Monday, February 16, 2009

Philippine Summer Destinations, part 3

Is there cause for alarm? Early weather forecasts report that in the Philippines, La Nina has started and that it will extend into mid-2009. And everyone, me included, are so looking forward to summer. The predictability of sunshine I’ve craved most of all after a long protracted rainy season that seems to have stretched endlessly since last May.

But weather is fickle. Perhaps enough fervent prayers and eggs offered to the Carmelites would make the heavens break into a warm sun-shiny smile.

To continue on my series of choice summer destinations, I offer three more special places that I truly would not mind going back for seconds. Or thirds.

Saud Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

So you’ve traveled more than 550km from Manila to visit Ilocos for a tour of its numerous UNESCO World heritage sites of Vigan and the churches of Paoay and Sta Maria. Thinking of a beach to spend some downtime? Then top on the shortlist should be Saud Beach in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. The lagoon is vast, the sand is powdery, waters are crystal clean and the surrounding capes are a killer view (enjoy the famous Bangui windmills at the southend!). Several resorts already dot the area to make your stay comfortable and provide snorkeling, surfing and boating recreation. Still, the best part is Saud’s hugging silence far from the madding crown.
fishermen mending nets at Saud Beach, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, the Philippines

Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu

Every Holy Week, the young and the hip trek to Bantayan Island in Cebu as if they were pilgrims to holy land. For some five days, the beach of Sta Fe is transformed to one giant fiesta place where tent cities sprout, concerts erupt and parties collide. Irreverent to the abstinent call of Lent? Definitely. You can even eat pork freely, thanks to a unique 19th century papal dispensation. But once you set foot on the fine powdery white sand, immerse in the cool blue waters, and zone out from the chattering din, you too can be a convert. Otherwise, you just make a vow to come back some other time to revel in the real rustic and peaceful Bantayan.

Santa Fe, Bantayan
that’s me and my wife, with my mom at the center and my two good friends Gary and Nitzi, the Holy Week of 2006 at Sta Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu, the Philippines
Canon EOS 350D, 1/60s, f/8.0, 18mm, ISO 100, +1.0EV

a girl at the Sta Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu, the Philippines
Canon EOS 350D, 1/100s, f/13, 110mm, ISO 100

Dakak Resort, Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte

Tucked in Zamboanga del Norte in Northwestern Mindanao is the resort of Dakak. While Dakak may not be as stellar as it once was in the 1990s during my first visit – it once hosted a party for the 1994 Miss Universe beauty pageant – the location of the resort is difficult to beat. Boasting about 15 hectares of woodland, thickets, karst hills and springs, Dakak seamlessly integrated its cottages in the gentle slopes of the hills surrounding a stunning lagoon with a 750 meter arc of a beach with white powder-fine sand. For it is 9 kilometers away from the city of Dapitan, Dakak is practically a world of its own, with restaurants, water sports, world class diving spots and stores.

sunrise at Dakak, Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, the Philippines

part of an ongoing series on Philippine summer destinations:
part 1 - Alegre (Cebu), Pandanon Island (Bohol), Siquijor Island
part 2 (the isolation series) - the sandbar of Bais (Negros Oriental), Inampulugan Island (Guimaras), Mambucal (Negros Occidental)
part 3 - (Pagudpud, Bantayan, Dakak)

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