Our trip to the Philippines started terribly. We got food poisoning from an Indian restaurant in Phuket where we arrived from Koh Lanta to take our flight to Manila. Actually, we kind of ‘missed’ the flight. The traffic was fine that day, the guesthouse we lived was close (20 minutes of walking) and we arrived to the airport six hours before the departure.
What we overlooked, however, was that the departure time was 00.25 on the 1st of April, which meant we should have arrived at the airport the evening of the 31st. But we arrived on the 1st in the afternoon, when the plane was already long gone. April Fools Day was indeed foolish.
But it all turned out fine in the end; we caught a flight the following day, arrived safely to Manila at 4 am, spent ten hours at the airport, tasted a lot of Filipino food and took another plane to Caticlan and a local bus to Pandan in Antique, one of the four provinces of the Panay Island.
We loved the small town of Pandan and its barangays (a Filipino term for a village, district or ward) so much that we decided to do a tour of other small towns and villages so that we could stay in contact with locals and avoid crowds on the beaches that were filling up quickly due to the Easter holidays.
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A vast number of Filipinos were travelling to see their relatives in different parts of the country or to spend their vacation on the beach, which coincided with very high rates for flights.
We spent the majority of our time with locals and we were incredibly touched by their stories, their humble yet bright personalities and vivacious energy. Now, we would like to thank them for some lessons that have influenced us.
To do that, we are dedicating this post to all of the dear people of the Philippines whom we met on the road. Many of you do not have the internet, a computer, and some of you have little to no electricity, but the world is small and we do believe these words will find you one day.
If you travel to the Philippines and need to book your hotel, we highly recommend to check out the latest rates on Agoda. We’ve been using the site for many years, and were very happy to find some fantastic deals through the website during our trip to the Philippines. Also you can use now Uber in Manila to save money while moving around the city.
Here are our suggestions:
Pearl Garden Hotel Manila
Elegant and comfortable rooms with aircon, private bathroom and wifi access.
Pandan Beach Resort, Pandan
The resort features a private beach, comfortable accommodation and a restaurant.
Circle Inn Iloilo City Center
A 3 star accommodation in the city center. Rooms with private bathroom and free wifi.
The Beauty of the Philippines and its Wonderful People
Your smiles are charming
A happy girl on the Olotayan Island.
We did nothing but smile on the streets, in the hotels, at the markets and in the bistros everyday. The elderly, children, vendors, and fishermen; all of you smiled after the first surprised look crossed your faces.
You welcome foreigners warmly
“Where are you from?” and your other curious questions started many conversations. After we responded, you proudly said, “Welcome to the Philippines!”
You love singing
A luggage porter at the airport sings, a shop assistant sings (at 4 am!), a guy selling tickets for a local bus sings, staff members in hotels sing. Not to mention that karaoke in small villages is as common as a bakery shop. There is even karaoke in the jungle!
You are big basketball lovers
A basketball match in Tibiao.
No matter how small or destroyed a town or village is after a typhoon, there is always a court for outdoor basketball. Over 30°C and hot sun? No problem. You still manage to start a game with some friends.
Your politeness is impressive
“Yes, ma’am”, “Yes, sir” was something we were getting used to for a while. And despite us requesting that you call us by our first names, you kept on with your high standards of politeness.
Heading to South-East Asia? Read more of our articles.
Your wild nature is a magnificent experience
Green rice fields in Tibiao.
Lush, wild forests, saturated, green rice fields like those in Banaue, waterfalls and rivers, all in unspoiled beauty. There is much more to admire than just your beaches, especially your hills and hidden gems of small islands that offer spectacular views of the landscape, villages, rivers and unpaved roads, where only a local can manage to ride a motorbike!
Travelling to Banaue or Tibiao? Check the best hotels in the area!
Read more about Philippines in this guide of Boracay.
How helpful you are
Where to eat, what to see, how to get somewhere: you suggested tips and insider info without us even asking you.
Your faith in God is profound
Church mass in Pandan.
It was a big visual change for us, to come to the Catholic Philippines from Buddhist Thailand. Buddhist string bracelets were replaced by crosses on necks, temples and altars became churches, chapels and statues of Jesus and Holy Mary. The churches we visited in Panay and Manila were full and many young and children attended the masses, compared to some predominantly Catholic European countries.
You are impressively family-oriented
You used to work and live abroad and you’ve come back because of your aging parents or a family you have a strong bond with. No matter how good the job was you had, you prefer to take care of your loved ones until they get better. Many of you also come back to retire in your homeland or plan to do so in the future.
It was not easy to explain to you that we left our homelands to travel around the world using only phone contact with our families.
Your women are so pretty
Kaylen, 14 years old girl selling fish in Roxas.
Those of you in the countryside and small provinces simply shine with their pure, feminine beauty with no artificial, cosmetic additions. In the cities this changes, but we consider this an inevitable side effect of commercial pressures in all large, global cities.
You love sweet, salty and fat
We had heard so many contrasting opinions about your cuisine and honestly, the food we tasted was very nice. We especially enjoyed the homemade meal we tried at our Couchsurfing host in Manila, but very often the amount of sugar or salt in your dishes was too much for us.
Need a hotel in Manila? Check out Makati Riverside Inn or find more hotels in Manila.
You are great storytellers
Mrs. Victoria talking to Gianni at the street market in Roxas.
Once you see there is someone who is ready to listen to you, you tell your story and you are not at all shy when talking about your private life.
You speak English even in small neighbourhoods
Sometimes it was a simple “good afternoon” that you loudly declared with a smile on your face, other times you started to chat about different countries and our travels. Whether it was kids running on the shore, ladies at the markets or a solitary man living alone in a forest, all of you were happy to share your time with us and made a great effort to have a conversation.
You guys can play with anything!
Kids having fun in the port in Iloilo.
We might have been staring at you too much when you were playing with your flip-flops or with bottle lids. No need for expensive toys here!
You do your best to preserve hidden islands
In some areas, you follow strict ‘carrying capacity’ rules in order to preserve the natural treasures of waterfalls and forests. You restrict the number of tourists who can enter areas during a certain period of time and we think that’s an amazing approach! But we feel you must become more active in keeping trash out of your forest and rivers.
Oh, your jeepney!
A jeepney in Manila.
What makes them so special is the way you paint them and how you pass the money to a driver via other passengers!
You always keep a positive spirit
When we saw your destroyed schools, huts and boats from typhoon Yolanda that hit you in November 2013, we had only one thought: the God you believe in so much could allow this to happen only to a people who have tremendous power to cope with tragedy.
You remember exactly what you were doing that day, where you ran to hide and how long the hell lasted in your barangay.
Now, almost six months later, when you’re still waiting for your shelter to be repaired or build from the scratch, you smile! You smile and you help those who have less than you. “Bahala na,” you say. You really live the moment, not caring about tomorrow or the past.
Even if this might prevent you from planning for the future, you live your life fully, with love, open hearts and a willingness to help those who need it.
The things we learned about other cultures so far have been precious for us. But the things you have taught us are crucial for our self-development, too.
People of the Philippines, you have helped us to realize that humanity is something that connects this world. We must remember that we are all the same, no matter which corner of the earth we were born in.
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Travel & Adventure
There’s a place in the Philippines called HUNDRED ISLANDS: And It Has 100 Islands!
There’s a place in the Philippines called HUNDRED ISLANDS! And guess what, there’s a hundred islands there for you to explore!!!
The Hundred Islands National Park: Experience Natural Beauty and Adventure
If you’re looking for a place to spend your vacation time at and you love nature and the outdoors, head to Alaminos City, Pangasinan to make some memories that will last you a lifetime! Whether you are with friends, with your spouse, or traveling with children, you will find that there is something for everyone to enjoy at The Hundred Islands National Park.
From our house in Quezon City, Manila, it was a 6-8 hour drive to the Welcome Center. I can’t say for sure how long it was because we left in the middle of the night and I slept through most of the drive there. When we arrived, it was still early in the morning but already sunny and warm – perfect weather for the activities we had planned!
Once you arrive at the Welcome Center, the first thing you need to do is go inside and rent a boat. You get to rent the boat for an entire day of island hopping, and experienced tour guides will take you to whichever islands you would like to see! Day rental rates are:
- Small boat(Good for 1-5 people): 800php
- Medium boat(Good for 6-10 people): 1000php
- Large boat(Good for 11-15 people): 1100php
Before you leave, I would also highly recommend renting some snorkels, too. We rented a few pairs to share with our group and it was definitely worth it for the spectacular underwater views we were able to enjoy throughout the day.
There are three particularly popular islands for those visiting, each with their own unique appeal: Children’s Island, Quezon Island, and Governor’s Island.
We never made it to Quezon Island ourselves as we instead chose to stop at various other islands, but it is popular due to being the most developed island here. It has activities for the family to enjoy such as ziplining, rock climbing and more!
Here are my fiancé and I enjoying the view from the peak of Governor’s Island, our first stop of the day. This island has the highest peak of all the islands in the Hundred Islands National Park, and the beautiful view is well worth the tiring hike it takes to get to the top.
Pictured right above is Children’s Island – popular for families due to the shallow calm waters to swim in, picnic tables to enjoy your lunch at and when we were there, there were even a few friendly cats to pet! We stopped at Children’s Island to enjoy the packed lunch we had brought, and then went in for a swim. The water was wonderfully warmed by the sun. We brought out the snorkels that we had rented and were delighted to be able to watch fish swimming around right in front of us! We enjoyed the waters here for a while before continuing our island hopping.
Another island that I would definitely recommend requesting from your tour guides to pass by is Bat Island. Aptly named, as we floated by on our boat, we were amazed to see thousands of bats hanging from the trees on this island. The trees were literally filled with the creatures, it was an amazing – and noisy! – thing to see.
We stopped at so many different islands that I can’t remember the names of all of them. There are over a hundred of them, after all! Every one as beautiful and unique as the last.
We had an amazing day filled with swimming, snorkeling, hiking, cave exploring and many other fun things! When we left the beautiful Hundred Islands National Park, we were so tired and sunburnt but glowing with happiness from our perfect day spent outdoors enjoying nature. It was the perfect getaway from the busy city of Manila, and I know that I, for one, am definitely looking forward to returning there one day!
Alaminos City Tourism
Tel: Alaminos City 24/7 Tourism Information Center (075) 656-1568 | Hundred Islands National Park (075) 551-2505
Email: [email protected]yahoo.com
The Hundred Islands National Park: Experience Natural Beauty and Adventure
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Abby is from the USA and moved to the Philippines to be with her husband, David Christopher Hizon, who also happens to be her photographer for most of her writing endeavors. A gamer, a bookworm, an animal lover and a self-proclaimed foodie, she is passionate about everything that she does and hopes that will come across in her writing. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/davichisabby, http://facebook.com/WritersInTandem/ & http://www.writersintandem.blog.com