“Back to the Future” is arguably among the smash 1980s movie series which tickled our fantasy on the possibility of time travel. More than being entertaining, the film trilogy shoved the DeLorean car into the spotlight, and at the same churned out an amazing soundtrack which included the single “Back in Time” by Huey Lewis and the News.
The good news is, your car doesn’t need to have a 1.21-jigowatt power and run 88 mph to go back to the past. All you need is a trusty to go on a virtual journey back in time in some of the country’s most heritage villages, even as we observe National History Month this August.
Bulacan. Just north of the metro, this province boasts of its rich history and numerous well-preserved century-old ancestral homes and churches.
The provincial capital of Malolos City takes pride in being the birthplace of the First Philippine Republic, the first of its kind in Asia. It is best to park at the historic Barasoain Church and walk along the narrow Paseo del Congreso road so you can admire the old houses up close, take photographs and perhaps enter.
Its Kamestizuhan district housed the departments of the newly established government, which includes the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, which became the temporary office of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.
Culture vultures can travel back in time with the Palacio Real de Sto. Nino late this year with the conversion of two Spanish-era homes into a hotel, restaurant and an events complex.
The towns of Bulakan, Baliwag, Bustos and San Miguel also have their clusters of colonial-era homes which are must-sees whenever you’re in the area. The latter, named after the famous archangel, is known for its chicharon, pastillas and the Biak-na-Bato National Park, the site of the revolutionary republic, and an adventure zone.
Bulacan also boasts of its food scene with home-grown restaurants serving traditional delicacies and snacks, thus making time travel a multi-sensory experience. There are also a number of swimming pool, farm and garden-themed resorts where you can laze around with family and friends.
Negros Occidental. The country’s “sugar capital” with its vast sugar cane plantations, is also regarded as a heritage province with its checkered past embedded into its vibrant present.
Just a few minutes after driving out of the airport, you will be greeted by the Old World charm of Silay City, monikered as “Paris of the East” because of its European ambiance. This quaint city is also regarded as a “museum town” with its ancestral mansions which are now open to the public to showcase the genteel lifestyle of the olden days.
A must-visit is the Balay Negrense which best captures the way of life of the sugar barons and the local elite and Farmacia Locsin, a recreation of the drug store which played a crucial part in an uprising in 1898 which helped end Spanish rule in Negros.
Sink your teeth on heirloom dishes and snacks at El Ideal, a bakery-resto which has become the sentinel of Silay’s culinary culture, or sip coffee at Larga Café while admiring at its antediluvian interiors.
In neighboring Talisay City is the Lacson Ruins, the province’s most iconic landmark, which has become a favorite haunt for a nostalgic merienda, dinner, prenuptial pictorials, or simply social media snapshots.
The provincial capital of Bacolod City is a merry mix of old and new with the colonial-era edifices standing side-by-side with commercial properties and township projects by property developers.
Down south is Bago City, where Balay ni Tan Juan, the house museum of revolutionary leader Gen. Juan Araneta still proudly stands.
Dapitan City. Dubbed as “Shrine City,” this obscure coastal town in Zamboanga del Norte was unceremoniously shoved into prominence when Dr. Jose Rizal was exiled here by Spain in July 1892 for organizing a reform-oriented group. He spent four lonely but productive years rendering service and introducing technologies unknown yet to the community, and left it a better place than when he arrived.
Must-see places are Rizal Shrine where the national hero spent his deportation, the St. James Church where he went to Mass, the Mindanao relief map which he made, the Dapitan Heritage Zone, and the Punto del Desembarco bronze tableau park where he docked 130 years ago.
The city is also a magnet for adventurers as it became the starting point of Mindanao Confederation of Big Bikes Club’s recent Heritage Ride, as well as other motorcycle groups doing their southern loop.