Traveling the Philippines: The Most Common Geography Mistakes

Have you ever posted your favorite travel photo in Instagram without realizing you checked in at the wrong location? Perhaps after you posted publicly, did someone start commenting (and correcting) on the place you’re at instead of being in awe with your pictures?

Well, now is the time to start getting your geography knowledge in check and get your dose of now-you-knows before you start visiting these places. Let’s begin geographically from the top.


1. IS IT CALAYAN GROUP OF ISLANDS OR BABUYAN GROUP OF ISLANDS?

The Calayan and Babuyan Islands are located in the extreme portion of Northern Luzon, just south of Batanes. Misconceptions spread out that Calayan Islands is formerly known as Babuyan Islands; others thought they are only similar. However, these archipelagos pertain to two slightly different sets of islands.

The Calayan Group of Islands, or simply Calayan, is the northernmost municipality of Cagayan province. Calayan is composed of four major islands: (1) Dalupiri Island, (2) Camiguin Island (apart from Camiguin province in Mindanao), (3) Babuyan Island (apart from Babuyan Group of islands), and (4) Calayan Island (apart from the town of Calayan).

The Babuyan Group of Islands, on the other hand, is the combination of the aforementioned islands plus a fifth island named Fuga, which is geographically a part of Aparri, Cagayan. Simply put, Babuyan Group of Islands equals Calayan Group of Islands plus Fuga Island.

So what fits most when checking in to these places? Just tag Babuyan Islands.

Where to Go In and Around Babuyan/Calayan Group of Islands:

Every island in the far north is a gem! Some 50 kilometers southeast of Camiguin Island lies Palaui Island in Santa Ana, Cagayan, the home of Survivor: Cagayan. You may also head out to more or less a hundred kilometers north of Babuyan Islands and visit the breath-taking beauty of Batanes.


2. CORREGIDOR IS PART OF CAVITE, NOT OF BATAAN

Corregidor, considered as the gateway to Manila Bay, is composed of only two islands: Corregidor and Caballo. History is not my cup of tea but as far as I could remember, Corregidor has been referred in the same sentence with Bataan in many historical events during the Second World War. Thus, it is kept in mind that that the former was part of the latter.

In addition to this, ferries heading from Manila to Bataan (and vice-versa) happen to pass near Corregidor. This is due to Bataan’s close proximity with the islands as compared with Cavite. However, Corregidor Islands are, and have always been, a part of the province of Cavite under the jurisdiction of Cavite City.

How to Get to Corregidor:

Availing the day tour package of the islands is the most practical way for you to maximize your trip in Corregidor. Anyway, signing up on a tour is the only way to get in touch with Corregidor as there are no passenger vehicles in the area.


3. IS TAAL VOLCANO IN TAAL TOWN OR IN TAGAYTAY?

Sorry to burst your bubble but Taal volcano is NEITHER a part of Tagaytay (which is geographically part of Cavite in case you don’t know) nor of Taal, Batangas. In fact, both Tagaytay City and Taal town are isolated from Taal Lake and Taal Volcano.

Geographically speaking, Taal Volcano is bounded by the city of Talisay in the north and a small town of San Nicolas in the south, both in Batangas. This should not be unusual to anyone as several mountains are bounded by municipalities, provinces or even regions.

On a different note, trivia-savvies like me should know that Taal Volcano is the second most active volcano in the Philippines (next to Mayon) and is the smallest in the world. Its crater is basically a lake with another volcano inside (Yup, another volcano island you will have to figure out for yourself!). Plus, you can take a plunge within the crater’s lake. Cool – I mean hot!

Where to Go Around Taal Volcano:

Tagaytay and Taal Volcano may be inseparable by tourist tongue but you may want to head south towards the other side of Taal Lake. Mount Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas is popular for mountain climbers wanting a different perspective of the lake. You may also want to visit the historical town of Taal in Batangas which houses Taal Basilica, the largest church in East Asia.


4. BILIRAN IS NO LONGER PART OF LEYTE

— as a matter of fact, Biliranons recently celebrated the province’s silver anniversary or its 25th year of autonomy. Biliran was once a sub-province of Leyte until it became independent on May, 1992.

On several occasions up to now, Biliran has been thought of as part of Leyte. It is also often overlooked when talking of the Eastern Visayas region. However, the province is slowly putting its name in the tourist map.

Where to Go In Biliran:

Biliran, despite being the fourth smallest province in the country, is a complete tourist package on its own. The islands of Sambauan in Maripipi, Higantangan in Naval, and Dalutan and Capinahan in Almeria grow in popularity among beach lovers. You will also “fall” in love with Almeria’s Bagongbong and Ulan Ulan Falls, as well as Tinago and Tomalistis Falls in Caibiran.


5. COTABATO CITY IS NOT A PART OF ARMM

Yup, the city that houses the regional center of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is in fact, NOT a part of ARMM. Cotabato City, which is geographically part of the province of Maguindanao, is under Region XII or SOCCSKSARGEN. The region stands for SOuth cotabato, Cotabato city, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, SARangani, and GENeral santos city.

In case you noticed, the cities of Cotabato and GenSan seals their name on the region as they are independent cities with their own administrating body (GenSan is geographically part of South Cotabato). Do not also confuse the province of Cotabato with North Cotabato as they are just the same.

Where to Go In and Around Cotabato City:

SOCCSKSARGEN is exceptionally diverse in terms of culture and religion. Visit the Grand Mosque in Cotabato City or the Pink Mosque in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao (the pink town!). You may also want to take a trip towards Alamada, North Cotabato and visit the majestic Asik-asik Falls.

If you would like to go further south for a thrill, ride a zipline above the Seven Waterfalls of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, sign up for a four-hour hike towards Lake Holon in T’boli, South Cotabato, or conquer the rapids at white water tubing in Maitum, Sarangani.


Traveling is becoming a necessity nowadays but it doesn’t mean we have to let its geographic aspect slide to the side. These magnificent places are a gift to us Filipinos and in the end, they must be distinguished as located in one place and that is the Philippines. 🙂