December 30, 2017

The Best Of The Philippines 2017

By Dijo S.

As with the past few years, 2017 was all about movement for us. We found ourselves constantly hopping on a plane or on a boat to be out there and explore the Philippines as much as we can. This year, we were again fortunate enough to be part of the second season of Globe Telecom’s travel series – Scenezoned. In this season, #ThePLAN was to go around in search of different stories and sights that the country has to offer.



We kicked things off with a trip to Biri Island in Northern Samar with Solenn Heussaff. Solenn was looking to interact with the locals since she was in search for subjects for her recently-finished art exhibit called Kalsada. Biri was astounding. Being surrounded by towering rock formations with the open water as the backdrop was surreal. We also met lots of interesting people who took us around the island. A noteworthy group is the Biri Initiative whose main objective is to restore underwater life in the island. We were even invited to join one of their dives where Solenn was lucky enough to drop some buds to help restore the corals.


Next, we took a couple of members of the Philippine Volcanoes to recovering places in Tacloban and Samar. Chris and Evan brought rugby balls to impart the power of teamwork to the different kids who have experienced the recent tragedies that hit the province. We first went to a small village in Tacloban where we were smothered by the energy of all the children who were up to learn a thing or two about the sport. We then visited Yolanda Beach, an originally small shoreline in Eastern Samar, which expanded due to the typhoon it was named after. A bunch of kids joined a short rugby clinic that brought about moving smiles and laughs. Resiliency was imminent. It was heartwarming that we got to show these kids some fun even for just a little while.


For our third excursion, we brought along buddies LA Aguinaldo and Tommy Esguerra down south for a mystical adventure in Sorsogon. We tried to unlock and discover myths and legends surrounding different areas of the province such as the majestic Bulusan Lake as well as a few heritage houses around the colorful town of Juban. We made sure to also drop by Gubat, one of our favorite spots in the country, and introduced the boys to the amazing people behind Lola Sayong Eco-Surf Camp. All in all, it was a solid jam-packed trip to one of our growing list of go-to destinations.


What’s a series of travels around the country without stopping by Palawan? It felt good to be back in Coron and since we’ve been in and out of it for the past few years, it’s slowly beginning to feel like home. It was Haley Dasovich’s first time there and we were more than proud to show her the beauties that surround this magnificent island. From way up top Mt. Tapyas, to down below the seas in Skeleton Wreck, we made sure we could squeeze in every possible highlight there was in our given amount of time. It was nice to see a mix of old favorites and new discoveries around one of the most beautiful islands in the world.


We went back to the Queen City of the South for the fifth episode and brought Kaila Estrada along to learn more about the art scene in Cebu. The trip had a good balance of nature and cityscape while we tried to find art in the everyday. Meeting talented artists like Mae from HOLICOW and budding artist Lee gave us perspective on how everything we see can inspire us to do great things, especially when it comes to nature. Visiting the lush spots of South Cebu such as the Kawasan Falls, Bas Daku and the glorious Osmeña Peak while reflecting on the stories of the different artists we met was truly a wonderful experience.


To take a break from all the relaxing sights, we then went on a fitness journey in the Mango Capital of the Philippines – Guimaras. Joining us for this trip was fitness enthusiasts Chino Roque and Anjo Damiles who were both more than game to bike around the island. Guimaras is being pushed to be one of the best places for mountain biking in the country so it was only apt that Chino and Anjo did just that. A good supplement to this effort is the Guimaras Windmill Farm, which was constructed to help with the cause of sustainability throughout the island. A special mention goes out to our gracious hosts in the island, Em and the rest of her family at Zemkamps Chalet for all the love and warmth.


After all those flights, we decided to hop on a van for a change and explore the northern part of the country. It was our first time in Sagada and to say that it was beautiful is definitely underselling the place. Best friend-vloggers Cha Ocampo and Patrice Averilla were the perfect companions for a scenic trip up north. Sagada has vast views to offer but the definite highlight for us was the Marlboro Peak (Kamanbaneng Peak). Experiencing a sea of clouds beneath us for the very first time left us all breathless. Apart from all the sights we saw, what made our trip to the mountains even richer was all the people we met. From our local coordinators and guides, Gwen and Jessie, to Regina, the owner of Kamowan Crafts all the way to Andrew and Girl who prepared an unforgettable dinner in Cellar Door, with a number of fresh pints of Cerveza Sagada; everyone made the trip really, really special. We are definitely heading there again.


Last but not the least, it was time for a food trip! Our culminating episode was with the one and only Nico Bolzico as we went to Bacolod to eat our way out of the annual MassKara Festival. And, eat we did. Inasal, kansipiyayasuman, barbecue, batchoy, the works. You name it, we probably put it all in our mouths. We also met a few interesting characters namely Msgr. Gaston of the Gaston Mansion in Manapla and young chef Op Matti who showed us true Negrense hospitality. Apart from all the devouring, El Bolzico was able to squeeze in some horse riding in Happy Horse Farms in Silay and we all ended up getting smothered at Lacson Street as we wrapped up almost a year’s worth of wonderful adventures.


We went around the Philippines the past few months to meet the most interesting locals, eat the best food and experience and immerse ourselves in the different cultures and practices that make our country what it is. Being able to continuously explore our backyard makes us eternally grateful for being born in such a wonderful home. Oh Philippines, we will never get tired of exploring you.

Scenezoned-2017S02E01 Crew. Photo from Direk Gio Puyat.

Show us how you Bookie! Tag @BookiePH or use #BookiePH on Instagram.  
Truly the cleanest lake in Asia.
Morning view! Hello, El Nido! ❤️
Basic. #CoronDarousey ❤
Trail to Kayangan Lake #bookieph
Bulog Dos Island #NasaCoronAngKorona #Coron#Philippines