There is no better time to be in the Philippines than right now.
With Eduard “The Landslide” Folayang recently winning the ONE Lightweight World Championship, ONE co-owner Manny Pacquio claiming the WBO Welterweight Title earlier this November, and Brandon “The Truth” Vera set to defend his coveted ONE Heavyweight World Championship at the upcoming ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION card, it is safe to say that Filipino pride is at an all-time high.
Before Vera defends the belt against Hideki “Shrek” Sekine on Friday Night, 2 December, live from the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, give yourself a chance to explore the country if you made the trip, and let the champ be your tour guide. He implores you to “learn about our history while here in the Philippines,” so make the most of your time there.
Here are five Filipino cities and provinces to visit, according to “The Truth.”
Less than 55 kilometers from Manila, located in the Cavite province’s southeast region, is the city of Tagaytay. The city is full of nature, and great views can be seen from the Picnic Grove, Sky Ranch, and People’s Park in the Sky.
“The clean air, the amazing climate, the wonderful breakfast spots, and all dinner places there go above and beyond,” the champ explains. “And the view is amazing everywhere.”
For dining recommendations, Vera swears by a breakfast buffet called Balay Dako by Antonio’s, as well as the all-day Breakfast at Antonio’s.
A little further south is the beautiful province known as Batangas. This province is the home of Mount Maculot, the breeding ground of Taal Volcano and also the birthplace of one very special lady to Vera.
“This is where my mom is from,” Vera says, proudly. “Also, there is beautiful farmland where I want to open a B&B Training Farm!”
The Batangas is loaded with so much more than scaling mountains, visiting active volcanos, and hanging out with Momma Vera. Peruse through the villas and museums of Taal Heritage Village, swing by one of the many gorgeous cathedrals or just kick it on Lake Taal or one of the province’s beaches.
“When visiting Batangas, we went to Tali Beach,” the champ recommends.
Home is where the heart is, and the champ’s heart is in Quezon.
“This is the province where my family is from,” he explains. “It has the friendliest people I have met, though I am kind of biased. I love everyone here in the Philippines.”
There are more reasons to visit this province other than the friendly people who live there. The province is home to many beaches, coconut farms, and island escapes, including one the champ urges everyone to experience.
“Visit Santa Rita Island Resort when you get the chance,” he says. “It is old school, laid back, and super comfortable. It has the biggest infinity pool I have been to in the Philippines, overlooking the water.”
Vera is stunned by the beauty of Ilocos Sur, most specifically the province’s capital city of Vigan. Located on Luzon’s western coast, Vigan is a peaceful city with tons of attractions to fill up the weekend. It is home to Baluarte Zoo, the Bantay Bell Tower, and a plethora of vintage sights.
“Vigan one of the most beautiful provinces I have ever seen,” the champ gushes. “It has a free-to-public zoo, museums, historical buildings everywhere, and the absolute most polite people I have met so far. It is a great place to go exploring when you can and enjoy the scenery.”
#5 Quezon City
Sometimes, it is best to stay local, especially if you are short on time. For those looking to remain close to the hotel or only have a few hours to kill before the event, Vera suggests a visit to Manila’s Quezon City.
“It is in the heart of the city,” the champ says. “It is the future Alliance Training Center location, and the restaurants on Maginhawa Street are all amazing!”
Vera, ever the foodie, has a few go-to spots to dine at.
“We always visit Laruan Atbp Cafe to play games and eat snacks, Flying House to watch MMA fights and eat ‘Verafied’ chicken they made for me, and Eastwood City to go walk around for more restaurants and shops.”