Philippine Walking Tours

TIMELESS TRAVEL NARRATIVES. It takes curiosity, fearlessness, and love for travel to appreciate traveling on foot in a tropical country that is rich in natural and cultural heritage like the Philippines. For this edition of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival, we are showcasing timeless travel narratives by restless chroniclers about their most memorable walking tours.

It’s timeless because with the retelling of our unforgettable walking tours we are making attempts to inspire and encourage people to wander the same evergreen paths we’ve traveled in the same manner we did as Travelers on Foot. Restless –because these travel essays and photo blogs were authored by our country’s most intrepid and seasoned travelers.

So allow us to take your hand and walk you through our trails, tales, and travels in our most memorable walking tours.

UP AND DOWN IN BATAD. Our tour begins high up in the Cordilleras with Micaela Rodriguez of Senyorita. In I Survived Batad!, Micaela describes how she made it through the two-hour trek, up and down the slippery and uneven trail of Batad with help of a trekking stick. All the climbing and sliding were rewarded by the breathtaking view of the Rice Terraces of Luzon.

GETTING LOST. Earl E. Bolivar of Suroy Pilipinas takes us on an ultimate adventure to a primeval rainforest in the highlands of Bukidnon known as CEDAR, an acronym for Center for Ecological Development and Recreation. In Hiking, Trekking, Swimming and Getting Lost in CEDAR, Earl walks us under towering mahogany trees lining the unpaved path leading to an inviting man-made swimming pool. He then recalls his high school years spent under a bamboo bridge. The path beyond the bridge leads to the majestic waterfalls. Getting lost, he thought of introducing us to another adventure: River trekking.

 TREKKING. A once unconvinced Claire Madarang of Traveling Light proves that it is more fun trekking a mountain trail when it’s raining. In Barefoot Trekking (And Slipping, Sliding) Challenge to Merloquet Waterfalls, Claire describes what it is like walking barefoot the muddy slopes with a tour guide armed with an M-16 rifle!

In BUDA, Baguio of the South: Seagull Mountain Getaway, Love Mindanao takes us up the mountain trail in Seagull Mountain. He  describes the climate in Bu-DA road to be below the normal Philippine tropical climate and was somehow similar to or even colder than Baguio during summer days. He expresses his excitement upon knowing that he has stepped in two places at the same time. This is the boundary that marks Bukidnon and Davao, hence Bu-Da.

THE QUEEN CITY. Cebu has a lot of our country’s oldest. Ephraim Arriesgado of The Adventist Adventurer and Kimkawayan Lim of Indie Escape highlight our Hispanic heritage in their respective walking tours in the Queen City.

In Suroy-Suroy sa Sugbo, Kimkawayan takes us to a memorable walking tour during Sinulog week as she plays tour guide for her then two-year old kid. Kim’s walk begins in the ancestral houses in the Parian District where the oldest street in the Philippines is found –Calle Colon. The tour continues in Cebu’s Hispanic block consisting of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Basilica of the Sto. Niño, and Shrine of Magellan’s Cross then all the way to Fort San Pedro.

Ephraim lists down itineraries for a heritage walk in Cebu City and the sleepy town of Boljoon in southern Cebu. In the photo blog A Rough Guide to Cebu’s Heritage Walks, Ephraim lures us into seeing Cebu through pictures of monuments, ancestral houses, and historic landmarks. He then segues to Boljoon where he introduces a heritage map that marks places of interest in this picturesque coastal town.

SILAY. The cultural heritage of the Visayas continues in Bacolod as Ruby Batallones of See. Hear. Explore leads us to a Silay City Walking Tour. She begins narrating how old buildings can trigger her creative mind into imagining about possible ghostly encounters. But Hotel Belvida in Rizal Avenue is so well-maintained that spirits will be ashamed to scare off guests spending the night in the Paris of Negros.

Ruby describes Silay as a small and walkable city in Negros Occidental known for its ancestral houses and good food. This  day tour with Ruby brings us to  El Ideal, Hofilena Ancestral House, Balay Negrense, and Café 1925.

FROM DAET TO BATAC. Popular traveler Pinoy Adventurista explores the provincial capital of Camarines Norte and introduces us to a Walking Tour Around Daet. The Adventurista makes the first stop in a squat obelisk known to be the oldest Rizal Monument in the country. It predates the Rizal Monument in Luneta by 14 years. He leads us to the provincial complex building with its imposing columns representing the 12 towns of the province and the Cathedral of San John the Baptist.

Proud as they are of their homegrown heroes, the people of Batac in Ilocos Norte has built shrines and landmarks to remember their history makers. Town explorer Edmar Guquib of Edmaration introduces us to a Batac Ilocos Norte Walking Tour itinerary that takes us to the Marcos Presidential Museum, World Peace Center, Aglipay Shrine, Batac Church, and General Ricarte Shrine.

TAAL TALES. Lovely Old Houses is Paula Anntoneth O’s description of the streetscape of Taal. Her imagination of the elite of the Filipino past wearing their best on Sundays and of men of stature greet each other  is inspired by the centuries-old houses that are still intact and well-preserved.

The Taal Hertiage Walk described by Glenn Martinez of Traveler on Foot is like taking a trip back to 19th century Philippines. It was the coffee-boom era when Taal became the premier economic center of the province of Batangas. This was also a period in our history when a wealthy and educated society began to embrace the idea of independence and revolution. In 1896, Batangas became one of the eight provinces to revolt against Spain. Taal was then home to a number of Filipino patriots.

CIUDAD MURADA. To see Manila’s old soul with a fresh perspective is to walk its ancient roads. Three travelers relive centuries of Spanish legacy in a walking tour of Intramuros.

Roniel Macatol of Eating Halfway presents an unfamiliar Old Manila in Intramuros/Fort Santiago Photowalk in Film through the camera lens, particularly of the dungeons and bulwarks of Fort Santiago. Regin Reyno of Regin’s Travels reconstructs the Walled City he learned during grade school in an Intramuros Walking Tour.

INTRAMUROS. In Interesting Places Tour in Old Manila, Intramuros, Melody Co of Guiltless Getaway explores Intramuros with fellow Pinoy travel bloggers. She starts us off in Plaza Roma, then proceeds to the ruins of the Aduana, then up the perimeter wall that curtains Calle Murada. Before ending the tour, she takes us to an area in Walled City filled with graffiti. This art-filled wall may soon disappear and never to be seen again, just like the once glorious Intramuros of the old.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY. Fill your tummy without eating up your pocket. This is the statement from the man behind Journeying James who takes us on a Food Trip and Walking Tour in Manila’s Chinatown. So what’s in there: Shanghai Fried Siopao –16 pesos, Beef Wanton Noodles –120 pesos, Sincerity Fried Chicken –300 pesos, walking tour with friends in Binondo –Priceless.

In Family Walks: It’s More Fun In The Philippines!, a statement adapted from a recent tourism campaign slogan, Mhe-anne Ojeda of My Comings and Goings allows us to join their Family Fun Walks in Paradise Ranch in Clark Pampanga, Taoist Temple in Cebu, and the Dapital Heritage Zone in Zamboanga del Norte. Activities during Mhe-anne’s family fun walks ranges from teaching kids the importance of nature and learning history by being in places where historical events took place to an opportunity to instill the value that the family that walks together, stays together. Walking tours with family are indeed Priceless.

PILGRIMS’ MISSION. Karl Ace of Turista Trails is in a mission to find Gov. Imee Marcos in Ilocos. Hopeful to fulfill his mission while on a brief stopover in the Ilocos Norte capital, he takes us on a tour to some of the few historic landmarks in Laoag. In Getting Lost in Laoag, Karl brings us to the Tabacalera Building, the Sinking Bell Tower, and the Capitol Building where (in a way) he gets the chance to complete his mission.

Mary Lovelee S. Tan of Life As I Know It leads us to a walking event she calls Visita Ylgesia de Paa and yes, she has been doing this Lenten devotion for six years. This religious pilgrimage, slash cultural walking tour brings us to different churches from Sikatuna Village in Quezon City to Baclaran in Pasay City. Ask Lovelee why she does it. Her answer: It’s my special panata.

SERENDIPITY. Travelers call it serendipity when finding something delightful in unusual spots and unexpected places.  Set on a provincial road in Romblon, Dhie Rey of Island Girl Traveller brings us to her experience as a frustrated hitchhiker rewarded by rural sceneries when she decides to take the long road on foot while Hitchhiking in Sibuyan Romblon.

Lauren Gaile of Epic Potato renders what seems an unfamiliar place while lost and walking around famished as she narrates in Fantasyland Nightshift Guard at Gloria de Dapitan from a perspective of a guy.

WALK ON WATER. So we have followed mountain trails and walked around old towns. How about a walking tour on Philippine waters? For Marky Go Ramone of Nomadic Experiences this is possible. In Dante Verona Unchained at San Juanico, Marky takes us on a walk-to-discover moment from the island of Samar across the turbulent sea below to the island of Leyte through the iconic San Juanico Bridge.

He retraces the defining leap of a legendary movie actor who according to urban legend, jumped off from the highest point of the bridge, blood flowed out his eyes, ears and nose and was almost feared dead.

SYMBOLIC WALK. Most reflective of the walking tour stories comes from Cris Reyes of Pinay Thrillseeker. She begins her memoirs as an Engineering Student in UP Diliman. In Where I Learned to Walk, Cris transports us down memory lane as she recalls the regular walks she did, while appreciating the various sculptures, trees, notable food venues, the Faculty Center, the Academic Oval, the Sunken Garden, the Science Complex and that road connecting Melchor Hall and Bulwagang Rizal where she felt as highly symbolic of walking down the path towards her true love –writing. Years pass but Cris never gets tired of walking around UP even through her memories.

EPILOGUE. So there, timeless travel narratives by restless chroniclers who are hoping that through the sharing of our trails, tales, and travels we are able to inspire our readers to wander the same evergreen paths we’ve travelled in the same manner we did as Travelers on Foot.

This edition of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival is hosted by Glenn Martinez of Traveler on Foot. Click the logo to take you to the official PTB site for a summary of previous themes and carnival hosts.

Taal Heritage Walk

HERITAGE CAPITAL. We climbed up the bell tower of what has been noted as the largest basilica in the orient. What we thought to be an endless climb through flights of stairs and claustrophobic chambers were rewarded by a breathtaking landscape of a charming town straight out from Spanish Taal with blue Balayan Bay in the background.

Heritage best describes the townscape of Taal. Thronged around this old town’s narrow streets are structures dating back to the Spanish Colonial period. They were preserved and restored for generations to relive what we knew as stories written in textbooks about our history.

COFFEE BOOM ERA. A leisurely walk through this bucolic town is taking a trip back to 19th century Philippines. This was the coffee-boom era when Taal became the premier economic center of the province of Batangas.

This was also a period when a wealthy and educated society began to embrace the idea of independence and revolution. In 1896, Batangas became one of the eight provinces to revolt against Spain. Taal was then home to a number of Filipino patriots.

TAAL TOWN HISTORY. The history of Taal is linked to the violent Taal Volcano. Stories of horrendous earthquakes that created wide gaps on the earth’s crust, houses engulfed in horrific flames and structures sliding into the nearby lake, and beastly crocodiles blasted several meters into the air have been reported since the volcano’s first recorded eruption in 1591 and its succeeding explosions.

But since its foundation in 1572, the town has been relocated, rebuilt, and even became the provincial capital of Batangas in 1754.

TAAL BASILICA. Its church, the Basilica Minore de San Martin de Tours was transferred as the town was rebuilt and moved from San Nicolas near the Taal Lake to its present site. The massive structure with baroque architectural elements dominating the town plaza was constructed in 1858.

The Taal Basilica is considered to be the largest Catholic church in Asia. Its cavernous interior is decorated with trompe l’oeil murals that highlight the design of the grand main altar.

ESCUELA PIA. A simple but huge structure near the basilica’s main entrance is the Escuela Pia. This historic building serve as a reminder of the educational system brought to us by Spain.

ANCESTRAL HOUSES. Taal is amazing because it is one of the few places in the country where a good number of well-preserved ancestral houses called bahay-na-bato are still in use.

We are fortunate that some owners of these antique houses turned their private spaces into living museums, showcasing the historical and cultural legacy of their ancestors.

AGONCILLO HOUSE. The Marcela Agoncillo House is one of the oldest in Taal. Now a museum, it is a historical landmark dedicated to the making of the Philippine flag. It was home to the first Filipino diplomat Felipe Agoncillo and wife Marcela Mariño Agoncillo, seamstress of the Philippine flag.

Like most houses built during Spanish colonial period, the main living quarters of the Agoncillo house was on the second floor. We learned that the main rooms of the house still have the original wooden floorboards where an arrangement of antique furniture style known as Luis Quince and Carlos Trese, are mixed with Viennese bentwood pieces.

APACIBLE HOUSE. A few walks from the Agoncillo House is the Art Deco house of Don Leon Apacible. This historic house’s guests list would include Jose Rizal, Mariano Ponce and other Filipinos who received education in Europe. Leon Apacible became General Aguinaldo’s finance officer. He was also one of the delegates to the Malolos Congress representing Lepanto.

What is particularly interesting in this house is the art-deco design carved into the floors and inlaid into doors. Matching the antique interior are furniture, paintings, and heirloom objects revealing the affluent  lifestyle of the Apacibles.

GALLERIA TAAL. Across the Apacible House is the Ilagan-Barrion House which houses the first and only vintage camera museum in the country. The Ilagan -Barrion house was built circa 1870 by Domingo Ilagan and Maria Martinez.

The house had been totally neglected for several years until the great grandson of the house’s original owner Manny Inumerable painstakingly restored their ancestral home to house his extensive collection of rare vintage cameras in a musuem he named Galleria Taal.

VILLA TORTUGA. Just like the Ilagan-Barion house, ancestral houses in Taal were being restored for adaptive reuse. Villa Tortuga, a bed and breakfast inn is houses in a huge bahay-na-bato. Its interiors and furnishings were designed by Camp Suki-fame Lito Perez.

Stepping inside this restored bahay-na-bato becomes more engaging because guests are encourage to wear period costumes while they dine and unwind in Villa Tortuga.

CASA VILLAVICENCIO. Two ancestral houses of Don Eulalio Villavicencio and Doña Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio have been preserved and restored as landmarks of our architectural heritage and as veritable shrines of bravery and patriotism. The older one is a pre-1850 bahay-na-bato referred to as Casa Villavicencio.

Casa Villavicencio belongs to the same league of the ancestral houses in Taal where its original owners took an active role in the revolution against the Spanish rule and as a place where important activities were held regarding the revolution.

VILLAVICENCIO WEDDING GIFT HOUSE. Adjacent to Casa Villavicencio is the house known as the Villavicencio Wedding Gift House. The house received this sobriquet because the house was built as a lavish wedding present of Don Eulalio to his wife Gliceria on their nuptials.

Although the wedding gift house has the same architectural elements of houses built during that period, we find its look and feel to be more cheerful and feminine than the adjacent ancestral house.

SAN LORENZO STEPS. At the corner of Casa Villavicencio is a street leading to San Lorenzo steps. The 125 steps in this path were made of thick solid granite called piedra china. We took this path on our way to the Caysasay Church.

STA. LUCIA WELLS. Before reaching the church, we made a side trip to the Sta. Lucia Arch that holds the sacred wells where it is believed the Blessed Virgin made an apparition in the 1600s.

The Sta. Lucia Arch is a popular pilgrimage site where devotees believe that the water from the left well cures head injuries and the right well heals the body. Devotees usually pray at the nearby grotto and light candles before drawing water from the well.

CAYSASAY CHURCH. Enshrined in Caysasay Church is the image of the Nuestra Señora de Inmaculada Concepcion de Caysasay. The story goes that in 1603, the image of the Immaculate Concepcion was caught in a net while the town chief, Juan Maningkad was fishing near the mouth of the river channel. It is said that the image would disappear from its shrine and common folks would claim seeing the image atop a tree, guarded by a kingfisher, or casaycasay.

EPILOGUE. Climbing up the 125 steps, we walked back to the narrow street on our way to the palengke. The walking tour made us hungry. Perhaps this is the reason why we overspent in buying kilos of special tapa and longganisa. That  supply of Taal specialties lasted for a week in our breakfast table.

This is my entry for the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival with Traveler on Foot hosting the October 2012 theme Walking Tours.