THIS summer, Inquirer Lifestyle trains the spotlight on local tourism by asking different personalities to share their favorite destinations and travel secrets.
Fashion designer Rajo Laurel’s top three Philippine summer spots are Batanes, Dumaguete and San Vicente, Palawan.
What he loves about it: “I am convinced that it is the most beautiful place in our country. I love Batanes because of the views and the landscape. Batanes is so arrestingly beautiful that you are left in awe.
“I also appreciate the Ivatan culture—the people are innately proud of who they are as a people. The quality of air, like that of life in Batanes, is pure and innocent. These qualities are what draws me back to Batanes.”
Where he stays: Fundacion Pacita
What he eats: “I love to eat so I eat what’s local and in season in each area. It’s usually seafood. In Batanes, you must try the incredible coconut crabs.”
What he does: “I like to trek and just meditate and take in the view. The air is so amazing that often I just really appreciate a good, deep sleep.”
His secret finds: “In Batanes, you must go to the neighboring islands like Sabtang and spend a night or two.
“I would also encourage you to talk to the teachers in the schools and interact with the children. This makes a vacation profoundly more meaningful. A few hours with these children discussing what you do can really inspire and open not only the children’s minds but also your own.” (Read more about Rajo’s trip to Batanes in www.
Tips for first-timers: “My tip to anyone heading to a new place is the right attitude. Be open to adventure and don’t be afraid to get lost. Our country is so rich and beautiful that every experience exploring our islands will surely be a special profound experience. I always search for the best vantage view of the sunset or the sunrise. I try to catch this in all my travels.”
What he loves about it: “My mother’s family is from Dumaguete and I spent many summers of my youth in Negros Oriental. I come back to rekindle these special memories and also to enjoy the beaches, the falls and the many special places that make Dumaguete a great destination.
“I love Dumaguete because of its people and history. There are also amazing things to do, such as dolphin-watching, and you can even swim with butanding (whale sharks).”
Where he stays: Don Atilano Hotel and Florentina Homes
What he eats: “In Dumaguete, we have the most delicious ceviche dish called binakhaw, which is fresh fish marinated in coconut milk and vinegar with ginger, green onions and peanuts. Sometimes they add pieces of grilled pork, making the dish into another specialty called singuglaw—sinugba and binakhaw combined.”
What he does: “I visit friends and family and catch up on the local gossip but I also enjoy driving to the beaches like the sand bar in Bais and renting a small, simple water cottage and just veg and simply do nothing. Often, the most luxurious thing in life is to actually do nothing and get bored. That is very rare for myself.”
His secret finds: “You must ask Angelo Villanueva to arrange your tours. He is my longtime friend and he really makes a visit to Dumaguete shine! You can reach out to him via www.dumagueteoutdoors.com. He will be your key to a really great time in Dumaguete.”
San Vicente, Palawan
What he loves about it: “San Vicente, Palawan, seems like an amazing place to visit and the rawness of the place makes me curious.
“I have never been to San Vicente, Palawan, but I have seen so many images and photos from my partner who recently visited the island and I must admit I am smitten and insanely jealous, so I do plan on visiting very soon.”
San Vicente, Palawan
Actor and TV host Derek Ramsay enjoys relaxing in Palawan where his family has a vacation house.
What he loves about it: “I love Binga in San Vicente, Palawan, because of its raw beauty and beautiful beaches.”
What he eats: “Mostly seafood.”
What he does: “When I’m there, I love to relax and go fishing.”
Siargao and Palawan
Erwan likes spending time in Siargao and Palawan, away from the typical tourist spots.
What he loves about it: “I love the fact that it has a bit of everything. You can surf and chill and there are no big crowds.”
What he eats: “The seafood in Siargao is amazing and they have a great local market.”
What he does: Surf
Tips for first-timers: “There are lots of surf spots in Siargao; make sure you go to the ones that suit your level. We went to one that was in deep water and we were basically alone the whole time.”
What he loves about it: “Palawan still has a lot of off-the-beaten-track options which people should explore more.”
Where he stays: “I usually stay in resorts or, when we want to do something different, we just camp on empty islands.”
What he eats: “Last time we were in Palawan, we picked, killed and cooked our own pig. That was fantastic.”
Tips for first-timers: “The best way to explore Palawan is to stay away from tourist places. Find a boatman, rent a boat for three days and just go island-hopping on a whim and sleep on the beach in tents.”