10 coal-free destinations you should visit in the Philippines

Just in time for you to plan your next holiday around the Philippines

Happy Earth Day, fellow travelers!

To mark the special occasion, we highlight several provinces and cities that have completely banned coal — and the fun things you can do while you’re there.

Why it’s important

Of all the fossil fuels in the planet, coal is the biggest contributor to air pollution. According to endcoal.org, “Coal is responsible for over 800,000 premature deaths per year globally and many millions more serious and minor illnesses.” Through the years, international groups like the World Health Organization and environmentalists have been fighting against the expansion of coal.

In the Philippines, there’s still a long list of harmful power plants that continue to operate 11 years after Republic Act No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act was approved. The law was meant to wean off the country’s dependence on coal power and promote better alternatives. Here’s 10 that reflect that silver lining:

Coal-free

1. Ilocos Norte

Bangui Windmills

In 2016, Ilocos Norte was declared coal-free, making it the first Philippine province to phase out coal use. Thanks to its windmills with a 264-megawatt installed wind energy capacity, Ilocos Norte is the wind energy capital of the Philippines. They also serve as a prime example of renewable energy use with their solar and hydroelectric energy sources.

Fun things to do there:

  • Check out the Bangui Windmills to see natural energy at work
  • Go sand-surfing in Paoay’s sand dunes
  • Chill at the beaches of Pagudpud.

2. Bohol

Loboc River

Knowing that the combustion of coal in power plants contribute to severe air pollution, destruction of crops, and toxic water contamination, environmentalists have fought against the building of coal power plants in Bohol, which passed its own coal-free ordinance on April 6, 2018.

Fun things to do there:

  • Visit the famous Chocolate Hills
  • Have lunch while cruising Loboc River
  • Visit the tarsiers — in their natural habitat.
  • Explore the many pristine beaches and diving spots including Dumaluan, Balicasag and Anda

3. Masbate

This city is known for its white-sand beaches, waterfalls, and the Buntod Marine Sanctuary, ranked as the Philippines’ second most resilient coral reef area. Last year, the Masbate passed a resolution that prohibits the use of coal as a source of energy.

Fun things to do there:

  • Go island-hopping and explore Catandayagan Falls in San Jacinto
  • Channel your inner cowboy/girl at the annual Rodeo Masbateño (rodeo festival) in April

4. Guimaras

Guisi Lighthouse
Guisi Lighthouse

As the first coal-free province in the Visayas region, Guimaras is home to the 54-megawatt San Lorenzo Wind Farm—also the first in Visayas, which has been operating since 2014.

Fun things to do there:

  • Go island-hopping, see the turtles of Turtle Island, and go up the lighthouse for a unique view of the island
  • Head to the markets to sample the sweetest mangoes you’ll ever find in the Philippines

5. San Juan, La Union

San Juan beach
San Juan beach

On March 11 this year, an ordinance declaring the municipality of San Juan in the Philippines’ Surfing Capital of the North coal-free was passed. This move comes as a private group prepares for the construction of a 670-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Luna, which is 20km away from San Juan.

Fun things to do there:

6. Ormoc

Ormoc city in Leyte has been working hard to maintain its environmental efforts. They continue to promote coal-free renewable energy, and as well as green projects, such as the “No Plastic Day” program and climate change adaptation.

Fun things to do there:

  • Explore the lakes such as Danao and Janagdan
  • Hike up Alto Peak
  • Watch the sunset at Ormoc Bay

7. South Cotabato

Lake Sebu
Lake Sebu

Open-pit mining method has been banned in South Cotabato since 2010, so it was a close call when the provincial board voted 6-4 in favor of rejecting a coal mining project in the province last year.

Fun things to do there:

  • Visit the Tarsier Sanctuary
  • Go boating around Lake Sebu
  • Catch the T’nalak Festival in July to learn about the cultural heritage of the South Cotabato people

8. Sorsogon

Bulusan Lake
Bulusan Lake

A resolution proclaimed Sorsogon as coal-free last year. Aside from their 140-megawatt Bacon-Manito geothermal project, the government continues to develop renewal energy to protect their natural attractions.

Fun things to do there:

  • For a more ethical whale shark interaction, visit Donsol, where you can also go firefly-watching at night
  • After seeing Bulusan Volcano, explore the lake and hot and cold springs around town

9. Ozamiz

Ozamiz City boulevard
Ozamiz City boulevard

Last year, Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental revoked its previous resolution endorsing the building of a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant. A second resolution to look for renewable energy sources was also approved.

Fun things to do there:

  • Go off the beaten track and head to Cobra Falls for river trekking and overnight camping
  • Hike up Bukagan Hill for a panoramic view of the city

10. Negros Occidental

The Ruins
The Ruins

Just this March, an executive order declared Negros Occidental as a coal-free province. The Provincial Renewable Energy Council (PREC) will also be set up to promote renewable energy.

Fun things to do there:

  • Pacify your sweet tooth by visiting as many cake and pastry shops as you like
  • Go on a guided tour of The Ruins in Talisay City
  • Take a walk around town to spot ancestral homes

Earth Day is on April 22, 2019

Written by

Kate Alvarez

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