The Philippines is an archipelago endowed with vast natural resources spanning thousands of years. The World Heritage Convention has taken notice of this and has included five of its attractions in its World Heritage list. Each attraction confirms the abundance of natural and cultural wonders the country has to offer. Here now are five Philippine attractions classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site:
1. Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park – Palawan
The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park in Palawan was the country’s first inscription on the World Heritage List in 1993. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee cited it as one of the most outstanding coral reefs in Southeast Asia. Its 33,200 hectares abounds with diverse marine species.
Tubbataha derives its name from two Samal words meaning “a long reef exposed only at low tide.” It is an underwater site that features two coral atolls with a 100-meter perpendicular wall stretching 10,000 hectares situated at the heart of the Sulu Sea.
2. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Palawan’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located at the Saint Paul Mountain Range 81 kilometers from the center of Puerto Princesa but is still within the city’s territory. It is considered among the world’s longest river stretching up to 8.2 kilometers.
It is one of the few rivers in the world that stretches out into the sea from an inland source. The freshwater level rises and falls with the tide up to 4.3 kilometers. One of its outstanding features is the mountainous limestone plateaus called karsts, forming the rugged landscape of the Saint Paul Mountain Range with elevations ranging from sea level to a maximum height of 1,028 meters. It is home to several endemic and endangered species such as the porcupines, skunks, flying squirrels, calamian deer, to name just a few.
3. Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue Rice Terraces in the Cordillera Region of the Philippines is believed to have been terraced and planted with rice to as far back as 2,000 years ago. Mountains terraced into rice paddies that still survive in various conservation states are spread out over most of its 20,000 square-kilometer land area (7 percent of the country’s total land mass) covering the provinces of Kalinga Apayao, Abra, Benguet, and Ifugao. It is located at varying altitudes ranging from 700 to 1,500 kilometers above sea level. Many Filipinos consider it as one of their greatest national symbols.
4. Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Vigan or Ciudad Fernandina de Vigan was the third most important city next to Manila and Cebu during the height of Spanish colonial era in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was the heart of the Spanish colonial power in Northern Luzon. Its plazas and streets tells the history of the town. Large and imposing buildings symbolized political or religious power while grand homes embody wealth. Its range of architectural styles reflects its being the political, religious, economic, and artistic center of the region.
Among its most notable sites include the Arzobispado, a classic example of a priest’s residence in an urban area; Saint Paul’s College, the Provincial Capitol Building, the Simbaan a Bassit, Calle Crisologo, an impressive row of houses lined up on each side of a cobbled stone street.
5. San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Construction of the San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte started in 1604 and was completed in in 1710. It is considered as one of the most outstanding “earthquake baroque” structure in the Philippines which was primarily designed for earthquake protection.
The coral stone bell tower, visible at some distance from the church, was completed in the second half of the 18th century. The church’s most outstanding feature is the phalanx of buttresses that just out perpendicularly from the sides to enhance the walls against earthquake damage. It has the most massive buttressing in any church in the Philippines.
Visiting these five UNESCO World Heritage Sites can make your trip to the Philippines a truly worthwhile experience.
Here is an updated list of World Heritage Sites in other parts of the world.