Monday, September 10, 2007

Paradise Philippines: Presents Bicol

Located in the southern most part of the island of Luzon, Bicol is one of the major tourist destinations in the Philippines. The Luzon's southeastern-most peninsula, Bicol is home to world famous Mount Mayon, an active volcano with a perfectly shaped cone. The scenic Bicol region comprises of six provinces, namely Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate. There is a beautiful lake near the volcano that offers excellent conditions for diving. You can spot the world's tiniest fish in the lake. Bicol region is also known for its beautiful white sand beaches, ideal for sun bathing and relaxation.

Bicol is located in southeastern-most peninsula of the famous Luzon Island. Legazpi City, capital of Albay, is the most important and centrally located city in Bicol region. Located at about 250 km from Manila, Legazpi is well connected by air, rail and road from Manila. The only train route in the Philippines connects Manila with Legazpi on the Bicol Peninsula in southern Luzon.
Prime Tourist Attractions
Mayon Volcano: Mt. Mayon is the most famous tourist attraction of the Bicol region. Located just north of Legazpi City it's an active volcano with a perfectly shaped cone. Its symmetrical slopes and ½ km circular crater offer breathtaking views to visitors. Nearby is the famous Philvocs Observatory and Museum that showcases Mayon's violent volcanic past. From its top, one can enjoy breathtaking views of the Albay Gulf and other nearby towns.

Cagsawa Ruins: Cagsawa was a flourished town in the beginning of the 19th century. The 1814 volcanic eruption of Mt. Mayon completely perished the town. In attempt to save their lives, the people of Cagsawa fled to the famous church but couldn't escape the misery of the violent volcano. With a memorial church tower, the Cagsawa ruins are major tourist attractions in Bicol.

Tiwi Hot Springs National Park: Tiwi is an active thermal zone with beautiful hot springs, known to have medicinal properties. Tiwi also has the biggest Geothermal Power Plant in the region.

Busay Falls: It's one of the highest and most picturesque waterfalls in the Philippines. Cascading down in seven tiers from a height of about 800 ft, the scenic Busay Falls never fails to enchant its visitors with its spectacular views.

Sogod Beach: The exotic and beautiful Sogod Beach in Bacaycay is popular for its enclaves of white sands and azure blue waters with swaying coconut palms. It's the most popular beach in the Bicol region, offering ideal conditions for beach activities.

Other not to be missed tourist attractions in Bicol include Hoyop-Hoyopan Caves, Sinimbahan Ruins and Jose Maria Penaranda Monument.
Tourist Activities
Bicol offers a number of exciting activities to its visitors. Here, one can enjoy a range of leisure and recreational activities like diving, snorkeling, swimming, or trekking up to the famous Mt. Mayon Volcano. The beaches of Bicol including the exotic Sogod Beach in Bacaycay, offer ideal conditions for beach activities.

What's with Paradise Philippines

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Paradise Philippines

Archeological and paleontological theories suggest that Homo sapiens existed in Palawan circa 50,000 BC. The Negritos are believed to have arrived in the Philippines more than 30,000 years ago, presumably via land bridges that connected the area to the Asian continent during the ice age.

The ancestors of the vast majority of the Filipino people, the Austronesians from Taiwan, settled in northern Luzon circa 2,500 BC. They spread to the rest of the Philippines and later colonized most of Maritime Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific Islands. Arab, Chinese and Indian traders made contact with the Philippines during the course of the next thousand years, until the arrival of the Europeans.

At the service of Spain, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew were the first Europeans to arrive in the archipelago in 1521. Magellan was later killed in battle by indigenous warriors in Mactan Island on account of political conflicts with Lapu-Lapu. The beginnings of colonization started to take form when King Philip II of Spain (after whom the Philippines was named) ordered a successive expedition. The conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi arrived from Mexico in 1565 and formed the first Spanish settlements in Cebu. In 1571 he established Manila as the capital of the new Spanish colony.

Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the inhabitants to Roman Catholicism. In the next 333 years, the Spanish military fought off various local indigenous revolts and numerous attempts by the British, Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, and Portuguese to take over the Philippines. The most significant loss for Spain was the temporary occupation of the capital, Manila, by the British during the Seven Years' War. The Philippines was ruled as a territory of New Spain from 1565 to 1821, before it was administered directly from Spain. The Manila Galleon which linked Manila to Acapulco, Mexico traveled once or twice a year, beginning in the late 16th century. The Philippines opened itself to world trade on September 6, 1834.

A propaganda movement, which included Philippine nationalist José Rizal, then a student studying in Spain, soon developed on the Spanish mainland. This was done in order to inform the government of the injustices of the administration in the Philippines as well as the abuses of the friars. In the 1880s and the 1890s, the propagandists clamored for political and social reforms, which included demands for greater representation in Spain. Unable to gain the reforms, Rizal returned to the country, and pushed for the reforms locally. Rizal was subsequently arrested, tried, and executed for treason on December 30, 1896. Earlier that year, the Katipunan, led by Andrés Bonifacio, already started a revolution, which was eventually continued by Emilio Aguinaldo, who established a revolutionary government, although the Spanish governor general Fernando Primo de Rivera proclaimed the revolution over in May 17, 1897.

The Spanish-American War began in Cuba in 1898 and soon reached the Philippines when Commodore George Dewey defeated the Spanish squadron at Manila Bay. Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines on June 12, 1898, and was proclaimed head of state. As a result of its defeat in the War, Spain ceded the Philippines, together with Cuba (made an independent country, the US in charge of foreign affairs), Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States. By 1899, the Philippine-American War ensued between the United States and the Philippine revolutionaries, which continued the violence of the previous years. The US proclaimed the war ended when Aguinaldo was captured by American troops on March 23, 1901, but the struggle continued until 1913. The country's status as a colony changed when it became the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935, which provided for more self-governance. Plans for increasing independence over the next decade were interrupted during World War II when Japan invaded and occupied the islands. After the Japanese were defeated in 1945, the Philippines achieved independence from the United States on July 4, 1946.

Since 1946, the newly independent Philippine state has faced political instability with various rebel groups. The late 1960s and early 1970s saw economic development that was second in Asia, next to Japan. Ferdinand Marcos was, then, the elected president. Barred from seeking a third term, Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972 and ruled the country by decree. Marcos extended both his power and tenure by force. His authoritarian rule became marred with unmitigated, pervasive corruption, cronyism and despotism.

Upon returning from exile, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. was assassinated on August 21, 1983. In January 1986, Marcos allowed for a "snap" election, after large protests. The election was believed to be fraudulent, and resulted in a standoff between military mutineers and the military loyalists. Protesters supported the mutineers, and were accompanied by resignations of prominent cabinet officials. Corazon Aquino, the wife of Benigno Aquino, Jr., was the recognized winner of the snap election. She took over government, and called for a constitutional convention to draft a new constitution, after the 1986 EDSA Revolution. Marcos, his family and some of his allies fled to Hawaii.

The return of democracy and government reforms after the events of 1986 was hampered by massive national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, a communist insurgency, and a Muslim separatist movement. The economy improved during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, who was elected in 1992. However, the economic improvements were negated at the onset of the East Asian financial crisis in 1997. The 2001 EDSA Revolution led to the downfall of the following president, Joseph Estrada. The current administration of president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been hounded by allegations of corruption and election rigging. Due to these allegations the current administration has had to suppress several attempted coups, the most recent taking place in Manila during March of 2006.