Now eventually, of course, you’ll want to leave Metro Manila.
Here are the two places, I would highly recommend.
Sagada and Boracay.
Now Boracay gets a bad rap for being the Phuket of the Philippines. This is not really the case. Besides the beach is better, if not the best. And if you go there during the low season, basically not in Apri, May or December, you’ll be fine.
Sagada is one of the few places in the Philippines where the indigineous culture seems authentic. Yes, there are other places, but this place has the creature comforts without the society being too damaged, yet. Near Sagada (well around two hours away) is Banaue. In Banaue you’ll find the fabled rice terraces, but if you walk on further, you’ll find Batad (with a guide, of course) which is a more authentic and unspoiled version of the terraces. Plus you can actually stay with the villagers.
So how do you get to Boracay? There are many ways, but the way I would recommend is flying Seair to Caticlan and taking the banca (pumpboat) to Boracay. Though Cebu Pacific might be resuming its flights to Caticlan soon.
How do you get to Sagada? You take a Victory Liner Bus going to Tuguegarao. But you get off at Solano junction. From there you find a bus going to Banaue. When you get to Banaue, you can head off to Batad or take a jeepney to Sagada. I have never taken public transport on this route to Sagada, but this is probably the way I’d do it.
Another way is taking the Victory Liner bus to Baguio. When you get to Baguio you have to find the Dangwa bus terminal. You take this bus to Sagada. When I took this a long time ago, it took around seven hours from Baguio to Sagada because of crap-sucky roads. Supposedly this road is fixed now because of the rage of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who wanted this road to be part of the backpacker circuit.
One more thing, in Sagada eat in Yogurt House, like, everyday, lol. St. Joseph’s Inn is also probably the best and most central place to stay in. And of course you’ll check out Sumaging cave, Echo Valley (do go down and visit the hanging coffins) and other burial areas. Take a guide. There are also waterfalls, though the bigger one is quite a walk they say. The smaller one is nearer and you can dive into it’s deep pool 🙂
Meanwhile, back in Boracay, I don’t know any backpacker lodgings to stay in, but the best bar to get that authentic rustic vibe is at Red Pirates Pub in Station 3 (Boracay is divided into 3 stations). Station 1 has the best beach and Jonah’s fruit shake (a must drink). Also eat at the “talipapa” or wet market for the best freshly caught and cooked seafood.