Like everyone everywhere, the people of the Philippines read the paper, watch TV, and consult their smartphones for information. But in this Southeast Asian nation, where society is bound by a complex web of familial relationships, if you really want to know something, you go and ask your relatives.

And so, on a recent visit to Manila to visit, yes, relatives, I pressed for recommendations as to the wonders of the country Traveler magazine recently named a Best of the World destination for 2016. I wanted something beyond the the world-famous El Nido in Palawan or the equally well-known Banaue Rice Terraces.

Here’s what my cousins, aunts, and uncles had to say.

Beach it in Siargao.

According to my second cousin, Ernest Sy, who helps manage his family’s seafood business and knows a thing or two about the fishy depths, this jungly, reef-ringed, palm-fringed teardrop-shaped island off Mindanao is “known as a surfing destination, but it really is an escapist’s paradise of white sand and blue water.” There is a mix of accommodations, including the stunning Dedon Island Resort, with its chair swings suspended from trees. And, Sy notes, “locals speak English better than they do Tagalog,” the national language of the Philippines.

Time travel in Vigan.

My aunt Becca Jose, who works for the country’s premier arts complex, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, loves the architecture of this city on the western coast of Luzon, north of Manila. “Neither the Japanese nor the Americans bombed it during World War II, so it’s like stepping back in time 150 years,” she says, of the UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the only remaining intact Spanish colonial towns in the Philippines.

The Batanes Hills in the Philippines (Photograph by boyetb, flickr)
The Batanes Hills (Photograph by boyetb, flickr)

Visitors can stay in ancestral (Read more...)

More information in Breaking Travel News