Manila, Philippines – It’s more fun in Boracay, voted the world’s No. 1 island destination for 2012! Only one thing wrong with it: It is so hugely, enormously, importantly popular that on a crowded day on the beach, all you see are heads and more heads, and maybe just a few photogenic, half-naked bodies.
For now, Boracay’s success – in spite of the drop in tourist arrivals from China – will succeed further and farther as hotels and resorts fan out to the quieter, out-of-the-way nooks and crannies of the island. Which is exactly what visitors, tourists and other strangers longing for the new, the exotic and the different will find when they drop in on Batanes, a group of islands whose rugged, near-pristine beauty waits to be uncovered and rediscovered, like a chunk of jade in the rough.
For now, the rough-ish allure of Batanes is that it lies so far up north, with air fares so expensive, that it feels somewhat isolated, the place to flee to and get lost — only a couple of hotels, very few cars, and a tribe of people so modest, so simple they leave you pretty much to your own devices, no bells and whistles to break the spell. As I have been saying all along, Batanes is a different country in a different century. How much more perfect can it get?
The only other competition in the race for the next Boracay is Puerto Princesa in Palawan, which happens to host not only the by-now world-famous underground river but also the wondrous, enchanting firefly park along Iwahig river. You can keep your PPUR if I can have my fireflies, 45 minutes of a celestial experience under the stars as a million fireflies wink, twinkle among the mangroves and colonies of plankton glimmer in the water under your canoe! Palawan is Da One for fun!