Destinations Magazine

Sailing The Philippine Islands: The Pearl Of The Orient

By Davedtc @davedtc

(From the August/September 2005 issue of "Escape From America Magazine" Vol. 8 No. 1 - Inc. 832-1245 World Trade Center Panama, Republic of Panama)

The alluring beauty of the Far East is seen through its contrasts of culture, lifestyle, and climate. Everyone has a desire to live and settle in a paradise of ease and quiet enjoyment. To many, the east provides such a place: an environment that satisfies every transient and visitor in their pursuit of pleasure - where life could be more interesting and exceptionally unique.

In The Pearl of the Orient
The Philippines is an archipelago known as the "Pearl of Oriental Beauty and Enchantment" because of its rare scenic views and diversity of tourist attractions. The country consists of more than 7,000 islands and islets; it is located off the southeast coast of the Asian continent. It has three principal islands: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The Philippines have a total land area of 116,000 sq. miles; its neighbors are Taiwan to the north, Hong Kong to the northwest, Brunei and Malaysia to the southwest and Vietnam to the west. It lies within the Pacific basin and features a tropical climate. Rainy season normally occurs from June to December. Summer starts in January, but without a doubt the months of March and April are the warmest.

The country has a rich diversity of mountains, caves, rivers and lakes. There are three large mountain ranges in the Luzon area. Its highest peak is Caraballo Del Sur, located at the intersection of the boundaries of Ilocos Norte, Abra and Cagayan Valley provinces. The largest river system is in the Mindanao region - known as the "Rio Grande de Mindanao".

Volcanoes and waterfalls, on the other hand, are the most popular attractions in the Philippines. The Iraya in Batanes Island, Taal in Batangas, Banahaw in Quezon Province, Mayon in Albay (having the perfect cone), Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin Island, Apo in Davao province and the Makaturing in Lanao are the most famous Philippine volcanoes. Taal Volcano is recorded as the smallest volcano in the world, situated in the southern part of Luzon.

Another fascinating place is the amazing Banaue Rice Terraces in the Cordillera Administrative region. These contour-plowed and carved rice terraces are situated on the mountainsides of Banaue and form a natural set of stairs. The terraces are exceptional and are called the 8th wonder of the world.

Beach resorts are famous in the Philippines: the resorts of Dos Palmas in Palawan, Dakak in Dapitan, the Camiguin islands, Pearl Farm in Samal Island, Cebu Island, Boracay Beach in Aklan, Negros Oriental and those in Bohol Island are some of the favorites of foreign tourists.

There are, indeed, countless places I have visited during my prior travels in the Philippines. One of the places that is most memorable to me is the city of Baguio in the Cordillera Administrative Region. It is situated on the highly-elevated provinces of northern Luzon. It is said to be the "Summer Capital" of the Philippines due to its distinctly cold climate. Baguio City is a far distance from the city of Manila (capital of the Philippines). Estimated travel time from Manila is 6-7 hours by land.

There are of course considerable numbers of historical landmarks in the Philippines because of the long period of colonization. Beginning with the Spanish in the 16th century up until it became a dependent state of the United States in the late 19th century. On July 4, 1946 the Philippines achieved full independence. The Philippines are unique, but are largely ignored by its Asian brothers because of its intimate ties with the west. It is the only nation in Asia that is predominantly Catholic.

Splendor of Negros Oriental
In the late afternoon of 17th July, I set an itinerary that began at the seaport of Dumaguete City (the Capital of Negros Oriental Province). It is a Philippine isle situated in the Central Visayas region near the islands of Cebu and Siquijor. It took me 5 hours before reaching my intended destination as the ship navigated the open seas of northwestern Mindanao, which was my port of origin. I was a total stranger in this city for it was my first visit.

From the days I spent in Dumaguete, I was able to visit many small towns and most of the popular spots on Negros Oriental isle. Traveling with me was my friend Sheila, who is a longtime resident of Dumaguete, and who made all my sightseeing excursions possible.

One of the historical landmarks in Dumaguete that I visited was St. Paul's University, the first St. Paul's University in the Philippines. It was built by seven French sisters who first set foot on the boulevard of Dumaguete in 1904. The statue of the Seven French Sisters is conspicuously emblazoned along the seaport of the city.

Another prominent site is Silliman University founded by the Americans in 1901. It is one of the pre-eminent international schools in the Philippines with mostly South Korean and Iranian students studying English. Silliman Hall is adjacent to the seaport and is the first building built by the Americans in 1901.

Attractive vacation spots in Negros Oriental include the Sea Forest Resort & Restaurant in Sibulan; the Forest Camp Resort in Valencia; and the Santa Monica Beach Resort in Banilad, Dumaguete City. They are among the most popular tourist spots visited by foreigners. Forest Camp Resort is very far from Dumaguete, and is situated on the elevated plateau of southern Negros Oriental. Thus, several Koreans, Americans, Japanese and some European guests stay in this resort because of its humid temperature and natural flowing waters.

Underneath the azure waters of Santa Monica Beach Resort lies a collection of diverse coral reef and fish species. Other interesting views include Lake Nailig and the Twin Falls located at the apex of Mt. Talinis in the province of Negros Oriental.

Dumaguete has an active nightlife. There are numbers of celebrated night-time pubs to hang-out in, and they seem free from harm. Seeking a peaceful place to stay is indeed the best way to have a pleasurable vacation. Many foreigners have found their home in Dumaguete as this is one of the safest places to live in the Philippines.

"Author thanks Grace Sheila of Dumaguete City for the conclusion of this article."

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