If you are sitting at an office desk in a desperately grey and drizzly part of the world, starting a long bar shift with a migraine, or just experiencing a momentary bout of life is meh, you may wish to save this post for later. You see, whilst the rice terraces of Batad were undoubtedly worthy of their own entry, this customary photographic résumé can only and will only be of the magnificent beaches, sunsets, and crystal waters that are to be found on most of the 7,640 islands of the Filipino Archipelago. Sorry, not sorry…

Even as I struggled to cope with my post-Japan travel comedown during my first week in the country, angry at the polluted sprawling mess of the capital Manila and bored by the polished commercial tourism of Boracay Island, I was secretly impressed by what I was seeing. The pure white sand of the imaginatively named White Beach is the finest I have felt beneath my feet, trickling like an hourglass between my toes with each step; having the azure waters of Newcoast Beach to myself for an entire hour was as tranquil a moment in time as I have had; the perfectly mellow Friday evening DJ set at the secluded Diniwid Beach Café was so in tune with the sunset that I didn’t mind sharing it with a dozen others.

But it was on Palawan that I made my peace with the Philippines, the penny dropping as I stood one hundred metres from shore and yet only knee-deep in the cerulean waters of Nagtabon Beach. This, I finally understood, was where happiness was to be found in this island nation: far away from civilisation, package tourism, and malodorous backpackers. With a lone fishing boat floating gently to my right, and two local girls posing for selfies almost out of sight on the beach, this was the moment I had imagined and hoped for. It is therefore only fair that I share it with everyone…

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