What makes a good tour guide? I’ve met quite a few and can easily pick out those who stand out in my list. Them whose credo is to make every traveler or tourist enjoy his trip. Them who treat their job like their religion. With passion. With devotion. In the same vein, I can just as easily weed out the wrong types. Them who spit out names, dates and other historical facts almost mechanically, at times not minding whether or not you caught the trail of the pseudo-history lesson. I’m sure you know the types.

 

 

 

In my experience, I never really found the perfect tour guide. But each experience is rendered unique because of some “connection”. I’ve kept in touch with a few. I’ve even dedicated some blogs to “honor” them. Here’s a short list. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Randy, the Butanding Whisperer (Donsol, Sorsogon)

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Randy. The Butanding Whisperer.
Donsol, Sorsogon.

 

 

To this day, Randy still sends me text messages in his “jejemon” style which gives me tremendous headaches! I am still able to refer to Randy some of my friends eager for a Butanding experience. My grandchildren still remember him fondly.

 

 

Rusty, The Last Caretaker of Syquia Mansion (Vigan)

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Syquia Mansion in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Don’t miss this!

 

 

I wonder how Rusty is. I failed to take a photo of him. Does he have his “apprentice” to train now? Has Rusty retired already?

 

 

Rogers With An “S” (Batanes)

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He punctuates his sentences with “I Love You”. And yes, take that seriously!

 

 

He punctuates his sentences ย with “I love you’s” and his face has a perennial smile sure to infect each person he meets. Rogers — yes, with an “S” — is not young, but his energy and passion is forever on overdrive. Where does he get all the energy? Must be the Batanes air!

 

 

Cemetery Guides, anyone? (LA LOMA, NORTH & CHINESE CEMETERIES)

 

 

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La Loma Cemetery. Who would have thought this makes for an outstanding guided tour? In the league of New Orleans and Paris!

 

 

I joined a tour organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines and was only too happy to have the brilliant Architect Manuel Noche and the hilarious, ever-energetic Ivan Man Dy walk us through history as we walked around the mounds and mausoleums, some of which are as high as 3 storeys. I’m telling ya….. this guided tour is certainly worth the buckets of sweat that humid day!

 

 

Juan Luna Shrine: So, Who Shot The Patriot’s Wife? (Badoc, Ilocos Norte)

 

 

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The Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. Drop by on your drive from Laoag to Vigan. It’s the last town of Ilocos Norte on your way to Ilocos Sur.

 

 

Bet some of you didn’t know that. Yes, Juan Luna shot his own wife. I’d love to retell the story but that nameless guide in the Luna Shrine can’t be beaten in his craft. It was this man who inspired my grandchildren to always ask for a Tour Guide when we’re traveling. And they do listen….. In a way that makes me real jealous.

 

 

Mount Pinatubo: An Ex-Marine For A Guide and A Native Aeta for a Driver

 

 

Who would have thought I’d do this at my age? I was determined, but it sure was motivating that the trek was made shorter! I came in my old pair of comfy rubber shoes, then left with a pair of slippers. My guide’s daughter needed a pair and so mine — though used — must have made a good present.

 

 

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Our Pinatubo Guides!

 

 

THANKS TO THESE TOUR GUIDES —- my trips to these places are made truly memorable. There are DIY (Do It Yourself) Trips, and there are those where the experience is enhanced by how a local’s perspective is drawn much differently from what the travel books say. Priceless. Much.