It can be easy to overlook the Philippines’ capital city of Manila in favor of getting lost amongst the 7,641 beautiful islands that make up the country instead. However, the developing sub-culture of art, food and music found there makes it a place worth visiting for more than just boarding a plane. Here you can find a unique cross-cultural experience influenced by neighboring China, Spanish settlers and Western visitors.
It’s a common notion that 5-star luxury hotels also come with a 5-star price, that’s why Beep and I only get to stay in such hotels once in a while because of discount deals or when we find hotels with top class amenities with surprisingly affordable rates. During the long holiday break, we found ourselves stuck in Metro Manila while most city dwellers escaped to the beach and islands. Luckily that time, Traveloka had an app-exclusive promo of 60% off on Metro Manila hotels so we booked 2 hotels for the holidays, one of our chosen hotels was Marco Polo Ortigas Manila Hotel (check the room rates here). Even without the discounts, the rooms in the 5-star Marco Polo Ortigas Manila Hotel can be booked for as low as PHP4,000-PHP5000+ a night. A steal price for a 5-star hotel!
Aside from the world-renowned tropical islands in the Philippines, one of the reasons why our home country is a must go-to destination is our rich culture shaped by our history. It’s evident not just in our traditions and cuisine, but also in our architecture. When you travel to a number of rural destinations in the country, you can still see old houses with Spanish influence since we were under their rule for over 300 years from 1521 to 1898, but there are only a few of them that stand today.
Luckily for our generation, a treasure trove of these houses are now well preserved in a one-of-a-kind open-air museum and heritage resort in Bagac, Bataan – Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar (check the rates of hotel rooms at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Traveloka). Just 3-4 hours of travel from Manila, the capital city, you can already step back in time and get a taste of what it felt like to walk in the cobblestone streets of old Philippines at Las Casas. Now we can proudly say that we’ve traveled not just to the most beautiful spots in the country, but to 18th century Philippines too.
Of all the places I’ve traveled to in the Philippines, the secluded small village of Buscalan in the mountains of Kalinga holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I got the best travel souvenir yet – tattoos from the legendary mambabatok (traditional tattoo artist) of the Butbut tribe herself, Apo Whang-Od. She is now 100 years old, and in her hand lies centuries of tradition.