If you’re still hesitating about whether to go to the Philippines, leave any doubts behind. The Philippines is a paradise on earth and one of the most beautiful places I have seen. I was there only eight days, but it was the best eight days of my life. In one day, I experienced more adventures than I had in a few years. I experienced Christian love in the purest form. I have reset my mind as I did during my last trip to Bali, I experienced a catharsis. My world has never been the same again. My perception of the world and problems has changed 180 degrees. People asked me when I came back: was it worth travelling for almost 20h? I will say that it would be worth 30 hours. The Philippines are unique in every respect and the reasons for visiting can take hours to list. However, I will limit myself in this article to only five reasons. I hope that this will encourage you to read on and, above all, travel to the Philippines.
I always say that aside from beautiful landscapes, learning about other cultures and exceptional people who can sometimes become our friends for life is most important to me. Filipinos are some of the most beautiful people to me: they have beautiful souls and huge hearts full of sincere love for other people and the world. If someone asked me how model Christians behave, I would point to Filipino culture.
Everyone is smiling and you hear at every step: “Hi! How are you?” People here radiate joy and sympathy, even though their lives are not always colourful. The vast majority live in extreme poverty. Their houses are usually small mud huts, often on a busy street. Most often they eat what they catch or grow. Their lives are modest and the most popular entertainment is karaoke. Practically in every house and bar you can hear somebody singing. Most of them have never left their island. Nevertheless, everyone is smiling and full of kindness. People who enchanted me with their naturalness and politeness, I could enumerate for hours.
Filipinos are also hard-working people. They have great respect for the boss and for the job itself. In a sense, it is related to their mentality, which was influenced by colonialism. Without a doubt, they are the most loyal employees you can imagine. They will give their arm quicker than they will steal or say a bad word to the boss. No wonder that most businesses on the island are run by pensioners from Europe or the USA. I do not think I’ll ever forget the bizarre situation in one of the restaurants, where the waitress gave me a discount for a badly made dish out of her own pocket.
One day I went to a beach restaurant for calamari. In the Philippines, this is usually served on the grill and is usually very good. The key is not to overcook them, but they also cannot be rubbery. On this visit, the second situation happened. So I asked politely for it to be cooked more. Unfortunately, instead of just a little grilling, they totally dried the squid and practically there was nothing to eat. When paying the bill, I asked for a small discount or, possibly, free juice (less than 1 euro). The waiter who served us was not very pleased. After 5 minutes of consultation with the rest of the crew, she offered a free juice. I thanked her politely, saying that I did not need a second juice and it would be best if we could not pay for the first one. I also suggested that she consult with the manager. That was it. The girl panicked at the word ‘boss’. Eventually, she brought me another juice and said she would pay for it. Of course, I refused because it was unfair and I felt very bad. I suggested that we forget about the discount. In the end, we shouldn’t argue about money. It was more about rules. Filipinos, however, do not want to hear about it. In the end, her friend came running in with information that everything was OK and that she had already paid for me. I tried to argue, but everyone only said: “It’s ok”. I felt bad, so I left a tip.
My heart, however, was stolen by a couple of young policemen, with whom, along with my traveling companion, we arranged to join for a beer and karaoke. First, the guys were gentlemen and they did not let us pay for ourselves. Normally, it would not bother me, but in this case, I know that it was a considerable expense for them. This, however, is testament to their class and respect for women. Sitting at the bar, we simply talked about life on the island, their work and home. I was impressed by their pride in having a job and the ability to serve people, even if they did not have too much income, live in basic conditions and have to be on standby 24 hours. They were proud that they could help other people and take care of safety. Beautiful!
I also learned police officers and guards often buy food for prisoners from their pockets. In the Philippines, prisoners must be alone and their families must bring in food. If someone is not loved, he usually receives help from the guards. This is not a rule in any way, but an ordinary human gesture. Why are they doing this? Because they think that the other person needs to be helped and cannot be judged for their mistakes. I thought I would cry.
Later we talked about family and love. I could not stand it and I started crying. There was so much goodness and value in these boys. Living in a busy and materialistic Europe or America, you rarely hear words such as those that fell from their mouths. Most of us focus on work, making a career and shopping – often forgetting about basic values. In the Philippines, this is the basis of life. The Filipinos reminded me of what is important in life and gave hope that there are still people full of human values in this world. I am sorry, but I will probably end here, because the more I think about Filipino kindness, the more I almost cry.
The Philippines is without a doubt a paradise on earth. Here it is so beautiful that there are no words. The surrounding nature excites the senses, but also creates the basis for active rest and adventure. The Filipinos are really good at it. Swimming in the sea next to the biggest fish known to man (whale sharks), jumping from waterfalls and cliffs, descending to the abyss over the precipice and canyoning are just a few of the attractions that await you in the Philippines and which I experienced.
The island of Bohol offers quite a lot of opportunities. You can, among other things, take the zip line from an altitude of 120 m on a route of 0.5 km above the beautiful canyon of the Loboc River or literally in the clouds on the longest and highest zip line in Asia at Hoyohoy Highland Stone Chapel & Adventure Park (1,250 km at altitude) 500 m). The cost of this pleasure is only 400 PHP, and the adrenaline and breath-taking impressions are guaranteed. You feel like a bird for a moment and think that even if the rope breaks, at least you will die surrounded by beautiful nature.
You can also take a walk on a creaking and wobbling bamboo bridge suspended 25 m above the Loboc River (PHP 20) or visit the python sanctuary where you can literally wrap yourself with a snake and take a selfie with a yellow python a few meters long (45 PHP).
On the island of Cebu, you can go for a few hours to explore the canyons of Kawasan national park, where one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Philippines is located. Canyoneering is simply moving in a canyon using various techniques, such as climbing, jumping into the water, walking, abseiling and swimming. Ahead of you are rock climbs, squeezing through cracks and jumping over waterfalls. The trip takes about 3 hours and provides a huge amount of adrenaline due to the need to break down various barriers and not being able to turn back. Along your journey, you are accompanied by a local guide and receive a helmet and a vest. The highest jump is from a height of 15 m.
This is not the end. The island of Cebu and Oslob which is the its 4th municipal income class municipality in the provincealso offers the only experience of its kind: swimming in the sea next to the largest fish known to man, the whale shark. Their body length reaches 12.65 m and their body mass reaches 13.6 t. Nevertheless, they are one of the mildest mammals. Looking into their eyes and brushing by is an experience that cannot be described in words. Man takes great respect for nature. Of course, I admit that it hurts me that they are attracted with food in the form of plankton every day for a few hours so that tourists can see them.
On the other hand, I think that it is worth it. However, let’s remember to follow the rules and try to minimize our impact. There are only a handful of places like Oslob in the world.
I guess I can say that the Philippines is a natural wonder. It is the only country in the world that is located on an archipelago of seven thousand islands. Many of these islands have preserved their pristine nature, such as Palawan or Balicasag. The Philippines is 75% mountainous, with few valleys and lowlands, and is home to almost 10,000 plant species.
It is here that we experience wonderful beaches, green tropical forests, karst caves, coral reefs and turquoise water like you see in advertising. Philippine islands offer great places for diving and snorkelling. Sometimes you just have to go into the water and dip your head under.
I do not think I will ever forget when I did it on Panagsama Beach and a turtle appeared, with which I swam alongside for several minutes.
. In the Philippines, we can feel part of nature and explore it at every step. In the fish sanctuary at Balicasag Island, we can literally be just like fish in the water. It’s enough to immerse yourself and see thousands of different coloured fish all around. Each of them floats freely and does not pay you much attention. It was beautiful. I could sit in the water with the mask for hours and it’s never enough. Nature in the Philippines and above all its proximity delights at every step.
Only here you can see beautiful virgin islands or see some animals up close. To this end, Filipinos have created numerous sanctuaries for animals, including Tarsier monkeys, which aim to protect endangered species.
Filipino cuisine is another reason to visit the Philippines. Not because of its flavours, but its diversity. The Filipino cuisine itself is quite simple and it has been in existence for a short time. The Philippines is one of those Asian countries that is still the least modernised and is still growing. There are not many ‘typically Filipino’ dishes. Thai and Chinese cuisine dominate here. Both carnivores and vegetarians will find something to their taste.
What really charmed me was access to fresh fish and seafood. They are served at virtually every restaurant, and a portion is bought by weight. In addition to traditionally encountered species, we can also try something more sophisticated such as stonefish or mantis shrimp. The choice is great. Not once did I feel sick after eating and the prices are very competitive, because you can negotiate in restaurants. So if someone expects sophisticated flavours like in Thailand, they will be disappointed, but if they want to eat a good, fresh seafood and fish, it will feel like being in paradise.
Similarly with fresh fruit juice. Just remember to ask for no sugar, because Filipinos, like other Asians, like to add a lot of sugar to the juice (4-5 tablespoons).
As in most Asian countries and in the Philippines, “street food” is ubiquitous. I recommend it, however, it is only for the brave, because unfortunately most sellers do not have refrigerators and use unclean water. The advantage is certainly the low price.
Filipinos also like grilled dishes, so as soon as it gets dark, barbecues are lit up in the streets. Very often, you can also meet young people having a barbecue on the beach.
5. FREEDOM & CHILLOUT
If you are a corporate person tired of everyday life, the Philippines will be the perfect place for you to relax. Regardless of whether you go to a more tourist-heavy or wilder island, peace is guaranteed.
Filipinos are very calm and quiet, and in no way impose on tourists. Nobody will approach you in a store. Well, only on the street, where you can hear thousands of tour offers or someone on a motorcycle or tricycle will offer you a ride. Everyone is nice and smiling. Everyone says ‘Hi!’ And it’s cool. However, there are plenty of places where you can escape from civilization, crowds of tourists and hide somewhere with a book under a palm tree. Do you like water? Rent a boat with a guide and swim to another island or go snorkelling. Feel the silence and connect with nature. In the Philippines, like anywhere else, you can feel the Lord of the world. Totally relax and feel free.
Are these 5 reasons enough to go to the Philippines? Maybe some of you have already been and would like to add something from yourself? Leave your comments here!