When planning for a travel vacation, seeing the Philippines’ magnificent beaches is frequently at the top of the priority. However, in addition to its clear waters and fine, powdery sands, our tropical country is also home to a natural park and a number of historically significant cultural and ecological sites.
Nine of the Philippines’ top tourist destinations have received recognition worldwide and are now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In terms of importance for conservation, they range from the well-preserved Historic City of Vigan from the Spanish era in Ilocos Sur to the Rice Terraces of the Philippines in the Cordillera region of North Luzon.
You can travel across the Philippine islands by visiting all of these locations, which will offer you a more in-depth understanding of the heritage of the various regions. It’s time to broaden your horizons! Here are some of the famous cultural attractions that should be on your bucket list!
Heritage Sites in Areas of Luzon
First things first! Let’s get to know the world heritage site sites located in Luzon (mainly Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bataan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Batangas, and Camarines Sur). The biggest island in the Philippines, Luzon, has a varied terrain and rich cultural history. Luzon provides a variety of natural wonders, historical relics, baroque churches, cultural destinations, and commercial centers, from the green rice terraces and towering mountains to bustling cities and immaculate beaches.
1. Fort Santiago (Metro Manila)
One of Manila’s first barriers, Fort Santiago, was constructed by the Spanish in 1571 on the site of Rajah Soliman’s palisaded fortress made of logs and earth in the Maynila native village. The colonizers understood the strategic importance of the land tongue where the Pasig River entered Manila Bay. In 1574, during the Chinese attack headed by Limahong, the fort was demolished. The stone fort was constructed between 1589 and 1592, and after being destroyed by the earthquake of 1645, it was expanded and repaired. The fort served as the headquarters for the Spanish, British, American, and Japanese occupation troops as well as a detention facility for soldiers, civilians, and minors.
2. Rizal Shrine (Calamba, Laguna)
“Bahay na Bato” (rock shelter) or a typical middle-class home during the Spanish colonial era, is what the house is called. The house’s exterior has been freshly painted in an eye-catching shade of green that makes it stand out. According to legend, Jose Rizal’s surname is symbolized by the green color. Once you get inside, you’ll notice that the building is of a traditional style, with narra flooring, capiz shell windows, and a red ceramic roof.
On the bottom floor, you may find the workroom, food supply room, and servants’ quarters. It includes artifacts from Jose Rizal’s life, spanning his youth and maturity. The home’s ground level was first constructed as a horse stable. It currently houses Rizal’s writings, diplomas, and other items.
The family’s bedrooms, library, dining room, and bathrooms have traditionally been located on the second floor. Previously, their backyard was home to a variety of plants and fruits, including atis, santol, makopa, plum, and kasoy. Additionally, there existed a tiny nipa hut, which was rumored to have served as the national hero’s childhood hiding place.
The family was forced to leave their own home in 1890 after a dispute with the friars. At that point, the demolition work began. Thankfully, National Artist Juan F. Nakpil rebuilt the house in 1950 with the aid of donations from students. Visit this beautiful shrine and learn more about Philippine history.
3. Barasoain Church (Bulacan)
The First Philippine Republic’s Constitutional Convention was held at the Barasoain Church, a well-known church in the ancient town of Malolos. In addition to independence and democracy, its Historical Landmarks History Museum is steadfastly committed to preserving the results of the Philippine-Spanish Revolution. From every province in Bulacan, a collection of religious artifacts can be found in the city’s ecclesiastical museum.
4. Capas National Shrine (Tarlac)
It was the end of the famous Death March that began in Bataan, and the memorial was constructed to pay unwavering tribute to the warriors who fought and risked their lives during World War II. The 200-foot-tall obelisk that serves as the focal point of the shrine is surrounded by a circular Wall of Heroes that lists the names of unsung heroes. The regulatory signal beacons are put atop the obelisk to signify the pinnacle of Filipino nationalism and its ambition for peace and independence. The need-like tower has three pieces that represent the Filipino, American, and Japanese people. The location was first formed as Camp O’Donnel in 1940 as a center for training Filipino youth in the military. Each tree along the pathway leading to the shrine is a symbol of a soldier who gave his life in service to the Filipino people.
Read more about Top Historical and Pilgrimage Sites to Visit in Tarlac
Heritage Sites in Areas of Visayas
It’s time to explore the beautiful island of Visayas! Visayas is made up of seven major islands and a huge number of smaller ones that are grouped together around the Visayan, Samar, and Camotes seas. Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Masbate, Negros, Panay, and Samar are the seven major islands.
People are familiar with Visayas because of its waterfalls, dive sites, and immaculate beaches. Along with its natural beauty, Visayas is a historical region. There is historical proof that the Malay people, one of the country’s early civilizations, arrived in Visayas first.
1. Magellan Cross (Mactan, Cebu)
Magellan’s Cross is deeply ingrained in Cebu’s history. It is thought that the Portuguese and Spanish explorers, led by Ferdinand Magellan, placed a Christian cross there. On March 15, 1521, when they arrived in Cebu, it was planted. On that day, Christianity was also introduced to the country.
The original cross was being chipped away because the ancient people thought it had extraordinary healing properties. Government officials allegedly felt compelled to wrap it in another wooden cross made of tindalo as a result. It is presently kept in a modest chapel. However, there are rumors that the original cross was lost or vanished after Magellan’s passing.
2. Silliman University (Dumaguete)
The first American university in the Philippines is Silliman University, a private research institution in Dumaguete. In 1901, the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions established it. It is also a well-known landmark and is typically included in a Dumaguete tour due to the variety of interesting buildings it has.
The Silliman Hall was constructed next to the old edifice, which has since been demolished, in the early 1900s, two years after Silliman University was founded. The Stick form of construction was used for building the structure. The fact that it is the oldest surviving American building in the nation is even more astounding.
Archaeological artifacts from rare and irreplaceable collections are also on show at the Silliman University Anthropology Museum. You can find archaeological finds from Negros and sections of Mindanao as well as ethnographic objects from numerous indigenous communities across the nation in this area.
3. MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National Park
Along with its outstanding natural and cultural treasures, Leyte is well-known for its numerous historical sites, including the MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National Park. It honors the famous General Douglas MacArthur’s remark “I Shall Return” which fundamentally altered the course of the war, making it one of the most important historical sites in the nation and a vital symbol of our nation’s victory in World War II. The Filipino people and the American soldiers he left behind were inspired and inspired by that same remark. General MacArthur’s arrival on the Leyte shores served as a symbol of the Philippines’ eventual return to independence.
Heritage Sites in Areas of Mindanao
Aside from visiting Mindanao because it produces the biggest pomelos, pineapples, and bananas in the world and boasts a wealth of natural resources and a wide variety of fish, corals, and pearls and the tourist attraction, the Philippine eagle, you can also visit Mindanao because of its beautiful cultural attractions or heritage sites.
1. Kampo Juan’s Heritage House (Bukidnon)
Dr. Juan Acosta, a pioneer in pineapple plant breeding, named Kampo Juan. It has gained popularity since it first opened in April 2011 for its eco-adventure park and extreme sports like cycling, ziplining, and rappelling. Dr. Neric Acosta brought an ancestral home to Kampo Juan in 2017 after purchasing it in Pangasinan. The Dr. Neric family’s antique collection presently resides in the four-story residence. And guess what, they even have the original copy of Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal!
2. General Paulino Santos Museum (General Santos City)
The General Paulino Santos Museum is a national museum situated at Notre Dame of Dadiangas University (NDDU). This location, which participates in the city’s tourism as the repository of its culture and tradition, houses the belongings of General Paulino Santos, a native who served as the commanding general of the Philippine Army and a civilian administrator under the administration of former President Manuel Quezon. Additionally, a Pacman nook was created as a separate portion of the museum to honor the pride Manny Pacquiao, the illustrious Filipino octuple champion who grew up in South Central Mindanao, brought to the nation.
3. Cape San Agustin (Davao Oriental)
In Sitio Talisay in Barangay Lavigan, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental’s southernmost barangay, is Cape San Agustin Church, often known as Parola. It borders the wide, turbulent Celebes Sea on the south and the tranquil Davao Gulf on the west. It can be reached by land and is only a short drive from the congested streets of Davao City. During World War II, Cape San Agustin was a favored hunting ground for American submarines, and it is thought that numerous Japanese ships are nearby. The San Agustin Lighthouse also referred to as “Parola,” is one of Cape San Agustin’s most popular attractions.
Read more about 6 Historical places to visit in Mindanao
Indeed, the Philippines is a country renowned for its rich cultural heritage and beautifully preserved heritage sites. Spanning thousands of years, the nation’s history is woven into its landscapes, architecture, and traditions, creating a tapestry of diverse cultural treasures that continue to captivate locals and visitors alike, and also practice sacred traditions.
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