Biak na Bato National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan.

Freedom Day getaways

Biak na Bato National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan.

With the long Independence Day weekend ahead of us, wanderlusts are already gearing up for another getaway with family and friends. The good thing is we don’t have to look far and burn tires for long drives to mark this special 125th year of independence, and it is a cool idea to blend our patriotic duty with recreation.

For some travel ideas, we just need to look at the eight rays of the sun in our national flag which represent the provinces that prominently figured in the Philippine Revolution against Spain in the late 19th century. Below are some of these valiant provinces which offer a unique blend of history and culture, cuisine and nature.

Cavite. The epicenter of the revolution and proclamation of independence, its iconic spot is the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit where the momentous event unfolded in 1898. Aside from this all-too-familiar landmark, historic places in the vicinity include the St. Magdalene Church, Battle of Binakayan Site, and Baldomero Aguinaldo Shrine.

Cavite City, the colonial-era provincial capital, is reclaiming its glory days being home to the Spanish-era naval base and fortress Fort San Felipe, the famed 13 Martyrs, Samonte Park, Porta Vaga Church, and ancestral homes of patriotic ilustrados.

This old city is also creating a name in the food scene with Café Antix which is oozing with Old World allure and offers traditional comfort food, pizza, pasta, spirits, and lots of antique conversation pieces.

The frontier towns of Indang, Alfonso, and Maragondon, are now hubs of farm tourism sites, cozy garden homes, and intimate concept dining spots. The latter, where Andres Bonifacio was tried and executed, is a travel hotspot with its river cruise, Pantihan Falls, powdery beaches, roadside restos, and handwoven and bamboo crafts.

Good Food Farm at the Battle of Maimpis River site in Magdalena, Laguna

Laguna. Jose Rizal’s birthplace, the province abounds in natural springs which continue to lure travelers with its variety of hot or cold spring resorts situated around the foot of Mt. Makiling and Mt. Banahaw.

Adventurers will love Lumban and Cavinti whose upland portions in Lakes Caliraya and Lumot are now glamping and motor camping hotspots.

Magdalena is monikered as “Little Hollywood” because of its charming población and the St. Magdalene Church where many old films were shot. Situated within the Good Food Farm, a tropical-themed vegetable garden resort, is Maimpis River where Emilio Jacinto was critically wounded in a battle with the Spaniards.

Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna’s postcard image, is a must-see for the breathtaking shooting the rapids experience. The mid-1800s provincial capital, Pagsanjan is now emerging as a gastronomy center with its fusion restaurants.

Taal Maranan Farmville

Batangas. Dotted with ancestral houses, its most notable destination is Taal which is regarded as a heritage village with the massive St. Martin of Tours Basilica, barong embroidery, balisong fan knife, and mouth-watering local dishes. Travel back to the 1800s and dress up in period costumes for a vintage-looking portrait or spend the night in old houses repurposed into boutique lodgings.

After a museum overload, unwind at Taal Maranan Farmville, a pet-friendly family resort and relish its healthy farm-to-table delights.

The lakeshore towns of Tanauan, Talisay and Laurel are lined with quaint resorts with a mesmerizing view of the Taal Lake and Volcano, while Nasugbu, Calatagan, Balayan and San Juan boast of powdery beaches which witnessed Second World War’s key events.

Pizza varieties at Cafe Antix in Cavite City.

Bulacan. This has the unique distinction of being the birthplace of three republics—Kakarong de Sili in Pandi, Biak na Bato in San Miguel, and the First Republic in Malolos which made us a full-fledged nation. The latter is home to the iconic Barasoain Church, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Casa Real Shrine and Kamestizuhan district which became Aguinaldo’s presidential headquarters until the Filipino-American War.

The 659-hectare Biak na Bato National Park which straddles San Miguel and Dona Remedios Trinidad, which became Aguinaldo’s hideout, is now a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Embedded within the battlefields of Plaridel, Baliwag, and San Rafael are new townships, recreational centers, and theme parks which will take you closer to history.

With the confluence of history and hideaways, celebrating Independence Day has just become more exciting.