The Philippines has over 7,000 islands to its name, broken up into three major regions. Luzon in the north, where Manila is located, is the largest. Its northern region boasts rice paddies, mountains, and the hanging coffins of Sagada, while in the southeast the TV show “Survivor: Caramoan” was filmed. The Visayas make up the islands in the central Philippines, with the most popular tourist beaches of Cebu and Bohol for scuba diving and whale watching. These central islands are also the ones recently devastated by the massive typhoon in November. Mindanoa is the southernmost major island and is almost as large as Luzon. This island has a large population of Muslims (in a mostly catholic country), and has been in the news lately due to an agreement reached between rebel Muslim Separatists and the government to pave the way towards peace in a long-violent movement for independence.
Puerto Princesa / city After much consideration about where in the Philippines we should visit after the Manila area, we opted for the western island of Palawan. The city of Puerto Princesa is the hub for visiting this faraway island and traveling to tourist points on the northern tip.
We rented a scooter for the day, to do as the locals do, and zoomed around the urban area— until we hit major gridlock around the Sunday market area. While level of wealth reminded us a lot of smaller Mexican towns along the Pacific coast, there was also a new, huge mall in town that attracts thousands each day.