Dakak Park and Resort in Dapitan
Dakak Park and Resort in Dapitan

When the program Don’t Tell My Mother” started airing on National Geographic Adventure TV a few years back, I just can’t help but follow the exciting series about French journalist Diego Buñuel’s forays into the “scariest” places around the globe.

I fully understand to every mother’s apprehension when her children go to a destination where there seems to be a clear and present danger, real or imagined. When I started traveling in the 1990s, I didn’t tell my mother I was going to areas she considered risky.

Below are serendipitous locations you can bring your mom this Mother’s Day and beyond, and shatter the myth of the so-called dangerous destinations.

Zamboanga. Dubbed as “Asia’s Latin City,” its fearsome reputation can be partly blamed to its being used as a dateline by the media when filing kidnap-for-ransom stories in its neighboring island provinces. Truth be told, this quaint Castillan-influenced city is a safe and quiet getaway which can spring up surprises which meticulous moms will enjoy. The city is home to several military camps and it is but a common sight to see military personnel doing routine security measures.

If it’s your lucky day, you will be welcomed at the airport’s arrival area with a dance troupe swaying to the lilting folk song “No Te Vayas de Zamboanga” which will instantly banish your fear factor.

Must-sees are the iconic Fort Pilar which houses the image of the city’s patroness on its walls. Inside it is the restored Spanish-era fortress whose most parts is occupied by the National Museum.

Beside it is Paseo Del Mar, a public civic center and seaside open space which pulsates as a nocturnal touristic street food colony for local delicacies, including the refreshing “knickerbocker” which is like a halo-halo minus the shaved ice.

Once Islas in Zamboanga City

The Paseo is also the jump-off to the idyllic island of Sta. Cruz Grande, which is reputed for its pinkish sand, crystalline water, lush marine life, and a lagoon with a rich wetland.

For a beach overload, hie off to the Once Islas, a chain of 11 islets which can be reached via Panubigan port north of the city proper. The mini-archipelago hosted the first leg of the ZamPen Open Water Swim Circuit which positioned the Zamboanga Peninsula region as ripe for aquasports tourism.

And while you’re at it, you might as well do a road trip along the equally charming Zamboanga provinces (Sibugay, Del Sur and Del Norte) and spend the night in each to break the long journey. Save the best for last and pamper mom at the luxe Dakak Beach Park in Dapitan City which will host the final run of the Swim Circuit on May 28.

Negros Oriental. This province, which is used to basking in the limelight for its natural wonders, has been talked of the town again for the wrong reason. Despite the governor’s brazen assassination, it is far from the Wild, Wild, West people may be imagining, and remains generally peaceful.

Its capital, Dumaguete, lives up to its moniker of “City of Gentle People” and continues to lure retirees with its blend of rustic and modern living which will surely charm old-soul mothers. It boasts of the scenic and nostalgic Rizal Boulevard where national hero Dr. Jose Rizal made a stopover en route to Manila after his exile in Dapitan.

This bayside road is dotted with old houses repurposed into intimate tourist establishments, and the Pantawan Park, which has a Spanish galleon-themed Quincentennial landmark to mark its part in Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition in 1521. The 2-hectare public plaza is a hive for outdoor recreation, al fresco dining, and civic activities.

A few paces away is the newly opened National Museum branch which used to be the former municipal hall, the postcard-pretty St. Catherine Cathedral, and the sprawling Silliman University which all lend the city an Old World charm.

The author biking at Dumaguete’s Pantawan Park

Visit the mountain-top Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park and paddle across the picturesque and placid lake, situated 30 minutes to the north in Sibulan.

To the east is Valencia, the province’s “summer capital” situated at the bosom of Mt. Talinis and a haven for cyclists, hikers, foodies, and day trippers. The Greek-themed Tierra Alta, The Forest Camp, Pulangbato Falls, and other spring resorts can provide mom a rejuvenating bath.

For sun, sea and sand, there are the beaches of Bacong and Zamboanguita, Apo Island in Dauin, Manjuyod Sandbar, and Bais Bay, which is known for dolphin watching.

In Pamplona town, locals and tourists are returning to the roadside dining spots, farm resorts to feel the cool breeze and be mesmerized by the foggy mountainscape. An enviable spot is Café Alicia, an Instagrammable café, resort and events place owned by the late governor and just about a hundred meters away from the grisly murder.

With the allure of these places, you should tell your mother you’re going there and you’ll be taking her along.

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