ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: A Kapampangan visited all 81 Philippine provinces

How it all started?

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Sagada was my first real travel adventure way back January 2013

Looking back from January 2013 when I set foot on Sagada and in that very place, I got bitten by the travel bug, note that I am already on my latter half of the twenties that time. Thereafter, I saw myself taking the first airplane ride with Cebu Pacific Air bound to the land of Mt. Mayon and traversing the provinces of Bicol. Blessed that I can speak their language, I was able to set foot on four provinces with lesser hassles. Note that I took advantage of their public transportation mostly during transits from destination to destination. By summer of the following year, organized a first travel event to the town of Baler, filling up two vans, after which, I came back four times with different groups.

How did I learn about the so-called “Project 81”?

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We Wander PH Mobile application in IOS to monitor your status

It was after two years that I opened my blogsite and set up my social media handles to support it. The goal of the blog site is to provide travel guides and techniques on the places I visit. I also intend to focus on the less-traveled places, giving them online exposure I can manage. During the course of interacting with my followers, I saw the hashtag #project81ph. It tickled my interest and learned about the race to visit the 81 provinces of the Philippines. I reviewed the provinces I set foot before and started counting. Since then, I was an avid fan of waiting for airfare seat sales. I started researching and reading about the tourism landscape of different provinces. I also learned from experience in researching and preparing the itinerary.

What are the major traveling activities I did?

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Siquijor in Central Visayas is my first region to set foot in Central Philippines

Covering as much as provinces on each roundtrip flight. I was able to set foot in all Visayan provinces with just four roundtrip flights. Chronologically, the first region is the Central Visayas, which I came solo, then Eastern Visayas with a former colleague, Sir Michael James and Pilot Sir Juan Carlo, and in Western Visayas with a former colleague, Ms. Catherine Pingul. The fourth flight fulfilled the last province which is Negros Occidental in Bacolod City. This then became my pattern in traveling.

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Kids enjoying diving in Sulu province

In Mindanao, with fellow backpacker, Ms. Ella Dalisay, we are able to visit the 5 provinces of Davao Region, also in Cagayan, Region 4-A and Cotabato City. With fellow blogger, Ms. Qing Pineda, and other backpackers, Ann Lucilo and Arianne Garcia, we set foot on most of the provinces of Caraga Region and SOCCSKSARGEN region. A social media connection turned friend, Mr. RJ Dumalag, hosted me in the Northern Mindanao Region, including Marawi City, a few days before the recent war. Fellow former colleagues, Engr. Mike Go and Engr. Kytte Sicat, Teacher Joanne Balagon, joined me in traversing the Zamboanga Peninsula region. Another hardcore traveler, Dave Tumindig, an awesome host and close friend, assisted me in visiting the ARMM provinces of Sulu and Tawi Tawi.

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the view of after more than 5 hours of trekking through 5 mountains with Ms. Catherine Pingul
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Basilan province with our dear host Dave and co-traveler Juniel
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With co-travelers, Yannie, and Anne at Tinuy-An Falls in Bislig, Surigao del Sur
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Marawi City with Mr. RJ Dumalag
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with Engr. Kytte Sicat and Teacher Jonna in Pagadian City with their “hyperinclined” tricycles.

What other activities I was inclined to experience?

With one of the pioneer bloggers of Pampanga, Sir Robin Pinzon, he influenced me on covering festivals around the Philippines, thus, adding another objective in travels. It led me on searching different less known festivals across the archipelago.  I was able to witness firsthand festivals from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, like Imbayah Festival of Ifugao, Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Leyte and T’nalak Festival of South Cotabato.

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First time climber here, look how inappropriate my attire is

It is also with Ms. Ann Pineda, a former colleague, that invited me to my mother mountain, Mt. Pico De Loro, that led me my interest in mountain climbing and trekking.

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Viewpoint in Nagtipunan, QUIRINO province with Sir Mike and First Officer Juan Carlo.

One of the highlights of traveling the Philippines are visiting the off the beaten path provinces like Quirino, Nueva Viscaya, Northern and Eastern Samar, Antique, Sulu, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camarines Norte, Apayao, Catanduanes and Lanao del Sur.

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Tour in Camarines Norte sponsored by Efrelinda Travel and Tours

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Here are my personal favorites per category I made:

  • Waterfalls – Tinuy-an Falls of Bislig, Surigao del Sur
  • Major Urban Area – Zamboanga City
  • Mountain/Hiking trail – Mt. Ulap of Benguet.
  • Island – Onok Islandof Balabac, Palawan
  • Beach – Malamawi White Beach of Basilan
  • River – Siitan River of Nagtipunan, Quirino
  • Cuisine – Coconut Based Bicolano dishes like Kinunot and Pinangat.
  • Manmade structure – Rice Terraces of San Remigio, Antique
  • Festivity – Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City
  • Cave – Capisaan Cave of Kasibu, Nueva Viscaya
  • Wildlife/Animal Encounter – Kalibasib, Tamaraw in captivity in Rizal, Occidental Mindoro.
  • Meeting cultural icons – Apo Whang Od of Buscalan, Kalinga and Maria Todi of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

What marks the completion of the project?

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Setting foot here is just surreal!

On the very day of the 17th of June 2019, I was able to set foot in my 81st province, Agusan del Sur, visiting the majestic Bega Falls. Thank you to Philippine Airlines for having direct routes from Clark to Cagayan de Oro. It is convenient to explore the Northern Mindanao region.

It is not easy to fulfil such a feat, as I have to arrange and negotiate with my employers about it. There are vacation leaves that would have me off duty for 4 working days. I was also blessed to be connected with my current job, as I can remotely manage correspondence wherever I go. There are necessary sacrifices as well, like cutting spending on eating out, pampering sessions and almost zero purchase of non-essential material stuff.

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Off beaten path Abra province with Ms. Ella Dalisay

Why do such a feat?

For me, it is not about bragging, but my intention is to promote the natural beauty and interesting culture of all the provinces of the Philippines. I want to help also in breaking the stigma that was attached to Mindanao. This region has more promising destinations and huge tourism and investment potential.

What made some of my traveling convenient?

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With the Clark International Airport having more direct domestic connections, Kapampangans, and residents of Central to Northern Luzon have the strategic convenience, adding up, are lower airfares offered. This development made my latter part of air travel more convenient, without the hassle of the land transits of about 5 hours to safely catch my flights via NAIA terminals. Cebu Pacific Air is also planning to expand its Clark Hub by mounting routes to Narita, Bacolod, Iloilo and Puerto Princesa.

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During the Inaugural Flight from Clark to San Vicente
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Cebu Pacific Cabin Crew from Davao-Clark leg in Arrivals Area of Clark Airport

What are some off the beaten path destinations I still look forward to visiting?

  • Linapacan, Palawan
  • Laoang, Northern Samar
  • Coastal communities of Isabela: Maconacon, Divalacan and Palanan
  • Beaches of Parang, Sulu
  • Olanivan Island of Davao Occidental
  • Calayan Islands of Cagayan
  • Cagayancillo Island
  • Lubang Island

What have I learned?

I felt a lot blessed and very thankful for being a resident of Pampanga. There are lots of employment opportunities and conveniences in easy reach. Whereas other provinces are struggling with industrial-generated employments or investments, and some are mostly dependent on tourism and agricultural incomes that come with risks, and sometimes limited seasonal periods, thus, causing income limits to locals. Sustenance comes from the bounty of their surroundings: the sea, forest, and land. I have learned as well the importance of cultural and language preservation. I became quite envious in the Visayas and Mindanao region, as they would really transact with you with their mother tongue. This led me to learn the Cebuano language and made a personal move to teach the Kapampangan language to my younger kin.

Also, whenever I visit some places, I mostly seek insights from Tourism Officers for my safety as well.

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with Ms. Gesen of Leyte Tourism and Investment Promotion Center during the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival

Ending note:

Travelling is more than a luxury activity, but another lifelong learning experience beyond the walls of your educational institution and employment. For others, it could be daunting, but it is a must, even just a year, to break your daily routine, and refresh your soul and body with the awesome beauty of the Philippines. It does need to cost you an arm and leg, but with sufficient research, you will be able to tackle your destinations at the lesser possible costs. It also gives you a wider perspective of life and understanding of living. Do not make travelling your social status but make it an extension of your continued lifelong education, create a positive impact on the community and environment you will interact with, and instil good memories that you would happily share with your kids and grandkids.

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Mt. Tapyas, Coron, Palawan

List of the 81 provinces of the Philippines in Alphabetical Order:

1. Abra Calaba and Bangued
2. Agusan del Norte Butuan City and Vinapor
3. Agusan del Sur Bega Falls, Prosperidad
4. Aklan Ati Atihan Festival, Kalibo, Pawa Windmills, Boracay
5. Albay Daraga, Legazpi, Tabaco, Tiwi, Joroan, Bacacay and Malilipot
6. Antique Antique Rice Terraces, General Fullon, Valderrama
7. Apayao Lussok Cave, Maton River, Pudtol Ruins
8. Aurora Dipaculao, Dingalan, Maria Aurora, San Luis, Dinadiawan and Baler,
9. Basilan Lamita, City, Malamawi Island and Isabela City
10. Bataan Morong Beach, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mariveles
11. Batanes Sabtang and Batan Island
12. Batangas Anilao, Nasugbu, Batangas City and Taal Heritage Town
13. Benguet Baguio City, Atok, Itogon, Panagbenga Festival
14. Biliran Naval, Almeria and Iyusan
15. Bohol Tagbilaran and Panglao
16. Bukidnon Mt. Capistrano and Valencia City
17. Bulacan Singkaban Festival, Baliwag, Calumpit and Malolos
18. Cagayan Aparri, Abulug, Tuguegarao, Baggao and Sta. Ana
19. Camarines Norte Capalonga, Daet and Jose Panganiban
20. Camarines Sur Naga City, Ocampo, Calabanga, Caramoan and Pili
21. Camiguin Sagay, Mambajao, Catarman and Mantigue Island
22. Capiz Roxas City and Panay
23. Catanduanes Virac, Baras and San Andres
24. Cavite Dasmarinas, Tagaytay and Ternate
25. Cebu South Cebu, Camotes and Metro Cebu
26. Compostela Valley / Davao De Oro Awao Falls in Monkayo, Mainit Hot Spring in Maco
27. Cotabato Lake Agco, Arakan and Kidapawan City
28. Davao del Norte Tagum City and New Corella
29. Davao del Sur Kadayawan Festival, Kapatagan Valley and Digos City
30. Davao Occidental Little Boracay, Sta. Maria
31. Davao Oriental Mati and Cateel
32. Dinagat Islands San Jose, Libjo and Unib Island
33. Eastern Samar Guiuan and Calicoan
34. Guimaras Buenavista, Jordan, San Lorenzo and Nueva Valencia
35. Ifugao Imbayah Festival, Banaue, Hapao and Batad
36. Ilocos Norte Pagudpud, Bangui, and Paoay
37. Ilocos Sur Vigan, Suyo, Cervantes, Bantay and Narvacan
38. Iloilo Dinagyang Festival, Mandurriao, Molo, La Paz and City Proper
39. Isabela Cauayan, Santiago City and Roxas
40. Kalinga Buscalan
41. La Union Agoo, Aringay, Bauang, San Fernando City, Santol, Luna, Caba and San Juan
42. Laguna Sta. Rosa, San Pablo, Pansol, Paete
43. Lanao del Norte Iligan City and Naawan
44. Lanao del Sur Marawi City
45. Leyte Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival, Tacloban and Palo
46. Maguindanao Datu Odin Sinsuat and Shariff Aguak
47. Marinduque Moriones Festival, Boac, Mogpog, Gasan, Torrijos, Sta. Cruz, Buenavista
48. Masbate Burias Island
49. Misamis Occidental Ozamis City, Tangub City, Hoyohoy Adventure Park
50. Misamis Oriental Cagayan de Oro City and Balingoan
51. Mountain Province Sagada and Bontoc
52. Negros Occidental Bacolod City and Talisay City
53. Negros Oriental Dumaguete City
54. Northern Samar Capul Island and Allen
55. Nueva Ecija Mt. Sawi, Mt. 387, Gabaldon, Cuyapo, Nampicuan, and Cabanatuan City
56. Nueva Vizcaya Capisaan, Quezon, Solano and Bayombong
57. Occidental Mindoro San Jose and Rizal
58. Oriental Mindoro Bulalacao and Mansalay
59. Palawan Coron, Puerto Princesa, Bataraza and Balabac
60. Pampanga Current Residence
61. Pangasinan Dasol, Alaminos, Urdaneta, Calasiao, Dagupan and Villasis, Mangatarem, Balungao
62. Quezon Pagbilao, Tiaong and Lucena
63. Quirino Saguday, Aglipay, Diffun, Cabarroguis, Nagtipunan and Maddela
64. Rizal Higantes Festival, Tanay, Angono, Binangonan and Taytay
65. Romblon Bonbon Beach, Romblon Proper, Agnipa and Cogon
66. Samar Catbalogan and Calbayog
67. Sarangani Kiamba and Tambler
68. Siquijor Siquijor, Maria, Lazi, San Juan, Larena and Enrique Villanueva
69. Sorsogon Sorsogon City, Matnog, Barcelona, Gubat, Irosin and Bulusan
70. South Cotabato T’nalak Festival in Koronadal City, Polomolok, Lake Sebu
71. Southern Leyte Sogod
72. Sultan Kudarat Isulan and Tacurong
73. Sulu Banguingui, Jolo, Patikul, and Panglima Tahil
74. Surigao del Norte Surigao City
75. Surigao del Sur Bislig and Hinatuan
76. Tarlac Tarlac City, Anao, Capas, Bamban and Concepcion
77. Tawi-tawi Kamahardikaan Festival, Sitangkai, Bongao, Simunul and Sanga Sanga
78. Zambales Singkamas Festival, Olongapo, Subic, Iba, San Marcelino, Cawag, San Antonio and San Narciso
79. Zamboanga del Norte Sergio Osmena, Dipolog and Labason
80. Zamboanga del Sur Pagadian and Lakewood
81. Zamboanga Sibugay Ipil, Buluan, Malangas and Titay

42 thoughts on “ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED: A Kapampangan visited all 81 Philippine provinces

  1. I love all the wonderful places that you featured in this blog. My favorite part is sharing all the beautiful places in mindanao. And I am glad that as a traveller you prioritise travelling around the Philippines first and promote our local tourist destinations and I really admire you for that. Because most of the time, travellers would go abroad to show the beauty of other country. Not knowing that that Philippines have a lot to offer

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, Mindanao really have lots of colorful festivals. And I am looking forward to those in your future blogs. Your blog is an eye opener to many that our country has so much to offer.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, so many provinces!!! Congratulations on fulfilling your mission and i wish I can visit even just half of your 81 listed provinces. There’s so much to explore in the philippines and thank you for helping us know about them!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations! Wow, this is a milestone worth celebrating.

    As a person who loves to travel, I agree with all your insights. Takes guts, stamina and open mind to be able to complete this. I also like this – Do not make traveling as your social status but make it as an extension of your continued lifelong education.

    Good job sir! Continue setting an example to all modern/ millenial travelers who now tend to forget the essence of traveling.


  4. Jan, you are such an inspiration! Being able to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines is something I aspire to do one day. I enjoyed reading your journey. It’s as if you also took us with you along the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! I love how you detailed all the possible places to visit here in the Philippines. Hopefully I can also visit those countries. Iilan palang yata napupuntahan ko. How can I have a copy para may checklist?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! I love how you detailed all the possible places to visit here in the Philippines. Hopefully I can also visit those countries. Iilan palang yata napupuntahan ko. Can I have a copy of those places?


  7. It was such an amazing and inspiring journey to all Filipino travelers! It’s true that traveling is not about the pictures you have to post on social media, but the experiences, lessons and memories you will gain and remember for the rest of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Do you think it would be safe if I wanted to visit the place alone? My Filipino wife just wants to visit the family in Bulacan when we visit the Philippines and all I can expect is to visit few places in Luzon therefore the only way I can visit other islands is by leaving my wife in Bulacan and go off on my own (which I did in Luzon, I took buses all the way to Ilocos). Would it be safe to visit the Central and the Southern groups of islands all by myself (in Luzon I felt safe because I speak Tagalog fluently and “hindi ako naibenta”). Tnx for sharing


    1. Hi Sir Eduardo, yes I would recommend to visit Central (Visayas region) and Southern (Mindanao region) Philippines, would suggest to see the mainstream spots like Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor which are well frequented and the rates are almost standardized. However, in Mindanao, a strong quake and series of aftershocks rattled the beautiful island this October 2019. Would also recommend to connect with respective tourism officers for your guidance, prior your visit.


  9. I’ve always been curious on how you did it. You practically answered all the questions I was about to ask you. You know what I like about it? I love that you remember the names of the people who traveled with you. I also want to explore the 81 provinces in the Philippines. Thanks for being an inspiration!


  10. What an achievement and an amazing experience! Hindi biro ang magtravel considering you have a full time job, yet you made it that far in such a short period of time. Congratulations!


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