Four absolute gems of the Philippines. 

14 Months in the Philippines, 10 terrabyte of photos and videos, 4 messed up lenses and a broken camera. But boy, I had fun and shot a lot of great footage with my cameras and drone! It sure is ‘More Fun in the Philippines‘. I had done my research, so I knew what to expect, but I didn’t expect my 4 month trip to turn into a 14 month trip. The country is incredible, this movie is an ode to the wonderful landscapes of my four favorite places, Palawan, Batanes, Siargao and Batad, true gems of the Philippines!

I should note, I didn’t travel all the time to new locations. I based myself in Siargao for 10 months and did several trips during that time. Thanks to my long stay at Siargao, I was able to spend a lot of time capturing the Milky Way and lightning storms. I tell you, those shots don’t come easy!

Take a few minutes to enjoy these scenes of the Philippines!

About the locations

Of all places I visited, these 4 were the ones that stuck out most. Each is completely different from the others and show a glimpse of the variety of locations this underrated country has to offer.

Coron (aerial)

Gems of the Philippines: Coron

Coron, but Coron island in particular, is one of the most incredible location I’ve ever seen, anywhere, even on tv! It is amazing from the boat, stopping at the stunning lagoons for a swim, snorkeling and diving at shipwrecks and lakes. But from the sky, with my drone, it’s even more incredible as it reveals the 7 hidden and sacred lakes. There are plenty of places to visit at Coron and you can do several full day boat-trips to see them.

As far as I’ve seen, Coron island is the real gem, of all of Palawan. Coron is also famous for being one of the best wreck-diving sites in the world, thanks to the many Japanese ships that were sunk by the USA. Wreck-diving here (deeper dives though) was one of the best things I’ve ever done!

El Nido (aerial) - Island hopping

Gems of the Philippines: El Nido

El Nido (Travel Guide / Island hopping / Nacpan Beach) is the most popular location of Palawan, for good reason. It’s anything but a secret anymore, but that doesn’t spoil the fun. Organizing your own trip though with some friends (or strangers) pays off, you’ll get to avoid the big crowds. You’ll need at least 4 days to visit all the locations this place has to offer, from ‘secret’ lagoons to ‘hidden’ beaches and more.

View on Mt Iraya from the Rolling Hills, see the UFO cloud that appeared the day I arrived. For 18 days I was hoping to witness it again, but never did. Glad I arrived when I did. I had only ever witnessed this on other photos and felt so lucky to see it, especially at this beautiful place.

Gems of the Philippines: Batanes

Batanes is named ‘last frontier of the north’. This ‘Scotland of the Philippines’ is a hidden little paradise like no other. The group of 10 islands lie right in the area where typhoons rage. Visiting this island comes with windy challenges like to other place I know, boats and planes get cancelled all the time thanks to weather conditions. The only way to get there is to catch a flight from Manila. But once you’re there, you’ll wish the plane gets cancelled.

The wonderful local people that I stayed with and met, made the experience one that touched my heart. Life here is at it should be. Simple, friendly & honest. ‘The land provides, if you’re willing to work, you’ll have food’ is how they think. People here even hang the key on the outside, imagine that. They have a shop called the Honesty Store, where no one works. You write down what you take and put the money in a box.

La Janusa, Siargao, Philippines

Gems of the Philippines: Siargao

Siargao is the stuff from Pirates of the Caribbean. I spend many days on a deserted island drinking rum with friends, shooting photos of a firedancer under the Milky Way and timelapses of lightning storms. Where else can you call your boat-guy Rogelio to drop you off at a deserted island and, of course, pick you up the next morning! This place is paradise, but you need to get out on trips to find all those stunning lagoons, coves, rockpools, islands, empty white sand beaches and so on.

Batad, Philippines (aerial panorama)

Gems of the Philippines: Batad

Batad is a truly hidden gem, hiding in the mountain tops of northern Philippines. There are no roads to this village, which has no traffic whatsoever, only stairs, endless stairs. The Batad terraces are located higher than any other rice terraces, with steeper walls than any other place. These 2000 year old terraces were built by the Ifugao people, headhunters in their time. Due to their remote location, culture has been preserved here, unlike the rest of the country which got turned into Catholics by the Spanish.

The walking path to get here now is only about 30 minutes, compared to 4 hours a few years ago. Although you can visit Batad during a day trip, spending a few nights here might be one of the choices you’ll make during your trip. Without traffic, internet or even phone, this place is pure peace, with only the sound of the wind and children playing. And every now then the disturbance of some using a machine 😉

Visit the Philippines section in my blog for all my posts. Don’t miss the video wall and portfolio!

Music

‘Olympia’ by Simon Wilkinson, www.thebluemask.com

Gear

Shot with a Nikon D700, D750, D800, 14-24/2.8, 20/1.8, 50/1.4/16/2.8 fisheye, 28-300/3.5-5.6. DJI Mavic Pro drone. Syrp Genie mini.

Read more about the gear I use for these movies at the Gear section!

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