Pattaya of the Philippines: Puerto Galera

Summer has quickly crawled in just as soon as the Yuletide mist has faded. Days have started to become hot and humid and the candies from the recent festivities have melted.

March marks that an entire new season has just began, the second of only two scientific seasons in the Philippines. While the archipelago consists of detinations more than you could ever count through your fingers, there were just a few choices around Metro Manila and that was what I was eyeing for. 

Just when the chance happily came into my doorstep, Puerto Galera was the immediate destination because of the Malasimbo Arts and Music Festival. Little did I know that the first encounter with this paradise will lead to us coming back for some more. 

Sailing away from the ports of Batangas, our boat parked right next to a stretch of white sand and clear waters where a flock of people has came in before us.

I was all giddy and excited to hit the beach as soon as we docked in at White Beach. I'm a huge lover of water activities and being at Puerto Galera got me all hyped up.

Souvenir shops, convenience stores and specialty booths are everywhere. Its impossible to miss buying even a little trinklets.

Made few more steps around the new found paradise which wasn't too vast, I could smell freshly grilled meat and seafood at every corner, exactly how beach summer smells like. Walking straight through alleys of restaurants, everybody's trying to do some sales talk outside the facade of their restos. All of their menu sounds really appetizing, it was just a matter of which point I got hungry the most.

I was getting the vacation mood I was expecting but I was caught off guard when I realized what this summer island turns into at night.

I've heard of so many notions that makes this a popular destination for the wrong reasons, while it has become infamous for a significant population of transgender divas, I found it peculiar when I realized how the white sand bar transforms at night. Apparently, it is not as bad as I thought it would be. 

Fire played in the air, limbs and legs tossed everywhere, lights beaming at every corner. Puerto Galera becomes a stretch of variety shows with fire dancers, acrobats and exhibitionists, singers, comedians and most of all, drag queens. This was the Philippines' version of Thailand's Pattaya. 

Not only was it a visual delight, but for the lack of a better term, the moments on top of the pearly white sand just 5 meters away from the pristine shore is a mood booster. 

Puerto Galera is indeed the right destination to anyone who wishes to have a quick escape to the beach from the busy metro. About three and a half travel time from Manila, Puerto Galera feels like you are somewhere really far from the city but truth is, you are just right next to it at a cost that's significantly lower than the usual party beaches. 

Away from the festive vibes, you can also come closer to the other side of nature. With just less than an hour's drive away, the Tamaraw Falls can help you wash off those dried sea salt on your hair with cold fresh water from the mountains.

A quick detour will also take you to the Virgin Beach whose landscape was somewhat different from the main White Beach, in a good way.

On a side note, one must try to find this guy who sells sweetened coconut - a must try at Puerto Galera.

Or these Crab Relyeno, this woman has been walking around the shores of Puerto Galera for more than 10 years now selling these delicious crabs at P50 each.

A trip to Puerto Galera only proves how much Filipinos love to have a good time and how the country is truly blessed with summer destinations whether near or far from the metro. 

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