7 places to visit in Philippines this 2017

El Nido offers a wide array of watersports activities, including paddle boarding. (Photo by Alan Tangcawan)
El Nido offers a wide array of watersports activities, including paddle boarding. (Photo by Alan Tangcawan)

WITH 7,107 islands, there are plenty of places to explore around the country. Just browse through blogs and social media posts and you’ll find that another beach or natural attraction has captured the delight of travelers and adventurers. They are so many that it can last me a whole lifetime just exploring all of them.

I have come up with my own list of places in our archipelago that I hope to visit this 2017. If I can tick off even just two of them, it will already make my year a good one. But if my resources can bring me to all of these spots, why not visit them all? Here’s my travel wish list in the Philippines this year.MORE

Israel: Where Jesus spent his time on earth

OR us Christians, the story of Jesus is “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” As narrated in the New Testament, his life on earth was dedicated to the salvation of mankind.

During my childhood years, I loved best the Christmas story… of the God-child born in a manger… of the angels announcing the birth of the Savior to the shepherds… of the three kings guided by a star bringing gifts to the Holy Child… The entire narrative appealed to my young mind like a fairy tale.

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Fast forward to my school years at St. Theresa’s College… The story of Jesus took on a more profound meaning and I found myself getting more and more fascinated by the gospel stories. However never did it enter my mind to go to these places mentioned in the Bible. I never thought I would get the chance to visit the different settings of the riveting and timeless tale of Jesus’ life on earth.

My first trip to Israel was in 2012 and that first visit awakened in me the desire to further explore the place Jesus called home. I promised to be back one day.

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The opportunity came when Korean Airlines (through its super sales executive Ann Momongan) organized a trip to Tel Aviv (one of its new destinations) for its top travel agents. Cherry Lynn Callelero of Grand Holidays coordinated with Meteor Phils. Inc. (represented by Ligaya Tabirao and Mai Ibay Hasan) for an eight-day tour arranged by Israel’s Eternity Travel. We were a total of 4 pilgrims on the trip with Fr. Joseph Yntig of Mandaue’s Gethsemane Parish as accompanying chaplain.

Excitement was in the air as we set forth for our very first destination during the pilgrimage – Yardenit by the River Jordan for the reenactment of baptism where we dipped our feet in the river waters. So thrilling for us because we envisioned the baptism of Jesus by his cousin, John the Baptist in these very same waters. It brought to mind the dove (the Holy Spirit) descending on his head and the voice of God the Father heard saying, “Thou art my beloved Son, with thee I am pleased.”MORE

Warsaw wandering

“WHEN in Rome, do as the Romans do,” goes the adage on following the customs of the land you’re in.
Well, they didn’t count on this Filipina touching down in Warsaw and doing whatever she wanted to do in Poland’s capital.

So on a spectacularly sunny day in June, when hatless visitors braved the sun’s piercing rays to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Pilsudski Square, I stood my ground as the only person in Warsaw to use an umbrella on a rainless day.

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My sisters tried to increase their distance from me as we explored Warsaw’s largest square and the Saxon Garden behind it, where I was sorely tempted to use my umbrella to whack a pair of young lovers who could not take enough selfies in front of the garden. Wilting in the heat, I prayed that their ardor for each other would burn them up so they would disappear and I could finally have my turn to take photos.

Actually, we just chanced upon the garden and the monument to the unnamed soldiers who died for Poland, as we took a shortcut through the square to get to the Old Town (Stare Miasto) that our guide had taken us to earlier.(MORE)