Turista Boy’s Best of 2023!
2023 has been a roller coaster ride for me. Having been to 25 provinces, 8 cities, and 37 municipalities, and 4 countries this year has also been a year of firsts for me! From visiting my first foreign country (Indonesia) to meeting new friends along the way and having attended 4 festivals this 2023, this year is still one of the best! Read along and see what I have been to this year!
Read also: Panagbenga 2024 Schedule of Activities
Turista Boy’s Best of 2023
Iloilo Dinagyang Festival (21-22)
Read also: My Dinagyang 2023 Festival Experience
This is my first time celebrating Dinagyang Festival in the flesh, right at its home base in Iloilo City! The mardi gras is truly world-class and visitors from every part of the world came to celebrate the feast of Sto. Niño in a grand and spectacular way. This is the first “physical” Dinagyang in two years after the pandemic hit in 2020. Every sight and sound in Iloilo during the Dinagyang season is really festive and you can really feel the vibe. Dinagyang 2023 is one of the most religious festivals in the Philippines and is considered to be one of the grandest in the entire country.
Iligan City Excursion – Lanao del Norte (9)
As a short side trip from the wedding of my friends in Cagayan de Oro, instead of going to Bukidnon, I and my new-found friends opted to visit the “City of Majestic Waterfalls” Iligan City, Lanao del Norte and explore its majestic waterfalls! It has been a surprise for me because the province is one of the places I have been longing to visit in Mindanao. Being my 45th province on my personal #Project82, Lanao del Norte is more to its rich culture and landscape. I am looking forward to visiting the province again soon and exploring more of the province! During our excursion, we visited Tinago Falls!
The Forest Villas by Lily – Jalajala, Rizal (19-20)
Right at the heart of Jalajala, Rizal fronting Laguna de Bay is a secluded resort called The Forest Villas by Lily. This 4-villa resort is one of its kind in Rizal province as it brings you and your friends and family closer. Tucked in the lush greens of Jalajala, Rizal, The Forest Villas by Lily is a place where comfort meets class. This amenity-packed accommodation-slash-staycation venue is perfect for groups, families, or company outings wanting to escape the usual hustle-and-bustle of the metro. Overlooking the majestic Laguna de Bay and Mount Makiling, The Forest Villas by Lily’s 4 large villas is the perfect site to relax and just enjoy the view. On a clear day, you can get to see the nearby capital town of Sta. Cruz, Laguna from this 2-hectare paradise.
Baguio Panagbenga 2023 Festival (25-26)
Read also: My Panagbenga 2023 Festival Experience
Panagbenga has always been a big part of me ever since I was in grade school. Ever since I was in Grade 3 until I graduated from College, Panagbenga is always a special event in my life which is why I love covering the festival even after I graduated (and including it here in my blog!) Panagbenga 2023 is a major comeback for the festival because the regular mainstay spectacles are back on track! From traditional dances to drum and lyre corps competitions, to the attention-drawing floral floats, Panagbenga is one of the major festivals drawing millions of visitors every February.
Misamis Oriental – Bukidnon – Camiguin Birthday Trip (25-29)
To welcome my 31st birthday, I have planned to visit three provinces. This 2023, I visited Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, and Camiguin together with my sister Yza and friend kuya Mike! Some of the highlights of my birthday trip are (1) when we went white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro City (my first time), (2) when we went camping in RotyPeaks in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon, and when we went on a island tour in Camiguin and welcomed my birthday at Haruhay Eco-Beach Tavern.
Bolinao and Anda, Pangasinan (28-29)
Bolinao and Anda, Pangasinan are two of the most serene municipalities in the province. Me and my officemates held our get-together here and we visited Camp Puor and the Sungayan Floating Restaurant then went straight to Anda after. This is where we spent the night and headed to explore the beaches of Anda.
Lucban, Quezon – Pahiyas Festival (15)
It is my first time witnessing first-hand the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon. Considered to be one of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines, the festival was adorned by colorful kiping, of the leaf-shaped wafers made from glutinous rice. Pahiyas is celebrated every May 15, as it honors San Isidro Labrador, the Patron Saint of Farmers. Luckily, I found my friend Tom who toured me around Lucban.
Nueva Vizcaya (26-28)
Being the 49th province on my personal quest for #Project82, Nueva Vizcaya is just a stone-throw away from my hometown, Baguio City. With just a sweet 5-6 hour van ride via the Ambuklao Road, I reached Solano and immediately explored the province. Known as the “Citrus Capital of the Philippines,” Nueva Vizcaya has a lot of citrus plantations scattered around the province. Interestingly, I have also explored the wonders of Capisaan Cave in Kasibu, one of the longest cave systems in the Philippines.
Barlig and Bontoc, Mountain Province (17-18)
It has been my long dream to tick off this destination in my travel bucket list. The natural wonder of the Maligcong Rice Terraces from Mount Kufafey in Bontoc, Mountain Province is a sight to behold. Perfectly contrasted with the greens of the rice terraces (during planting season) and the whites of the sea of clouds, the site is just breathtaking and is perfect for the gram. We also had a side trip to Lake Tufob in the municipality of Barlig.
Apayao (30, July 1-3)
The province of Apayao is the 50th province on my personal #Project82. Apayao is also the last province in the Cordilleras that I get to visit because it is quite far to reach this place. Either way you go via Nueva Vizcaya – Isabela – Cagayan, but the more common route is via Ilocos Norte through Abulug, Cagayan. This province is not quite a tourist spot that is why I loved visiting Apayao because it feels like I am the only one visiting the place. Unknown to many, Apayao is rich in natural tourist destinations particularly the Lussok Cave and Underground River in Luna. Aside from this, there are also a lot of things to see and do in this vibrant province. Will be blogging about my experience in Apayao in a few!
Albay and Sorsogon (20-23)
Since it is one of my friend’s birthday, Kuya Makoi, he opted to visit the province of Albay in the Bicol Region. I have been to Albay first in 2013 for a College Press Conference but it is my first time exploring the province. From there, we explored Mayon Volcano and its nearby attractions. After exploring Albay, we then headed to Sorsogon, which is my 51st province in my personal #Project82.
My trip to the SOCCSKSARGEN Region (Region 12, Central Mindanao) and two provinces from the BARMM Region has been one of the most memorable because I got to explore the region with my sister for 5 days. In this trip, we got to explore 6 provinces, namely: South Cotabato (via General Santos City), Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte (via Cotabato City), and (North) Cotabato. This comprises my 52nd to the 57th province in my personal #Project82.
Bali, Indonesia and Singapore (21-24)
For the very first time, I have travelled overseas to two different countries – Indonesia and Singapore. In my 12 years of travelling extensively in and around the Philippines, it is my first time to set foot in another country. Specifically in the island of Bali, where this place is full of charm and culture. Me and my friends explored the sights and sounds Bali has to offer (and I would definitely come back for more!) After my trip to Bali, Indonesia, I made a short 12-hour layover in Singapore before going home to Manila. This is also my first time in Singapore and I made the most out of it and explored the central business district of the islands (a.k.a. got to see the Merlion up close)!
Hong Kong and Taiwan (23-28)
Hong Kong (SAR China) and Taiwan have been my third and fourth foreign countries this year and the experience was so worth it. It is my first time travelling solo abroad and I had some “me time” while exploring these countries. Fascinating enough, too, that the transportation systems in these countries are very organized and topnotch (Manila cannot even!) These countries are also rich in culture and there is so much more than meets the eye. I have also indulged myself in food as Hong Kong and Taiwan are some of the hottest food hubs on earth!
Cheers to more adventures this 2024! Hope to see you around, Turistas!
We’re born to travel!