Vic Lactaoen is one of the most well traveled person I know. He was my sister’s friend, and I met him during my first visit to Jakarta back in 1995. He has just spent the last several years in New York, and I vaguely remember him saying he’ll never go back to the Philippines. By the late 90’s or early 2000, he ended up moving to Manila and to this date have traveled extensively around the country. In 2003, I submitted my first ever magazine article to him — he was currently the Editor in Chief of the now defunct Pilmap Travel and Leisure. The article was published in the magazine’s second issue, and around that time, I was already working for as his editorial assistant (and a marketing assistant and event coordinator at the same time). He already left the magazine a couple of years ago, but he actively contribute articles for local and international magazines.
Vic at the Lanzones festival in Camiguin, with some of the native Tausogs in their cultural costume splendor.
I’ve convinced him to
join the dark side get into blogging, and after much procrastinating (all in my part), Travels with Vic is born. His blog currently features some of his previous works. In the future, he’ll be sharing some original pieces. But one thing’s for sure, his blog features destinations in the Philippines you probably overlook or never knew existed!
I asked him to share his favorite destinations and activities in the Philippines, and here’s his list:
Palanan, Isabela. Mention the name Palanan, and even province mates of this remote town finds this municipality a mystery, mainly because of its inaccessibility and many natural wonders, said Governor Ma. Gracia Cielo Padaca, who described the 397 – year old town as “one of Isabela’s best kept secrets.” Though some outsiders tag Palanan (population less than 20,000) as “the town that time forgot,”
Palanan, the town that time forgot. Photo by Vic Lactaoen.
Palaui Island’s Cape Engano Lighthouse – It might be Lonesome but Darkness will never fall in this Island. The town of Santa Ana on the northeastern tip of Cagayan Province is one those interesting places to visit when you visit the province of Cagayan Valley. Although it has always been dubbed as the Gateway to the Pacific because of various reasons, it remains pure and welcoming to any visitors who come and visit the town.
But the town is likewise famous for its centuries-old Faro de Cabo Engano (Cape Engano Lighthouse) built by the Spaniards in the early 18th century located in the timber-rich island of Palaui.
Considered as one of the last frontiers of the country, Santa Ana is actually an intimate introduction to nature and one couldn’t ask for a more serene, natural, and remote but exotic locale. Here, the environs can take you back to a time when unexplored powdery white sand beaches were really unexplored.
Batanes. I’ve been to Batanes as early as 1982 as a business reporter to attend the inauguration of our national bank, What was suppose to be an overnight stay turned out to be a four day stay. Far from the country with its verdant rolling field, you eventually fill detoxed from the hundrums of city life by staying at Fundacion Pacita. Just like Wuthering Heights – a great unobstructed view of the Batanes sea and nearby Formosa.
Batanes should appeal to hardy, outdoor types who enjoy hiking over hills and vales, swimming and discovering a unique local culture, rather than indulging in material pleasures. And forget five-star hotels, for you will not find them here. Pacita’s studio in Basco is part of the Pacita Abad foundation, or the Fundacion Pacita, as it is locally know which was established to continue Pacita Abad’s artistic legacy. Visitors to the island must visit this latest attraction of the island province including its nearby lodging facility. It sits at the edge on one of the Ivatan islands where visitors can savor a sweeping view of a rocky ridge, the Babuyan channel and the South China Sea across the horizon.
Trekking At Mount Pinatubo. The nomadic Aeta Negritos call the mountain Apo Mallari. But for people around the world, this volcanic mountain is more popularly known as Mount Pinatubo after having exploded its way into international prominence by blowing off its 300 meter cap, spewing fine ash 25 kilometers into the atmosphere, showering an area of 200 square kilometers and creating a crater of 2 kilometers wide. The aboriginal guides carefully brings tourists to deep canyons and gorges with walls as well as to carefully selected campsites in order to prevent visitors venturing out alone to end up swallowed by innocent-looking pools which may turn out to be treacherous hot quicksand.
Marikina Shoe Museum. Ever wondered what the widow of a former dictator does with her spare time? Or her shoes? In the case of former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, a shoe museum along J. P. Rizal Street in Marikina City has been built and dedicated in her honor to store part of her shoe bounty. The Marikina shoe museum is now housed in a proper house managed by the city government of Marikina, not just to showcase Imelda’s famous shoes but also to showcase the city’s own shoe brands, designs and also some other shoes of famous local politicians.
Want to discover more hidden gems of the Philippines? Head on to www.viclactaoen.com!