The Best Place I've Been to in the Philippines as of 2010

I've been asked this question many times by friends of mine before. I always struggle to find an answer, first I have not made it yet to all the provinces of the Philippines. I've been to a number of places that are really beautiful and has its own charms and things that one would describe as "best". Choosing the best of em all is like looking at my bookshelf and selecting the best book I'd want to take with me to an island for a prolonged time.

On any given day my choices would vary, some days I'd pick the Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" novel, some days I'd either pick "Crash" by J.G. Ballard or Albert Camus' "The Stranger", or "A Clockwork Orange", "Neverwhere", HST's "The Rum Diary" or even Alex Garland's "The Beach".

It's the same with the few places I'm fortunate to have traveled in the past. Since 2007 when I told myself that I should get out on the road as often as I could and afford I've set out to places I could easily pick as the best of em all. However, just like the case of picking up my favorite book, the answer I might give will vary from day to day.

From the sweeping landscape of Sagada and Banaue Rice Terraces to the charming town setting of Tagbilaran, Bohol, the Manila-like but more laid back Cebu, the marvelous Calamian group of islands in Coron, Palawan, Mount Apo in Davao, the rush of river rafting in Cagayan de Oro, the Mardi gras like Masskara Festival in Bacolod, the butt numbing ride to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, Caramoan Peninsula and Calaguas in Bicol region, passing by Sierra Madre region on the way to learn surfing in Baler, Aurora, the historic fortress island of Corregidor, the Moriones Festival, friends who were like families and over flowing rum and beer in the town of Mogpog, Marinduque, visiting my mother's hometown in Dumangas, Iloilo, the beautiful crater lake of Mount Pinatubo which was once a source of violent eruption is now a paradise-like place. The heritage districts of Vigan, Silay in Negros that takes you back in time.

Not to mention, the urban jungle of Manila - a city which I have a love-hate kind of relationship, at some days its this awesome lover that takes your breathe away and at times its this place I longed to escape. My 'bipolar' attitude towards Manila makes it "best" even at its worst times.

How can I choose one, its almost unfair to single out one best place. And I have just started, try asking me that question 3 or 5 years from now and by that time I will probably have set foot on all the provinces of the Philippines maybe I can name one that stands out, but now that I still have a long way to go in terms of personal journey and getting to know more of my country. All I can think of is set out for more and possibly retire in the place I'd consider the best of em all.

Right now, if you point a gun on my head and asks for an answer, my reply would be simply "Home"

And "Home" is composed of more than 7,107 islands, with abundant knowledge to gain, culture and tradition to fully digest and unlimited things to explore and do. It's always good waking up in the morning knowing that home is out there for me to explore and wander in the coming days. It gives me the urge to live my daily existence no matter how mundane it can be, but knowing that in between all of these struggles, the opportunity to travel around my home is right there in front of me and I'll have to do is move my funky ass and stinking feet and carry my dirty backpack and tag along a few friends.