We still have a few weeks of summer, but just like last year, we'll be spending it at home.
In a pre-COVID world, we've already booked tickets to our favorite summer destinations months ahead—riding the waves in La Union, escaping the summer heat in Baguio City, eating street food in Hong Kong, shopping for K-beauty products in Myeongdong, South Korea, and what not.
But as we wait for the day when we'll be able to travel and, more importantly, when we'll all be vaccinated, now is the time to plan that perfect dream vacation we all deserve. This week's PhilSTAR L!fe Recommends, we list down places we love visiting during the hot summer season, hoping that, in time, summer won't be canceled.
I travelled to LU with my friends at the turn of the decade: December 29, 2019 until January 1, 2020 as a sort of "decade salubong." and even though it's a well-known tourist destination, La Union has this feeling of intimacy that the other local beaches just don't have. There's a rawness and spontaneity about the province that stuck with me—or maybe because we were a couple of scrappy 20-somethings walking around the beach at the time. Can't wait to get back on the waves!
— Saab Lariosa, content producer
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I want to go back to Panglao sooo bad! Apart from its picturesque beaches and delectable food, I also miss Donatela Resort and Sanctuary, where I stayed during my most recent Bohol trip. With only twelve luxurious air-conditioned villas, the 7.5 hectare paradise boasts of incredible views and services, among many other things that can help you recharge your mind, body, and spirit. In its official website, Donatela claims that they "treat every guest as an extended member of the family, someone to be pampered and well taken care of, whose privacy and well-being are of importance"—it's 100% true. Can't wait to take a breather there again when all of this is over!
— Brooke Villanueva, content producer
Not a far ride from Manila (or our place at Nueva Ecija), Baler has been one of our favorite go-to places when we want to beat the summer heat. Aside from the beach resorts, there are other tourist spots that you can explore in the area like museums, historical landmarks and the ice-cold waterfalls. There are also lots of eat-all-you-can places where you can indulge yourself with all kinds of their specialty cuisine, especially the seafood. Rest houses and transient rooms in Baler are also priced fairly, depending how near your place is to the beach. This is definitely the place to be if you want a quick getaway for some vitamin sea and surfing sessions!
— Danicah Lagman, social media producer
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I have only been to Siargao once with my family to attend a wedding but the experience has been one of our core memories at home. My eldest was just a toddler then but has committed the name of the place we stayed at to heart. I guess the peaceful and downtempo feeling of the place—waking up next to the beach with good food all around—that got to us, a pristine island-life charm. I also loved to run the stretch of the main road along General Luna toward the Cloud 9 surfing area.
— Bim Santos, news head
I work hard, I travel even harder. Or at least that was the way the world worked before COVID. I miss planning a long-haul trip that involves several countries, looking for airbnbs and hotels. Summer in Europe is as scorching as in the Philippines—but so different. There are free music festivals in parks, on beaches and in busy city centers. And there are the summer sales! At the tailend of a European summer in 2017, I went to several countries in the Balkans; in Hungary and Turkey. From Budapest, I flew to Sarajevo where I rented a car, and got flagged down by cops for beating the red light as soon as I got out of the airport (I played the dumb tourist card). From Bosnia and Herzegovina, I drove to Croatia, Montenegro, flew to Serbia and Macedonia, and then Turkey before going home. It was one of the best solo travels I’ve ever done (there have been many). I don’t spend a lot outside of travel and the freedom to satisfy your wanderlust during summer, when the other side of the world comes alive, is what I along with the rest of humanity miss the most.
— Tanya Lara, features head
More "experienced" travelers might consider my choice a bit basic, but I miss SIngapore. It's the first place I've been to outside the Philippines leisurely—so I view the country with a tinge of nostalgia, as if by going back there I can reclaim a piece of myself I had lost in the years that have passed. (It's a bonus that I coincidentally went there while nursing a heartbreak—cue: Whitney Houston's Where Do Broken Hearts Go here) Perhaps because of this, there are places in Singapore that I consider special: the Kinokuniya bokstore on Orchard Road, where I spent hours browsing through books; the Tiong Bahru neighborhood with cute its cafes (Tiong Bahru Bakery is a favorite) and bookstores (BooksActually had an varied selection, from books by Singaporean authors to esoteric titles); the Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice hawker stall at Maxwell Food Centre, which sells the one of the country's best chicken rice dishes (I love chicken). Travel will definitely change when international borders open up in the future. And while we wait for that (and while we pray for sufficient and adequate government response to the pandemic), all I have with me now is my memory of Singapore and all the places I've been to, where things remain unchanged.
— Chuck Smith, content producer
In our lifetime, there will be one or two unforgettable summers that would leave indelible footprints in our lives that could potentially change us, one way or another. For me, a road trip that led to the mystical island of Siquijor is one of them.
As one arrives in Siquijor, there is a waft of enchanting welcome from its turquoise waters, the warmth of its people and the adventure that awaits for one in the island.
There are many things to miss about Siquijor, an island surrounded by nature and vistas that photos and videos could never give justice to.
But what I miss most about this island is the calmness it brings to the soul, the kind where you could just find an open-for-public beach (most of the time devoid of people) tucked amidst coconut trees, hang out with your friends (or strangers) and have a front-row seat to one of the most majestic sunsets you’ll ever see in your life.
As the sun sets, you are greeted by a tapestry of pastel-colored backdrop in the horizon, a perfect way to cap your every day when you are in Siquijor, a place that charms its way into your heart in mind like an incantation on loop. In summer, memories of Siquijor always plays on repeat.
— Pinky Icamen, content producer