The hospitality of Filipinos is incomparable to the rest of the world.
PARADISE BEACHES AND ISLANDS
Philippines is one of the largest island groups in the world with 7,107 islands.
Get lost in one of the biggest shopping malls in the world.
When I noticed all the giant shopping malls in Manila, I had a feeling that Filipinos must be crazy about shopping. Later I figured out that shopping is also a way of family gathering for them. Or as one of my Filipina friends says: “They come for the air conditioning.”
Anyway, shopping in the Philippines can be quite a worthwhile experience. The country is known by many as a great handicraft center. Manila has fantastic shopping opportunities. There are a lot of places to go and it all depends on what you intend to buy, and how much is your budget.
NATURE, FLORA AND FAUNA
Philippines has one of the most diverse wildlife in the world.
Philippines is home of a diverse range of birds, plants, animals and sea creatures. There are nearly 200 mammal species in the Philippines. The Philippine Tarsier is one of the smallest (and cutest!) species of monkeys in the world. You will find more than 600 species of birds, over 300 species of reptiles and amphibians and at least 400 coral species. From the giant whale shark to the world’s smallest fish (Pandaca pygmea), everything you can dream of is united in the beautiful islands of the Philippines.
Philippines has some stunning surroundings, the fantastic Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the Rice Terraces in Banaue, the incredible Archipelago of El Nido. You can climb one of the 37 volcanoes, for example the Mount Pinatubo, or see the world’s smallest volcano of Taal. You can discover caves, lakes and waterfalls. If you love nature, you will love the Philippines.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
The average yearly temperature is around 26.6°C.
Luckily, the weather in the Philippines does not reach a point of extreme hot or extreme cold temperatures, so you can easily adapt to the tropical weather. The best time to go is between November and May.
They also have a monsoon season over there and loads of rain between June and October. But honestly, I don’t care, it wouldn’t stop me from going there if I would have a chance. Nothing is more magical than swimming in the sea on a rainy day, the sun shines through the clouds and the water is 30°C… Anyway, the weather is pretty much unpredictable since global warming.
A place where Rhum is cheaper than juice.
The prices for booze in Philippines are lower than in most countries I have been. Whenever you order a Rhum with juice, you can be sure to get a good mix as the juice might be more expensive than the Rhum. 🙂
Definitely a must-try is the Red Horse beer! Stronger than normal beer, but nobody actually knows how much stronger, since it’s not written on the bottle. In a supermarket, a 0,5l bottle cost 20 pesos (a half US Dollar).
A bottle of Tanduay Rhum cost 1 US Dollar. My favorite Rhum is the Boracay Coconut Rum, watch out for the white bottle, looks like Malibu. It’s very delicious mixed with pineapple juice. Get your 0,7l bottle for only 90 Pesos.
NO LANGUAGE BARRIER
Over 90% of the population speaks English.
Big advantage compare to other Asian countries: Almost everybody speaks English in the Philippines, from a 3 year old kid to the 90 year old granny. English is the language of the government, and the preference for written communication, be it in school or business. There are also plenty of English version newspapers and magazines.
10 | THE COLORFUL JEEPNEY
Explore the country like a local.
Another thing you have to do in the Philippines is riding in or on a jeepney! Why? Because it’s fun! It’s cheap and it’s windy, no need of an air conditioner!
But what are these jeepneys and where do they come from? The U.S troops left old military jeeps back in WW2. The Filipinos opened the back, added two benches, gave them a colorful and unique design, decorative ornaments, flashy paintings, stars, dots and sometimes even extra lights. And just like that, the Philippine jeepney became a cultural sign of the country.
An average jeepney can carry 16 – 20 passengers, two up front next to the driver and 14 – 18 seated in the back facing each other on two benches. Well, that’s the normal case, but often you’ll see an extra body hanging outside or onto the back, or people even occupy the roof. For some reason, mostly these “outside” passengers are young and male. You will be surprised, how much a jeepney can carry.
To get a sense of the place from the local’s perspective and to see how people interact, Jeepneys are a fantastic way to explore the country. So don’t forget to hop on one whenever you have the chance!
1. Even if there is a typhoon, you might as well keep smiling.
2. Complete strangers will feed you till you cannot eat anymore.
3. On your birthday, friends come to your house at 5am and sing songs to you.
4. Airlines lend you an umbrella to cross 100 feet on the tarmac.
5. If you gain weight, you are becoming healthy.
6. If you lose weight, you are becoming sexy.
7. You are addressed as “Sir” or “Ma’am”
8. Mangoes do grow on trees, everywhere, even if money doesn’t.
9. You can pee anywhere it doesn’t say “Don’t Pee Here.”
10. Public transportation drops you wherever you want.
12. Canada is a state in America. United Kingdom is near New York.
13. Everyone knows a Filipino who lives in Los Angeles.
14. P’s and F’s are kind of interchangeable, which makes words like “departed” very funny.
15. If you look white, you will be greeted, lovingly with “Hey Joe!”
16. No need for a camera. Strangers will take your picture, add you on Facebook, & tag you.
19. Your nose is never too “tall”.
21. Any occasion can–and probably should–include a beauty pageant.
22. If you are a child below a certain age, you need not wear pants.
23. Jeans and a polo is fairly formal.
24. The bucket-and-hand method of toilet hygiene.
25. Working at McDonald’s or a call center is legitimate, respectable work.
26. There is always a convenient sari-sari store nearby.
27. Even if you are tone deaf, when you sing videoke you are a rockstar.
28. If you have no umbrella, use a handkerchief to cover your hair.
29. In the far flung mountains and forests, there are witches and ghosts and white ladies
30. Waiting is an art. If you have nothing to do, it’s okay. Just standby.
31. There is a basketball court nearby. Just over there.
32. Unsolicited inspirational text messages.
33. Girls: no need to worry whether you look good in a bikini.
34. You can epically declare “I will be the one” on a regular basis.
35. Morning snacks. Afternoon snacks.