Batad is a small village located in the Cordillera mountains of Northern Luzon in the Philippines. It is beautiful, remote, historically significant, and getting there involves a hike through the mountains. Naturally, it was my kind of adventure.
There are many small villages in the Philippines – I would suspect thousands – but the reason that this one is so special is because of its rice terraces.
Carved into the side of steep mountains, the incredible Batad rice terraces are over 2,200 years old (!) and are, rightly so, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are a marvel of engineering, even more so because of their age. And they are also stunningly beautiful.
What is ordinary for some is extraordinary for others. This is a story of how something ordinary was turned by its community into something extraordinary.
For the resident community that lives its daily lives in any Philippine city, one sees the surroundings as ordinary stuff one sees day in and day out.
Because of familiarity, many fail to see the elements—geography, nature, streets and plazas, architecture—that make their city different, that make their city stand out, that make their city unique.
So it is no surprise that many Philippine cities are becoming more and more visually interchangeable: Downtown Tagbilaran looks very much like downtown Dagupan, which, in turn, looks like some streets in Quezon City.
All cities are beginning to exhibit the same types of buildings, same level of visual pollution and urban congestion.
Built in the 16th and 17th centuries by Spanish colonial missionaries, all 4 are all included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Spanish colonists arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century with two main goals: getting a slice of the Pacific spice trade mainly dominated by the Portuguese, and spreading Catholicism both in the Philippines and China. They were following the order given by King Phillip II, from whom the colonized islands took their name: to occupy the islands with the least possible conflict and bloodshed.
There is still discussion about where and when the first Mass in the Philippines was celebrated. Some claim it was on a small island near Bukindon Province on Easter Sunday of 1521; others affirm it was instead celebrated in Mazaua, on the very same date; documents from the Magellan expedition back the second claim.
Banaue, a town located in Ifugao Province in Northern Philippines, is famous for its 2,000-year old rice terraces, which are sometimes dubbed a “stairway” to heaven because they look like a flight of stairs from the base of the mountains to its highest point. The Banaue Rice Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it demonstrates the rich indigenous knowledge of the Ifugaos, who built the terraces without the aid of modern equipment and tools. Come and discover the rich culture that can be experienced beyond the rice terraces.
1. Admire the Banaue Rice Terraces from Viewpoint Village
One of the best views of the majestic Banaue Rice Terraces can be found a few kilometers away from the town center at the Barangay (Village) Viewpoint. It is named as such because visitors can see the rice terraces in all its splendor.Read more
Rivers have attracted travelers for their beauty, their bountiful supply for fishing, their fun and engaging rapids for water rafting, their leisure flow which makes for fun days of tubing—the list goes on and on. However, for most, a river experience is usually above ground. And that’s a shame because the world is filled with beautiful underground river systems that you can explore. We’ve put together a list of subterranean rivers from all over the world that provide incredible travel experiences through a dark world that’s both stunning and mysterious.
1. Rio Secreto, Mexico
There’s nothing quite like Rio Secreto in the world. This underground river, located just a 13-minute drive outside of Playa del Carmen, features turquoise waters and stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
A mysterious developer plans to build a Nickelodeon-themed resort in a global biodiversity hotspot.
The 100-hectare resort, announced last month, is to be part of the Coral World Park, which bills itself as the ‘largest Marine Reserve and Coral Reef Conservation program in Asia.’
Local environment activists say they have never heard of Coral World Park, or of conservation programs funded by its parent organization, the Dr. AB Moñozca Foundation.
Palawan, a globally significant biodiversity hotspot, is already grappling with the social and environmental impacts of a rapidly growing tourism industry.
Palawan, a slender archipelagic province whose furthest reaches lie more than 500 miles southwest of Manila, is famed as the “last frontier” of the Philippines. A hotspot of endemism and biodiversity in an extraordinarily biologically rich country, Palawan hosts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some of the Philippines’ last primary forests.
Palawan, an island in the Philippines, is slowly becoming a top international destination for its world-class beaches, but did you know it’s also where the longest navigable underground river is located? The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, or Puerto Princesa Underground River, is one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature.
Located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the city center of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is a sight to behold. Because of its recent inclusion on the list of the new 7 Wonders of Nature, tourists all over the world make it a point to include the said river on their travel bucket list.
From a 15-minute boat ride from the Sabang Wharf or a short mountain hike, you will be able to reach the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
Deep underground on the island of Palawan in the Philippines lies the Puerto Princesa River. Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’, it’s the world’s longest navigable underground river and makes for an exciting experience in one of the Philippines’ most popular islands.
Here’s everything you need to know about exploring the Puerto Princesa Underground River.
Wait, an underground river? How is that possible?
Yep, that’s right. In fact, the river flows directly underneath the St Paul Mountain Range, found on the mid-western coast of Palawan. The river channeled its way through a series of vast chambers and caverns over millions of years ago.
The cave system stretches for a total of 24km underneath the mountains, and the river itself winds its way through 8.2km of it.
The Philippines has a rich history and culture, but we sometimes do not understand the country well enough to realize to what extent. It is not a question of whether we have it or not. Rather, it is of how much we really know and are aware. One way to get reacquainted with the Filipino identity and our past is by taking what I would call as a heritage trail up north. The beauty of Northern Philippines lies on the fact that it is home to four UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.
What does this mean?
A UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) is any given natural or cultural place, monument or landscape that holds outstanding universal values critical to the development of humanity, and which reflect diversity.
Batad and Hungduan may not be the name on everybody’s lips when it comes to Northern adventures, but they are proof that there is always merit in trying something new.
We’ve long seen it atop best places lists for adventure travel, but the past couple of years have sent the Ifugao province to the top of must-see destination rosters. But before its rise to thrumming cultural center and before Angelica Panganiban famously lamented: “where do broken hearts go?” into a foggy abyss, the Northern province was simply a patchwork of sleepy mountainside villages whose pristine landscapes have now been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
PHILIPPINES’ PALAWAN ISLAND, WHICH WAS OFFICIALLY NAMED THE ‘BEST ISLAND IN THE WORLD’ BY CONDÉ NAST TRAVELLER’S READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2015*, IS THE GEM IN THE CROWN OF 7,500 ISLANDS.
Teeming with exotic wildlife, quaint fishing villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Palawan is one of the Philippines’ most sparsely populated regions and is part of a group of islands that stretches 650km from Mindoro in the northeast, to Borneo in the southwest.
Two additional islands from the Philippines also featured in Condé Nast’s highly acclaimed list (Boracay ranking at 15th and Cebu coming in at 19th), which goes a long way in describing the beauty that this extraordinary country has to offer.
SILVERSEA Cruises has announced its 2018 itineraries will focus on dozens of Unesco sites.
These will range from Italy’s Amalfi Coast to Vietnam’s Halong Bay and all in a fleet of ships recently upgraded in Silversea’s largest refurbishment programme ever.
“At Silversea, we don’t believe that ‘bigger is better’, in fact we believe and deliver the complete opposite,” said Roberto Martinoli, CEO at Silversea Cruises.
“A belief perfectly illustrated by our commitment to smaller, more intimate ships that clearly respond to the desires of our guests that tend to favour a refined and understated elegance.”
The nine Silversea Classic and Expedition ships will visit 130 countries in 2018, with the 1,000 destinations across the world split between almost 600 via the Expedition fleet and more than 400 with the Classic fleet.