Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Real Paradise: The Philippines

This is just a general introduction about this beautiful group of islands.
Location southeastern Asia, surrounded by Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, China and Taiwan.
The Philippines is a tropical country with fascinating landscapes, active volcanoes, splendid beaches, waterfalls, coral waters and tropical forests.

There are 7107 islands, of which about 4000 are inhabited. Divided in 3 main groups: Luzon, where it is found the capital, Manila; Mindanao in the south and the Visayans.

Filipinos are very proud of their food, although surprisingly you cannot find Filipino restaurants at nearly any place of the world. The basic diet of the Philippines is rice and pork. As Filipino says: No Rice, No Power!
Filipino food buffet
They still love to eat with their hands. Fish is not that common as it could be expected in a country with 7107 islands and they basically eat it for breakfast and dry (dry fish or dry octopus). Filipinos also love to do BBQ and there is many places outside the street where you can buy the meat and they will borrow you their BBQ. You bring your own rice and drinks (and cutlery, if you have any foreigner guest like me!)

Milk and dairy products are not easy to find. Coffee also has not very good quality over there. The best of the Philippines with no doubt is their tropical fruits: mangoes, papayas, dorian, watermelons, pineapples, bananas...All taste amazing in smoothies. Read more about taho here.

Philippines is a country mainly Catholic, with the exception of Mindanao island on the south, where they are mostly Muslims. Filipinos nowadays have a strong believe in religion, even youth people.
Inside the church

Garden outside the church
Entrance of Baclayan Church

Another view of the church

St. Niño Church in Cebu

Philippines has an estimated population of about 95 millions inhabitants but I would personally say it is not a very reliable info due to the huge amount of Filipinos around the world, working in cruises ships, au pairs, or nurses in the US.
Most of the Filipinos belong to the Austronesian group and still you can find around 30.000 of them belonging to the Negrito ethnicity, the first group settle down in the Philippines coming from Central Asia thousands of years ago.
Kids from Puerto Princesa

Filipinos having party in a small barangay (village)
Filipinos are most probably the country in Asia with the best English Speaking population (together with Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore ).  It is very weird to find a Filipino which is not totally fluent, even in the mountains or remote areas. Most of the TVs are broadcasted in English. Labels of the products are also in English. There is around 120-170 languages, depending of the classification. Spanish was the official language for 3 centuries and even became the official language of the First Philippine Republic. After the American occupation English started to be taught. Around 600 teachers arrived in 1901 to teach English to the population. Tagalog is most predominant language, spoken in Luzon area and native tongue or 22 million of inhabitants. Another major languages are Cebuano e Ilocano.

Question: How many Filipinos fit in a 16 seats van?

That spider is HUGE!

Being a female solo traveler, I had been pampered by friends and fellow travelers all my trip. The only big annoyment was to be constantly hassled to buy things you don't need (Especially in Boracay, where every 2 steps someone wanted to sell you the same art craft, sunglasses, give you a massage or make you a tattoo). Filipinos tend to play cheeky and increment the prices as you are a foreigner, but nothing different than other places. (But check my post about Angeles in my second visit in the Philippines) It's also annoying to see the young girls hanging out with old western guys, some of these girls you might even suspect that they are under age. But of course, the big danger are cockroaches!! They are everywhere and super huge!

My lovely friends in Manila

Friends forever in Puerto Galera and underwater!

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