‘BYAHENG BYAHE NA AKO’―10 local ‘hidden gems’ to discover when travel becomes better (and safer) in 2021

What a year it has been for travel! Almost all travel plans were scrapped, making everyone miss the beach, the mountains, even the museums (or, in the case of my parents, the malls).

But how will travel be in 2021? Uncertainty is still thick in the air with the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant. There are still “hassles” to undergo just to be able to fly from one destination to another. And there’s the fear of being quarantined somewhere, in a strange place together with strangers, in a land that’s supposed to give you relaxation but instead is giving you nightmares.

The presence of vaccines is a welcome development for the tourism industry. Pundits, however, have projected that it would take another year or two for the industry to stabilize, and get everyone in the mood for joyful travel.

But there are still a lot of people who are “byaheng-byahe na”―the itch for travel is so strong that they have to go somewhere, come hell or high water, come lockdowns or virus variants. For example, a friend of mine who has been saving up for the Tokyo Olympics is praying hard for the event to push through this 2021. Another friend is so “beach-na-beach” that she has already booked a five-day vacation on an island in Palawan, and she doesn’t care if the price is triple than the usual rate.

So, for the sake of those who are “byaheng byahe na,” allow us to present a list of destinations that you could visit soon, if not this year then perhaps sometime in the future when travel is safer, easier, and more fun! This list was prepared by a friend, Joseph Bautista, who has been to almost all of the provinces in our country. In fact, this list was what he showed to me at the beginning of 2020, but according to him, this becomes more relevant now that people have missed traveling and realized how travel is important to their wellbeing (and sanity!).

With this list presented on the first day of the year, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle wishes everyone the joy of travel. For the meantime, let’s savor these travel photos from Joseph and keep in mind that this pandemic would soon be over and we could all travel safely soon. With hope for the future, see you on the road, at the pier, or at the airport.


Swimming in one of the caves of Anda (All photos by Joseph Bautista)

There’s more to Bohol than the usual attractions like the tarsiers and the Chocolate Hills. On the eastern side of the province, the little known town of Anda offers the white sand beach of Quinale, where one can enjoy its cool waters and incredible sunset for free. Anda also has the mystical island of Lamanoc, where one can visit the witches’ caves, ancient red hematite paintings, and fossilized clams.

Experience the white sand beach of Anda, Bohol


Emerald waters of Balabac

This jewel of Sulu Sea located on the southern tip of Palawan can rival the many attractions of Coron and El Nido. Getting there is not easy as one has to endure a six-hour van ride followed by a three-hour boat ride to reach base camp. The waters around Balabac is probably the bluest in the world, and its many completely deserted islands are probably the most stunning.

Joseph enjoying the sand and waters of Balabac


The magnificent Can-umantad Waterfall in Candijay

This bucolic town in eastern Bohol offers intrepid travelers some very exciting adventures. Rent a motorcycle to visit its hidden gems: the magnificent 60-foot Can-umantad waterfalls, the palm-fringed rice terraces of Cadapdapan, and the refreshing Canawa cold spring.

Palm-fringed rice terraces of Cadapdapan


Rugged cliffs of a very scenic Dingalan

This town facing the Pacific Ocean is now fast becoming an alternative to Baler. Dingalan offers island hopping tours that take guests to hidden coves, rugged cliffs and caves, and view decks that look over the Pacific. The town also has a seafood market where one can buy freshly-caught seafood.

The town has a fresh seafood market; right: island hopping tour features a visit to the coves


A series of coves resembles a hand with five fingers

Looking for a quick getaway from Manila, then head to Mariveles, Bataan and take a boat to visit the Five Fingers: a series of coves that resembles a hand with five fingers, with each finger offering endless adventures of cliffs, lagoons, and secluded beaches.

Endless adventures await with visits to lagoons and secluded beaches


A scenic view showing the beauty of Jomalig

A four-hour boat ride from Real, Quezon takes visitors to this remote island in the Pacific, where one can visit attractions that look like those found in Palawan, Boracay, and Batanes. Their friendly locals are more than happy to take guests on a motorcycle ride around the island’s hidden attractions.

It’s an endless summer on this island in Quezon


A cluster of jagged hills await visitors

Located in Dalaguete, Cebu, this cluster of jagged hills located at the peak of Cebu’s highest mountain, resembles a set for a medieval movie. It takes about an hour from the jump off point, where one can park a vehicle and start climbing to reach the view deck.

Like a set for a medieval movie, the view deck offers a serene view of Cebu


Enjoy nature and learn history at the PRPC in Morong, Bataan

The Philippine Refugee Processing Center or PRPC in Morong, Bataan built in 1980 was the final processing center for half a million refugees before they were sent to their host countries. Today, the PRPC has been turned to a living museum. A visit to PRPC takes visitors to a museum depicting the lives of the refugees and the many temples built by Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian refugees.

Remnants of the past and the stories of refugees at PRPC


Literally ‘chasing waterfalls’ at Samboan

This southern Cebu town offers visitors to literally chase waterfalls, with half a dozen waterfalls to explore, to jump, or simply to chill. The best known are Aguinid, Binalayan, and Dao, where visitors need to hike and even climb using ropes to enjoy the cool waters coming from the mountains.

Enjoy cool waters whether you are near or far the waterfalls


Your climb will be rewarded with a magnificent view of Benguet

Mount Ulap in Benguet is at 1,846 meters above sea level. It’s an easy climb through pine forest to reach its three peaks that afford a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains. No Mt. Ulap climb is complete without an Instagram-photo op on top of Gungal Rock.

Envelop yourself with nature in this memorable climb

Credit belongs to : Manila Bulletin

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