In this day and age where people seem to be fixated on their careers and have their eyes glued to their gadgets, spending quality time with loved ones is almost like the last thing on their to-do list.
Christmas is perhaps the only time of the year when families truly get together to celebrate the magic of the occasion, and oftentimes, they spend these precious moments having movie marathons or going on a jolly Christmas getaway.
If you and your family are into these bonding activities, why not combine your love for watching movies and traveling together by visiting destinations in the Philippines where your favorite movies were filmed? Here are some scenic filming locations that could make you feel like the star of your own movie.
Kiltepan Viewpoint from That Thing Called Tadhana
Where do broken hearts go? Starring Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzman, That Thing Called Tadhana centers on how a brokenhearted woman and a man she met at an airport decide to explore various places in the Philippines together.
One of the local spots featured in the film is the Kiltepan Viewpoint, a hilltop lookout point in Sagada where you can experience panoramic sunrise views over surrounding mountains and rice terraces. You'll definitely feel the chill of the Christmas season with the lookout point's invigorating blow of cold winds.
In one of its most memorable scenes, Angelica's character belts out all her heartache from a cliff in a therapeutic moment. You can also follow in her footsteps in a different way—by yelling out your loudest "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" as a family.
Guevarra's by Chef Laudico from Starting Over Again
Your Christmas celebration would not be complete without having a Noche Buena feast. It's the dinner of all dinners as it's the moment when families come together to express their gratitude for all the good things that have happened throughout the year.
While it's tradition to have your Noche Buena feast at home, there's no sin in celebrating it outside the comfort of your house, like Guevarra's by Chef Laudico.
A go-to venue for events, get-togethers, and celebrations in San Juan, Metro Manila, Guevarra's had been featured in the 2014 romantic drama Starting Over Again, which follows Toni Gonzaga and Piolo Pascual as two former lovers who got reunited. Guevarra's served as the restaurant of Piolo's character in the film.
The Filipino-themed buffet restaurant radiates a classic and homey ambiance that results in a unique dining experience. It offers a selection of classic and modern Filipino dishes such as Angus Beef Tapa, Bellychon, Grilled Pancit Bam-I, and Party Spaghetti.
Paoay Church from Suddenly It's Magic
Another tradition practiced by Filipinos in anticipation of Christmas is the Simbang Gabi. After all, amid the excitement of opening presents and having the Noche Buena feast, the holiday is still centered around the birth of Jesus Christ.
If you're looking for a church that has some spectacular historical architecture to have your devotional nine-day masses, then look no further than Paoay Church.
Located in Ilocos Norte, the church will let you relive the Philippines' Spanish colonial era because of its Baroque style of architecture, which made it a cultural treasure as it is designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The church served as one of the shooting locations of the 2012 romantic film Suddenly It's Magic, which stars Erich Gonzales and Mario Maurer as two star-crossed lovers whose love story is tested by conflicts from their worlds.
University of Santo Tomas from One More Chance
Regarded as one of the most unforgettable Filipino romantic movies of all time, One More Chance revolves around Popoy and Basha who entered a romantic relationship in their college days, which later turned tumultuous over the years because of their ambitions in life.
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) is a prominent setting in the film as it's where Popoy and Basha's romance bloomed, and where they also parted ways as friends in a bittersweet moment.
A bonding session at UST can also be a good addition to your Christmas plans. Because of its annual tradition to decorate its campus with festive lights and ornaments as the month of December rolls in, the university is hailed as one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country.
The Christmas activities culminate with Paskuhan, its annual schoolwide event that welcomes the Christmas season for all Thomasians. Unfortunately, this year's edition will only be open to Thomasians, including alumni, but you can still visit the campus to admire the Christmas decorations prior to that.