The first taste you get of the Philippines, as soon as you land, is that although it belongs to Asia, very few things remind you of that. For many years the Philippines have been under the influence of the U.S.A. and they’re the only Christian country in the whole region. These two things have turned the Philippines into a much more westernized country than its neighbors.
We took a low cost flight and landed in Clark, the ex-US base that serves as a cheap airport now. The city of Angeles, for years overrun by the base, is nothing more than a cheap beer and prostitution kind of place. The days of the military are long gone but the place hasn’t changed much since then. Not a great introduction to this island country.
We left for the north of the Philippines as soon as possible. It took us two days to leave the low lands of the south and get to the Cordillera, the highest point in the Philippines, although only at 1600m of elevation. The capital and transportation center of Baguio, built on different top hills, is really scenic if you skip the downtown chaos of the new city. What brought us up there was Sagada, another seven hours in the Cordillera, a small village that the surrounding highlights make it an adrenaline destination for outdoor junkies. The northern tribes, although converted to Christianity, still “bury” their dead in the traditional way. They hang the coffins on high limestone rocks. It’s a spooky, yet impressive sight. Caves floated with water and a scenic path that climbs up to the top are some of the reasons why someone should pay a visit. Rock climbing, road biking and many more extreme sports can be arranged from there.
Since our time is very limited in the Philippines we’ll head to Palawan, definitely one of the most beautiful groups of the 4.200 islands that make up the Philippines.