We all search for magical moments.
Why else do we go out of our way and fly thousands of miles. It’s not always about the things that we learn, but it’s those breathtaking moments that many of us pursue when we travel to places. And although museums takes us back as we get schooled about history, there is nothing like exploring actual places that transcends us back in time. It’s magical, isn’t it, to walk in a ground that held so much history and entered doors that witnessed so many stories?
Philippines may be young, but don’t ever underestimate the history that it holds. If being colonized by different cultures in different eras doesn’t say enough about its colorful journey through time, then maybe these places will. I’ve curated a list of the archipelago’s stunning places that without a doubt would make you feel like you’ve entered a time capsule. From century old forts to secret revolutionist basements, here’s 7 places that will take you back in time. Hop on to my time machine, shall we?
1.) Taal, Batangas
Just because it isn’t too popular with the crowds doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be on the top of the list. Because with its humble streets filled with ancestral homes exhibiting true colonial era architecture and interiors, it certainly does. (READ: Time Traveling In Taal, Batangas)
It doesn’t end there either. Asia’s largest cathedral is standing strong and mighty in this small town. Although the original church was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1500’s, it has withstood numbers of other earthquakes through time. Taal is also home to the Philippines’ OG flag maker, Marcella Agoncillo, and even though the flag wasn’t made in her humble abode, her house definitely held some juicy secrets as she played host to revolutionist parties. Her house had a secret basement where those badasses gather and scheme their plans against the Spaniards.
Insider tip: If you really want to be transcended back in time, head over to Casa Tortuga and play dress up. They have a variety of traditional Filipino outfits you can choose from for a legit 1800’s photo shoot.
2.) Sabtang, Batanes
How do I even begin to describe the magic of Sabtang. Is it the inexplicable uniqueness of the island that completely separates it from the rest of the Philippines? Is it the majestic views of the cliffs and the sound of the waves as the wild waves hits the coast? Or is it the overall rustic appeal that’s hard not to recognize as soon as you step off the boat?
Maybe it’s all of that, but nothing defines back in time better than walking through the villages of the island which is filled with rows of traditional stone houses. And yes, Ivatans still live there. These houses are modeled this way to withstand the strong typhoons that Batanes is quite familiar with. Truth is, Sabtang Island will not only take you back in time, but it may as well transcend you to another place. Think Irish cliffs mixed with Scandinavian villages. Hella magical. (Watch out for my post coming up pretty soon on this beautiful island of Batanes!)
Insider Tip: I haven’t personally tried it, but I heard you can stay the night at one of the stone houses. Wouldn’t that be a legit time travel experience?!
3.) Vigan, Ilocos
You can’t really go through a list of historical places without the UNESCO Heritage Site acknowledged town of Vigan. Calle Crisologo is seriously like entering a worm hole and coming out of the colonial era at its prime. It’s basically time-travel on crack.
Although Calle Crisologo isn’t too big of a street to wander, the cobble stones, the sound of the horse walking through it, and of course the ancestral Spanish-modeled homes, this place will leave your imagination running wild. I couldn’t help but picture how lovely and charming life was back in the day. It’s beauty is raw and completely classic during the day, but come night time and it’s romantic af. Outside Calle Crisologo also lies a few other historical spots such as the bell tower which is super vintage. The view at the top there is fabulous.
Insider tip: Altough it’s touristy af, get on horse carriage ride anyway for a legit time travel experience. And if you’re as crazy as we are, style yourself in vintage attire for a spectacular photo shoot.
4.) Fortune Island, Batangas
What is it about ruins that kinda gives us a bit of nostalgia for something we haven’t even personally experienced? This gorgeous abandoned island just off the coast of Nasugbu is perfect not only for those dreaming of time travel, but also for those dreaming of Greece but can’t quite afford it yet (me). Philippines is definitely no Greece, but with the ruins of the Greek pillars at the top of the hill in Fortune Island, you’ll feel like the Greek gods must have summoned you there. Faux Greek ruins, abandoned resort, creepy ghost stories, and an incredible azure beach? Whether you’re a time travel geek or not, it’s a win win place to be in.
Insider tip: Fortune Island makes an awesome camping spot. Wouldn’t it be great to wake up feeling like you’re in another time and place?
5.) Intramuros, Manila
No one likes dirty ol’ Manila but if you must spend time here, go to Intramuros to at least escape the present time for a little bit. The famed walled city of Manila isn’t as intact as Calle Crisologo. But don’t let the modern buildings surrounding it fool you. If you know where to go, you might just find yourself walking back in time. Fort Santiago‘s vintage structures especially inside what used to be a theater screams vintage and extremely colonial period. Beautiful stone walls can be seen in many corners within Intramuros and museums that holds even more keepsakes from the past are scattered around the area that are totally worth your time. (READ: The Perfect 3-Day Itinerary For A Long Layover In Manila)
Insider tip: The San Diego baluarte isn’t too known as it isn’t the main star of Intramuros, but it’s such a beautiful ruin that also has the modern city in the background. It’s a beautiful sight to see especially the contrast between old and new school meets here.
6.) Oslob, Cebu
People who come to Cebu often forget about this small town’s heritage park. It’s usually overshadowed by the magnificent whale sharks which is a shame because Oslob has one of the most beautiful ruins I’ve ever seen in the Philippines. The cuartel to be particular, is made of coral stones. Imagine how pretty the walls are literally in coral and white. It was built by the Spaniards to serve as barracks. However, construction was halted when the Americans took over. The church not too far away from the cuartel is also stunning with its well-calculated stone walls.
Insider Tip: Because the heritage park is right by the sea, come by during the late afternoon for a good breeze. After that, around merienda time (afternoon snack), lots of bbq vender line the streets in downtown area, just a short walk away from park. Let me tell you that they’re pretty damn good and your dollar will take your taste buds pretty far.
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