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Turista Boy’s Best of 2016

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Turista Boy in 2016

2016 has been a year full of ups and downs for Turista Boy. I have been to many places, met new people, and experienced new things that made my ‘travel life’ more meaningful.

2016 is not Turista Boy’s year but this year has given me a lot of opportunities I have only dreamed about – and is now slowly becoming a reality.

In 2016, TB has been to 16 provinces, though not visiting each province thoroughly, I have gained life experiences that I can use to survive this one heck of a traveler’s world. I have my day job, and traveling is my only escape from the everyday stress of my work. I could not imagine life without traveling. As I always say, “we’re born to travel.”

In this year-ender blog post, I will be sharing “turista boy” experiences to the places I have been and the people I met along the way. Enjoy reading!

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1.) BENGUET

(Mount Ulap)

Officially called the “Ampucao-Sta. Fe Ridge,” Mount Ulap is the first (and I think the only) mountain I have climbed this 2016. This newly-discovered three-peaked mountain range is a bit challenging for me because I and my friends did not expect that this range would have three different peaks at different altitudes. It was crazy! I nearly cried at the end of the traverse because my feet are really swelling to death! Hahaha!

Located in Itogon, Benguet, Mount Ulap can be reached via a 30-45-minute jeepney ride from Baguio. An affordable entrance and environmental fee are charged before starting the hike.

What I have learned during this hike is that we should also take care of the environment even in the simplest way possible. I was just disappointed when I saw trash scattered along the trail. It just seems that climbers are aloof and apathetic about the impact of leaving their trash on the trail. We should practice responsible tourism in all the places we are going to!

To know more about my Mount Ulap trip, visit my posts here!

5 Things You Should Know Before Climbing Mount Ulap

Travel Guide: How to get to Mount Ulap!

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(Baguio City)

Being my hometown, Baguio City never fails to attract thousands of tourists yearly because of its cool year-long climate and because of the locally-known festival, Panagbenga.

Known as the home of flowers and fresh local produce, Baguio City is one of the most-visited cities in the Philippines. This 2016, It wowed its visitors because of the annual Panagbenga Flower Festival. This tourist-drawing festival is known for showcasing a parade of different floral floats and ensembles that portray the diversity of the Cordilleran culture.

To know more about Panagbenga Festival, visit the link below! (Will be blogging about Baguio City soon!)

5 things you should know about Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival

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2.) LA UNION

2016 is the year when I launched my #1000PesoChallenge and La Union is my first stop for this Challenge. The aim of the 1000-peso challenge is to spend a thousand pesos or less in a personally chosen destination. (Check the link below to find out more about my adventures in La Union!)

1000-Peso Challenge: La Union Province

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3.) PAMPANGA

We spent one weekend last February 2016 on everything that flies! It was my first time to witness the annual Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Air Force City, Clark, Pampanga. On its 20th year, the #PIHABF2016 is just but a spectacle! (Will be posting the 2017 schedule soon!)

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4.) MOUNTAIN PROVINCE

(Sagada)

I went back to Sagada last 07-11 March 2016 for a work-related seminar. (My first trip here was in April 2015) So I did not miss the chance of exploring some of the tourist spots I haven’t visited during my first visit!

During my second visit, I have visited the Blue Soil Mountain, The Marlboro Country, The Latang Underground River. I have also visited the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave Connections for the second time, also with Mount Kiltepan and Lake Danum. It was also my first time to visit Sagada’s pottery and they even demonstrated how a traditional clay pot is made!

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5.) ILOCOS NORTE

For my 24th birthday, I decided to spend it on my birthplace, Ilocos Norte. I may not have visited my hometown in Sarrat, but I have visited some of the more-known tourist spots in the province.

Some of the places we’ve been to were Fort Ilocandia and La Paz Sand Dunes in Laoag, Marcos Mausoleum in and Empanada tasting in Batac City, Paoay Church in Paoay and Madongan Dam in Dingras, Patapat Viaduct and Hannah’s Beach Resort in Pagudpud, Bangui Windmill Farm in Bangui, and the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos.

To know more about my adventures in Ilocos Norte, click on the link below!

Must-see Tourist Spots in Ilocos Norte!

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6.) ILOCOS SUR

To my 2nd province, Ilocos is a bit of a surprise for me. Being my first time to explore its capital city Vigan, this picturesque city is one of the many surprises I have encountered this 2016.

Visiting its famed Calle Crisologo, Vigan is the living epitome of how the Philippines looks like during the Spanish Colonial Period. It made me feel the rusticity of the place as its antique and aged houses are well-preserved for everyone to see its beauty. Vigan, too, is enlisted as one of the 7 Wonder Cities of the World by The New 7 Wonders.

Know more about our Ilocos Sur adventure here:

Must-see Tourist Spots in the province of Ilocos Sur!

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7.) QUEZON

(Cagbalete Island)

If you have never been (or maybe fantasizing about) Boracay and Palawan, I’ll give you a cheaper alternative – Cagbalete Island. To one of the many islands found in the province of Quezon, Cagbalete Island is the first one on my list this 2016. Only about 45 minutes away from mainland Mauban, Cagbalete is a paradise on its own. With sandbars scattered all over and with the presence of diverse marine life, Cagbalete should be included in your travel bucket list!

Cagbelete is the place to be if you want to have that genuine “peace of mind.” With the warm welcome of locals, Cagbalete also taught us the simplicity of island life. It’s just great to appreciate what simple life really means and it is just heartwarming to see best Filipino hospitality on the island. (Oh how I miss this place!)

Read more about our island adventure here!

1000-Peso Challenge: Cagbalete Island

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8.) ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR

(Zamboanga City)

2016 is also the year when I first stepped in Mindanao soil. It is also my very first time to travel without any fixed itinerary whatsoever in any place – no tour guides, no fixed accommodation, no arrangements, as in zero!

This is also that point in time where I get to appreciate how life simple is whenever you travel alone. You get to observe the things around you keenly and you just appreciate life itself – you get to succumb yourself to the naïveté of the place you are into.

As part of my visit to the 3rd largest city in the Philippines, I have been to some key point tourist spots such as The City Hall, Paseo Del Mar, Fort Pilar (and Shrine), R.T. Lim Boulevard, Plazas Rizal and Pershing, and Pasonanca Park among others.

To know more about my adventures to my 15th province, click on the links below!

Zamboanga City: Exploring Asia’s Latin City

Travel Guide: Explore Zamboanga City

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9.) TAWI-TAWI

To the southernmost province in the Philippines, I can say that the experience is one-of-a-kind. Though there is that nervous feeling because it really is my first time backpacking in Mindanao with no itinerary whatsoever. Luckily, I have met one of Tawi-Tawi’s most bubbly tourism staff – Ms. Nursida Diamson.

Tawi-Tawi is my 16th province and is my second province in Mindanao. This string-of-islands province is a paradise on its own. Effortless sceneries await you when you climb the province’s highest peak – Bud Bongao. An hour away from Zamboanga City via airplane, Tawi-Tawi is just simply a simple yet amazing province. Will be posting my blog soon about Tawi-Tawi!

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10.) KALINGA

As my 17th province, one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Kalinga is to be inked by the legendary and famed mambabatok (tattoo artist) of Tinglayan – Apo Whang Od. This living legend is an attraction herself in the mountainous barangay of Buscalan.

Before getting to her place, I and my travel buddies went on a 12-hour trip from Baguio to Bontoc and Bontoc to Tinglayan. We also had an hour trek before reaching our final destination!

Find out more about my #1000PesoChallenge in Tinglayan, Kalinga and know how to reach this place where sacred art is born.

1000-Peso Challenge: Kalinga’s Mambabatok

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11.) QUIRINO

Being one of the lesser-known provinces in the Cagayan Valley Region, Quirino surprised me in many ways. I was just in awe on how province life is and how hospitable people are. What struck me most during my Quirino trip is the lush greenery everywhere – literally everywhere! Every mountain we saw and passed by are either stuffed with trees and grass or planted with corn or rice.

As my 18th province, there is so much more to discover in Quirino! With many cave systems (Aglipay Caves being the popular one), awesome nature trips (Governor’s Rapids and Siitan Nature Park), and simple way of life, Quirino should be included in your next travel bucket list.

To know about my #1000PesoChallenge there, visit this link!

1000-Peso Challenge: Quirino Province

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12.) AKLAN

(Boracay Island)

As my second time in Boracay Island, I never thought I would survive exploring the White Beach alone. Luckily, one of my travel blogger friends, Paolo was also working on the island. Boracay never fails to surprise me. When me and my best friend Queenie went to the island for the first time in 2015, the island exceeded our expectations. Though the island now is too commercialized, I can say that I still have to search for the island’s soft spot in order to appreciate what a ‘real island life’ should be.

For the meantime, while I am updating my blog about Boracay, here are some of my Boracay blogs that will trigger the wanderlust in you:

Boracay: 6 tips to experience this party island on the cheap!

Travel Guide: Reach Boracay in a snap!

Reasons why you should fall in love with Boracay again and again!

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13.) NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION

(National Museum, City of Manila)

One of the places I have been longing to visit ever since I was in Elementary was the National Museum. This time, after how many years of procrastinating, I have finally stepped into this realm of art, culture, and history. What’s interesting about this trip is that my Uber driver even accompanied me to tour inside the museum when my friend did not show up. Interestingly, I and my bubbly Uber driver became instant friends and still communicate up to this day.

As soon as I have collated all the interesting sights in the National Capital Region, I will be posting a blog about it so watch for it soon!

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14.) RIZAL

To my 20th province, Rizal was a bit of a surprise for me. The trip to the province was super unplanned and spontaneous (thanks to a friend who toured me to some of the interesting sites in town) but the experience was very interesting. What made my trip extra special is that it was the eve of the Higantes Festival in Angono. Lucky to have taken some pictures of the higantes to be used for the parade and I sure am coming back to experience the festival first-hand! Will be posting my Rizal blog soon!

Rizal Province - Turista Boy

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15.) NUEVA ECIJA

(Province Tour)

As my 21st province, Nueva Ecija is one of the better known (and largest) provinces in central Luzon. It’s former capital, Cabanatuan City, is known as the ‘Tricycle Capital of the Philippines.’ Another attraction in Nueva Ecija is the Minalungao National Park. Unfortunately, during my visit, it was raining for days and the water from Minalungao was not that clear.

Cabanatuan City - Tricycle Capital of the Philippines - Turista Boy

Cabanatuan City – Tricycle Capital of the Philippines

At Minalungao's Hanging Bridge with Hull & Stern - Turista Boy

At Minalungao’s Hanging Bridge with Hull & Stern!

Minalungao Park during the rainy season - Turista Boy

Minalungao Park during the rainy season

(CLSU Lantern Festival)

Last December 14, I was invited to be one of the judges for the Street Dancing Competition of CLSU’s Lantern Festival. It was my first time in the University and some people claim that this is the largest university by land area compared to UP Los Baños. This years-old tradition is one of the highlights of the university and it was such an honor for me to judge one of the major events of the Lantern Festival.

The judging panel at the CLSU Lantern Festival 2016 - Turista Boy

The judging panel. 🙂

One of the Colleges that competed in the Street Dance Competition - Turista Boy

One of the Colleges that competed in the Street Dance Competition

Will be posting my Nueva Ecija experience soon!

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16.) TARLAC

(Camiling)

And to cap it all off for 2016, I have participated in an outreach program for our Aeta friends in Camiling, Tarlac. This initiative was done by my awesome friends in Wander Pinas! (click on the name to direct you to our Facebook group!) It was my first time to participate in an outreach such as this – composed of like-minded hikers and travelers joining for a very significant cause. And Tarlac is my 22nd province!

With the Aeta Community's Tribal Chieftain - Turista Boy

With the Aeta Community’s Tribal Chieftain

Monasterio de Tarlac side trip - Turista Boy

Monasterio de Tarlac side trip!

Blogging about my Tarlac outreach experience and our side trip to Monasterio de Tarlac soon!

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So there you go – here are Turista Boy’s best travel experiences for 2016! More to come this 2017!

Cheers and see you on the road, guys!

We’re born to travel!

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12 thoughts on “Turista Boy’s Best of 2016

  1. Gel says:

    i love your list of 2016 travels. I haven’t been to most of the places you’ve been in this list but I have been to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. I suggest you also see the Lubao Hot Air Balloon happening every April.

  2. Only By Land says:

    The 1000 peso challenge sounds pretty tough. My favourite place you posted about was Boracay, chilling out on the white beach is what I need right now!

  3. This list gives me such wanderlust! I wish you all the best for 2017, I hope it brings many, many more amazing adventures!

  4. That hike sounds crazy! Love all your photos as well! Looks like an eventful year 🙂

  5. Loved the article and your photos.
    I’ve never heard of Panagbenga before, but it looks awesome and I hope to see it live some day.

  6. Wow you have been to some incredible places, Cagbalete Island looks so pretty and remote I would love to visit. Well done on taking part in the outreach program too!

  7. Chiera says:

    this is amazing! looks like you have had an amazing year! I hope 2017 is even better for you 🙂

  8. Hadn’t heard of most of these places. Philippines needs to be visited soon!

  9. Hadn’t heard of most of these places. Philippines needs to be visited soon! Especially love those remote destinations with hanging bridges and exotic tribes.

  10. Joanna says:

    You have seem to have done a lot of amazing trips during 2016. I love that you chose to visit your own country and get to know the local traditions rather than going abroad. I hope this year will bring you much more beautiful moments than 2016.

  11. Shane Prather says:

    Wow what an adventure fueled year you had! I haven’t heard of many of these places – love that you get off the beaten path!

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  • Turista Boy’s Best of 2017 December 31, 2017
    This year, Turista Boy Best features 18 provinces, 21 cities, 19 municipalities, 59 travel days, and 1,416 travel hours. 2017 has yet been another year of travels, experiences, and opportunities for me. Let me share with you my travel (misadventures) this year. The post Turista Boy’s Best of 2017 appeared first on Turista Boy.
    Aldrick 'chiki' Agpaoa

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