As you may remember, I spent around 3 months backpacking the island of Luzon in the Philippines, mainly doing humanitarian work as a Christian missionary.
During my time, I experienced plenty of ups and downs, but I would like to share some of my favourite things about this beautiful and diverse country.
1. The People
I was amazed at the generosity, and hospitality so freely shown to us as a group. I have been to my share of places, and I can honestly say this is a country where I experienced so much love freely given.
People will welcome you into their homes, offering nothing but their best to you, no matter the circumstances or their own personal struggles.
I believe the western world in particular can learn so much from this culture of hospitality and selflessness.
Transportation around cities was a highlight for me, oddly enough.
Jeepneys are a truly unique and popular mode of transportation around Filipino cities. The only way to describe them is as though a bus and a jeep had a baby. The inside has two long benches with a narrow runway down the middle. They are extremely short and crammed, and the goal is often to fit as many people as possible inside at a time.
The sheer chaos of it all, along with the loud, yet intricate designs that decorate both the interior and exterior of them are truly impressive and makes getting around a unique experience each time. It’s never a dull moment!
Tricycles are another popular mode of transportation that I enjoyed. A motor/dirt bike is attached to a small pod-like cart. Passengers can ride both in the pod, as well as on the back of the bike.
These, unlike jeepneys, function more as taxis as opposed to a bus. Some of my best moments in the Philippines were spent riding sidesaddle on the motorbikes, enjoying the breeze and sights.
Although not being a lover of seafood proved difficult while living on an island, there were a handful of dishes, desserts, and fruits I crave to this day!
Really take advantage of the delicious tropical fruits, they taste far better than any imported fruits that we’re used to buying from the grocery store back home. Mangos became a staple in my diet, I have yet to taste a mango that tasted like a Philippine mango!
Some dishes I really enjoyed and recommend were chicken adobo, and pancit. As far as desserts, some must-try’s include halo-halo, or banana lumpia.
If you’re really feeling brave, try out Balut, a fertilized duck egg, which is a Filipino delicacy. I chickened out, but let me know what you thought if you’ve ever tasted it!
The beaches and coastlines are typically everyone’s first thought when they hear about the Philippines. And rightfully so!
The beaches are absolutely gorgeous and to die for. Although I didn’t spend very much of my time on the coast, the few days spent on the beach were a definite highlight.
Snorkeling the beautiful coral reefs is a must-do, no matter how long you’re going, it is absolutely breathtaking! Observing the schools of vibrant fish, and various sea-creatures was something I’m so grateful to have experienced.
White sand, warm turquoise water, everything that you picture on a dream beach are present in the Philippines and it’s many islands.
Being from Western Canada, it rains on a nearly daily basis, however I’ve never experienced storms as I did in the Philippines.
I was there for the start of the rainy season, and it did not disappoint! Every night, at around the same time, we would be able to sit out on the balcony and watch the majestic lightning bolts strike the night sky. Completely breathtaking!
That, along with unexpected rain that would leave you drenched in a matter of seconds, made for some pretty memorable moments! It was a great break from the humidity, and something about being caught in a storm unexpectedly always makes for a great story.
If you’re travelling to the Philippines soon, this should give you an idea of some highlights to look out for. This is truly a unique country with so much to offer!
Have you ever been? We’d love to hear about your highlights and experiences during your time there in the comments below!