Before Covid-19 hit, Philippine tourism was growing by leaps and bounds, achieving an all-time high in 2019 with the arrival of 12 million visitors. In January 2020, we hit an 8.8 percent increase. But as the pandemic gripped the world, tourism spiraled 45 percent in February, down 70 percent in March, and finally, hitting zero in April.

Post-apocalyptic films have always shown us that a changed world ravaged by a disease would look menacing and forbidding, with buildings crumbling in despair and disrepair, structures literally falling apart. But as these pictures show, many places have never been this beautiful—in fact, hauntingly so. It is summer, and in Baguio’s Burnham Park, flowers have exploded in wild abandon, the lake placid, no boats in sight. Party beach Puerto Galera for the first time is immaculately pristine, when once it was littered with beer bottles, and Boracay, which is fresh out of a closure, now looking like an undiscovered island in the middle of the Pacific, its waters startlingly aquamarine, and its shoreline blindingly white. Vigan’s cobblestoned streets and regal Spanish colonial houses are frozen in time—no horse-drawn carriages, no costumed guardia civils, no loud tourists to pull you out of your reverie and nostalgia. In Pangasinan, the church of Our Lady of Manaoag is surreally empty—it is after all a site two million devotees flock to annually. The port city of General Santos seems at a complete standstill, and the business districts of Makati and BGC are devoid of its crazy thrum of energy, in its place a desolate but stark landscape of steel and glass. The world in its jawdropping beauty is laid out in its no-filter glory, and it’s a shame we’re all indoors.

But here’s one important thing to remember: Local tourism in 2018 amounted to 111,350,293. International tourism was 7.1 million. The truth is: Filipinos can help keep tourism afloat with just domestic trips.

But while waiting for these sites to reopen, let’s do a virtual tour to whet your appetite, and then start planning for your dream vacation for when we’re ready to see them up close and personal.


Source: Manila Bulletin (