5 Local Indie Films to Inspire Traveling the Philippines

Pack your bags for a solo trip or a barkada getaway as soon as the credits roll.

The Philippines is not just a nation of warm, hospitable people—it’s also a captivating backdrop of some Pinoy films with an equally beautiful plot. Be inspired to experience our country from north to south with these independent movies:

Thy Womb (2012)
The film puts a spotlight on the Badjao community of Tawi-Tawi, and the life of Shaleha, played by Nora Aunor. In her willingness to do anything to make her husband (Bembol Roco) happy, she lets him marry a younger woman (Lovi Poe) who would give him in an heir.

Above the Clouds (2014)
After the tragic death of Andy’s (Ruru Madrid) parents when Typhoon Ondoy hit, he travels to the Mountain Province to live with his estranged grandfather (Pepe Smith). Set in Baguio and Sagada, the film follows the journey of the protagonist as he retraces the paths his family took during happier days.

An Kubo sa Kawayanan (2015)
Not the average romance film, it tells the story of a girl’s love for her ancestral house in Bicol. While everyone else is dying to leave, Michelle (Mercedes Cabral) plays witness to the connections of all things in her world. In an age when culture is slowly dying, the film tackles the importance of staying loyal to one’s roots.

Sakaling Hindi Makarating (2016)
Set in Zamboanga, Marinduque, Siquijor, Batanes, and Ilocos, the movie is the ultimate road trip around the country. It follows Cielo (Alessandra de Rossi) and her expedition after unfortunately getting laid off from work. As she receives mysterious postcards and letters from different parts of the Philippines, she travels to discover herself amid the hidden allure of the islands.

Siargao (2017)
A musician (Jericho Rosales)suffering from burnout and a vlogger (Erich Gonzales) mending a broken heart meet on their way to the surf paradise, and an unforgettable adventure blossoms. Having their own reasons to escape the city, they find themselves growing feelings for each other while dealing with their failed relationships.

4 Travel Groups for Every Kind of Traveler

Whether a long-weekend escape or a quick daytrip, these groups will help you tick off your travel goals—and gain instant adventure buddies, too.

With horrible traffic, work struggles, and personal obligations (among others), urban living can lead to everyday stress. The city provides options to reset, but nothing beats a getaway to gain back a fresh mindset and look forward to Monday—for a change.

Yes, it’s possible. No need to worry about booking hassles and any travel-related prerequisites. Here are 4 groups that can take care of everything for you, so you can just pack your bags and enjoy the rest of your much-needed trip:

For the soul-searcher
Feeling lost and craving some balance in your overwhelming routine? Meaningful Travels PH offers a holistic approach to vacation by bringing purposeful traveling and creating authentic connections along the way. A trip is composed of three parts: a visit to unfamiliar spots like hidden waterfalls; immersion in local culture through history, livelihood, and native arts; and giving back to the community by providing supplies to children in remote schools. Banaue-Batad, Ilocos Sur, and Marinduque are some of the featured destinations.

Follow @MeaningfulTravelsPH on Facebook for inquiries     

For the thrifty explorer
Don’t let budget constraints keep you from exploring. Mobile app Tripkada provides a platform for travelers to join trips planned by fellow travelers. Book a slot and split the cost of a tour package with other users, so you can minimize daytrip expenses to ₱750 per person instead of ₱2,500 and weekend-trip expenses to ₱1,500 instead of ₱3,500. Discover exotic destinations and network with newfound adventurers who may also become your friends, be it out of town or back in Manila. Day tours include Liwliwa, Zambales and Mount Maculot, while Buscalan, Coron, and Romblon are worthy spending your vacation leaves on.    

Available on Google Play or Apple Store. Visit www.tripkada.com for inquiries

For the conscious traveler
When life becomes a little too much, we count on nature to realign. But can nature count on us, too? KilometerZeroPH promotes sustainable tourism by including environmental conservation in their itinerary. Learn about the challenges in protecting mountains and participate in tree-planting activities. Organized tours to Balabac, Palawan and Masungi Georeserve in Rizal are available. Get to meet travelers sharing the same passion for caring for the earth—an interesting conversation starter, isn’t it?

Visit www.kilometerzeroph.com for inquiries    

For the adventure junkie
Why step out of your comfort zone when you can go beyond? True to its name, CamSur Adventure lets travelers explore the pristine waters and environmental wonders that have marked the destination as the Sports and Adventure Capital of the Philippines. A playground for adrenaline-pumping activities, enjoying magnificent views, and getting lost in exotic nature, CamSur offers something special for every adventurer. Choose from various packages guaranteed fun for you and your favorite people: Adventure for Thrill Seekers, One with Wilderness, Epic Sea and Road Exploration, Survivor for Trail Blazers, and Extreme for Supreme Adventurers.

Visit www.camsuradventure.com or follow @camsuradventure on Facebook and Instagram for inquiries

5 Reasons Why You Should Seriously Take a Vacation

It’s not a want—it’s a need. So stop whatever you’re doing and book that trip ASAP

As people get consumed by the demands of having a job (and keeping it, too) and living comfortably, they invest more time at work instead of finding purpose in life at the same time. Have you also placed taking a breather low on your priority list? Don’t worry; you can always restart with a much-deserved vacation. Here are reasons you shouldn’t overlook:

1. It relieves stress.
Achieving work-life balance seems like climbing the Everest nowadays. Fight burnout by regularly going on a vacation. It doesn’t have to be a month-long hiatus; even taking a day or two off to focus on doing the things you’re passionate about can already reduce a significant amount of stress. Yes, looking forward to Mondays again is possible!

2. It boosts productivity and creativity.
Slaving yourself at work causes fatigue that leads to sickness. It results in making poor decisions, too. When you take time off, you see things clearly and return to work refreshed with energy and positive ideas. This increases your ability to think creatively because exploring other places outside of the office encourages your mind to be playful.

3. It opens you to fresh perspectives.
Traveling is an excellent opportunity to see the world in a different view. With so many options to spend a vacation, be it a quick trip to a museum, some days off to the countryside, or a few weeks in an exotic country, you are offered new cultures to get immersed in, magnificent sites to behold, and wonderful strangers who can inspire you to reflect on what truly makes you happy.

4. It rekindles relationships.
No matter how unintentional, a busy routine tends to take loved ones for granted. A vacation gives you a moment to appreciate those who give meaning to your daily life. Relax by the beach with family or discover uncharted paths with your barkada. Also, don’t forget to reconnect with yourself—after all, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important of all. Give yourself peace of mind by going to your happy place where you can just ward off all the stress and negativity that’s been weighing you down.

5. It gets you out of your comfort zone.
Whenever you feel stuck in a boring routine or exhausted in the daily rat race, going on an adventure is an instant cure. Do something that excites, or better yet, scares you. Experiencing something for the first time is healthy for the mind because it challenges you to think beyond your usual work requirements. It’s good exercise, too—getting out of your desk and exploring destinations other than the corners of the office is already a fantastic start.

Don’t Go on an Adventure without these Gadgets

Cool tools for a safer, hassle-free trip so you won’t miss out on anything

Excited about your new adventure? First on your checklist should be making sure you’ll have a smooth journey, so preparation is key. While most travelers go on vacation to get lost and reconnect with the world, packing gadgets in your bag make for a convenient trip minus worries, particularly in case of an emergency. So whether you’re off camping, riding waves, exploring the extremes (or all mentioned), take these items with you for an easier travel:

1.  Headlamp
Some hostels have a lights-off policy that can be earlier than your usual bedtime. Add to that roomies who can’t sleep when it’s not dark. Plug in your headlamp to read a book or plan your itinerary for the next day. Works best for camping trips, too.

2. Portable charger
You may be a master at reading maps, but getting to hole-in-the-wall locations can be like solving a puzzle. In this high-tech era, GPS is your friend. However, it can drain your phone battery, too—especially if you’re listening to the most fitting songs while in the mountains. Always carry a lightweight charger and make sure it’s fully charged so you’re ready all day.

3. Wireless speaker
You’re chilling at the beach with friends, the perfect playlist in your phone waiting to be heard. Music is life, so better share your tunes with a portable speaker. Turn your journey into an awesome sound trip, because the best travel memories are made even more unforgettable with tunes.   

4. Universal travel adaptor
This is not a problem during out-of-town trips, but when going abroad, it’s always safe to carry one to ensure your electronic devices are charged all the time. Voltage and outlets vary in other countries—pack a universal travel adaptor to plug your gadgets into a differently shaped outlet without ruining them.

5. Multisport watch
For someone who loves the outdoors, a multisport watch is a wise investment. Mixing style and function, it features a variety of tracking capabilities, as well as built-in GPS and smart notifications to cover you when you’re out for a challenging hike, intense swimming, or extreme sports.

7 Travel Souvenirs You Need to Start Collecting

Give fridge magnets and key chains a rest. Take home these fun souvenirs for your new collection

Traveling is a life experience that’s always heartwarming to remember. What better way to look back on your adventures than making souvenirs a part of your home? Decorate your nook with these creative items to grab on your next trips:  

1.  Postcards
Take at least one (or twenty!) per location. Cheap and lightweight, postcards make for an easy choice to start your souvenir collection with. Frame and hang them on the wall or get your artsy mode on—using wooden pegs, clip them on a rope string for a hippie vibe.

2. Patches
Get crafty by sewing patches of national flags, tourist attractions, and sports teams on your denim jacket. You may also leave some to stick on a felt board in your room.

3. Artworks
Turn your home into a mini-gallery. Grab an artwork from new places you visit and display them around your place. Choose different styles if you’re up for mixing and matching, or keep things streamlined by sticking to the same types of art.

4. Maps
Gather pretty maps that deserve a spot on your wall (those with a vintage style have a more charming appeal). Tip: choose a uniform color for the frames to help bring them all together.

5. Hats  
Pick a chic one that best represents a destination. Hang them on the wall like artwork, or gather them on a shelf to capture guests’ attention when you host a party at home.

6. Shot glasses
Avoid the cheesy factor by putting a spin to these potentially tacky items. Turn them into pots for plants such as low-maintenance succulents, air plants, or fresh herbs. Place some pebbles for additional layers.

7. Pins
Easy to find and affordable, retro-style pins are not only great accessories to put on your jacket—they double as quirky décor, too. Flaunt your full collection by using an embroidery hoop to gather each piece, then hang it on your wall.

6 Dos and Don’ts When Traveling with a Group

Leave home as friends and come back as adventure buddies. Here are tricks

Traveling is always good, but it’s even better to do it with friends. However, while they can make it an epic adventure, they can potentially ruin it as well. The last thing on your mind should be how to get a vacation out of your vacation. We’ve gathered some dos and don’ts that you should consider for an unforgettable trip (in a positive way, of course), so you can have a conflict-free quality time with your favorite group:

1.  Do set deadlines.
Being organized is key in trips that involve more people. Impose strict deadlines on payment to guarantee reservations are made on time. Plan early so everyone can mark financial commitments on their calendars.

2. Do impose a “me” time.   
Traveling together doesn’t require doing everything together.  Set a few hours to be alone per day to recharge the mind and the body. Filling in everyone on each other’s “me” time make for a good chat over dinner, too.

3. Do make room for adjustments.
Some travelers prioritize outdoor activities, while others are more into shopping. Avoid forcing a single itinerary on everyone. Instead, make suggestions on tweaking it to accommodate varied must-sees and must-dos, such as splitting up into small groups according to shared interests. Compromise and be flexible.

4. Don’t be too dependent.
Going with the flow is good, but sometimes, it puts a burden on your fellow travelers especially when making crucial decisions. Don’t be too laidback—even if you’re really down with whatever, make everyone feel that you’re willing to take part in doing things as a group.  

5. Don’t make decisions when you’re “hangry” or stressed.
Everyone gets cranky when they’re hungry, so leave decision-making after meals. Arguments start under stressful situations such as missing the train or getting to the airport, so don’t initiate serious conversations during these times.

6. Don’t assume everyone has the same budget.
A five-star hotel might sound great to some, but also consider that others might opt for a decent hostel instead. Find a middle ground that seems feasible for all. You can also consider an expert travel agency that not only minimizes costs but makes sure you can get the most out of your adventure the most hassle-free way possible.

4 Ways to Travel Responsibly

Travel with care. Help the communities in your chosen destination with these tips.

Exploring places affects travelers in life-changing ways, but it’s important to remember that traveling also has an impact on the people and places one visits. Just like must-sees and must-dos, sustainable tourism should be on every traveler’s checklist. Traveling responsibly means finding ways to preserve the destination and give back to its community. Here are tips you should consider:

1. Minimize your footprint.
As much as possible, don’t leave traces nor take away from places you visited. Pick up your litter and don’t carve on trees. Cut back on plastic by bringing your own reusable tumbler and eco bag. Avoid taking home seashells or sands from beaches. Turn off the lights and faucets in your hotel room before leaving. Taking public transport makes for a cheaper option, while renting a bike offers the best views of the countryside.

2. Handle wildlife with care.
While interacting with exotic creatures seem like a unique way to be one with nature, animals found in these attractions are abused most of the time. So if checking them out is quintessential to a place, it’s best to look for tourism agencies that practice ethical treatment and promote wildlife protection—especially endangered species—rather than just making money out of them.

3. Buy local.
Looking for pasalubong? Forget mass-produced key chains, fridge magnets, or mugs. Choose locally made handicrafts that promote native makers. Buy from local souvenir shops and avoid haggling too much. Instead of eating at tourist traps, opt for dining spots where locals go for an authentic gastronomic experience.

4. Volunteer.
Make a genuine impact through your trips. Volunteering is a great opportunity to give back to local communities, share your skills, exchange cultures, and experience the place in a realistic perspective. Find a charity or organization that fights for a cause you’re passionate about. It’s another way to meet fellow travelers, too.



Why You Should Go for a Travel Package

Give DIY travel a rest and enjoy a hassle-free vacation

It’s all too familiar: some friend suggests visiting a highly recommended destination, getting the whole barkada excited. Everyone starts making plans, but it all ends up as, well, plans.

With hectic schedules and different personalities to deal with, it’s pretty much understandable how supposed vacations pan out. Add to that the hassles even before getting somewhere, such as booking a hotel and planning the itinerary, among many others.

But aren’t you just itching to satisfy your wanderlust with the gang? Then travel packages are your best bet. Consider these reasons why you should take advantage of one for your next adventure:

It requires minimal planning.
There are only two things you need to plan: where to go and what travel group to go with. Once settled, leave everything to your chosen agency so you can pack your essentials without having to worry about hotel reservations, tickets, and itineraries.

Booking is easy.
Gone are the days when you have to drop by a travel agency just to inquire about their packages. Everything is available online now, so all you need is a wi-fi connection to make your dream vacation finally happen. Instead of going to different websites to book flights, accommodation, and transfers separately, you only need to go to one for everything, saving you a lot of time—and data, too.

Itineraries are tried and tested.
Nowadays, senior-oriented group tours are not the only packages available. More and more options are arranged based on interests, such as water exploration, extreme sports, and food trips. There are even singles-only tours, too, for the recently broken-hearted. Also, itineraries are well-researched to give the fastest routes and provide sufficient free time to relax in between stops.

It’s easy on the budget.
All-inclusive packages guarantee that once the tour starts, the spending stops. Having meals (snacks included), lodging, land and sea transfers, gear rental, and tour guides in one deal makes for a big budget-saver because these cost more than usual when booked separately. A reputable agency partners with other travel establishments for the best rates and offerings so you can get your money’s worth—and even more.

Travel perks are available.
Choosing a trusted agency also ensures that crucial factors such as hotels meet quality standards, and experienced tour guides know exactly the ins and outs of the travel destination. You may also avail of loyalty programs that will be helpful in your upcoming travels, as well as promos that give further discounts.



Tourist or Traveler—which One are You?

Plan your trip based on your travel personality and get the most out of your vacation

In the travel community, there seems to be a need to distinguish between a tourist and a traveler. Some find it discriminating, while others don’t mind. After all, every person is different from one another and it helps to keep in mind that your travel identity is not a badge of honor but a passport to a better trip. Considering which one you are helps you set priorities when planning your itinerary each time you visit a new destination.

Excited to know whether you’re a tourist or a traveler? Here are a few pointers—see which ones you can relate to best:

A tourist stands out; a traveler blends in.
Known for their tendency to stay in their comfort zones, tourists consider a trip as a vacation, so their main goal is to relax and take a break from their daily grind. As they roam around, they always carry a guidebook and a camera—with a selfie stick, more often than not—which locals easily associate them with. Tourists dress as they would where they come from and only speak English when visiting foreign places.

Travelers, on the other hand, prefer to keep it low-key. For them, a trip is a journey that enriches them through experience. They immerse themselves in culture and interact with locals to find out social habits to observe. Travelers try to learn phrases in the local language, such as “please” and “thank you,” so they can strike a conversation with the natives. Before heading to a new place, they research on how locals usually dress not only to blend in but to respect religious and cultural customs.

A tourist prefers comfort food; a traveler eats exotic cuisines.
Tourists most likely stick to food they are familiar with, resorting to popular food chains where they’re traveling. But there are adventurous ones, too, who would try local fare that taste something closer to home—just nothing too out of this world though.

Defined by their willingness to eat any cuisine served to them, travelers know too well that food accurately echoes culture. They go out of their way to sample local joints, preferring humble street food over more renowned restaurants. Their mantra: the more exotic, the more exciting.

A tourist visits popular sights; a traveler explores unfamiliar spots.
A tourist’s check list includes major cities where known museums, historical sites, and shopping districts are located. Going from one point to another requires GPS, making sure all must-sees are covered in a day. Souvenir-wise, tourists spend a little more at a popular local shop, knowing that its items are quintessential to the place.    

As travelers interact with locals, they are let in on hole-in-the-wall venues and must-dos not found in travel manuals. Opting for smaller towns and less-traveled routes, they search for secret treasures the place has to offer, whether a vinyl café or a kitschy bookstore. Trusting only their gut when going somewhere, getting lost is a blessing for travelers because it allows them to see a foreign place in a different perspective—even discovering bargain finds on the way to take home.   

5 Tips for Traveling with a Group

Go on a hassle-free vacation with your favorite people—keep these helpful tricks in mind

Traveling with a group means getting a chance to make wonderful memories with your loved ones. In reality though, it also means creating conflicts that extend beyond your vacation. Fights over itinerary, hotel expenses, and time management can turn fun into stress easily.

Despite possible hassles, you shouldn’t hesitate booking a trip soonest. With these tips, you can enjoy a relaxing getaway with family and friends (yes, it’s absolutely possible):

1. Let majority rule.

If there are seven people in your group, it’s pretty much impossible that everyone can get to do what they want especially on a short vacation. Democracy goes a long way, so have everyone pick a must-see site or a must-do activity and go with the choices that get the most votes.

2. Divide and conquer.

Most likely, small groups within your group will be formed based on shared interests and priorities. This actually makes traveling much efficient, so leave no room for FOMO. Some can head to a historical museum while the others check out the local shopping district. Just make sure to meet up at some point—eat dinner together to swap stories on how the day went.

3. Communicate.

Land and sea transfers may divide up a big group. Make sure everyone has a copy of the itinerary. Create a plan on where to meet in case you get separated unintentionally and there’s no signal in the area for chatting with the group online.

4. Include downtime in your itinerary.

Moving from one area to another and doing various activities with a group can get strenuous. Squeeze in some alone time within the day so everyone can do their own thing, like visiting a local café, watching a concert, or just lounging at the hotel. This is a good way to re-energize for the rest of the trip.

5. Opt for travel packages.

Traveling DIY-style is exciting when you go solo, but being with a group is a different story. Organized tours are your friend, as they save a lot of effort and money. Have a reliable travel group manage all the logistics for you—lodging, food, van and boat transfers, sports equipment, and tour guides—so you can enjoy the whole trip without having to worry about every small detail.

Exploring a new destination with a group can be challenging, but wise planning and openness to adventure result in the most incredible memories. When it comes to traveling, the more, the merrier, indeed.