27 Best Sights of the Philippines
The Philippines is a scattering of picturesque islands that offer a wealth of vacation options. Snow-white beaches, diving, national parks, architecture and spicy cuisine lure tourists here.
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Things to do in the Philippines
Attractions in the Philippines are aimed at people with different interests.
Fans of outdoor activities will want to visit nature reserves, coral reefs and climb the most real volcano. And snow-white beaches will charm fans of contemplative rest and relaxation.
The urban areas, a mixture of colonial architecture and local traditions, will appeal to those who want to experience a new culture.
In 1981 the Philippine authorities were preparing for the arrival of Pope John Paul II. A palace in the national style was built especially for the dear guest. Coconut palm was used as the raw material for the construction: trunk, bark, leaves, fruits and even flowers. The latter became the decor of the interior rooms. But the pontiff refused to live in such a pompous palace and chose a more modest abode.
Today the Cocoanut Palace is used as the residence of the Vice-President of the country. The surrounding gardens and some of the halls are open to tourists.
The presidential palace in Manila is a symbiosis of two styles: luxurious baroque and restrained neoclassical. The complex of buildings appeared in 1750. Local aristocrats, then Spanish viceroys and governors lived there. In 1946, on completion of a major restoration, the palace was inhabited by the President of the Philippines.
During a series of uprisings and armed conflicts in the mid-twentieth century, Malacanang was severely damaged. To find money to rebuild, part of the architectural complex was turned into a museum. Tourists are invited to tour the library, ceremonial and reception halls, music room, dining room, and stroll through the palace gardens.
The Church of Saint Thomas of Villanueva is more commonly referred to as the Miagao Church. It is located in the town of the same name on the island of Panay. This religious building was consecrated in the 18th century. Today it is considered one of the oldest in the country, attracting tourists not only by its age and preservation, but also by its exterior.
The Baroque facade is decorated with an elaborate bas-relief. Contrary to expectations, it depicts not saints or scenes from the Bible, but sprawling palm trees.
In front of the entrance is a monument to the patron saint, St. Thomas of Villanueva. The temple is flanked by watchtowers with loopholes. It is believed to have been used as a citadel to repel attacks by pirates and local warlike tribes.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in its present form in 1958. The previous structures died in fires, earthquakes, and bombings of World War II. The temple combines the restrained austerity of the Romanesque style with the asceticism of the Gothic.
The facade is decorated with sculptures of saints made of travertine and bronze. Large stained-glass windows let in maximum natural light. Above the main aisle is a rose window resembling a blooming flower.
On the left is the bell tower. Its only functional decoration is the clock. The interior decoration is laconic, as nothing should distract believers from their thoughts about God. The main point of attraction is the sculpture of the Virgin Mary on the altar.
Church of San Sebastian
This is the most unusual church not only in Manila but in the entire Philippines. It was erected in 1891 on the site of a 17th century temple. Neither it nor other religious buildings have stood the test of time and natural disasters.
There is an opinion that Gustave Eiffel himself had a hand in the creation of the temple. In favor of this version speaks the metal skeleton of the building. It was made in Belgium and delivered to Manila on eight ships. The weight of the construction is over 53 tons. The stained-glass windows were made by skilled craftsmen from Germany.
The main relic is the sculpture of the Virgin Mary. It was made by Carmelite nuns from Mexico in 1617. The statue is the only surviving shrine left from the previous structures of the temple.
Basilica of Santo Nino
The oldest Catholic church in the Philippines was built in 1565. The legend says that the basilica was erected exactly on the place where was found the figure of baby Jesus brought to the island of Cebu by Magellan.
The architect was the Augustinian monk Andrés de Urdanet. The original building could not withstand the hasty flight of time, so it was thoroughly rebuilt in the XVIII century, and so it survives to this day. The architecture is a whimsical combination of Romanesque and neoclassical styles. The facade is decorated with carved elements: a symbolic image of Christ and false columns.
Inside, there is a museum dedicated to the Christianization of the Philippines. Among the exhibits are religious works of art, church utensils, clergy clothes, ancient bibles, manuscripts and other artifacts.
The volcano has a perfect cone shape and gray smoke slowly rises from its summit. Such a picturesque picture attracts many tourists, wishing to see the giant nearly 2,500 meters high. They are not confused by the fact that Mayon is an active volcano. The last time it erupted last year.
Mayon is located on the island of Luzon about 60 km from Legazpi village. The volcano and the surrounding area is declared a national reserve.
The underground Puerto Princesa River
With a length of over 8 km, the Puerto Princesa River is the longest underground river in the world. It is located on the island of Palawan, its source begins at the town of Sabang, and the entrance to the cave, where you can make rafting, is near the settlement of Puerto Princesa, which gave its name to this miracle of nature.
Tourists are invited to make a voyage in complete silence, among the stalactites and stalagmites. The distance of the swim is limited to 1 km – the reason is that there is little oxygen in the depth of the cave, which can have a negative effect on health.
The nature reserve is located in the province of Western Mindoro. Occupying an area of almost 34 square kilometers, Apo Reef is the largest in the country and the second largest in the world. The main influx of tourists is from December to May, when the weather is good and the sea is calm. Divers make fascinating dives to admire the rich coral forests that grow at depths of 20 to 800 meters.
In the north of the Philippines there are picturesque mountains, the Cordilleras. Their slopes are covered with neat rows of rice terraces, like giant steps. They were created by representatives of the Ifugao tribe about 2 thousand years ago.
The upper part of the threshold is a ploughed field sown with an agricultural crop. To create and cultivate such a terrace is a titanic effort and a vivid example of how one can adapt to the most difficult circumstances of life in any natural conditions.
Bohol is famous for its cone-shaped, perfectly formed hills. The height of geological formations is approximately 120 m. Their slopes are covered with grass, which burns out every year in the dry season. Because of this, the hills take on a beautiful brownish-beige hue.
Scientists cannot explain the origin of “chocolate” hills. According to one version, they appeared as a result of volcanic activity on the island, according to another – it is karstic deposits.
The reef is located in the waters of the island of Palawan and covers an area of about 10 thousand hectares. This vast aquatic area is home to 500 species of coral, more than 300 species of fish and shellfish. The most prominent inhabitants are turtles, whales, moray eels, rays and sharks.
The reef is 15 million years old, a record for our planet.
The picturesque 3-stage Kawasan Falls are located in the heart of Cebu Island and are surrounded by lush jungle. This gem can only be reached on foot.
The first cascade is particularly beautiful. The waterfall forms a pool of water with an unusual milky turquoise color. Bamboo pontoons are equipped for bathers.
Another active volcano, whose height before the eruption in 1991 was almost 1800 meters. After lava, rocks, and ash emissions, the colossus has shrunk to 1,400 meters. However, this fact has not diminished its popularity among tourists. They climb to admire the emerald lake formed after the eruption.
The impregnable citadel was built by the Spanish conquistadors in 1590 to protect the new territory from the encroachment of sea robbers and the wrath of the natives, who were not eager to see outsiders in their territory. During the British occupation the fort was reconstructed: its area was expanded, the length of the walls was increased, new defensive and watchtowers were built.
During World War II the fortress, which had been used as a prison, was seriously damaged by raids. It stood in ruins until the mid-1980s, when the local government finally found the means to restore it. Today the fort and its casemates are part of a historical reserve. The walls of Santiago offer a beautiful panoramic view.
The Tabón Caves
The limestone caves of Tabon, more than 25 million years old, are located on the island of Palawan. They became famous after a group of scientists in 1962, discovered the remains of ancient people, stone tools, jewelry made of jade, utensils and other household items. The age of finds 22-24 thousand years.
A total of 29 caves in the complex, but only 3 of them are open for visits and only accompanied by guides, who are vigilantly watching to ensure that tourists do not damage the limestone walls. The Tabón Caves and the surrounding area are declared a national reserve.
Fort San Pedro
An architectural monument built during the Spanish colonization, it is located in Cebu City. The citadel appeared in 1565 and since then has been constantly rebuilt and altered.
Despite its relatively modest size (the area of the fort is just over 2 thousand square kilometers), it played an important role in the fate of the country. The walls and towers became an insurmountable barrier to Muslim invaders.
Over time, the fortress lost its strategic importance. It was used as a storehouse, a prison and a military training camp. Nowadays the fort is a historical open-air museum.
Museums and Entertainment
The National Museum has several divisions and offers tourists a variety of cultural and educational experiences.
- The Art Gallery exhibits works by Filipino artists from the 18th century to the present.
- The Natural History Museum invites you to see archaeological finds, national costumes, jewelry and herbaria of rare plants.
- The planetarium gives lectures and shows films about distant planets and galaxies.
Located near the town of San Pablo, the ethnographic villa grew out of a private estate. The descendants of the Escudero couple did not want to farm like their ancestors, but turned the house and the vast surrounding area into an amusement park.
There is a museum in the main building. On display are the household items of the colonial era, banknotes and coins that were once paid for on the islands, jewelry and cutlery. Costume ethnographic shows are regularly held in the villa.
Bamboo rafts are at guests’ disposal. You can rent them and make a fascinating voyage on the river. The main gem is the restaurant at the waterfall. Tables are placed right by the water wall, flowing down.
The Manila Oceanarium is an educational and entertainment center for the whole family. Covering an area of about 8,000 square meters, it features a rich variety of fish fauna from all over the world, from the warm seas of Asia to the rugged Arctic Ocean.
The complex is divided into 35 thematic zones, imitating various ecosystems of the Earth. The main point of attraction – the tunnel “The Living Ocean”. Its length is 25 m, height is 35 m, and the walls bend 220 degrees.
Places to walk
Intramuros is a historical district of Manila founded in the late 16th century. Spanish families settled here, which left its mark on the local architecture and way of life. The iconic buildings were erected in the period of XVII-XVIII centuries. Alas, little has remained of them since the bombing of World War II.
The few remaining buildings are exemplary examples of the colonial style and are worth seeing. Other area landmarks include Fort Santiago and the Cathedral.
It’s hard to imagine that the picturesque Paco Park, buried in tropical greenery, was once a cemetery and ammunition depot. Spaniards were buried there until 1912, then those who died of a cholera epidemic. During the Great Patriotic War, the Japanese set up a weapons depot here.
In the dawn of the 1960s, authorities gradually began to put the long-suffering piece of land in order, cleared it and created a park with shady alleys, benches and fountains. The main architectural landmark in Paco is the small Catholic chapel of St. Pancratius.
At the western tip of the island of Luzon is the town of Vigan. It appeared in the 16th century with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. Vigan’s architecture is a surprising mix of colonial and Filipino buildings. The appearance of the streets has changed little since ancient times.
To get the best sense of a bygone era, you should stroll down Mena Crisologo Street, visit the colorful Pagburnayan neighborhood, and take breathtaking photos in Burgos and Salcedo squares.
Islands and Beaches
The island of Borocay is famous for its snow-white beach, which is often depicted on posters and postcards as a model of an ideal vacation spot. The beach is almost 5 kilometers long and about 100 meters wide. The resort is designed for respectable ladies and gentlemen who are ready to splurge on fashionable vacations.
Conventionally, the coastline is divided into 3 parts by the number of boat stations. The first is designed for lovers of comfortable recreation, the second – more democratic (there are popular bars and restaurants), the third awaits the fans of “wild” recreation.
The island of Palawan – it’s emerald jungle, bizarre mangrove forests, steep mountains and quiet beaches. The emphasis here is on eco-recreation. Hotels and guest houses offer a harmonious coexistence with the natural environment with minimal harmful effects on the environment.
The main entertainment – snorkeling, diving, hiking in the jungle and long walks on the beach. It is in Palawan that the ancient Tabon caves are located.
Bulabog Beach is just over 1 km long and is a haven for windsurfers and kite surfers. The wind blows here most of the year, so there are hardly any bad days for action sports. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly.
A visit to the “dead forest” is a must. Once there was a freshwater lake with a mango forest in the northern part of the island. The water has dried up and the remains of the dead trees have become a natural landmark.
This paradise beach is for fans of white sand and turquoise sea. Unlike the popular White Beach on Borokai, there are no crowds of tourists here – the privacy of a comfortable holiday is not violated by anyone. The shallow bottom is ideal for recreation with children. There are expensive hotels on the coastline.
Philippines – culture, nature, traditions
23 August 2021
The Philippines is an island nation in Southeast Asia, an archipelago of more than seven thousand islands. Its closest neighbors are miniature state of Brunei on the island of Kalimantan, populous Indonesia and Taiwan Island off the coast of mainland China. More than 100 million people live on the Philippine Islands. The capital, Manila City, is located on Luzon Island.
History of the name and formation of the state
At the time of great geographical discoveries of the 15th-17th centuries there were less and less blank spots on the map. A famous explorer of seas and oceans, Fernand Magellan, once offered the King of Spain to launch an expedition to the distant islands in the Pacific Ocean – for precious spices. Magellan set out on a trade mission and discovered an entire archipelago of new islands. Spain declared these lands the possession of King Philip II. Since then, the unnamed islands were named – Philippine Islands.
The conquistadors came to the lands named after the king, along with Catholic priests. To this day, most of the population is Catholic by religion. However, at the time of the conquest, of course, there were clashes. Thus, Magellan himself in 1521 was killed in battle with the resisting natives.
On the island of Cebu, where the famous Portuguese navigator died, a monument to him was erected. There is also a monument to the leader of the local tribe Lapu-lapu, who massacred Magellan.
In 1896 there was a revolution in the Philippines, the purpose of which was to break away from the sphere of influence of Spain. The country was eventually handed over to the United States and only gained independence in 1946.
Islanders / Folk Traditions
The Philippines is home to about 100 nationalities and ethnic groups that speak numerous languages and dialects. Today, English and Filipino are the official languages of the country.
Traditional occupation of islanders from ancient times was gathering, fishing, farming. Rice is the main farming culture of the Filipinos. The mountainous rice terraces of Banaue, built more than two thousand years ago, are the oldest in the world and attract people with their views no less than the Peruvian wonder of the world, Machu Picchu.
The dwellings of the islanders were built high above the ground, on stilts, and the main materials for construction were wood, bamboo, and palm leaves. Pottery was used in the economy, ceramics for ritual purposes were decorated with colorful ornaments.
Already in the XIII-XIV centuries between China and the archipelago was a lively trade and exchange of goods. Pearls of rare beauty were taken away from the islands.
Folk art was best expressed in theatrical music and dance performances, in which men and women participated. Ceremonies were arranged to express homage to ancestors and deities – patrons of the home, fields and forests, sea and rivers.
The tales and myths of Filipino folklore abound with mystical characters: dragons and giant monkeys, crafty witches and vampires, creatures from the other world, sea monsters… And stories, as it should be, tell about the creation of the world, the origin of animals, plants and all existence. Filipino tales tell us why women have no beards, how rice came to be and why the Moon is eclipsed.
Over the centuries, the Filipino people have evolved and today they are known for their friendliness, non-conflict, respectful attitude and mild temperament.
The nature of the Philippine archipelago
The Philippines is rich in flora and fauna, famous for its endemics and tropical climate. Ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau said he had never seen such stunning seascapes. Snorkeling and diving are very well developed here. And the gentle waves and gentle winds have made the Philippines famous as a great place for surfing.
On the islands you can find one of the world’s largest butterflies – the peacock-eye. But the most popular Philippine animal, a true symbol of the region, is considered a miniature big-eyed primate tarsier.
Half of the territory is covered with tropical rainforests. Of plants, the most common are all kinds of palms, mangroves and bamboo thickets, beautiful orchids, which fill with color all around. Three-quarters occupied by volcanic mountain ranges ranging in height from a thousand to three thousand meters. The highest point – Volcano Apo on the island of Mindanao.
Celebrations and festivals of the Philippines
Locals are very religious and widely celebrate all holidays of the Catholic calendar. As well as all the secular and universal dates, such as New Year’s Eve and Christmas, for example. But there are some special ones of their own. So, one of the favorites is the Coconut Festival in August. In September, there’s the Tuna Festival, a culinary event. Islanders love and know how to festival, the climate is conducive, and there is always a reason. But the Independence Day in the Philippine calendar falls on the same date as in Russia – June 12.
Southeast Asia in the park-museum “ETNOMIR”
Petrovo Village, Borovsky District, Kaluga Region
In the Ethnographic Museum Park “ETNOMIR” in the Kaluga region the traditions and culture of Southeast Asia are presented in the pavilion “Around the world”, where the panels depict the peoples of Southeast Asia in traditional dress: people of Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, East Timor, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Laos. Among the exhibits of the House of Southeast Asia are unique wooden sculptures, household and clothing items.
There is also a hotel “South-East Asia” on the territory of ethnopark, the hall of which is a kind of interactive museum of traditional culture of the peoples of the sunny region. Bright umbrellas, sprawling palms, colorful paintings – everything here reminds of tropical Asian islands. And the interior of each room in this four-star hotel represents a particular country, revealing in the details and decoration materials, ornaments and colors.