to the liberation of the country. Its major products Barong Tagalog, an embroidered formal shirt which is considered the national dress for men, and Balisong, a folding pocket knife with two counter-rotating handles are also something to look forward to.
Public: From Cubao or Buendia (Pasay), board a bus bound to Lemery, then alight at Flying V Gas Station in Mahabang Lodlod then ride a jeepney to Poblacion.
Private: From Manila, take South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and take EXIT 50 / Calamba City, then take STAR Tollway and exit at the second LIPA Exit. Turn left at the National Highway towards the towns of Taal / Lemery / Cuenca.
#5 Pila, Laguna
The original settlers in Pila is one of the confirmed early settlements in the Philippines, dating back A.D. 1000. And archaeologists recovered evidences of their existence. One of which is the Laguna Copperplate Inscription that dates back to 900 CE. A number of museums showcasing its rich history can be found around the town, Franciscan churches, plazas and ancestral houses.
Declared as a National Historical Landmark by NCCA since 2000, the traditional architecture and layout of the town has survived the test of rapid modernization of the province. The second printing press of the Philippines was also established here. Producing the oldest dictionary and the first book printed using the Vocabulario de Lengua Tagala.
Public:From Cubao or Buendia (Pasay), board a Sta Cruz bound bus then advise the diver or conductor to drop you at Pila town proper.
Private: From Manila, drive through South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and take Calamba exit. Take the national road and pass by the towns of Los Banos, Bay, Victoria then Pila.
#4 Intramuros, Manila
Founded in 1571 by Spanish navigator Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, this site in Manila was the core of Spanish government during their colonial reign in the country. Erecting fortification walls and monumental structures like the Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago which stand up to this day.
Most of the structures nowadays in the district are restored from the devastation brought by World War II. And some restoration efforts are being done to bring back its former glory.
Public: LRT line 1 (Central Station) is the closest and efficient way to visit the district. While Jeepneys (Pier 15 bound) plying from Quezon city is the most convenient option as it directly passes through Intramuros.
Private: From North, pass through España Avenue (bound for Quiapo), cross Quezon bridge, turn right at Riverside drive (Manila Multi-Modal transport terminal) then drive straight to Intramuros district.
If you’re coming from the south, take Roxas Boulevard (north bound) then turn right upon reaching Anda circle/rotunda.
#3 Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Spared from the destructive World War II, Vigan City stand as one of the areas in the country with most concentrated and intact ancestral houses and plazas. While its famous cobblestone streets compliments its architectural characteristics. Nestled on the western side of Ilocos Sur, facing West Philippine Sea, the city is named as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites last year.
Aside from adoring the old Spanish town, famed Ilocos longganizas, bagnet and empanadas are also a must try while visiting.
Public: Several bus lines from Manila offer direct trips to Vigan, namely; Victory Liner and Florida Bus line while the Laoag bound buses pass through the city.
Private: From Manila, take NLEX-SCTEX (Tarlac bound)-TPLEX take the last exit then drive straight ahead to the National Highway, passing La Union before entening Ilocos Sur.
#2 Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao
The 2,000 year old rice terraces was carved by the first Ifugao settlers in the area, and commonly thought that it was done by minimal equipment and largely by hands. The terraces is made of blanketing walls of stones and earth which are designed to draw water from a main irrigation canal above the clusters. Indigenous rice terracing technologies have been identified with the Ifugao’s rice terraces such as their knowledge of water irrigation, stonework, earthwork and terrace maintenance.
Up to this day, locals still plants rice in this unique field however more younger Ifugaos prefer more lucrative alternative jobs in hospitality industry brought by the popularity of the terraces. Threatening the continuity and preservation of rice planting in the area.
Declared GMO-free since 2009, the produce from the terraces are categorized as one of the tasteful and aromatic.
Public: Take a 9-hr overnight Ohayami Trans bus to Banaue from the Ohayami station near University of Santo Tomas (Lacson Avenue cor. Fajardo Street). You can visit their WEBSITE for information on how to reserve a ticket.
#1 Local villages in Batanes (Savidug, Cahavayan Village, etc.)
Located in the northern tip of the country, Batanes is one of the ‘least’ traveled destinations so far which contributes in preserving its rich cultural and architectural characters. Unlike many other destinations in the Luzon, this island seem to be remotely locked in time.
The traditions and and its original architecture remains the same through the years. The houses of Ivatans are made of limestone and coral with cogon grass roofing that protects them from the strong winds in the north.
The laid back atmosphere in the island will surely take any visitors back in time, plus the locals are very approachable and fun to be with.
ViajeroMNL (Viajero Manila) is a lifestyle blog site that features different pop culture, travel, and food destinations in the Philippines. This article was written by Gillian Gacuma.