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The Holy Week is fast-approaching. Before we know it, the time to reflect on the passion, death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ will be upon us. As early as now, devout Catholics are already anticipating and preparing for the upcoming activities during the Lenten season (no-meat recipes and palm branches, come through).

While some choose to spend the week at home doing yoga or listening to relaxing music, others choose to take a much-deserved break away from the city. Travelers, however, seem to have the same destinations in mind every time this period of the year comes upon us. The result: overcrowding and stressful vacay.

Here are some places you would want to skip during the Holy Week (primarily because of the crowds they accumulate):

1. Puerto Galera

The Puerto Galera White Beach. Photo from The Philippines.

Puerto Galera is only three to four hours away from Manila so it’s totally understandable that people flock to this place for a quick cool off by the beach. A town in the island of Mindoro, the place is known for its dive sites and beaches. It also has an inland forest trail that leads to Talipanan Falls and a golf course. This place gets packed with locals and foreigners during Holy Week, though, so that can be a total bummer.

Alternative: San Juan, Siquijor

The clear waters of Paliton Beach in San Juan, Siquijor. Photo from Siquijor Directory.

Okay, we know this is way farther than Puerto Galera but you have to give their beaches a chance. Whether it’s Paliton, Candanay Sur, Candanay Norte, Dumanhog, or the Poblacion Siquijor beach, all these pristine beaches will make your jaw drop. More importantly, not many people travel to this area so you can enjoy the rest of your stay.

2. Sagada

The hanging coffins of Sagada. Photo from The Backpack Adventures.

We understand how That Thing Called Tadhana made you want to visit this paradise in Mountain Province (we do, too). However, pictures of an overcrowded Sagada proves that this might not be your Holy Week destination. Even local officials and travel advocates advice against it. Hotel accommodations are usually fully booked during the Lenten peak season. The influx of visitors, along with the scorching heat of summer, also take a toll on the rice terraces and Sagada’s water supply.

Alternative: Mt. Manalmon, San Miguel, Bulacan

The view from the peak of Mt. Manalmon in San Miguel, Bulacan. Photo from Kenneth Esguerra.

While Sagada offers the unique experience of seeing hanging coffins and centuries-old coffins in burial sites, Mt. Manalmon is just as good of a place if you’re looking for a mountain hike. It also offers caving activities (Madlum Cave) similar to how visitors do spelunking in Sagada’s Sumaging Cave.

3. Baguio

The Burnham Park in Baguio City. Photo from Manila Bulletin.

The days heat up during the Holy Week so people seek places with cooler weather. Tourists naturally choose Baguio, which is called the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” and rightfully so. While everyone is almost melting from 36 degrees Celsius, locals in this area enjoy temperatures as low as 15-degrees Celsius. It even hit an all-time low recently at 11.2 degrees Celsius. However, everyone visits this place during the Holy Week. We mean, every one. The traffic condition has worsened over the years, too, because of so many visitors trying to get into the city.

Alternative: Antipolo City

The Hinulugang Taktak Falls in Antipolo City. Photo from the official website of Rizal Province.

Antipolo can be (or is) just as cool as Baguio. This mountainous city is just an hour or two away from Manila and you can experience the same cool weather at 20 degrees Celsius. You can also have a bird’s eye view of nearby cities in Manila, Rizal, Marikina, and Pasig from the area’s highest points. Try visiting Cloud 9 Sports and Leisure Club for the view!

4. Boracay

Tourists flock Boracay island. Photo from Manila Bulletin.

Hailed multiple times as one of – if not the best – beaches in the world, Boracay is a favorite destination all year-round including the Lenten season. You can enjoy all the beauty its white sand beaches have to offer during the day and chill by the seashore at night with a drink of your choice in hand. The volume of visitors and the waste that it comes with, however, is allegedly starting to cause damages to the island.

Alternative: Malinao Beach, Siargao, Surigao del Norte

The ocean view of Malinao Beach in Siargao, Surigao del Norte. Photo from the website of Surigao Islands.

If you’re looking to enjoy the same white sand beach, you can head straight to Malinao Beach in Siargao, Surigao del Norte. You can walk on its white sand beaches and enjoy the silence that Boracay might not be able to offer all the time.

5. Mt. Pulag

The peak of Mt. Pulag in Benguet. Photo by Kevin Rebultan.

For adventurous mountain-hikers (and searchers of Instagram-worthy images), Mt. Pulag is the place to go. It’s the highest peak in Luzon and therefore, a part of many climbers’ bucket list. With the long break that people are about to take this upcoming Holy Week, they’ll surely put their hike shoes on and head on to this mountain. The fire that gutted parts of the National Park, will probably make your hike feel sad and incomplete. The mountain will be better off without visitors for now.

Alternative: Mt. Pinatubo

The crater of Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales. Photo from Choose Philippines.

We know Mt. Pinatubo as an active volcano but when it’s not destructive (like its eruption back in 1991), the trail can be an awesome hike for mountaineers. Beginners need not worry because it’s relatively easy, with the trek to the crater lasting for about 1.5 hours. Prepare your sunscreen, hats, and water, though, because it could get quite hot. Plus, you can go ride off-road 4×4 vehicles through a trail of lahar (a.k.a. remnants of history).


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