The Philippines’ next

Thelma Dumpit-Murillo

Thelma Dumpit-Murillo

My travel bucket list just got longer.

Twenty five tourist destinations were shortlisted by a select group for being “off the beaten track” yet exhibiting tourism potential under the Philippine Gems Project of consultancy firm Isla Lipana and Co. You obviously will wonder what a company like theirs is doing in the business of tourism. Well, if I must, this is one of their CSR Projects which they hope will help the Tourism Department in their quest for 10 million visitors by 2016.

“Increasing the awareness and appreciation for these sites will foster both local and international interest and attention that may eventually increase economic activity,” said Atty. Alexander B. Cabrera, the newly installed Chairman and Senior Partner of Price Waterhouse Cooper. Aside from his full time responsibilities with the firm, Alex also engages in advocacy work before Congress and the administrative agencies of government. He is a sought-after tax resource speaker in various forums in the country including TV, radio and print media.

He involves himself in projects for the country, such as the “Philippine Resiliency: a Gem Uncovered”, which he conceptualized and directed to completion. This project, which sought the insights of the top CEOs of the country on why the Philippines is resilient, won an Asian Publishing award in 2010.

Now back to Philippine Gems, out of the 25 locations, which have yet to be mainstreamed in tourism campaigns, Pinoys will be asked to choose 10 top destinations much like how we all participated in enshrining the Underground River as one of the Wonders of the World. You too can help by choosing your own top 10 by going to Here’s mine:

Biri Island Rock Formation. The Biri Island rock formation is composed of four small, rocky islands located in that perilous area where the San Bernardino Strait meets the Pacific Ocean. The incredible strength of these natural forces has caused the islands to take on distinct and interesting shapes. Geologists from the University of the Philippines state that the rocks date back to the Early Miocene Period, and their ages range from five to 23 million years old.

Bucas Grande Island, Surigao del Norte. Surfing is not the only thing that Surigao has to offer. In the town of Socorro in Surigao del Norte lies the Bucas Grande Islands or the Sohoton Cove National Park. This island is packed with numerous caves and white sand beaches, waterfalls, mangroves, iron woods, inland lakes, fishing grounds, and corals. The famed Blue Lagoon is a labyrinthine place made of limestone islets. On the other hand, the Tojoman or Jellyfish Lagoon is home to millions of no-sting and friendly jellyfish.

Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte. The Calaguas Islands are located in the Municipality of Vinzons, in the Province of Camarines Norte. It is known for its pristine beaches—the most popular among these is the Mahabang Buhangin beach, which is made up of a long stretch of powdery white sand.

Camiguin province is the country’s second-smallest province. In spite of this, the island packs quite a punch. It has three mountains, three hot springs, two waterfalls, and one active volcano. It even has an underwater cemetery, which has been featured in TV programs both here and abroad.

Camotes Islands, Cebu. The Camotes Islands are located in the Camotes Sea, off the coast of the Province of Cebu. It is known for its crystal clear waters, extremely fine white sand, and the spectacular view of sunset that it offers. It even has a place in Philippine history—Antonio Pigafetta, one of survivors of the Battle of Mactan, stayed there for several days before going to Cebu.

Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur. The Caramoan islands stem from the rugged Caramoan Peninsula, which is located in the province of Camarines Sur. The islands, however, are isolated from the main province. This makes it perfect for island hopping, hiking, diving, and even spelunking. The unexploited and uninhabited islands of Caramoan have been featured in several franchises of the hit TV show Survivor.

Danjugan Island, Negros Occidental. Danjugan Island is a marine and wildlife reserve, located in Barangay Bulata, Cauayan, Negros Occidental. It is covered with a rainforest and has five lagoons, three of which are landlocked and two of which are flooded at high tide and colonized by coral and reef fish species. The island is fringed with beaches where turtles nest. It is also surrounded by diverse coral reefs.

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Ilocos Norte. The Kapurpurawan rock formation is located on the rocky coast of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. It is known for its creamy white and streamlined limestone formations, which have been sculpted by different oceanic and weather forces. Burgos is located on the northwestern tip of Ilocos Norte.

Siargao Island. Siargao is an island of nine municipalities in the province of Surigao del Norte. Known as the “Surfing Capital of the Philippines”, Siargao is mainly responsible for introducing surfing to the country. Apart from surfing, Siargao is also open to other activities such as cave explorations and rock climbing.

Siquijor Island. Siquijor is the third smallest province in the Philippines. It is recognized as a center of mystic power and a capital of mystic activities and black magic. Siquijor is known for the infamous agimat and gayuma. In spite of this, Siquijor offers incredible sites and sights and is rapidly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines.

God is Great!


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