// MY NAME IS DANIELAnd after years of dreaming I've sold everything I own and set off on the open road. I've made this site as a sort of photo journal of my travels. The map shows where I've been (red), where I've stayed a month or more (yellow), and where I plan to go (white). And so, armed with little more than a backpack, a camera, and a dream, I now take the road less traveled by. So it goes.
MANILA I arrived in the Philippines via a flight from Hong Kong, where I had been living for a few months. I found Manila to be a bit hectic and chaotic, which the photos below probably don't convey (I found what few little gems of beauty I could). Inside the city of Manila is a smaller walled city called Intramuros, which was the original Spanish city founded in 1571 (though indigenous peoples had a settlement here dating back to the 1200s). The Spanish ruled the Philippines for 333 years, and then the US ruled for several decades during its own imperialist phase (there was even a Philippine-American War in 1899 to overthrow the US and gain independence, but that war was lost and the Philippines would not gain independence until after WW2).
BANAUE Once out of Manila, I realized just how beautiful the Philippines truly are. In Banaue is the "Eighth Wonder of the World", the rice terraces constructed nearly 2000 years ago. The first photo is the town of Banaue itself, but further down you'll see the tiny villages of Batad and Bangaan, whose rice terraces are both UN World Heritage sites. You'll also see a rice deity totem and a man in local indigenous clothing. The Philippines is actually a collection of hundreds of islands, home to roughly 175 different ethnic groups, many with their own languages.
VIGAN Continuing to the far north of the island of Luzon, I arrived at another World Heritage Site, the colonial era city of Vigan. The Spanish founded the city in 1572, though there was already a Chinese colonial settlement here called 'Bee Gan' which is Hokkien (Min Chinese) for 'beautiful shore'. Today it is the best preserved colonial city in the Philippines and perhaps in all of Asia.
BAGUIO Having traversed a large part of Luzon island, I started back to Manila, this time stopping in Baguio on the way. There was a small Ibaloi village here originally, but the town was officially founded in 1900 by the United States as a summer retreat away from the heat of Manila (such towns are generally called 'hill stations' in Asia). Located in the mountains at 4810 feet (1470 meters) above sea level, it's a city of pine trees and not the brutal tropical heat of much of the rest of the country. You'll also notice the colorful buses, called jeepneys in the Philippines. And with that, it was time to go.