Where to go in the Philippines for 2019

Need a reason to fly around the Philippines? This year's amazing options will compel you to book that plane ticket now

The beach trifecta

Siargao. We’re all for new adventures that not only benefit the body, but enrich the spirit too. Conscientious beach lovers will take pleasure in flying to Siargao for the weekend to catch some waves or tag along with the SEA Movement or The Sun Crew to collect trash along the shores, or volunteer in other ways in the surfing capital of the Philippines.

Boracay. Though Boracay’s rehabilitation efforts won’t be complete until December 2019, environment-friendly policies are in place to give the 6.4km-long sandy strip a more relaxed and serene vibe.

Palawan. Land at Puerto Princesa, and then break up your six-hour drive to El Nido by making a detour to the small seaside village of Port Barton. After exploring the unspoiled beach town, head to El Nido and check in at the Lio Tourism Estate (lio.ph), a vast, eco-conscious resort community that hosts creative workshops from its own artist village and handicrafts center.

Baby turtles!

Aside from producing some of the best waves in the north, La Union is home to the pawikan (giant sea turtle) that aids in controlling the area’s jellyfish population. From September to March, you can volunteer with SIFCare’s Project CURMA (Coastal Underwater Resource Management Action; fb.com/projectcurma) to make sure that the younglings of these endangered creatures can make their way safely to the water. Take it one step further and sign up for Weekly Coastal Cleanups spearheaded by La Union Surf Club and Clean Beach (fb.com/cleanbeach), so that the sea turtles nesting grounds stay protected all year round.

Art attack

With February hailed as National Arts Month, expect an array of artistic events held throughout the archipelago that will showcase the talent and creativity of Filipinos. In Manila, check out the F.V. Coching Komiks at Kultura exhibit (until February 3 at Ayala Museum), the newly reopened National Planetarium, or find your favorite new contemporary artist at Art Fair Philippines (February 22–24 at The Link, Ayala Center; fb.com/artfairph). In Dumaguete, the satellite museum of the National Museum will finally open its doors to the public at the thoughtfully restored Old Presidencia building.

“Yes, and …”

The countdown has started for the 5th International Manila Improv Festival happening from March 27 to 31. Groups from all over the world come together for three days of improvised theater performances at the PETA Theater Center in Quezon City. “Its like APEC meets Miss Universe meets World Cup” — three of our favourite things! The full schedule will be posted at thirdworldimprov.com/manilaimprovfest

#BigParty

March is shaping up to be an exciting month in the Philippines as two music festivals take place on consecutive weekends: Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival at Malasimbo, Puerto Galera (March 1–2) and Wanderland Music & Arts Festival at Filinvest City Events Grounds, Manila (March 9–10). Anomalie (IG: @anomaliebeats), IV OF SPADES (IG: @ivofspades), and Ian Lofamia Band headline the beach-bound concert, while Two Door Cinema Club (IG: @twodoorcinemaclub), Masego (IG: @masego), and JMSN (IG: @jmsn) play at the latter’s city-based gathering.

You are Ironman

The race is on for people to train for the Ironman 70.3 Philippines’ triathlon — comprising the disciplines of swimming, cycling, and running — and cover the staggering distance of 70.3 miles at any of these picturesque sites in the Philippines: Davao (March 24), Subic (June 2), or Cebu (August 11). The event even has a counterpart race for children (ironkidsphil.com). Let the young ones prove their mettle and follow in the footsteps of their athletic heroes.

Flying fish

Explore Batanes, the Paradise of the North, and sample flying fish in grilled, fried, kinilaw, or sinigang form. Coincidentally, the month of March, which is one of the best months to visit the province, is also the season in which thousands of these “winged” marine creatures flutter to the shores of Batanes.

The 30th Southeast Asian Games

Athletes from 11 Southeast Asian countries come together from November 30 to December 11 to showcase their skills and vie for the gold. Indoor hockey, floorball, and vovinam (Vietnamese martial arts) have been added to the list, giving spectators the chance to watch a whopping 56 sporting events anchored in Clark, Manila, Subic, Batangas, La Union, and Cavite.

Written by

Mimi Tiu

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