Philip­pines banks on UNESCO her­itage

Travel Bulletin - - PHILIPPINES -

The Philip­pines is lay­ing claim to the ti­tle of South-east Asia’s cen­tre of UNESCO World Her­itage sites, with more listed lo­ca­tions than any other coun­try in the re­gion. Six UNESCO sites are lo­cated in the Philip­pines, in­clud­ing three cul­tural sites and three in the cat­e­gory for nat­u­ral sig­nif­i­cance. The coun­try’s Tourism At­taché to Aus­tralia and New Zealand Nor­jamin De­los Reyes high­lighted the sites as al­ter­na­tives to re­sort des­ti­na­tions. “Most peo­ple now know that our is­lands in the Philip­pines of­fer some of the most stun­ning beaches on the planet,” she said. “How­ever, in many ways the Philip­pines is still a largely myth­i­cal and undis­cov­ered mys­tery.” Among the most spec­tac­u­lar of the UNESCO sites are the Rice Ter­races of the Philip­pine Cordilleras, an an­cient sys­tem of sculpted moun­tain land­scapes older than the Colos­seum of Rome. Cre­ated by the Ifu­gao peo­ple be­tween 2,000 and 6,000 years ago, they rise to an al­ti­tude of 1,500m and would span more than 22,000km if laid end to end. On the same is­land of Lu­zon, another UNESCO list­ing cov­ers the su­perbly pre­served city of Vi­gan with its con­cen­tra­tion of Span­ish colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture dat­ing from the 16th cen­tury. From a sim­i­lar pe­riod, four of the Philip­pines’ baroque churches share a joint UNESCO list­ing and date from the Span­ish era be­tween the 16th and 18th cen­turies, in­clud­ing the San Agustin Church in Manila built in 1586. The nat­u­ral UNESCO sites in­clude the Puer­toPrincesa Subter­ranean River Na­tional Park, an in­tri­cate cave sys­tem with an un­der­ground river that emerges di­rectly into the sea. Also in a ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment is the Tub­bataha Reefs Nat­u­ral Park in the Sulu Sea, a home to seal­ife in­clud­ing whales, dol­phins, sharks, tur­tles and more than 350 species of coral. The sixth listed site is the Mount Hami­gu­i­tan Range Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary in the east of Min­danao, home to en­dan­gered plant and an­i­mal species in­clud­ing the Philip­pine ea­gle and Philip­pine Cock­a­too. In­trepid’s 11-day Philip­pine Dis­cov­ery itin­er­ary tra­verses the spec­tac­u­lar moun­tains and pic­turesque rice ter­races. Set­ting out from the lively city of Manila, trav­ellers will spend three days trekking through rice fields, forests and vil­lages, stay­ing in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. There’s the chance to wind down along the way with a swim in a river, en­joy a mas­sage from one of the lo­cals and learn about tra­di­tional cus­toms and cul­ture. Next the tour heads into the scenic alpine moun­tains by jeep­ney, paus­ing in Bon­toc, the cap­i­tal of the Moun­tain Province be­fore reach­ing Sa­gada. A three-hour walk will take vis­i­tors to the unique Hang­ing Coffins in Echo Val­ley, past a cof­fee plan­ta­tion and to the Sa­gada weav­ing fac­tory. Dur­ing the tour trav­ellers will also trek to the stun­ning Mt Pi­natubo and spend a night camp­ing by the sum­mit crater lake. The 11 day trip is priced from $2,265 per per­son.

Sa­gada Rice Ter­races, im­age cour­tesy In­trepid

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