Philippines – the land of a thousand inviting islands. The Philippines is defined by its emerald rice fields, teeming megacities, graffiti-splashed jeepneys, smouldering volcanoes, bug-eyed tarsiers, fuzzy water buffalo and smiling, happy-go-lucky people.
The Philippines is defined by its emerald rice fields, teeming megacities, graffiti-splashed jeepneys, smouldering volcanoes, bug-eyed tarsiers, fuzzy water buffalo and smiling, happy-go-lucky people.
With more than 7000 tropical islands to choose from, the Philippines is an island-hopping paradise and a beach bum’s delight. There’s an island to suit every taste, from marooned slicks of sand in the middle of the ocean, to volcanic fantasy-scapes concealing hidden lagoons, to sprawling mega-islands such as Luzon and Mindanao. Sun worshippers and divers should head straight to the Visayas, where island-hopping opportunities abound and the perfect beach takes many forms. More adventurous travellers can pitch a tent on a deserted stretch of coastline in Palawan and play solo Survivor for a few days.
The Philippines is justifiably famous for its beaches, but sporty types need not feel left out. While surfers are just catching on to the tasty (if fickle) waves that form on both coasts, divers have long been enamoured of the country’s underwater charms. Northern Palawan is perfect for sea kayakers, and Boracay and Pagudpud (North Luzon) are world-class kiteboarding destinations. Back on terra firma, trekking can be done just about anywhere, while mountain-bike and canyoneering tours are gaining popularity. And the Philippines is also, unofficially, the zipline capital of the world.
Good To Know
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic nation so many of the annual festivals such as the Mariones Holy Week are related to important events on the religious calendar. There are several celebrations with roots in pagan times, such as the Ati-Atihan festival which preserves costumes and rituals that have been modified over time to reflect more recent Christian beliefs. Experiencing Philippines holidays are a first-hand look into their diverse culture and harried past.
The Black Nazarene is a status of Jesus that is believed by many to have light skin but turned dark after surviving a ship fire as it arrived to the Philippines from Mexico. On January 9th every year, the statue is taken from its resting place in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, for a procession. The festival begins in the morning with a Holy Mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, and then the statue is put on a cart back to Quiapo, carried by maroon wearing, barefoot penitents. Several million devotees take part, creating some risk of injury, crowding and heat related problems.
This week long Mardi Gras style celebration originated in the 13th century with a group of fair skinned Malay immigrants paying homage to the darker Ati locals who accommodated their arrival. The event was augmented during Spanish rule to include paying tribute to Santo Niño (Jesus the child). The festival takes place in Kaliba during the third week of January and culminates in a massive Sunday parade where bright costumed revelers with their skin painted black transport a revered icon of Santo Niño from Kaliba Cathedral to the nearby Pastrana Park.
A thanksgiving celebration that takes place on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, this is one of the Philippines largest festivals to honor Santo Niño and recognize the acceptance of Christianity. The main event is a shuffling dance prayer carried out in a grand parade by brightly costumed participants.