Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Travel Year 2014 : The Year I Learned to Slow Down

When I started travelling the Philippines in 2012, I already told myself that I should be able to finish visiting all the 81 Philippine provinces before I turn 30. Now, I'm turning 31 but I haven't done that yet, and still, I am so much happy.

The very beautiful Batanes!
The year 2014 taught me to take it slow. This year, I realized that I am racing with no one so I should try to savor the joy brought to me by travelling by taking it one at a time. The old me who wants to be in different provinces in every different weeks and months is no more. It's now just once a month. ;) 

And so, upon checking my bucket list, I discovered I have already visited 61 provinces of the Philippines, out of 81 at the end of the year 2014.

In January, I visited not a province but a tiny historical place located in the nation's capital, PACO PARK. There, I discovered that Manila still has many things to offer despite its "severe urbanization". The fact is, there are still many historical and cultural spots in Manila that I haven't visited yet.

In February, one of my foremost wish was granted! I was able to visit the most beautiful province of the Philippines (in my own opinion): BATANES! It was an experience I definitely will never ever forget. I think, my visit to this province is the very thing that taught me to slow down, and just savor the beautiful nature in front of me. There's no need to hurry because there're so much to take in, and I need time to take them all in. I learned to appreciate the virtue of being still, and truly experience being one with nature. Towards the end of the same month, I was also able to visit the Heritage Town of TAAL in Batangas. The town, not the volcano and the lake, can rival the beauty of Vigan in Ilocos Sur with its numerous old and ancestral houses as well as its old church touted to be the largest in Asia!

March was a gala-less month but at the end of the month of April, I was again in PANGASINAN to attend the wedding of a travel blogger friend Angel and Nil in Lingayen. I also toured Agno, Bani, and Bolinao during that Pangasinan visit. 

May was another gala-less month while in June, I, together with my girlfriend April, visited the southeasternmost towns of NUEVA ECIJA: Penaranda and General Tinio (Papaya). There, we had a tour of the two towns, witnessed a century-old traditional play called Arakyo, and visited the famous Minalungao National Park

Marinduque Museum
During the first weekend of July, I toured the province of CAVITE and was able to visit 20 of its cities and municipalities. The only towns I haven't visited was Carmona, General Emilio Aguinaldo and Alfonso. At the last weekend of the month, I and April was set to conquer the island of MARINDUQUE, and we were very succesful for we were able to visit all of its six towns!

August was another exciting month. Not only my mom's 54th birthday falls in this month, I was also able to visit the three provinces of the Samar Island: EASTERN SAMAR, NORTHERN SAMAR, and SAMAR. During that tour, I was also able to revisit Tacloban and saw how it was after that devastating Yolanda typhoon of 2013. During the same month, I also visited LAGUNA and for the first time, saw the beautiful heritage town of Pila. I also visited Magdalena, Santa Cruz, Pagsanjan and Liliw during that tour with April and my other travel blogger friends.

September saw my itchy feet travelling to CAGAYAN to be able to see with my own two eyes the 2nd oldest, untouched church in the Philippines, the Malaueg Church, which can be found in Rizal, Cagayan. I also visited the towns of Piat and Tuao with another history buff FB friend Juval Rey Valdez of Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya.

In October, Jun-jun de Dios of Lakwatserong Opis Worker, invited me and April together with MJ (new found friend) and Manong Unyol (of ManongUnyol.blogspot.com) to tour his hometown, MALABON. We marveled at the beautiful ancestral houses of the city as well as its historic churches and mouthwatering food!

November came and I found myself going to AURORA again. Baler already became a yearly destination for me since 2012. But this time, its extra special because this was the last time I was able to travel and bond with my Tita Salve, together with my niece and my mom. She left us to be with the Lord the next year, just 6 months after our Baler travel. During the end of November, I toured Marikina and other Rizal towns such as Montalban, San Mateo, Antipolo, Taytay and Cainta with William and Juan of SSC Bulacan.

December was a month spent with my family, and I wasn't able to travel to any province...

The year 2014 has ended and here is the progress of my Tour d' Philippines project, map, courtesy of Eugene Villar:

*I have shaded the map based on the provinces I have visited and not on the specific places indicated by the creator, Eugene Villar.

And yes, 2014 is another blessed travel year. I now have visited 61 provinces, and looking forward for more, now with some of the provinces to be visited with my beautiful, lovely partner, April... :)
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About the Author

I am ROMEL RAFOR JAIME, the man behind San Josenyong Gala. My travel blogger name came about because I am a proud resident of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. In real life, I am a licensed librarian who works in a college in Gapan, Nueva Ecija as a librarian and teaches general education subjects from time to time. My goal is to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines before visiting other countries. As of 2017, I have already visited 73... :)


  1. :) looking forward to moooooore gala with you <3

  2. matgal na tayong d nagkasama sir kailan kaya ulit sir?

    1. Oo nga sir eh... Di bale, pag nag-caving tayo sa Norzagaray... :)

  3. Wow! Ok makahanap ng blog ng isa ring gala. Hahaha let's travel pa more sir!

    1. Salamat sir sa pagbisita! Minsan, sabay tayong gumala... ;)

  4. Wow! Thanks for sharing! Siguro ngayong 2016 napuntahan mo na lahat ng probinsya dito sa ating bansa.

    1. Fortunately sir, not yet... Meron pang mga hindi nabibisita so my excitement is not yet lost... :)