The Philippines was a place I barely knew, it never crossed my mind. I could hardly find it on our local newspapers or televisions if not because of huge breaking news like the death of President Ferdinand Marcos or big typhoon that hit The Philippines into pieces. The Philippines never existed in my life, but not until today.
It was many years ago when I first found the unspoken beauty of this country. I’ve been to The Philippines many times more than my fingers could count. It’s like a second home to me. The Philippines isn’t merely a country with stunning beaches and glorious mountains, but the big hearts of the Filipinos is what keeps me coming back to The Philippines.
THE FILIPINOS AND THEIR CULTURE
Respect is one of the strongest values in The Philippines. They express it through words and gestures as signs of respect. Like for example, Filipinos add “po” in the sentence as a symbol of respect while talking to elders, parents or even to someone you just met. They also show it through gestures, they often call it “mano po”. It’s a way of accepting blessings from the elder, similar to hand-kissing.
Another extraordinary thing about Filipinos is how they treat their guests in their house. Filipinos are humble and happy people. Especially when you visit their house, they do their best to make you feel welcome and comfortable. I’ve been to many countries in Asia and for me, The Philippines is the most friendly, kindest and warmest country. Filipinos could joke almost about everything, they could smile effortlessly no matter how rough their day has been. Filipinos are happy, and that makes me happier as a visitor.
TRAVELLING IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines has stunning beaches, beautiful historical places and most importantly great food. The first time I went to The Philippines, I was surprised by how cheap the food cost even in a fancy restaurant. It’s indeed a happy news for travelers knowing that you can get a delicious breakfast for only PHP 100 ($2++) in a nice-looking restaurant (Say hello to Jollibee!)
The best time to visit the Philippines is during summer time, but I had the chance to visit the country during Christmas and New Year seasons. Most Filipinos decorate their houses with Christmas lights and they have spectacular fireworks display every New Year’s Eve. I also got to experience the Caroling, it’s when groups of Filipino children go from house to house singing Christmas carols for coins reward.
It’s not hard to travel in The Philippines, almost every Filipino speaks good English. Waitresses, drivers, market vendors, even the street food sellers, they would even be more than happy to show you the way when you’re lost.
If you’re visiting Manila for a short trip, spare your time to see the Taal Volcano in Tagaytay [see header picture of this post]. You can either take the private van or take a bus from Cubao Station (more info here).
The best time to visit Tagaytay is December to January when the temperature drops down to the coldest. When in Tagaytay, visit Leslie’s for their signature Bulalo with overlooking glorious view of the Taal Volcano.
And don’t forget to include Picnic Grove in your list too, give their Zipline a try, challenging but totally worth it!
If you’re visiting The Philippines for a longer period of time, go and see Coron in Busuanga (less than 1 hour flight from Manila). Cebu Pacific Air has the most interesting promos and it’s cheap too! They often have “1 PESOS” promo fare to numerous destinations, you just have to wait for the perfect timing, just make sure you won’t miss it because it sells fast. Boracay, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan De Oro, Bohol and Cebu are worth visiting too!
FOOD IN THE PHILIPPINES
First of all, if you’re not a pork-eater or you prefer halal food, make sure you do some research first because they serve pork almost everywhere in The Philippines. When in The Philippines, eat Jollibee and Mang Inasal (P99 for a plate of Chicken Inasal and unlimited rice? Yes please! [see thumbnail picture of this post])
When in Philippines, don’t forget to try their all-time favorite/classic breakfast for super cheap price! Here’s Pandesal served best with a hot cup of coffee.
Talking about Filipino food, The Philippines gave me something that I’ve never experienced before. Filipino dishes are indeed delicious, most of the dishes have sweet and sour taste. One of the most usual ingredients in Filipino dishes is vinegar (suka). Back in my home country, we don’t use vinegar too often because our vinegar totally taste different. Unlike in The Philippines, they don’t just use vinegar for cooking but also for dipping (like a sauce). They usually mix it with onion, salt, ground black pepper and garlic.
Filipino has a very unique culture, most unique in all Southeast Asia, I must say. During Christmas and New Year season, (also known as the happiest season in The Philippines) most Filipinos who work abroad will go back to The Philippines to celebrate this special holiday with their families and friends. On Christmas season, they often cook pasta, ham, lechon baboy (roasted pork), coconut salad and many more. It happens every year, it’s like a tradition.
This is a guest post written by my friend, Nita, that I met during #MxUAKk trip in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She’s actually Kania‘s friend 🙂
Here’s a short bio of her:
“I can’t live without photography and I love food more than anything. I love watching the fluffy clouds floating in the blue horizon, therefore I travel. An Indonesian who currently lives in Malaysia but her heart never leaves both homes, Indonesia and The Philippines.’
You can visit her food blog >> http://nitalovestoeat.wordpress.com/