Saturday, February 16, 2008

These Islands


Growing up in the Philippines, I've never really traveled much around the country. I've only visited Manila, Baguio, Mindoro and Iloilo until recently. Last year I went to the beautiful island of Boracay, one of 7,600 islands (when it's low tide) that dot the Pacific.

Last week with cousins visiting from the U.S., we went to the bustling city of Cebu and rustic Bohol. In Cebu we traced the historical rediscovery of the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan. In Fort San Pedro, I was reminded of Puerto Rico's fortifications. All colonies of Spain bear similarities like churces adorned with centuries old retablos.

We enjoyed best Cebu's delectable cuisine at Cafe Laguna in the Ayala Center and Tides at Shangri-la. The fat lumpia ubud look every bit as good as it tasted and the sotanghan, according to my cousin, was incomparable.

We loved Bohol, as yet unspoiled, with its 1,268 Chocolate Hills, its man-made mahogany forest and mangrove marshes. The beach at Panglao was perfect for a sunset walk. And who can resist the big-eyed tarsier, so tiny it fits in the palm of your hand.