This Pinay From Cebu Has Traveled To All 81 Provinces Of The Philippines
Nicole Marie del Rosario spent many summer vacations as a kid going on road trips to Baguio or Albay, where her grandmother lives. These early travels with her family stoked the fires of adventure inside her, so much so that by the time she graduated from college, she started going off on her own trips.
“I just wanted to travel with friends since I wasn’t allowed before,” she tells Esquire Philippines in an interview. “That’s when I started doing backpacking trips across provinces and I decided that it would be my goal to visit all 81 provinces.”
Nicole, who is originally from Cebu but currently lives in Manila, is now 26 years old and working as a risk analyst for a bank. She says that it was during a backpacking trip with some friends in the Cordillera Region that she decided to launch Project81PH, her personal goal of setting foot on all the provinces of the country.
“I just thought that the Philippines is so beautiful and I wanted to see firsthand what our country has to offer,” she says. “So why not explore our country from Batanes, down to Tawi-Tawi?"
That was in 2015. Of course, by that time, she had already ticked off several items in her list, provinces she had already visited with family and friends. She finally reached her goal this 2019 and posted about it on social media, which has since gone viral.
Del Rosario had already said in a previous interview that Batanes and Palawan are two of her favorite provinces, and both are places she wouldn’t mind revisiting.
“Batanes has always been my dream destination and seeing its beautiful landscapes—from Marlboro Hills in Batan, Tinyan Viewpoint in Sabtang to Rapang Hills in Itbayat, with my very own eyes for the first time—is my favorite experience,” she says. “Palawan isn’t far behind because of the many islands and beaches you can visit: from Kayangan Lake in Coron, the longest beach in San Vicente, to Onuk Island in Balabac.”
The travel junkie also shared other memorable experiences from her 81-province sojourn.
“One of the longest travels I experienced was going to Calayan Island in Cagayan. Going there is an adventure itself! You have to endure a 12-hour drive from Manila to Claveria and take a six-hour boat ride to Calayan, braving the treacherous conditions of the Babuyan Channel. This trip is not really for the faint of heart. However, walking on the shores of Sibang Cove and hiking the nearby Nagudungan Hill to watch the sunset makes it all worth it. Calayan is a hidden gem of a travel destination that you’ll get to enjoy by yourself.
“Another memorable trip is the Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi backpacking,” she adds. “A common misconception is that traveling to these islands is very dangerous. But the people we met there were very friendly and accommodating in touring us around. These three island provinces have their own charm and raw beauty, and I hope one day the stigma that these places are unsafe would be broken.”
Those three provinces in Mindanao, as well as Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and Lanao del Sur, were the last provinces on Del Rosario's Project81PH list, all of which she was able to visit in one big backpacking trip in June this year.
Nicole says she often travels with friends since it’s much cheaper to travel in groups. “I am usually the one who invites and plans the trips,” she says. “I did travel solo once (in Camiguin) and I had the best time! I made it a goal to travel solo and it was definitely a memorable experience.”
Of course, traveling isn’t all happy and fun. There have been times, she admits, when she encountered hardships during her trips.
“It’s not always comfortable and convenient to backpack. Sometimes, you’ll get stranded due to bad weather, miss the last bus going to your next destination or even be a chance passenger and sleep on the floor of the boat just to reach the next province.
“But that’s what makes the trips more memorable. I just deal with these hardships and consider them as part of the whole traveling experience. After all, there is a sense of accomplishment after going through all these obstacles.”
There are a couple of lessons she’s learned from her travels. One is that it’s always good to invest on ourselves and on experiences while we’re young. “Adventure is right out there!” she says. “Second is that I got to appreciate our country more. The Philippines is very diverse and that’s what makes it beautiful. I really hope that we love our own country and choose to travel the Philippines first.”
Now that she’s scratched off that travel goal, Nicole says she’s keen on traveling the Philippines some more, as well as visit places outside the country. “There are still a lot of places I haven’t visited but would like to see, like El Nido in Palawan and Sibuyan in Romblon. In 2020, my travel goal is to do backpacking trips in Southeast Asia.”
This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.
What're you up to today? Submit your OOTD, fanfic, essay, school project, org event, a pic of your latest hobby, or anything you want to be posted on the Candy Bulletin page!
First. Pixie dust and paper cuts – these are the first things Wendy knew about Peter Pan. Aurora first met Prince Philip when she was sixteen. Learning how to ride a bike was also a first while I was growing up, but you are probably the first of too many. The first collection of dust and stars; maybe Luna will try to ask, who was your first? I might answer and tell her that it was you.
The first of too many stars in the sky. You are the first of too many fallen leaves during fall – and you will be the most anticipated snowflake as winter comes. A dark path that you can’t see without any light, hence, you were once the moon and there are the stars that shine so bright at night. Are we too early? Or we just really want to be ahead of time? Even in a glimpse, I would like to see the two of us connect as if we can reach the sky. There are other parts of the heavens you have never saw and other oceans you haven’t laid your feet onto – but the constellations will always wait for you. Close your eyes, love, close your eyes. Start counting backward: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Count backward until you see the twinkling lights that will guide you to the right path. To the right satellite; to the right person. A first.
There are many firsts – first love, first heartbreak, first sport you played, the first thing you do in the morning, the first thing you remember about the person in front of you. There are a lot. It’s actually up to us how we will consider something as a first. So, Primo, you are already a first of too many.
If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.
And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.
Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.
Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”