Friday, May 30, 2008

New7Wonders: Philippines Nominated 4 Times

Four of the countless natural gems (I've been to three of them) in the Philippines have been nominated for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. And I couldn't be happier/prouder.

In 11th place, so far, is the Bicol Region's very own Mayon Volcano. Even after erupting over 40 times (it is said to be the most active volcano in our country), it still boasts its perfect cone shape. It's amazing how something so beautiful can also be powerful and violent. Same goes for people I guess, right? I was fortunate to see [part] of the volcano during my first trip to Bicol in March '07. It was very cloudy that time. The locals believe that when the volcano senses tourists, it shies away and hides in the mist. I'm definitely going back for a closer, better view next time.

Coming close in 8th place is the famous Subterranean River National Park located in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. The water flows through a long stretch of darkness (said to be the longest underground river in the world) and out into the South China Sea. The picture on the right is a shot of the lagoon located at the mouth of the cave. I was able to ride a boat (with a very animated tour guide, no less) into the cave and down the river in August last year, and it just completely took my breath away. Limestone, stalactite, and stalagmite formations inside the cave were just majestic. Some took shape of famous people, world events, and monuments -- it was chilling and awesome alright.

Currently in the 5th spot is the breathtaking landscape of the Chocolate Hills in Carmen City, Bohol. Just to clarify, no, they're not made of cocoa. They just look like mounds upon mounds of yummy dark chocolate, especially during the height of summer when the grass just self-ignite once the scorching sun goes psychotic. The climb to the top-most part of the viewing deck was a struggle, but I got there fine. It was well worth it, I'd say. I'd go up there again the next chance I get, that's for sure. The panoramic view was just simply priceless. If it doesn't get into the final 7, I'd think the whole 7 natural wonders system is flawed. I really hope it stays in the top 7 though. It truly is amazing.

Hopefully not the last of the bunch (you can still send in your nominations), the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea, is in 3rd place. A spectacular 8 kilometer-wide channel is sandwiched by the North and South atolls, both of which can be seen from the surface of the water. The UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site is a protected marine sanctuary and home to over 1,000 species -- some even endangered. I've never been, but I would love to travel there and see its majesty for myself. When I decide to go scuba diving, I'm definitely hitting the Tubbataha Reef first.

Voting for your favorites will last until the end of the year. After that, an expert panel will come up with the semi-finalists (21 candidates) from the top 77. Voting will commence again from 2009 until 2010. The final 7 will be officially released around the summer of 2010. Exciting.

Support the Philippines and vote for all four natural wonders. Pinoy pride 'to, 'pre!

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