With roughly less than a month to spare, we’ve been seeing sale and bazaars everywhere, houses being decorated with lanterns, Christmas songs being played in the neighborhood, malls being jampacked by people doing their Christmas shopping and of course, the intensified rush hour and aggrandized traffic scenario. It is undeniable that Christmas is really in the air!
Filipinos, being known to have the longest Christmas celebration, sometimes prefer to go out of town during this season to have a break from the hustle-bustle in the Metro.
Here are 5 highly suggested destination where you can spend the Christmas season:
At this time of the year, Baguio’s temperature can drop as low as 12*C (reported as the lowest temperature in December as of 2013), that is why a lot of Filipinos travel all their way up North to experience a cooler Christmas. While in Manila, bazaars and mall sales are popping out everywhere, in Baguio they’ve always had their wag-wagan or ukay ukay, wherein people can score a branded item for a very cheap price. And of course, people will not go home empty-handed if they go to Baguio because they have a lot of pasalubong to choose from which they can give away to their friends back home. The most famous one is the Good Shepherd’s Ube Jam.
Must-visit: Christmas Village at Baguio Country Club
We always regard the Christmas season as the most nakakatabang panahon, since there are a lot of gatherings, get-together and reunion happening during this season. If you don’t mind gaining a little weight, you might want to spend Christmas in Bacolod. Personally, Bacolod is one of my favorite cities in the Philippines because of its rich culture and not to mention it being a big gastronomical hub. Bacolod is the Sugar Capital of the Philippines. With that, can you just imagine how many pastry shops are there in one street alone? You cannot miss Lacson Street in Bacolod, that is a counterpart of Maginhawa St or Kapitolyo St here in Manila. Aside from that, they are known for their Inasal Chicken (hence the restaurant Inasal Chicken Bacolod).
So, if Christmas for you is about eating, I suggest visit Bacolod, and you will not regret.
Must-visit place: Calea (for cakes) and Manokan County
Held every Saturday before Christmas Eve, Giant Lantern Festival is a must-experience festivity in the Philippines. This has been a long celebrated tradition for Kapampangans and tourist that can be traced back to 1930s. Because of this event, San Fernando, Pampanga has been named the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.
This year, the Giant Lantern Festival will be held on December 20 at Robinson’s Starmills. Do not forget to bring your camera, you wouldn’t want to miss the photo-worthy lanterns displayed before your eyes.
And while you are in Pampanga, why not indulge in the Kapampangan cuisine that they’re famous for. Pampanga is known as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines as well.
Must-visit place: Robinsons Starmills for the Giant Lantern Festival, Hilaga Philippines (Paskuhan Village) and Aling Lucing’s restaurant and try her specialty Kare-Kare, Adobong Kamaru, Embutido and Bringhe (green, sticky rice ala Spanish Paella — credits to: tourism-philippines.com)
If you don’t have much time to travel to Baguio, then Tagaytay is the best place for you. Situated just outside of Metro Manila, with an hour or two drive, you could already experience a colder Christmas without driving up to the North. If you really want to feel Christmas even in your place of stay, I suggest you book a room at CrossWinds Resort Suites. They have their own Christmas Village and Santa’s house where the whole family can enjoy. If you want to go around town, you could visit the Sky Ranch and ride the highest Ferry’s Wheel and see the sun goes down behind the majestic Taal Volcano.
Must-visit: Tagaytay’s famous restaurants such as Bag of Beans and Antonio’s. And of course, don’t leave without trying the Bulalo in Tagaytay!
If work doesn’t permit you to take a vacation out of town and you are forced to stay within the confines of Metro Manila, worry no more, Manila still has a lot more to offer. You can go and visit Ayala Triangle Gardens and be amazed with the spectacular display of dancing lights.For the students and yuppies, you could still go back and visit your universities and join their annual Christmas activities such as UP’s Lantern Parade and UST’s Paskuhan. During the eve of Christmas, you can head to the concert grounds where big TV networks hold their annual countdown to Christmas and watch their fireworks display.
Must-visit: Ayala Triangle Garden. Christmas light show is from 6pm – 9pm, until Dec 31.
Wherever you are this Christmas, always remember that Christmas is not a place, but a feeling! Spread the love and happy holidays!
**Featured image– Photo Courtesy: www.africanwomanmagazine.net**