People do ask, when they come to the Philippines, what should they see, which is logical considering their limited time. What I’m going to do is make a list of places I think you should see, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t other places, too.
The top 3 I would suggest would be Boracay, Sagada, and Donsol.
I know some people would say don’t go to Boracay anymore because it is over-exploited which is true. But if you go to Boracay when it’s the low season (meaning the time when all the Philippines isn’t there) it isn’t so bad. I’d suggest going there from January to March or maybe even October to November.
Sagada in the north is awesome because their culture is intact. Unreachable by the Spanish Catholics, Sagada was converted by the Anglicans. The positive side effect was the Anglicans let the Sagadans preserve their traditions. Also non-Sagadans are not allowed to own property there, maintaing Sagada culture even more.
Donsol. If you’ve never swam with a whaleshark, you should. Donsol is still best accessed by flying to Legaspi and taking a hired van from there. During the night at Donsol, look for the whorls of fireflies by going on a river cruise. When I say whorls, I mean whorls of intensity that you’ve never seen before. You can even watch the fishermen catch fish using traditional methods with torches on their heads and bamboo baskets on their back.
Now many of you would insist to go to Palawan, and I say most of you should. But let me humbly suggest that instead of going to Puerto Prinsesa, just fly or take a boat straight to Coron from Manila. The beaches are more pristine there, and some islands are nearly if not completely uninhabited. Inquire about the baby Boracays and you will be amply rewarded.
Two more places I would recommend would be Batanes and Siargao, but I haven’t been to neither, but would go to if given the opportunity.
You must be wondering why I haven’t suggested Bohol or Puerto Prinsesa and the like. Those places are great, and would be the places you would go to if you read the Lonely Planet or Rough Guides. I’m suggesting the other places above, especially the top 2, because these are the places I would go to because I’m from here.