81 Provinces in the Philippines | Finally, 81 of 81
In the summer of 2018, Catanduanes finally sealed my personal quest to complete all of the 81 provinces in the Philippines. Of course, I was so happy because it took me 33 years to finish this. Finally, I could fire that long-dreamt hashtag, 81of81.
Here’s a jumpshot photo taken at Cagnipa Rolling Hills in Pandan to celebrate that moment.
This dream of visiting all the 81 provinces in the Philippines began when I decided to live a life of travel in 2014. It was the time when I left my corporate job & started full time in blogging. But my travel lifestyle goes a long way back in the 90s when I was still active in the theater. That opportunity brought me to so many stages & performance halls in & out of the country.
Add about 15 years of traveling for work in the 2000s. Plus my seemingly non-stop journeys as a travel blogger since 2014. All these combined, truly make up a great deal of travel memories.
81 Provinces in the Philippines: Lessons & Inspirations
Yes, many travelers may have done this kind of travel goal shorter than what I achieved in three decades. In fact, some of the ones I know did it in just 3, 5, 10 years — mostly content creators.
But I prefer to travel slow or return to places I always feel deep connections with. I love the excitement of being anonymous in a new town. Or when the community treats you like a local after your nth visit.
But then again, this is just me. You may have your own travel styles.
If you’re dreaming of doing the same someday, here are some thoughts to prepare you for this lifetime commitment to see all of the 81 provinces in the Philippines.
Travel is Not a Race
Travel is not a race — so does seeing the Philippines. Take it one place at a time, one experience at a moment. Do not rush because the truth is, no one really cares if you completed it in shortest time. Besides, you’d lose the magic when you force things to happen.
Sure, we could easily hop on a bus from the waves of La Union to the sand dunes of Paoay. But I tell you now, there’s an old-school, super yummy bagnet in an eatery in Narvacan. Yes, you may speed to Calle Crisologo in Vigan but didn’t you know that one of the best places to sample local food is at the back of St. Paul Cathedral?
You can’t do these when you travel at breakneck speed. Not only you’re missing out on the details of the place, it is also terribly exhausting.
Forget About the Counter
Don’t let your counter dominate your travel goals. Instead, keep it as an inspiration. Try to experience as many towns as you possibly can before you move to the next province.
Honestly, there are no rules on what’s counted or not. Personally, I only tick-off a place on my bucketlist when I am able to experience the highlights of the province. Say, local delicacies, fiestas, sights and everything else that matter.
Get as Much Experience as You Can
Barely scraping one town is not seeing the entire province. Merely stepping on the terminal or crossing through its border is not even close to claiming you’ve been to that place. Travel is all about experience — something new, familiar, weird, thrilling and common.
Yes, I ogled at the lighthouse in Basco. But the heritage town of Savidug in Sabtang also brought me to a time-locked trance. Then there’s the rocky adventures up in the northernmost inhabited island in the Philippines called Itbayat. Or that one rare chance of witnessing the Kapayvanuvanua fishing ritual in Diura.
There are many ways to experience a place. However you do it, savour every moment. Bring home wonderful memories & share your stories.
Be a Responsible Tourist
Our country is beautiful. And it is also fragile. So, let’s help in keeping it clean. As visitors, it is our responsibility to respect our hosts’ environment & their culture. We adjust — not the other way around.
We leave our carbon footprints as we travel around the 81 provinces in the Philippines. But we can lessen its impact when we experience the fun — wonderfully responsible.
Learn to Embrace New Cultures
The Philippines is culturally diverse as much as there are islands spread across the archipelago. Take this chance to understand the similarities as well as the peculiarities of Filipino cultures.
My travel memories aren’t only about the fantastic beaches in Palawan or finding new getaways in Leyte. It’s also about navigating the lost royal world of the torogans in Lanao del Sur. Or it’s something about the aspirations of the kid surfers of Sorsogon.
Feeling the local culture is what excites me the most in travel. It is the reason that I keep returning to it over and over. Camiguin is one of those that I adore so much.
Tell Your Story
You’ll never run out of stories to tell when you journey around the 81 provinces in the Philippines. From exciting festivals & food escapes to jaw-dropping sights & adrenaline-kicking adventures, we just have wonderful excesses of it.
Share your stories. Be the best ambassador of the littlest town or the remotest island. Tell the world what wonders await us. Take us to a trip through your experiences & inspire us to see more of the 81 provinces in the Philippines!
In all these years of travelling, I can say it’s only the counting that’s finished but the journey is far from over. And more than physically completing it are the valuable learnings I gained from constantly moving around this amazingly beautiful country.