A Philippine Virtual Vacation

Luzon March 2

Recently I watched a World War II vet give a presentation on his involvement in retaking Luzon, Philippines from the Japanese. Being intrigued I decided to take a virtual vacation of the areas he described. These included landing on the beach in the Lingayen Gulf, marching through Binalonan, San Manuel to Lupao, San Jose City, Puncan, Carranglan, and ending in Santa Fe.

Virtual Philippines

My virtual vacation began with a Google Earth flight from Minneapolis to Angeles, Philippines mid January which is currently priced around $1,000. In my research January and February are the best times to visit Luzon as it’s the coolest time of year and the driest. After spending almost a complete day flying I anticipate needed some time to rest so getting a hotel and something to eat would be the next piece of my virtual vacation. There seems to be a wide range of food options to try while there.


The next day begins the trip of re-tracing the steps of this World War II vet in the present day. Going from Bonuan Beach which is pictured at the top the first city is Binalonan. There appears to be signs of war yet today just rusting where it was left mixed in to places rebuilt and expanded to what Binalonan is now.

Binalonan 3

Binalonan tank

Moving on from Binalonan, the next destination is San Manuel. I wasn’t able to find much for photographs taken in this area so I continued on to Lupao. This looks like a beautiful area with some mountains, farm land, and a nice city.Lupao 1

Lupao 2

Lupao 3

Nearby San Jose City is the next place on this tour re-tracing the steps of 75 years ago. This appears to be a nice city resting in the foothills of mountains which can be seen off in the distance of the second photo below. San Jose City looks like a nice spot to get acquainted with local culture among modernized buildings and vehicles. I can almost feel the warmth and humidity from the palm trees, moisture on the ground and clouds passing by. A nice break from winter weather in Minnesota.

San Jose City 3

San Jose City 2

San Jose City 1

On towards the mountains stopping in the Puncan area. I didn’t see any pictures of a town or city, just a few photos of the countryside which looks amazing. The dirt roads in the photo below may indicate difficulty in traveling through this area without a vehicle capable of driving over rough roads. Most likely a less traveled area.

Puncan 1

Puncan 2

Traveling to nearby Carranglan brings similar landscapes and significantly less development than San Jose City. A beautiful and quiet area to relax in without all of the activity of higher populated areas.

Carranglan 1

Carranglan 3

Carranglan 4

Santa Fe brings up the final city of this area as World War II ended for this vet. This seems to be more mountainous terrain with a small town winding through the hills and valleys. I wonder what the monuments in these photos are dedicated to? Again another picturesque and relaxing spot to take in the mountains of Luzon.

Santa Fe 1

Santa Fe 2

According to this World War II vet, Baguio was their final destination as they forced the Japanese out of the Philippines but thankfully the war ended before reaching this large city. I can only imagine what impact war would have on this city and how much rebuilding there has been during the past 75 years.

BAGUIO AT 104. Baguio, which has a land area of 57 square-kilometers and designed for 25,000 people, is now home to close to 400,000 people and has grown to become one of the highly urbanized cities in the country. Baguio celebrates its 104th Charter Day anniversary on September 1. 010913_baguio_05_comanda.jpg.</p>

After listening to descriptions of the terrain the military traveled over it’s nice to be able to view photos taken to get a better idea how much the terrain changed going from flatter, wet areas to mountains. It’s also nice to see that these beautiful places have been rebuilt from the ravages of war. Time to return to Minneapolis to the snow and cold.

Bonuan Beach