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Life-changing Travels in the Philippines - Part 1


There is always a reason why when you start traveling, you become addicted to discovering new places and experiencing new things. It's almost always fun and you arrive back home with a smile plastered on your face.

But there are places that change you. They make you question who you are, why only now, and what you really want to be. For some, they are lucky enough for get out of that flitting moment, but for others, they simply could not get away from their epiphany. They keep remembering, they keep coming back, they decide to stay, for longer and longer periods, for good.

Here are some of the places and travel experiences in the Philippines that will put you in total imbalance, generally good feel, fattened heart, and wanting to have (and probably give) more.

I know there are a lot more life-changing destinations and experiences out there. That's why this is only Part 1! You can contribute more through the comments section.

http://mytravel-asia.com/pois/102875-Philippine-Eagle-Center
1. Witnessing the Philippine Eagle in the wild
You might have seen a Philippine Eagle in a zoo or even the rescue center in Davao City. It might already change you and be more concerned with the flight of this highly endangered environmental and Philippine icon. But nothing will prepare you the moment you see one flying freely in the wild. You will become a different person, somebody with a purpose to do something.

Here's an interesting recent blog on the Philippine Eagle.

Photo by: Yay Ortega
2. Batanes
This has become one great bucket list for a lot of Filipinos and some global travelers who know how to dig out precious places. Peace, serenity, and that affinity with nature. You will realize that the riches of this world could not compare to the quality of living with only the basic needs. Of course, the dramatic landscape and the graciousness of the people certainly add to the quality of your experience. But be a very responsible traveler though, some Batanes locals are beginning to get tired of unwanted tourists who disturb their peaceful and simple communities. Its a huge irony, really. Just don't be the typical loud, insensitive tourist.

Photo Source: Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines
3. Swimming with whale sharks
First, you could not imagine swimming along the biggest fish (and shark!) in the whole world. It's like trying to run along a moving bus. They're huge, they're scary. But they're some of the gentlest creatures on earth. Then you'll know that they're being killed just for their fins and their numbers are dwindling, fast. You will leave happy. And you will arrive home with that new knowledge. Who knows, you might find a good reason to get involved in shark conservation in the future?


http://mytravel-asia.com/pois/159411-Dolphin-Watching-in-Pamilacan-Bohol
 4. Whale and dolphin watching
You just see them in the old Flipper shows, or TV documentaries. You might have even seen some in artificial environments of marine shows. But when you see them cruising with your boat, jumping and spinning in the air, and even hear the rubber ducky-like squeeks of their blowholes, you'll know that you have connected with these intelligent marine animals.

The areas where you can do dolphin watching is in Pamilacan Island in Bohol. Bais City in Negros Oriental, and Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.

Photo by Jurgen Freund
5. Watching fireflies
Thanks to Yogi Freund, this very difficult scene has been captured through photography!
Consider this, you will be riding a boat. The night has to be very dark. And as you cruise along the river, you will see tiny, blinking lights. Initially one light that seems to fly aimlessly, then a few more... Then after a bend in the river, there will be a huge tree covered with randomly blinking lights, hundreds of them. A few more minutes and there would be one more tree. This time, the blinking would be more "coordinated" that easily trumps the best Christmas lights in the biggest malls. For many, the experience is short of spiritual. For others, it is simply magical. And that memory will get stuck in your brain until you die.

Places to have good firefly tours are in Donsol (photo), Puerto Princesa, and Bohol.

http://mytravel-asia.com/pois/111953-Kayaking-in-Small-Lagoon-El-Nido-Palawan
6. Island hopping in Palawan
International publications have declared that Palawan is the best island in the world. And probably rightly so. Composed of more than 1,000 islands of mostly towering limestone walls and embraced by the whitest sand and the bluest or greenest hues of the sea, it will be very hard to say that Palawan is just one of those usual places. You will be amazed and humbled. And if you're in your middle age, you will question yourself very hard why did you travel or went to Palawan only now?

http://mytravel-asia.com/pois/102849-Kiltepan-Rice-Terraces
7. Sagada
I don't know anybody who went to Sagada and did not fall in love with the place. The nipping cold air, the views, the culture, and impressive land formations can easily melt away whatever doubts one has before visiting Sagada. And if you entered the Big Cave, you will discover how good you can be in overcoming fear and difficulties. You will bring that realization with you when you go home and back to your bosses. 

Photo by: Juju Paner
8. Trekking in batad - rice terraces and the waterfall
Yeah, you know how good the rice terraces should be considering that every Filipino knows about this. But be ready for visual feasts as the seemingly unending creations that took more than 2,000 years continue to flood your vision. Respect. You will learn to respect hard work. And tenacity - that it takes tenacity to reach difficult but awesome places like the huge waterfall.

http://mytravel-asia.com/pois/100704-Danjugan-Island
9. Danjugan island
 Consider this - Danjugan Island would have become a usual island with people living in the area, turning it into the usual coconut plantation and the reefs surrounding the 42-hectare island as the usual fishing area with the usual damaged corals. Now protected by a non-government organization, Danjugan is able to survive and thrive and its surrounding beaches and coral reefs remaining as pristine as they can be. When you visit this place, you will realize that things can be worked at, that there is still hope to reverse the degradation of nature.

10. Living with the people in Agusan Marsh
Aside from huge crocodiles, most Filipinos know very little of Agusan Marsh. It's a constantly-flooded area with houses anchored to trees so they can rise and fall with the changing level of water. How about staying a few nights in one of the houses and actually experience living in this most naturally-raw place? You will know survival. And surviving with grace.

http://mytravel-asia.com/pois/100380-Boracay-Island

11. Boracay
This tiny island of 1,000 hectares have changed many people. From sad or deep souls looking for life meaning to even happy ones willing to experience new things. Boracay has literally captured some of them and made them stay...for many years. Boracay offers the best of both worlds - from the serenity of nature (only if you wake up early in the morning and sharing the beach with very few people) to the party hours of nocturnal existence,  this awesome place is THE PLACE for some travelers. The secret could probably be the people. Yeah, must be the people.


13. Turtle watching
Very few beat the warm and caring experience of watching baby turtles running towards the sea. It's literally an "awwww...." experience. Tears might also fall, and you leave the beach with a sense of purpose. Of course, it might be gone in a few days or even minutes. But you will realize that you can easily pull out that feeling when you see or experience a similar life-event.

Photo by: Caloy Llamas
14. Climbing Mt. Pulag
You will wake up about three hours before the sun rises. Then you trudge through a mossy forest and over an expanse of dwarf bamboos. Then you wait for the sunrise and the sea of clouds below your feet. You will realize how beautiful the world is. How awesome nature is. How significant or even insignificant you are in this world (its a matter of perspective).  And you keep that dream-like experience for a very very loooonnng time....

Have fun traveling! And while having fun, open your heart to your experiences. I assure you, your travels will have better meanings to your life.

Watch out for Part 2!

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