The charming Philippines in many respects represent the true Southern tropical paradise. This archipelago consists of thousands of diverse islands and the wealth and diversity of the countless landmarks here is hard to grasp. The highlights of Philippines are:
- Caves and other karst phenomena - Philippines contain some of the most impressive caves in the world. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River and Chocolate Hills are true wonders of the world.
- Unique biotopes - separate islands and also separate mountaintops on larger islands host numerous endemic plants and animals. The fertile tropical islands of Philippines serve as natural laboratories of selection and evolution. One small island has a population of white squirrels, another - the smallest ox in the world, many species of mammals and birds have been discovered lately and many more are still waiting for their discoverers.
- Shelters of prehistoric people - the prehistory of Philippines is complex, with numerous unsolved puzzles. Diverse people reached these islands and settled here. Even dwarf people developed here in the distant past. Countless caves and grottoes of Philippines contain traces left by manifold prehistoric tribes and races.
- Local architecture - Philippines are a part of global culture since the 16th century and are following the mainstream global styles in architecture and other arts. The preserved monuments of architecture show distinct local influences - this is well seen already in the Baroque churches and fortifications.
Volcanoes and related landmarks
- Bum-bag fumarole fields and Bu-ot fumarole field of Binubulauan - Kalinga. Impressive fumarolic fields with powerful fumaroles. Bu-ot fumarole field is located in a deep canyon with a sulphur rich stream flowing through it. Bum-bag fumarole fields are four closely located groups of fumaroles with bare ground and impressive sulphur formations.
- Mayon Volcano - Albay. This 2 463 m high volcano has got perfectly conical, almost symmetrical form. It has erupted 48 times in historical times.
- Taal Volcano and Taal Lake - Batangas. Taal is active volcano, 400 m high. Unusual feature is the fact that there is a lake on island (Luzon), with a summit of volcano as island in this lake and crater lake in the middle of this volcano with small island in it. Picturesque landscape. Since the 1990s there have been observed several geysers and mud geysers which are not permanent but rather are signalling about increased activity of volcano. In Taal Lake lives the only freshwater sardine in the world (Sardinella tawilis) and the only freshwater seasnake (Hydrophis semperi) and many other endemic species.
Caves and other karst features
- Calbiga Caves (Langun - Gobingob Caves) - Samar. Giant cave system consisting of 12 caves. Most passages are unexplored. Possibly the largest cave system in South-East Asia. Caves in some places have giant size. Contain numerous beautiful speleothems and many rare and endemic species of animals.
- Callao Cave - Cagayan. Enormous cave system with beautiful speleothems. This cave has served as a burial site for Neolithic people. Here have been found the earliest human remains in Philippines, at least 67 thousand years old. It is possible though that these remnants have been left by another, extinct species of small humans. In this cave or another nearby cave found charcoal drawings which are not dated.
- Chocolate Hills - Bohol. Unique geomorphological phenomenon - 1,776 similar grass covered conical hills which form unique landscape. Height of each hill - 30 - 120 m. During the dry periods hills turn brown. Formed from corall limestone which has been uplifted and eroded. Hills contain numerous caves.
- Langun Cave - Samar. This giant, beautiful cave contains one of the largest cave rooms in the world. It contains many species of endemic and very rare animals.
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River (St.Paul Subterranean River) - Palawan. More than 24 km long cave system with 8.4 kilometres long underground river, which is accessible directly from the sea and navigable up to 4.2 km deep. Contains also Italian's Chamber - giant cave hall.
- Secret Beach of Matinloc - Palawan. Unusual beach available by diving under a natural arch. Beach has formed in sinkhole in Matinloc Island close to the sea. Only in afternoon direct sunlight reaches the beach.
- Sohoton Natural Bridge - Samar. Beautiful karst formation - 8 m wide, 40 m long natural bridge over Sohoton River with beautiful speleothems. Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park contains numerous amazing karst formations in lush jungle environment.
- Sumaging - Latipan - Lomyang Crystal Cave - Mountain Province. Beautiful cave with six entrances, goes up to 163 m depth. Cave system contains impressive system of gours - Kings Curtain. Cave contains remnants of burials, some coffins still are hanging near one of entrances.
- Villacorta Cave - Samar. Cave river with beautiful speleothems. Amazing rimstone pool formations, gypsum flowers.
- Limunsudan Falls (Limusudan Falls) - Lanao del Norte. Approximately 250 - 270 m tall waterfall with two plunges, located in lush jungle environment.
- Pagsanjan Falls (Magdapio Falls) - Laguna. Beautiful, legendary falls, formed in a deep canyon with tall cliffs. Falls are available after boat drive through gorgeous forested canyon. Lower plunge is approximately 30 m tall, there is at least one more plunge above it.
- Tarugan Falls - Iloilo. Possibly the highest falls in Philippines, located in hard to access area. Height not measured but pictures show very tall plunge where water at the base is vaporised.
- Tinuy-an Falls - Surigao del Sur. Some of the most impressive falls in Philippines. 95 m wide waterfall with several plunges. Surrounded by lush rainforest. It is unclear whether the total height of falls is 55 m or the tallest plunge is 55 m tall. Falls are famous thanks to rainbow which appears on every sunny morning in 9 - 11 AM.
Ecosystems and animal colonies
- Donsol whale sharks - Sorsogon. The largest group of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus (Smith, 1828)) - the largest fishes of the world - can be observed here. Sea near Donsol is visited by a group of 40 (sometimes hundreds) whale sharks on a regular basis in November - May.
- Monfort Bat Cave - Davao del Norte. This cave contains the world's largest colony of Geoffroy's Rousette bats (Rousettus amplexicaudatus É. Geoffroy, 1810) consisting of approximately 1.8 million individuals. It is believed that currently this comparatively small cave is overpopulated - every spot in the cave is covered with bats.
- Pygmy forest of Mount Hamiguitan - Davao Oriental. Upper part of 1,620 m high mountain is covered with pygmy forest (225 ha) which grows on rare ultramafic soil with high content of heavy metals. As a result this forest of low (up to 1.4 m tall), centuries old trees contains numerous endemic and very rare species of plants and animals, including endemic mammals. Amazing endemic plant (it grows below the pygmy forest) is enormous pitcher plant Nepenthis hamiguitanensis (Gronem., Wistuba, V.B.Heinrich, S.McPherson, Mey & V.B.Amoroso (2010)). In pygmy forest are found some other endemic pitcher plants.
- Scrubland and forests of Mount Apo - Davao del Sur and North Cotabato. This potentially active, 2,954 m tall volcano has ecosystems with extremely high level of endemism. Here live numerous species of birds which are found only here, many endemic animals and plants. Above the height of 2,700 m the summit of volcano is covered with scrubland.
- Balete tree in Maria Aurora - Aurora. Possibly the largest balete (Ficus balete) tree in Asia. Height of the tree up to 60 - 65 m. Girth of the trunk might exceed 30 m - it is told that 60 adult men are needed to get their arms around the tree, although it is hard to measure the tree due to countless roots around it.
- Barangay Alegria Toog tree - Agusan del Sur. Enormous Toog tree or Philippine Rosewood (Petersianthus quadrialatus Merr.), 87.8 m (96.9 m?) tall, with 3,66 m diameter at its base. Sacred tree to Manobo people.
- Lazi balete - Siquijor. Enormous, legendary balete. This tree is considered to be evilish because it resembles a giant swamp creature. Many believe that the tree is enchanted and supernatural beings live in it. Tree has very large girth and locals love to tell that it is 4,000 years old. Powerful spring starts below the tree.
- Lumabai balete (Lumabao balete) - Negros Oriental. Giant balete. The age of this tree has been determined - 1,360 years. It is illuminated by numerous fireflies in the night, thus making this legendary tree really eerie.
Other natural landmarks
- Coron Island cliffs - Palawan. Vertical limestone cliffs rising up to 600 m high above the sea.
- Hinatuan Enchanted River - Surigao del Sur. Unique monument of nature - deep trench coming from the sea and entering the jungle. It is filled with seawater and reportedly with large sea fish seen in it. The water in this lagoon is deep blue and lucid. Locals consider this place to be enchanted and guarded by superhuman beings.
- Hot spring of Cayangan Lake (Kayangan Lake) - Coron Island, Palawan. In the centre of the lucid Cayangan lake there is powerful hot spring which can be well felt while diving - when one approaches the spring, water temperature rises up to 38°C. Lake has underground connection to the sea - it is layered with hot salty water below and colder fresh water above.
- Salinas Salt Springs - Nueva Vizcaya. Unique springs with high salt content. Springs once formed bright white travertine terraces with rimstone pools, contrasting with the surrounding mountainous jungle. Since the earthquake of 1990 the springs have diverted and cupola became dirty grey.
Man made landmarks
Ancient shelters and petroglyphs
- Alab petroglyphs - Mountain Province. Rock formation inscribed with human figures, bows and arrows. It is believed that these carvings have been made around 1500 AD as a part of fertility rituals of local people.
- Angono Triglyphs - Rizal. Rock shelter with a group of interesting ancient engravings. In total here are depicted 127 figures of humans, frogs, lizards. Archaeological investigation has provided evidence of Neolithic people who lived here roughly in 3,000 BC. The oldest dated artwork in Philippines.
- Balobok rock shelter and Balobok natural arch - Sanga-Sanga island, Tawi-Tawi. Arcaheological monument - ancient shelter inhabited roughly in 6,800 - 3,140 BC, with numerous shells. Accessible through an impressive natural arch.
- Cagayan Paleolitic Sites - Cagayan. More than 90 Paleolithic sites have yielded stone tools of early people together with the remnants of amazing extinct animals - stegodons, elephants, rhinoceros, large tortoises. It is possible that humans who lived here belonged to Homo erectus species.
- Ganga Cave - Mountains Province. Exciting burial cave filled with ancient wooden coffins. Local legends tell about tragic events - a kind of epidemy - which caused death of people buried in cave. There are stories about weird noises coming from the burial cave in the night thus local people avoid approaching it.
- Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves - Benguet. More than 200 rock cut burial caves with bones of people still found in some 15 of them. Ibaloi people in prehistoric times mastered indigenous technology for the mummification of their noble people, the process could take up to two years. This practice was discontinued with the coming of Christianity.
- Lamanok Point petrographs - Anda Peninsula, Bohol. Red drawings made from hematite. Drawings are not decipherable and not dated, most just look like blood red smears. In earlier times here were found also wooden coffins, pottery, bones.
- Tabon Caves - Palawan. Rocky promontory of Palawan - Lipuun Point - is honeycombed with at least 200 caves and shelters. These shelters served as a habitat for early humans, living here 50,000 - 9,000 BP. Found oldest remnants of Homo sapiens in Southeast Asia and other valuable finds - jar burials from late Neolithic and later times, porcelain from China.
- Ugpay Cave and Singnapan sinkhole - southern Palawan. Local Taaw't Bato people during the rainy period are living in some 20 caves, including a giant, 200 m deep sinkhole, traversed by an underground river. Here have been built houses, on the walls of Ugpay Cave are found many primitive, undated charcoal drawings of dancing people.
- Belfry of Cagsawa Church - Albay. Ruins of belfry - the only remnant of Cagsawa village after it was covered with hot ashes in 1814. Some 200 people died in the church.
- Guiuan Church of La Inmaculada Concepcion - Samar. Unusual Baroque church - fortress from the 18th century with beautiful facade. It has preserved much of its historical interior. Walls are built of coral stone, interiors decorated with sea shells. Church destroyed by hurricane in November 2013.
- Miag-ao Church (Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church) - Iloilo. Valuable Baroque church and fortress built in 1787-97. Architecture of the building blends Spanish and local influences. The striking facade of the building is adorned with beautiful reliefs, centrepiece is depiction of enormous coconut tree. Site of legends.
- Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion Church in Santa Maria - Ilocos Sur. Valuable church built in Baroque style in 1765, well served also as a fortress. Belltower is a separate building located away from the church to avoid damage during the earthquakes.
- Quiapo Church of San Sebastian - Metro Manila. The only known Neo-Gothic steel church in Asia, beautiful structure with windows of stained glass. Made in Belgium after a design by Gustav Eiffel and then shipped to Manila. Built in 1890.
- San Agustin Church - Metro Manila. The oldest existing church and oldest building in Philippines, significant Baroque monument. Built in 1607. While the exterior of the building is rather simple, interior is rich with ornamentation and artworks. The only building in the historical centre of Manila which survived the heavy fights in 1945.
- San Agustin Church in Paoay - Ilocos Norte. Beautiful Baroque church with unique architecture, resembling a stone masonry pyramid. Remarkable engineering achievement built to resist powerful earthquakes. Construction started in 1704. Separate belltower.
- Tayabas Basilica of St Michael the Archangel - Quezon. Current church is built mainly in the 1740s in Baroque style, rebuilt several times afterwards. Considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in Philippines.
- Tumauini Church of San Mattias - Isabela. Highly unusual Baroque church built entirely of brick with terracotta sculptures. Beautiful accent is cylindrical bell tower next to the church.
Other man made landmarks
- Battad rice terraces and Banaue Rice Terraces - Ifugao. Some of the most impressive rice terraces in the world, up to 2,000 years old. In the vicinities of Banaue village there are many more impressive complexes of rice terraces. These structures represent the high skills of Ifugao people to regulate water balance and ecological balance. They managed to convert into agricultural land even 70° steep hillsides. Rice terraces are the only stone structures developed in Philippines before the coming of Europeans.
- Fort Santiago - Metro Manila. Defensive structure developed by Spaniards in the site of former palace of Rajah Sulaiman II. Present structure is built in 1589 - 1592, with up to 6.7 m high walls. Contains beautiful Baroque style monuments.
- Intramuros Walled City - Metro Manila. Oldest city district in Manila, walled city built by Spaniards since the late 16th century. Old city was largely destroyed in World War II but has been partly reconstructed, the urban network has been preserved.
- Metropolitan Theater of Manila - Metro Manila. Impressive, unusual Art Deco style building designed by Juan M. Arellano, built in 1935.
- Nicanor Reyes Hall of Far Eastern University - Metro Manila. One of the iconic buildings of Philippine Art Deco style, designed by Pablo Antonio and built in 1939.
- Old Vigan - Ilocos Sur. Beautiful, well preserved colonial town with cobblestone streets and historical buildings with unique architecture, blending European, Chinese and local traditions and representing true indigenous Philippine architecture. Development of the city started in the 16th century but current buildings have been built in the 18th - 20th centuries.
List of described attractions by provinces
Philippines are divided into 79 provinces and National Capital Region (here called Metro Manila). Here below they are listed in alphabetical order:
|Agusan del Norte|
|Agusan del Sur|
|Barangay Alegria Toog||Trees|
|Belfry of Cagsawa Church||Churches|
|Balete tree in Maria Aurora||Trees|
|Davao del Norte|
|Davao del Sur|
|Lanao del Norte|
|Lanao del Sur|
|Salinas Salt Springs||Springs|
|Puerto Princesa Subterranean River||Caves, Ecosystems|
|Surigao del Norte|
|Surigao del Sur|
|Zamboanga del Norte|
|Zamboanga del Sur|
Map of Philippines
Featured: Salinas Salt Springs
Once upon a time there was unique monument of nature near Bambang town - a snow-white mountain of travertine formed by a powerful spring.
The glistening white hill with rimstone pools (just similar to the fantastic rice terraces in nearby Ifugao) attracted attention of people since ancient times...