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Discover Philippines: The Five Best Outdoor Activities to Try in the Philippines

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“Some people choose activities which give them pleasure, while others seek pleasure in every activity they perform.”-Sukant Ratnakar

 

A tropical country of all sorts, the Philippines is known and well-regarded to be a holiday destination for thalassophiles who wish to indulge their craving for the ocean and saltwater.

However, while this Southeast Asian country is mostly known (and loved) for its summer capitals, scenic beaches, and picturesque mountainsides, it is also a known destination for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies alike. With the country’s diverse landscape complemented by the dense and lush countryside, it is poised to become Southeast Asia’s next premier thrilling adventure destination. As a result, an influx of foreign travelers and tourists alike can be seen swarming in the country during the summer season. The Philippines plays host to a myriad of outdoor activities with each one promising a different kind of rush. Some would bring you over the edge, or allow you to conquer your fears. Regardless of what it is, each activity would give you a euphoric rush of adrenaline and excitement. With its wide range of activities, you are sure to find one that would cater to your fancy. From the physical activities suitable for kids and adults in the Sandbox Pampanga to jumping off cliffs to beds of water in Cebu, there is quite a lot for you to discover and experience.

Whether you are a meandering tourist looking for your next big adventure or a local who is seeking out new thrills or basically just someone who wishes to get out of their beds and their house, here are some of the outdoor activities in the Philippines you ought to try:

 

Mountaineering

If you are unafraid of heights and cliffs, then mountaineering is definitely an activity you have to try. The Philippines has an abundance of mountain ranges which you can explore and discover. Satisfy your climbing cravings or choose to conquer your fear of heights and deadly cliffs by embarking on a mountain climbing journey. As the Philippines has a lot of beautiful mountains to climb, you need not travel far just to realize that dream. More often than not, you would not even need to book an airline ticket just to indulge your fancy. One good tip before going on this adventure though is to make sure to take a lot of photos when you get there. The spectacular views are breathtaking and one-of-a-kind. Plus, they will definitely make for an interesting addition in your Instagram feed.

Mud Karting

You might want to skip this outdoor activity if you do not wish to get any dirt on your clothes. However, if you are not opposed to getting a little dirty then mud karting is an outdoor activity you might want to try. Indulge the adrenaline junkie in you and ride a dune buggy through an obstacle course full of mud. Just be sure to bring extra clothes though, as no one ever gets out of this activity with their clothes spotlessly clean. Expect to get really really dirty. If you wish to give this activity a try, head on over to the Holy Child School in Santo Nino which is located just outside of Puerto Galera and on the way to White Beach.

Sand Boarding

Sand dunes are not exclusive to the Middle East as the Philippines even has a local rendition of its own. In fact, the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte would rival the ones that can be found in the Middle East. Head on over to Laoag La Paz Sand Dunes in Ilocos Norte and engage in this outdoor activity that can be ridden alone or with a companion. Just remember, while you are enjoying this activity it is imperative to keep your mouth shut (No shouting allowed!), lest any sand gets in. So, go ahead and plan that road trip. Pack your bags and bring your hippest shades and go surf on the sand.

Sky Cycling

Available in Davao, Laguna and even in Negros Occidental, Bacolod, Sky Cycling is an activity that requires you to balance your body on a wire cable while being suspended mid-air. To some, the activity might be a daunting prospect, but once you get the hang of it, you would find that it can actually be pretty enjoyable. Furthermore, the resorts offering this activity have gone through extraordinary measures to ensure that the cables are not only safe but stable. So, if you want a different take to ordinary cycling, you might as well try this activity out.

Zipline

Over the years, ziplining has taken over the country’s adventure scene by storm. In fact, it is highly likely that you and your friends have experienced it at some point in your lives (unless you have an irrational fear or aversion for heights of course). In any case, ziplining can be done not only in the Philippines but in almost every part of the world. However, what sets the Philippines apart is the wide range of choices and places where you can do this activity. Furthermore, the Philippines is known to have the longest zipline in Asia which can be found in Oriental Mindoro. It has been said that the zipline is so long that you would be zipping from one line to another.

 

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Travel EATinerary: Four Iconic Kapampangan Dishes for the Foodie in You

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“I am not a great cook, I am not a great artist, but I love art and I love food, so I am the perfect traveler.” –Michael Palin

It has been said that in order to truly get to know a foreign place, you have to eat your way through it.

As a result, so many travels now are centered on one goal: To sample and taste a foreign destination’s finest and most popular food offerings. The glamorous rise of food travels can be attributed to the almost ubiquitous presence of food in social media pages—so much so that people are willing to pay an airfare ticket just to indulge the foodie in them as well as satisfy their avid curiosity. In the Philippines, the most well-known and beloved food destination is none other than Pampanga. As a matter of fact, apart from being well-regarded as the gastronomic capital of the Philippines, the province is famed for its food crawls—one of the many things you can do in Pampanga. The unique talent and skill of the many cooks and chefs of Pampanga are from the resulting tutelage and training by the Spaniards during the colonial period. Fortunately, these cooks are not selfish with their unique prowess and have passed on their culinary expertise from generation to generation. For this reason, recipes for authentic Kapampangan dishes are still in existence and could still be tasted today. Among the Filipinos, it has been said that none can rival the Kapampangans passion for food and cooking which is why they always come up with exemplary and stellar dishes. This very passion they have for cooking is echoed in dishes such as the ubiquitous Filipino beer match, sisig as well as their cooking and preserving techniques distinct only to them.

In any case, if you have slated Pampanga to be your next food destination, here are some of the iconic and noteworthy Kapampangan dishes you should definitely try:

 

Tocino or Pindang

It has been said that the most delicious tocino comes from Pampanga. In fact, it is one of the famed products of the province and since then, it has become a Filipino breakfast staple for years. To the uninitiated, tocino is basically cured or processed pork meat that is sweet and savory at the same time. The fusion of flavors, as well as its unique tanginess, makes it the perfect pair for rice and sunny-side-up eggs. Fortunately, tocino can be found in almost every Filipino grocery store. But, you should never miss out on the chance to taste authentically prepared Kapampangan tocino that is offered only in the province which is referred to as “Pindang Damulag”—thinly sliced carabao meat cured with vinegar and seasonings.

Sisig

Of course, no list would be complete without this well-known and revered Kapampangan food item. Locally recognized as the perfect beer match, sisig is a well-loved dish that found its roots in Pampanga. Although it can be found in most Filipino restaurants, none can compare to how its creators really make it. To those who have not heard of the dish, sisig is a sizzling dish consisting of different pig parts—from the face to the liver (Filipinos are known not to waste any part of the animal, after all). A visit to Pampanga would be incomplete if you do not at least sample an authentic Kapampangan sisig.

Betute and Camaru

What is a food travel if it is not peppered with a little bit of adventure? Of course, a food travel excursion would not be complete without at least sampling one exotic dish. Apart from testing your fortitude and your drive to try new things, you might actually find that you would like it. Betute and Camaru are two dishes available only in Pampanga as the province is known to have expansive rice fields throughout the province. Inevitably, critters such as crickets and frogs would find themselves being considered as a snack at some point. While frogs are most notably attributed to being a French delicacy, Kapampangans are also known to serve this delicacy. However, they eat the frog whole by stuffing it with ground pork meat and deep frying it. Sure, eating insects and frogs might not rank so high in your list, but just think about the bragging rights it would afford you when you have successfully done it.

Buro

Buro is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for the unimaginative eater. The dish is basically fermented rice mixed with either shrimp of fish—a popular Kapampangan condiment. However, owing to its pungent smell and appearance, many individuals would rather steer clear away from it. But, if you can get past the thought of eating fermented rice, you might find that the dish is actually taste—especially when mixed with boiled vegetables or deep fried catfish.

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Bizarre Eats: Four Philippine Exotic Dishes that are Definitely Worth The Try!

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“If you are going to a destination where the food might be more exotic than usual, always err on the side of caution.” -Stefanie Powers

There has never been any doubt that the Philippines has an incredibly diverse food scene.

In fact, it can even be argued that the country is a melting pot of several food staples all around the world. After all, you do not get to be a colony of Spain for a century and trade with the Chinese without having a few food derivatives from them. While the Philippines is in by no means a food mecca, it does have its fair share of food staples that are sure to wow tourists and impress travelers. For those individuals who have made their trip into a “foodventure” seeking to try out only the best Filipino epicurean delights and gastronomic offers, then a food trip in Pampanga might be apt. However, if testing your grit, nerve and boundaries for unconventional tastes are what you have in mind, then perhaps sampling some of the Philippines more exotic food offerings might be more of your speed.

In any case, if you have a distinct flavor for the unknown and unusual, then you would be wise to include the exotic Filipino food below in some of your eating itineraries:

1.) Tamilok

To begin the list, let us go with a dish that not even most locals would try. Best eaten raw or kinilaw-style (dipped in vinegar) in Filipino dialect, Tamilok is a wood worm mollusk found in the mangroves. Typically consumed by travelers in Palawan, sampling this delicacy is sure to test your fortitude when it comes to eating rather exotic food. You should never leave Palawan without at least tasting this dish as it would make your trip all the more memorable and enjoyable.

2.) Betute

While your typical serving of French frogs legs no longer holds the same shock value as it did decades ago, the Philippines has offered their own counterpart in the form of stuffed frogs. A well-known Kapampangan specialty, Betutes are deep fried farm frogs stuffed with pork, garlic, and spices. Much like how the French would assert that frogs legs would taste like chicken drumsticks, the Filipinos would also tell you that their local rendition would taste quite like poultry as well. In fact, it might even be more delicious as the harmony of different spices together with the frog meat and pork makes for quite a flavorful dish.

3.) Pinikpikan

Although this dish is relatively tame compared to the other items on this list, quite a few might take issue in its preparation. A rather popular dish in the Cordilleras of the Philippines, Pinikpikan is a warm and hearty chicken soup dish. What makes this soup fare so exotic is how the chicken was prepared which is through the process of “pikpik” from where the dish got its moniker. “Pikpik” means beating the chicken to death and for some animal rights advocates (or at least ones against animal cruelty), this might be a reason for them to forego the dish altogether. However, it has been said that the dish derives its flavor from its unusual mode of preparation. Apparently, the coagulated blood, burned feathers, the skin and the Etag (cured meat that has been aged underground in earthen jars) contribute to the myriad of flavors in this hearty dish. If you have the stomach (and heart) for it, you might want to give this dish a try.

4.) Balut

Balut is the epitome of Filipino exotic food. Not only is it the most popular, but most foreign travelers are quite well-versed about the dish as well. Balut is a fertilized duck egg and is said to have amative capabilities. In fact, locals would tell you that apart from being considered as an aphrodisiac, the delicacy is said to have quite the stimulating effect in men.

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Discover Philippines: Excellent Reasons Why Pampanga Will Be the Next Big Thing in Tourism

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“Tourism carries a tremendous potential that must be acknowledged as essential for the future of world heritage. But without proper management, we can easily get out of control.”-Bonnie Burnham

Pampanga, also known as the Philippines’ culinary capital and gastronomic mecca is poised to become the country’s next big thing in tourism.

Scrumptious and delectable aside, Pampanga has a lot to offer to both locals and tourists alike. It boasts of heritage and attractions you should see and also has exciting new developments which you should not miss out on. Furthermore, the province itself is teeming with hidden gems that most tourists do not know of yet so you can be assured that when you visit you can have the place all to yourself. While Pampanga is renowned for its incredibly diverse and vibrant local cuisine as well as its handicraft industry, there is more to this province than its Filipino staple food sisig. Tourists have been arriving by the droves just to see the new developments planned out in the city as well as to reinvigorate themselves with the old treasures and gems located within. As it is only a couple of hours away or so from Quezon City, why not schedule a visit and see what makes this humble province tick and stand out?

A province rich in heritage sites

Founded by the Spaniards in 1571, Bacolor was considered the colonial capital when Manila was under siege and invaded by Great Britain in 1762. A hundred years or so later, the first Philippine President, Aguinaldo situated the seat of the First Republic in Angeles back in 1899. Apart from these, Jose Rizal was also known to visit San Fernando in a train in 1892—the same train station where the Death March ended in 1942. Lastly, much of the landscapes have changed since the eruption of Pinatubo in 1991—the biggest one yet since Novarupta in 1912.

With all these considered, you can truly see that Pampanga has a wealth of history abound. Indeed, the province is teeming with centuries-old ancestral houses and structures—some of which have architectural structures that could marvel those that can be found in Europe. After all, where else can you find a functional church submerged in lahar to Betis, the Filipino rendition of the Sistine Chapel?

A variety of outdoor adventures

While Pampanga is already a progressive province on its own, being here is like being transported to another world—one without pollution and traffic while being offered the convenience and comforts of the city still. Apart from that, you can truly enjoy the countryside ambiance, fresh air, and lush, verdant greenery without needing to travel far. One of Pampanga’s main attractions is the Sandbox located in Alviera where they offer a myriad of city and countryside adventures alike to patrons. Some of its most popular attractions include the country’s first roller coaster zip line and the Philippine’s Giant Swing.

If you have the nerve for it, you can test your skills on the Aerial Walk Challenge or free fall from the 5-story Adventure Tower and more. In any case, your days would certainly not be dull should you ever plan to visit the Sandbox as an abundance of activities would await you while there.

A wealth of cultural experiences

One of the exciting things about Pampanga is that there is almost always a festival happening somewhere. One such festival of particular notice is called Aguman Sanduk in Minalin which translates to Ladle Brotherhood. It occurs every January where straight men celebrate and honor the women in their lives with a cross-dressing pageant. By the time February sets in, locals and tourists alike would prepare themselves for colorful skies during the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Festival. During the summer and by the time Easter rolls around, San Fernando draws crowds by the thousands comprising of religious devotees, curious onlookers as well as fans of the macabre yearly religious tradition.

Apart from these, there is a myriad more to experience in Pampanga where you would get a sliver of its cultural experience. From food to religious practices, almost everything is celebrated in this province.

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Pushing Your Limits: Five Reasons Why An Adventure Travel is Good For You

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“Some people choose activities which give them pleasure, while others seek pleasure in every activity they perform.” -Sukant Ratnakar

 

It has been said that the perfect gift you can give anyone who loves the outdoors is to invite them on an adventure—well, at least according to Ben Stookesberry that is. Indeed, if you know someone with a penchant for the great outdoors, then it is almost inevitable that they would have a particular proclivity for going on adventures. Adventures can mean many things; it may be something as simple as exploring the nearest cave in your neighborhood, trying out something you have never done before or simply getting a euphoric rush from the surge of adrenaline felt in doing such activities. With the myriad of things adventure can mean to different people, it would be unwise to limit those so called adventures only to those that push you beyond your boundaries. However, as it is, those adventures that do push you out of your comfort zone would end up being the defining adventures that would make you feel accomplished and as a result, more fulfilled. Furthermore, the experience can be very enlightening, and it would teach you a lot about yourself and your capabilities.

However, there are many reasons why travel centered on an adventure would be excellent for you. So before deciding to head on to an adventure park such as Alviera, try to see why an adventure travel might be better for you. Here are five reasons why:

1.) When you get dirty, you improve your physical health.

If you are one of those individuals who would be incredibly meticulous about a little grime and dirty, then perhaps roughing the outdoors might not be for you. But then again, as we are on the topic of going out of our comfort zones, you might want to give it a try. It has been found that getting a little dirty can actually be good for you. This is because, as scientists have found, an obsession with cleanliness can actually lead to a rise in allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma. Getting a little dirty is an excellent avenue for developing and improving your immune system.

2.) There are no age limits on adventure

You do not have to be young to enjoy your own adventure because when it comes to adventure and exploration, it does not distinguish between the young and the old. Just about anyone can make the great outdoors their playground and going on adventures is an activity you can do for life. However, if you have any existing health problems, it is best if you consult your physician first before going on some taxing adventure excursions.

3.) It raises your tolerance for uncertainty

No matter how meticulously you plan and detail the itinerary of your travel, there would always be the possibility that things may not go as planned. This is particularly the case for adventure trips where you will be constrained to make compromises when something unforeseen occurs. Consequently, you would be able to cope with uncertainty better—whether it is in your adventure or your life.

4.) It fosters reflectiveness

One of the best things about adventure travels is that it cultivates a sense of self-awareness and it promotes individuality—two things that seem to be in short supply today. Without a doubt, adventures would often make the best memories, and you can expect to relive and reminisce about those memories for years to come. Apart from being an avenue for introspection, it also allows you to discover how truly capable you are and discover more about yourself. In a sense, by pushing yourself beyond your limits and your comfort zone, you would then learn to conquer some of your fears.

5.) It lets you “try on” different lives

If you have been living in the same skin for so long and have gotten so used to your everyday routine, life can be quite dull after a while. An adventure travel reinvigorates your soul and reawakens your thirst for life by letting you safely “try” on alternate lives. You are allowed to shed your skin for a while and pretend to be anything you want to be in a foreign place. In a sense, you would soon ask yourself who you would be had you lived there.

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