10 Reasons Why The Philippines Should Be Your First Stop In Asia

The Philippines was never very high on my travel bucket list. No one really talked about the place, and it seemed to have a reputation for being a rather dangerous place to travel through. Besides, all travellers knew that Thailand had all the best beaches, China had all the work opportunities and Vietnam had all the best food. Why bother going to the Philippines?

Then finally in March this year I got the chance to visit. What I discovered was a country inhabited by the friendliest people on Earth, littered with unimaginable beaches and an infectious family like culture that made you never want to leave. Some of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Asia were hidden in faraway corners of the country, still unheard of by much of the backpacker crowd. What I still can’t figure out is how so many travellers in Asia pass on this country full of beautiful people, fresh tropical fruit, picturesque islands and untouched natural beauty. Safe, cheap, beautiful; I ended up staying for 6 months! It’s easily become my new favourite spot in Asicoa.

Need more proof? Here’s 10 reasons why you need to skip Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and head straight to the Philippines on your next trip to Asia.

1. The amazing people


It’s amazing how friendly the people are here. How the place got a reputation for being dangerous, I have no idea. There was one time where I ran out of cash in El Nido, and since the place had no ATM’s I wasn’t able to get cash to pay for the tour I had been on that day. I was so embarrassed but when I finally told the guy, he just laughed and said “Ahhh no problem, you can pay anytime! I just hope you enjoyed the tour!” A perfect example of the generous, welcoming spirit of the Filipino people.

They’re also so polite! I’ve never been called Sir so many times in my life. As soon as you walk into 7 Eleven – “Good afternoon Sir!”

Then I ask her to help me work the drink machine, “Yes Sir, no problem Sir!”

Then when I go to pay, “Thank you Sir, is there anything else you need Sir?”

Then when I leave, “Thank you Sir, come again Sir!”

Then as I walk through the door the security guard holds it open and says, “Thank you for coming Sir, have a good day Sir!”

This isn’t a one off, it happens like this every single time! I thought the Japanese were polite but this was a whole new level. They don’t try to sell me anything, they don’t try and give me a taxi ride, they don’t try to ask for money; they’re just polite for the sake of being polite, and that’s something that you don’t see around the world too often these days. Filipino’s certainly know how to make you feel welcome.

2. The incredible food

Food in the Philippines

What I love about Filipino food is that it’s so different. I love eating new things and that’s hard to do in many other parts of Asia. I’d eaten a whole lot of Chinese food before I went to China, I’d had quite a few gallons of Tom Yum soup before I went to Thailand, I’d eaten my fair share of curry and roti before I went to India and I knew all about udon noodles before I went to Japan. Yet before this year I had never seen or even heard of kalderetta, adobo, sinigang, bulalo, turon, lumpia, I could go on forever. Some of the food didn’t agree with me completely but there were some things, their soups especially, that were just so different and delicious. There really is a lot of stuff that will be like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. Damn, I’m craving a sinigang right now!

3. You don’t get scammed or hustled

Mall of Asia
No one bothers you when walking down the street

To me, one of the most unattractive things about Asia is the blatant scamming. If you’ve ever been to the markets in China or caught a tuk tuk in Thailand you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hustling is even worse – take a walk through Phuket one night and count how many times someone tries to sell you something. 100 times only? Guess it was a quiet night. During my 6 months in the Philippines I got scammed once. Other than that, it was so refreshing not having to watch my back every second of the day. A couple of times I even tested the taxi drivers, telling them I had no idea how to get back to my apartment when I actually knew the way perfectly. Did they drive me around the block and run up the meter? Nope. Maybe the country’s strong religious roots has something to do with it, but whatever it is you’ll definitely appreciate it.

4. It’s off the beaten track

Tourism desk in the Philippines

I still struggle to understand how so many attractions in the Philippines continue to fly under the radar. How is it that Bali gets 3 million visitors a year and Boracay barely manages to get a million? How is it that I literally had the entire resort on Cagbalete Island to myself? The Philippines only had 4 million tourists in 2012, compared to 20+ million in Thailand. Anyway, whatever the reason is let’s just hope it stays that way. Part of the magic in exploring the spotless white sand beaches of the Philippines is that you quite often have them all to yourself.

5. Everyone speaks English!

I was surprised to find out the language of instruction in schools here is actually English! Finding your way around a language barrier can be half the fun in travelling, but it’s also surprising how different your travel experience becomes when you can actually communicate with everyone. The level of English here is very high, definitely better than any other country I’ve visited in Asia (except for Singapore). It really makes travelling through the country a lot easier, and it’ll allow you to interact with the locals who will be able to recommend things and places you would have never otherwise heard of.

6. The fantastic shopping

SM Manila

For me, shopping in Manila would be the best I’ve ever seen. Bangkok was pretty good, Shanghai was also good, even Hong Kong is not bad. Manila beats all of them. Out of the 20 biggest shopping malls in the world, 5 of them are in Manila. That’s more than any other city. On top of that all the shop assistants speak great English, stuff is not overpriced (cough, Shanghai), the local brands are surprisingly good quality and the free WIFI actually works! No stupid codes, no getting a password from the information desk; just connect and go. Their malls are not just big, boring boxes either. The maze of Greenbelt malls is modern, classy and full of character. Spend a whole day walking through here and you’ll probably only manage to see half of it.

7. Unbelievable beaches

Cagbalete Island

These days its pretty hard to find a picture perfect beach that isn’t overcrowded, overdeveloped or overhyped. Unless of course you’re in the Philippines, where there are just too many to name. In a country made up of over 7,000 islands beautiful beaches are bound to be everywhere. And they are! Try Googling Amanpulo, Caramoan, White Beach Boracay, Coron, Camiguin, Anguib Beach, Cagbalete Island, Caramines Sur, Nacpan Beach, Bolobadiangan Island, Subic Beach, Buluan Island; there’s just too many to list. Most of these I haven’t even seen yet, but I’ll definitely be back to do it soon. What’s even crazier is that I’m guessing you’ve never even heard of these places, meaning no one else is going to be there except you.

8. The pretty faces

Megan Young, Miss World 2013
Miss World 2013. Photo credit: Paul Cortes Photography

While I was living in Manila, the Traveler’s Digest released an article ranking Quezon City as one of the “Top 10 cities with the world’s best looking men”. The article caused a bit of a Facebook sharing frenzy amongst the locals, and the humble celebrations had barely ended when the Philippines won Miss World 2013 a few months later. In fact, it appears the Philippines has been cleaning up at beauty pageants for quite some time now. I’m just going to chime in and go on record saying that the Philippines really is a country of very pretty people 🙂

9. It’s cheap!

Glorietta market

Budget travellers will definitely have no problem making their way through here. Taxi rides around town cost $3, a decent meal costs $1.50 and a bucket of beers will barely run you $5. Catching the latest movie at the cinema will cost you $6 and you can rent yourself a studio apartment for around $15 a day! Not to mention the country’s budget airlines (Cebu Pacific, PAL Express) offer some of the cheapest fares in Asia.

10. It’s growing, fast

The fort
Fort Bonifacio in Manila

I remember the first time I visited Fort Bonifacio and felt like I was walking through an upgraded version of Singapore. Skyscrapers were going up in all directions, it was incredibly clean, all the international eateries were around, there were Deutsche Bank and HP and IBM offices towering above me, the roads were wide and uncrowded, there were fancy public parks and boutique shopping streets; there I was thinking “I thought the Philippines was 3rd world?” The place looked like New Zealand 20 years into the future! I cannot wait to see what this place looks like in a few years time.

I’ll say it one more time. Go to the Philippines NOW. Asia’s best kept secret may not stay a secret for too much longer.

Heading to the Philippines? a few tips:

  • For affordable accommodation, I highly recommend using Airbnb. There are many condo and apartment buildings in the bigger cities that are vacant and you can find lots of good offers that will be cheaper and more comfortable than hotels and hostels. You can get $25 of free Airbnb credit using this link.
  • I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance for the Philippines. Travel in the Philippines is not dangerous but many aspects can be unreliable and you should expect the unexpected. For an introduction to what travel insurance is, why you need and where to buy it, check out my post Travel Insurance 101: Everything You Need To Know.
  • For getting around the cities I recommend using Uber! If you don’t speak Tagalog it can be difficult to communicate with some taxi drivers. Uber is far safer and more reliable. You can get your first ride on Uber for free by using this link.Have fun!

Heading to Asia. Be sure to add the Philippines to your "to-do" list. Amazing beaches, delicious food, off the beaten track, the friendliest people. What more could you want?

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659 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why The Philippines Should Be Your First Stop In Asia

  1. Thank you Bren for this awesome article! I can relate to every single point on your list. I try to visit my family in the Phils every year, but i also visit because i want to be in this beautiful, crazy and so different country again. And yes, sometimes i think a little bit more tourists would be good for the economy but, as selfish as it may sound, i want to the phils to be a secret getaway. 13 days left till im on my way to the pinoys again, btw =)

      1. When you go back to Philippines please try to go to Calaguas Island. For now, you start your research about the island and the tour packages on offer. 🙂

          1. You’ve been to more places in the Philippines than I have, and I’m a local! 🙂 Thank you for the wonderful article, so glad to find people like you who love my country!! 🙂

          1. San Jose? I think that’s the jump off point to Apo Reef (different from Apo Island). I think it’s the the 2nd largest reef in Asia? Or the world next to the Great Barrier Reef. Anyways, been there, it was good!! Kilometers of great snorkeling or diving.

    1. And yes, I know what you mean, it would be great for the country if more tourists started visiting, but it’s just so nice having the place all to yourself!

      1. First of all thank you Bren. I am so embarrassed when you list down some, and I repeat some of the best beaches as I have not heard some of them.
        I spoke to some tourists as well and they are selfish as we are. They don’t want advertise the beauty of the country as it might end up like another Phuket or Bali.

        Next time try climbing mountains. You’ll see a different perspective. Also Batanes and Calayan Island.
        Have fun

        1. I must admit, I am guilty of only chasing beaches and forgetting about what else the country has to offer. I suppose I will need to climb a mountain next time. I hope The Philippines never becomes like Phuket, what a shame that would be!

  2. Hey Bren, what a very nice article about our country, will definitely bring tears to Filipinos(just wiping mine now.hehe). Maraming salamat 🙂 We all love our country, and we love it even more when other nationalities appreciates Philippines and our culture..and because of this you just earned a new friend 🙂

    1. Thanks Hanan. Amazing things are happening in The Philippines at the moment. Right now the world has a love affair with places like Thailand, Hawaii, the Caribbean, but as more and more people start to visit the Philippines, I’m convinced it won’t be long before the whole world falls in love with your country!

      1. try SINULOG FESTIVAL in CEBU.It is celebrated every third Sunday of the month of Jan.Millions of local and foreign tourist are going there.and the white sand beach of KALANGGAMAN island in Leyte just 2 hrs.by fastcraft from Cebu.

    1. hey bren, hoping to see you in the Island of Mindoro. So many beautiful places to see in the island. thanks for the way how you appreciates your stay in our country!!!God bless

  3. Hi Bren, you summed up the best in our country pretty well. Thanks so much for this. Really a challenge to promote the beauty of our country past the image of danger and calamities this past year, that’s why i can’t thank you enough for this fresh perspective. May i share your article in my page? Good vibes for your next travel!

    1. Hi Russell, yes, please share! I agree, the magic of The Philippines so often gets overlooked in the media. It’s a shame, because if people took the time to visit, I’m sure they would love the place, as so many others do. Thanks for reading!

  4. Hi Bren,

    Thanks for writing about the Philippines. You’ll never really know what a place has to offer until you visited it and experience it yourself. Your article would surely inspire others to visit our country. Heartwarming to read such a piece about our beloved country.

  5. My goodness, this is amazing! I could not have written about my own country better than you did! Thank you, on behalf of my countrymen. I hope more and more backpackers come across your write up and I hope to get to meet more of you guys as I go around our country. :=))

    1. Already quite a few people have told me they’re heading to The Philippines after reading this, so hopefully the word is getting out. I see you’ve travelled quite a bit yourself!

      1. That’s just awesome! Yup, I try to leave work from time to time and discover the many wonders of the Philippines – most of them are still unknown to me! Hope to see you back here, oh and I recommend Coron 🙂

        1. I was so close to going to Coron, then typhoon Haiyan hit and apparently stuff got damaged so I had to cancel. But it’s a good reason for me to come back 🙂

          1. you have to visit Coron..its one of the best destinations here in Ph.. (i will not attempt to write about it fearing i will not do justice to its charm/beauty ..hehe..) i will wait for your superior review when you finally get to visit..thank you for the heartwarming article about my country..

  6. thank you, bren! next time you visit, i require you to meet up with me and my friends and do karaoke! 😀 it’s one helluva party you’re gonna get! 🙂

      1. I think it has to do with us growing up with karaokes. It’s a staple with every celebration. We just loooove singing, it’s like embedded in our culture or something 😀

          1. Even before karaoke was invented Filipinos have always been rich with music and dances imbedded in our culture. Because of so many islands/ provinces each has their own distinct culture, music, dances, food and dialects but still one as a nation.

          2. I did notice the many different dialects from around the country, and how the Filipinos don’t always understand each other. Hah! Thanks for sharing.

      2. There’s a relatively new alternative to karaoke and it started to pick up; it’s something that those who like singing with live bands would appreciate. It’s called Rockeoke and it’s being offered in many bars in the metro. Not that it hasn’t been done before but I guess it’s nice to put a name on something we’ve been doing.

        Nice article! I hope to see you randomly in one of our streets. I’m an advocate of bringing my foreign friends to places that tourists do not usually go to (like downtown Manila etc). Most often that not, I find it more exciting every time I explore new places. This is coming from someone born and raised here. Anyway, I hope your next visit to the Phils becomes a lot more magical than the last. 🙂

        1. Rockeoke, never heard of it, although I can certainly imagine the people in your country doing this, especially on Boracay. Thanks for reading!

  7. Aweinspiring! What used to be a mere thought and awesome feeling of an unexplainable Filipino pride is now suddenly articulated thru you Bren. Mabuhay ka! Being happy people we simply bask in admiring our country thru smiles. Thank you for the rave reviews. Indeed Philippines is a grand nature itself and hopefully stays so forever.

    1. The flood of comments here really sums it up perfectly. Your people are so proud and so humble at the same time. I do hope more people visit and experience The Philippines for themselves. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  8. Hi Bren,

    Thank you very much for the love and appreciation to our country. I am so glad that you experienced all the good (incredible) things that a lot of people or should i say nationalities never see or realize, even our fellow Asians.

    I believe in all the great things you pointed out like about our Food, Malls, People, Fort Bonifacio and of course the countless Beaches because I also feel the same thing. I believe the Philippines got a lot to offer, so much more. But unluckily I haven’t been to some of the beautiful beaches here and it’s a shame! :/ But it’s fine as long as our country’s visitors get to experience all these wonders themselves and enjoyed them, I am already happy with it! 😉

    1. I think you could spend a whole year travelling through The Philippines and still not see all the great beaches. I actually thought the hardest part was deciding which one to go to! Thanks for reading 🙂

      1. You can start from north to south 🙂 But really, it’s hard to decide where to go since there are soo many islands and islets to visit 🙂 Good luck to the next journey!

  9. Kudos Mr. Bren! It’s great to know that you truly discover the Filipino value and the beautiful spots in our country. Thanks for sharing this! we indeed appreciate it. Salamat ng marami! 😉

  10. Hi Bren,

    It’s so nice of you to write this beautiful blog about my beloved country, I really appreciate it. Looks like you’ve been into places here more than I do hehhe. I noticed some of the place you mentioned are located in Bicol region (where I came from, I now stay here in Quezon City). Anyway, next time you go back here, you might want to pay a visit on one of the island that is a part of my hometown, the Calaguas island (http://www.calaguasislands.com/). Furthermore, in case you want to explore more of bicol region and need help, you may want to try ‘Asog travel and tours’ to help .. I didn’t work there by the way, it’s just that there are already quite some nice review about them.

    1. Hi Rhose, I was reading a lot about Calaguas and Bicol while I was in Manila, I wanted to see them both but I just didn’t have time! My last weekend I had to choose between so many places, in the end I went to Cagbalete Island, which I’ll write about soon! Thanks a lot for the tips, I’ll be sure to remember 🙂

      1. I agree with Rhose, you shouldn’t miss Calaguas Islands on your next visit here. I was there twice last year and I’m coming back to the Island this summer. Villa Cleofas in Cagbalete Island is also one of the nicest places I’ve been to. Thank you so much for the rave review. =)

  11. I have enjoyed reading your blog and I got to tell you…I had goosebumps all throughout. I love my Philippines and your write-up made me love my country even more. Thanks again and we’ll see you soon?!

  12. Hi Bren,
    Thank you so much for visiting my beloved country and sharing what a great experience you had.There’s a lot more to see so come back soon and we will take good care of you.Enjoy travelling!

  13. I found myself smiling when I read this. Good job man! Its so sad that many foreigners appreciate our country more than we do, and we overlooked our country. I wish could travel my own country like you did, then next the whole world! Come back again with your friends, let’s have a drink and a karaoke, haha! Thanks man.

    1. Hi Arvey, I think travelling is so important, as important as school and work and all the other things we spend so much time on. There are things travel can teach you that nothing else can. But I’m sure you already know this 🙂 I really hope you’ll find some time in 2014 to get on the road, even if it’s just for a weekend! Thanks for visiting the blog, glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      1. I’ll remember what you said and I will definitely find time to travel soon, one place at a time. 🙂 I am more inspired to travel because of this, the world is beautiful! 🙂

  14. Hi Bren, thank you for coming and living here (for 6 months!) and for the beautiful post about your stay. I am glad to know that you had a wonderful experience and that you only got scammed once. Maybe being Asian looking worked in your favor? Wishing you safe travels always.

    1. Yes, I think that had something to do with it. A lot of people used to talk to me in Tagalog, and were so shocked when I asked them to speak in English. However, my Asian face didn’t stop me getting hustled in Thailand (and I was constantly mistaken for a Thai while I was there) or China (and I’m Chinese!). So the scam level is definitely lower in The Philippines, without a doubt. No need to thank me, it was a pleasure staying there for so long! Safe travels to you as well.

  15. Hey Bren! Thanks for the wonderful compliments for my beloved country. Damn! Home-sickeness attacks me again. I am a filipino working here in abroad (or so called OFW) that’s why I miss Philippines a lot. Anyways, I suggest you must try trekking the Mount Pinatubo in Zambales. I’m 100% sure you will enjoy the tour 🙂

  16. Thanks for this article Bren! I have never been more proud to be a Filipino after reading this. I have been telling all of my Australian friends on how much they need to visit the country and I think this pretty much sums up everything that I’ve told them. Thank you once again for making us remember how beautiful our country is!

  17. Hey Bren! Lovely, positive article. To give you some of the love back, I have to say that I LOVED New Zealand when I visited there in 2006. And when I was at a life crossroads four years ago, I seriously considered moving there. I even did the whole points thingy on the immigration site, but in the end, the Philippine is my home. I do have vague plans to return someday, but in the meantime, I always go dreamy remembering my two weeks in Auckland, Wellington, the Abel Tasman, and Marlborough! I took the Milford Sound crossing too and I have to say, it is indeed one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. We were blessed with a rainbow as we crossed, and the afternoon at Picton was… so quietly beautiful. I still remember that the fish and chips we had for dinner was awesome 🙂 You are one lucky man to live in (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

    1. Hi Myra, thank you so much. I understand when people here comment and say they have forgotten how beautiful the Philippines is, because I’m guilty myself of taking NZ’s beauty for granted. It really is a charming place. I hope you’ll return one day, a lot has changed since 2006! In Auckland anyway.

  18. We were led here through one of the posts of a friend. Thank you so much for all the kind words you have given about us. It does help that people who had a great time here spread the word.
    About the scamming: I have got to say you are pretty lucky. Even locals here can get scammed. I guess it is all about judging if something just sounds too good to be true. BTW, what was that one thing you were scammed with?
    Hope you get to see more of our country when you return. You are returning, right 😀 ?

    – Lynne -Enroute.com

    1. I was scammed in a taxi from the airport to Makati, he did this weird thing with his meter and it said 500 pesos (usually around 180). I argued with him for about 10 seconds but was just too tired from my flight for any of that. Now I always make sure the right meter is on! Taxis around town seem to be much better though, never happened again. There may be some areas I did not visit where scamming is more common though, I can’t really say. Yes, I am returning!

  19. I had goosebumps and was teary eyed while reading your blog. Well written and with fairness and pride . I just came back from my one month visit in the Phippines and I must say its worth visiting always. Thank you for sharing your positive thoughts.

  20. Super happy to know someone like you who really loves the Philippines! I remember when I traveled solo in Vietnam and Thailand, most of the travelers I met there don’t know about the Philippines. Like when they hear of Asia, they only thought of going to the mainland Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia). This article just proves how great the Philippines is.

    And because of that, if you get the chance again to visit the Philippines, I am volunteering now as your travel buddy or at least help you plan your next trip to the Philippines. <3

  21. i am in awe on how u describe and appreciate the philippines. i wish to see more places like you. thank you for sharing this blog. 🙂

  22. No mention of DAVAO City? why is that? 🙂

    Try going to Pearl Farm or Samal Island…Isla Reta….Talikod?

    go south of the Philippines, there’s lots of uninhibited beaches there…

    explore the beaches in Mati…Sta. Maria…

    thanks by the way for this great article about the Philippines.

    1. I have never been to Davao! Although I have repeatedly heard it is amongst the most pleasant places in the country. It’s becoming more popular in the travel community, for sure. I must visit some day.

  23. hi bren! thank you for appreciating our country this much. this brought tears to my eyes and i know to my fellow countrymen also who love our country as much as i did once reading this.. this only shows how good you are as a person appreciating small details our country has to offer like addressing you “sir” , eating your “turon” etc.. and not paying much on the part of you being scammed once..thank you is not enougn actually, i would love to show you Calaguas Island once ur back and have the time. ive also been to many pristine beaches here in the phils and calaguas is really one the best places to visit! the place wud give you the serenity of nature every backpacker is looking for.. more power and continue wrting good stuff like this. 🙂

    1. Hi Grace, thank you so much for the kind words. I think the comments here from all your fellow Filipinos is a great representation of your country’s spirit, that you feel compelled to write a heartfelt thank you to a stranger just for a positive post about your country on some tiny blog! I would love to visit Calaguas, I was planning a weekend trip there from Manila but I chose to go to Cagbalete instead, but when I return it will be on my list for sure. Salamat for reading and your comments 🙂

  24. Hi Brent, thanks for sharing your travel experience in the Philippines. Hope you will be able to visit the northern part of the country next time- where Mt. Pulag is located, Banaue Rice Terraces, Sagada, some great beach resorts, historical cities and churches, just to name a few:))

  25. On your next visit, try our delicious sisig (goes well with beer!). If you are up for trekking, caving and other nature-trippy adventures, I suggest you head on to Sagada in the Mountain Province up north 🙂 Thanks for the kind words!

    1. I tried the sisig, quite a few times, I wish I had taken a photo so I could include it here! I’m keen to visit the north, it keeps getting mentioned, must be an interesting place 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  26. Dude try experiencing Sinulog in Cebu. It happens every 3rd Sunday of January. Off the Camotes Island after if you want to try the best beach in Cebu or you can go to Bantayan Island.

      1. Its a festival… 🙂
        You may also want to visit bahuio city for their panagbenga festival (flower festival) usually last week of february 🙂
        there are other festival throughout the country that you might like and want to visit 🙂
        Thanks for this blog…

  27. Hi Sir Bren,

    Thank you so much for such a great article and for appreciating the philippines. It is so heartwarming when people talk fondly of our country. I am so glad that you enjoyed travelling and exploring the many islands but there are still a lot more beautiful places here and i think a lifetime is not enough to truly see how the philippines is. We as filipinos try our best to be as accomodating as possible so that the people who visit our country will have wonderful memories of the people and the country.
    I am so full of gratitude sir that you love our country as well. Thank you so much again sir Bren and may you travel farther and wider!

    1. Hi Mike, thank you for such well wishes. I’ve travelled to many countries, and have never experienced such a warm, welcoming spirit like I did in the Philippines. It’s what compelled me to write this post! Best wishes to you in 2014, I am certain that great things lie ahead for your country 🙂

  28. Amazing article Bren! 🙂 Thank you for writing about our country, it makes us happy that visitors enjoy the things we experience everyday! I’m also glad you managed to visit Cagbalete Island. 🙂 Not many people know about the place since it’s kinda far, but it’s an amazing beach, especially if you just want to laze around and sleep.

    Hope to you come back to the Philippines for more adventures! 🙂

  29. Oh, my lawrd!! Bless you, Bren, this article is a real breath of fresh air indeed! You must have gone through the back door and not the gates of hell, hehe. Cheers and Mabuhay!

    1. I have heard about the ‘gates of hell’ reference, however I’m guessing the gates were in the lens of his glasses rather than the streets of Manila. One day, I may even call Manila my home! Thanks for reading 🙂

  30. Hi Bren! Just finished reading this blog post about my nativeland,the Philippines.I’m glad that you had a blast staying there. I’m currently based in America but I see to it that I go home every year to re discover its grandeur.If in the near future you opted to change your nationality and become a Filipino, we will definitely embrace you with open arms. Hehe. Thanks again! Expect for more Filipino followers because of this post.

    Jai (from NYC and a proud Pinoy)

  31. thank you so much for your kind words for our country and our people., Sometimes advisories and warnings make our country “bad” in the eyes of foreigners, but because of your experience, you’ve proven otherwise. Scammers? they are all around, Thank God, you were spared from them. But they do not reflect the TRUE FILIPINO as you have found out yourself. But it’s also wise to take precaution. Your article reminded me of another blog written by an American tourist who also fell in love with the Philippines and its people. here’s the link, you may be interested to know what he has written: http://www.idreamedofthis.com/ He also captured the amazing beauty of the country in photos. He also has a facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/idreamedofthis?ref=br_tf I hope you could visit our country again and experience more of the people’s hospitality, beautiful beaches and sceneries, exciting food and appreciate the beautiful smile that only filipinos offer….especially from our beautiful women. 🙂 God bless you and your endeavors!

    1. Hi Sarah. I agree with a lot of the his comments, very insightful. And yes, I am also well aware of the country’s beautiful women! Haha. Thanks for reading 🙂

  32. Wow!! That is wonderful to hear from a tourist. We are glad you enjoyed your stay in our sweet loving country. We Filipinos, are generally happy people and making the best of everything. It is our good nature to be friendly and compassionate as it all rooted for the love of family…I couldn’t agree more with your food choices, makes me wanna go home lolz. It’s more fun in the Philippines! Thank you for your kind words anyway 🙂

  33. Geeeez! I’m turning green! ☺️ I’m glad you had fun. I miss the Philippines and I miss my hometown, Cebu. Thank you for this amazing article, now i’m beaming with pride. Weather here in Toronto is making me homesick. 28 days more until my long-awaited vacation. Yay!

  34. Thank you so very much for the nice words regarding the Philippines and the Filipinos. Visit Bohol,Cebu and Camiguin on your next visit … I’d be happy to show you around.

  35. While I truly, truly appreciate this post, I feel like your experience in the Philippines would have been very, VERY different had you been white or black.

    1. I don’t disagree with you, although many white people I know probably adore the country more than I do. In fact, I know quite a few that have bought houses and are living there!

  36. Try to Experience the Sinulog festival in Cebu! Grandest mardi Gra and street dancing of the Phils! That happens every 3rd Sunday of January. I suggest U should be there the week ahead to try to experience first the FOOD of Cebu esp the world’s best pork, Lechon! Hit the beaches up north like Camotes, Bantayan, Malapascua islands.. then head down to the South for Moalboal for diving, swim with the whale sharks in Oslob, Try Badian the Kawasan falls or further down to Sumilon island (a lot more I couldn’t list all). Then going back to Sinulog weekend be prepared to be on party mood for the country’s biggest festival! Ü

  37. Thank you may not be enough to acknowledge how grateful we are that featured our country. Mabuhay and Welcome back to the Philippines soon.

  38. Thanks for appreciating our place. Makes me feel good! For now, I will help myself first here in AKL. We will hit it next time! 🙂

  39. What a wonderful article.. Thank you for sharing! That makes me proud of my country! Try visiting the Northern Luzon 🙂

  40. Hey! Great blog by the way. If you up for an adventure make sure you visit the Enchanted River in Hinatuan Surigao del Sur. It is one amazing place. Its a Blue Lagoon. If you want to visit just tell me I live near the place, I love hosting people who love the Philippines. Hope you visit us!

      1. Hi Bren,

        One of the best surfing spot (for beginners) in the PH is in La Union, just a 3-4 hour bus travel from Manila. Baler which is up north is also a surfing destination. Travel time is 5-6 hours. Long shoreline in Baler, which is great. I hope you when you get back here you try surfing first, super fun experience love. Let me know if you wanna go, we’re more than happy to tour you around 🙂


        1. Hi Chic, yes have heard of La union and Baler, actually planned to go there instead as it was quite expensive to fly to Surigao. Next time 🙂

  41. I just bought a beach front property in northern Aklan near Boracay. It’s not Boracay, it’s black sand, but … for the most part, I am the only one there.

  42. Hi Bren, thanks for the wonderful post about my homeland:-) all of it is true, by the way lol i no longer live there but always find myself being pulled back home every now and then… Loving it from afar 🙂 Excited to go on my next trip back home and see more of the country! As others have mentioned, try visiting the north- banaue, sagada,baguio, ilocos (vigan, pagudpud) sta.ana cagayan, batanes. Or some historical places like intramuros amd corregidor if you feel like it. When in coron, visit nearby culion 🙂 all the best in your future travels!

  43. Mabuhay! Thank you for sharing your experienced in our country to the whole world Sir Bren.In behalf of our kababayan we are so grateful and touched in expressing your love thru this article. If you want adventure , try to visit our place the gateway in northern mindanao, Cagayan de oro City (the City of Golden Friendship). Our White Water Rafting, Mapawa Canyoneering, Dahilayan Park in Bukidnon -the longest dual zipline in Asia, Kampo Juan the anacycle ride and the enchanted Camiguin Island Paradise ( ardent hot spring, sto nino cold spring, katibawasan falls, ruin church,sunken cemetery, Mantigue island and the White island). It is also exit going to Davao City, Butuan City , Surigao and Siargao Island. And try our tropical fuits- Marang, Lanzones and Mangosteen. If you need more information just drop by to our website, http://www.dreamfuntravel.com.ph. Thank you and God be with you always in your adventure!

  44. Hi Bren! Thank you for promoting our lovely country. 🙂 Try to check Calaguas Island on your exit visit and Sagada too up north, I’m sure you wont be disappointed. Safe Travel! 🙂

  45. I kind of like being that quintessential global “hole-in-the-wall” destination you alluded to. Sounds more mysterious and interesting. I too, like some locals here in the Philippines, appreciate the lack of commercialism in our tourism industry. It helps control and preserve the sites that would otherwise be spoiled due to too many tourists going there. I think the amount of tourism we have is a safe number. I also think we need to continue preserving the attractions we offer so the experience will always be authentic for travelers like you.

    Kudos to the blog entry and safe (and exciting) travels to you! 🙂

    1. I know exactly what you mean. There’s a fine balance between too much and too little tourism. It’s hard to find. An explosion in tourism would do wonders for your economy but for me, I quite like the country just the way it is 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  46. Hi Bren! Thanks for this wonderful article about our beloved Philippines!! Couldn’t be more prouder… do add to your list Siargao island for some surfing or just plain island hopping (jellyfish lake,lagoons, Sohoton cave etc), zip lining in Bukidnon and white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro, my birth place & of course don’t miss to try the city’s Kinilaw, a raw fish salad/appetizer… cheers on your next trip!! 🙂

    1. Siargao was one of the places I wanted to visit the most! I really want to learn to surf 🙂 Will have to do that sometime soon, before I get too old 🙂

  47. Thanks a lot!
    I remember one American asking my daughter “Do you have Pancake House in the Philippines?” Now I ask you, what would you give as an answer?

      1. Not only do we have Pancake House, we also have IHOP (international house of pancakes) and Slappy Cakes! 🙂 a lot to choose from!

  48. A big thank you Bren from all of us Filipinos! This isn’t just an inspiring post for foreign travelers but for us Filipinos as well. As a travel blogger myself, I’ve made it a goal to travel in the Philippines more than traveling in other countries each year. You see, Filipinos are proud of their country but we don’t prioritize traveling in it to see all the 7,107 islands. A lot of our kababayans are too infatuated with the idea of exploring first world countries. Take El Nido for example, such a beautiful beautiful place in the Philippines yet only a small percentage of the Filipino population has gone there. A sad reality. That’s why my partner and I go on budget trips to local destinations just like El Nido to let people know that it’s not that hard to go there and it’s not expensive at all! We hope we’ll meet you someday in one of our trips. Maraming salamat and God bless! 🙂

    1. It’s not just Filipinos who overlook travelling their own country, I think we all do it, myself included. Perhaps a lesson for all of us. Thanks for reading!

  49. loved it so much.. I myself travel around Philippines and Asia and I couldn’t agree more with you… For your next visit you may try Baler, Aurora (surf destination), Climb Pundaquit overlooking anawangin cove in Zambales, Coron, Oslob Cebu, Cebu city for sinulog festival and for food Bacolod City!! 🙂

  50. Next. Bacolod for Masskara Festival. I’m a Bacolodnon, but never fails to amaze me our Masskara Festival.. Then travel approx 2hrs north to Lakawon Island. Sand can be compared to that of Boracay, still under developed, but hey, it’s nature at its best!

  51. Your article put tears into my eyes it made me love my country even more.Thank you for sharing your thoughts.In times like this the Filipinos really needs a boost.

    1. I must say through the storms that ravage your country each year and the struggles with poverty in your country, the Filipinos are incredibly resilient. You should be proud. Thanks a lot for reading.

  52. Agree except No.2 and No.3. You gotta be delusional to think you won’t get scammed, hustled or worse still – victim of a violent crime.

    1. Not delusional, just my experience. I lived there for 6 months, and was scammed once, never harassed and not a victim of any crime. Is scamming possible? Sure. Just like it’s possible in every single country in the world. Much less so in The Philippines, from my experience.

  53. Wow! What a complement of an article for our country! Thank you Bren. There a lot more new sights to see from beaches to mountains or caves. Take your pick! Happy traveling! Ü

  54. Hey Bren, read about you from outoftownblog’s feature! Nice article you got here and nice to know you enjoyed your stay here. When traveling overseas, PH really is out of radar to foreigners as they find it hard to reach (unlike Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, etc) where you could just hop on a bus/train then you’re off to a different country. Heck, they just never knew about Cebu Pacific (your go to place for piso fares btw). Hope you’ll be back, there’s still more to see! 🙂

  55. I rarely read blogs but I find yours a must-read Bren.This is indeed an esteem booster for a country that has been through so much in the past year.Back in 2011 me and my 2 sisters went to Boracay and had the time of our lives,and we vowed to make it our mission to travel all over the Philippines.But our busy lives caught up with us and we haven’t travelled together again and then I had to leave for Canada.Your article makes me miss home more.On the bright side,it gives me the motivation to work harder to save up for 2015,when hopefully I can go home and soak in the sun and sand!Thank you for this 🙂 Try to visit Cebu (where I’m from) and Bohol on your next visit.Enjoy the Philippines Bren 😉

    1. Yes, Boracay is an easy place to fall in love with. I can’t imagine how homesick you must get in the Canadian winter! Best of luck for your travel plans 🙂

  56. thank you, sir, for your very kind & encouraging words!

    The Philippines is, indeed, a great country to explore. Even us, locals, are guilty of not seeing much of our own country & instead go visit the neighboring ones. I’ve been to faraway lands but never been to Mindanao, which is a shame really. But, I’ve decided to change that. I’m scheduled to visit Davao City soon. I’m sure that’ll be a heck of a trip.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing your experience. You’ve become a local celebrity, people now wanna tour you around & happily so. I don’t blame them, that’s who we are. We feel that we, at least, owe you that. You’d be happy to know that I live near Boracay, so if you happen to need a tour…… 🙂

    1. Hi Kris, thanks for your comments. The gratitude and praise I’m receiving from Filipinos here is so touching and unexpected, which I think says more to the world about your country than my actual post does. All the best to you in 2014.

    2. Hi Kris. I’m from Davao City. It’s nice to hear that you’re coming. I’m originally from Capiz but my mother and many relatives from my mother’s side are from Ibajay, Aklan where Ati-Atihan Festival is. I moved in Davao City in 1994 and love it since. Hope you’ll enjoy your stay in Davao. Blessings!

  57. Great blog, Bren!! Thanks for promoting our beloved country!! It’s definitely more fun in the Philippines!! – from Down Under

  58. You must be a backpacker Bren? Im just guessing, but that must be the reason why you got to see the REAL beauty of the Philippines…People who come to the Philippines usually come with the “tour band”, thats why they just get to see the “gates of hell” as some would say, LOL…I agree with the lot here, you should also try to do a North tour, you won’t believe the hidden treasures you will find up there from Mt Province, Ifugao, Kalinga and Benguet…then you can cap it with the beaches that you so love…the North has its fair share of hidden falls up the mountains, and hidden beaches down the side of Ilocos, La union and Pangasinan.

    1. The comments here have really inspired me to spend a few months in the north, I really can’t wait. Yes, I backpack mostly, and plan all my own trips. It’s more fun (and cheap) that way!

  59. Hi Bren:

    I have never read a travelogue so long and so beautiful such as yours, i read it in its entirety all the comments and your reply. I am ashamed that most Filipinos like me have not experienced what you had. Please do go back and include my province Pampanga in your next sojourn. “Dacal pung Salamat, LUID co pu” (thanks so much and long live! In Pampango of course)

    1. It’s taken a fair few hours to reply to all these comments but I’ve enjoyed every second, to write and know people are reading my stuff is an amazing feeling. Thanks for visiting 🙂

  60. glad you enjoyed your stay and hope you can come back soon. next time you can include tropical rain forests in your itinerary – a few of the very accesible ones are in Subic Bay, Mt.Makiling in Laguna, and Mt. Apo near Davao City. Of course the whole of Palawan had a lot of this. a few other fantastic islands are Bohol, Camiguin and Siquijor (a few hours next to one another by fast ferry) where you can run the whole gamut of nature tripping including snorkeling and whale watching. Have fun and be safe on your travels.

  61. I’m overwhelmed (happy that you share you experience and let the world know how beautiful my country is, proud to live in a tropical paradise tho a bit guilty coz I haven’t been to most of those places & homesick). I’ve been to Phuket and Bali first before I had decided to go and see Boracay and Palawan and that’s when it occurred to me that Philippines is really underrated as I reckon Bocaray and Palawan are better than the 2 places I’ve mentioned, impression & price-wise. Thus, I made a list of places I would travel when I got to come home to my country. You might want to add this on your list too! Oslob, Cebu or Donsol, Sorsogon (Swimming with Blue Whale Shark); Caramoan Island (where the Survivor series were shot); Hundred Islands, Pangasinan. Try learning some Tagalog or Bisaya too for sure you would get plenty of volunteers! 😉

    1. I’ve also been to Phuket and Bali, my gosh, they do not even compare to Boracay or Palawan at all! Completely different class. Hopefully not too many people figure this out, so Boracay stays just the way it is 🙂

      1. Right on! I don’t even have any souvenir(except for pictures) coz their items are way too much and I automatically compare it to the prices back home. What my husband loved most about Philippines is the cheap sea foods (crabs, lobster, quality fish). He’s an Aussie btw and i reckon you got idea how dear seafood is I this country (Australia) 🙁 Geez…craving now of hot crab w/ coconut milk

  62. Thank you so much for this blog, Bren. You make us proud to be Pilipinos and somehow you give us a gentle reminder that we should care for our riches. You deserve a key to our country. Kudos to you sir.

  63. Thank you Bren for such a heartwarming insight on our beloved country! If you want to see the houses during the Spanish era, don’t forget to stop by at Las Casas Filipinas in Bataan! http://lascasasfilipinas.com/. There are also nice beaches here up north 🙂

  64. Awesomeness! I couldn’t help but share your blog. Having traveled to some places here, it dawned on me that Filipinos are missing a lot in their own country. This blog says it all! Glad you enjoyed your stay as much as I have enjoyed my adventures. Hope to bump into you somewhere here. Our next stop… Mt. Pulag. You’ve better come down here real quick! ^_^

  65. Oh wow! Thank you so much Bren for the overwhelming praises of our country! I’d say, you should return. :O) Check out Batanes too! and if you are into scuba diving, Philippines keeps one of the best seascapes and diverse marine life in the world – Tubbataha. :o))

  66. Thanks Bren. I live in The Fort and glad you liked it. Your blog is the sweetest by the way. Hope to see you soon. Filipinos will love you for sure. 🙂

    1. Ahh, I have heard of this place, one for the bucket list surely. There’s also a lake in Australia that has pink water! Must see that too. Thanks for sharing!

  67. thank you for your wonderful blog about our country and its people 🙂 btw, are you into water sports? go to Baler, Aurora and ride the waves. try the white water rafting in Cagayan De Oro and enjoy wake boarding in Camarines Sur. 🙂

  68. Bren, thank you for writing an article about my country. When you travel in our 7,107 islands of Philippines, you will notice that these islands are infested (lack of better word) with domestic tourists than foreign tourists. These go to show how we love and support for our country that well. Thanks also to our new appointed Tourism Director Jimenez, he managed to boost tourism and how our present government put a lot of effort into it to increase international tourists significantly. Foreign testimonies do help a lot in boosting our tourism more… this I thank you again… I will do my part by sharing your blog on my profile. God bless you! Hope to see you more often here in our country for many years to come 🙂

    1. I must say I think the ‘more fun in the Philippines’ campaign is fantastic, I love their videos. I’m sure good things will be happening for Philippines tourism in the coming years. Thanks for reading!

  69. I’ve been to Singapore myself. Although the underground rail transit was very impressive, the sceneries didn’t impress me that much, ‘coz I know for a fact that we have more of those in my country, only underrated, as you said. Filipino overseas workers are also plenty in Singapore, as I went there for a visit, the Filipinos I barely knew and just met there were the warmest to greet us there and ones who helped us get around Singapore easily, that made our stay more enjoyable. I am not exaggerating. I was just stating a fact by experience.

    1. I agree, Singapore is a fantastic country – clean, safe and modern. I just didn’t find much energy there though. As you can see by the comments here, Filipinos around the world are very united. It’s quite inspiring.

  70. Hi Bren! Thank you so much for a wonderful article on the Philippines. All the points you’ve covered are things that all Filipinos inherently known. Thank you for sharing your experiences with the world. However, I would like to point out one thing… Filipino food is probably the most approachable and least intimidating food in all of Asian. Most of the foodstuffs and food preparations should be familiar to most Westerners as the majority of Philippine dishes are based on Spanish (read European) antecedents. There are no chili booby traps (except in Bicol); no sambal deadfalls; and no weird sea creature snacks. What you see is what you get… except for offal which, by the way, is gaining traction as world chefs adopt ‘head to hoof’ use of animal parts. Even the much maligned Philippine condiment ‘Bagoong’ [fermented fish paste] traces it origin to the ancient and highly prized Mediterranean specialty called ‘Garum’. Again, thank you for a wonderful and eye-opening blog on the Philippines. Mabuhay!!!

    1. Hi Murvyn, I agree, Filipino food is very simple and unpretentious, just the way I like it. I tried the bagoong, although I didn’t like it too much to be honest. I far prefer the calamansi/soy sauce 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  71. Wow, your article just made my day! And it’s only 5 am! With my ticket for Wicked later tonight, I can only imagine what this day would offer me. Ha ha! But yeah, thanks for this! You hit it right on the spot. I myself have been travelling the country from the mountains up north (where European tourists abound), the beaches of the Visayas (Aussies are the best beach buddies), all the way to the vintas of the south (really appreciate the works of foreigners there through various NGOs), yet I can’t seem to run out of places to go to in here! Good thing also that I first got to visit Boracay and El Nido before Phuket and Bali, which made me appreciate my country more. Second time to spend my New Year in Boracay this year, and still the best new year celebration I’ve ever had!

    And yeah, selfish as it may sound, I do hope that it stay this way. Or at least, that a balance between economy and tourism will be in place. Having experienced the tourist tracks of our neighbors, it’s quite scary. Even Boracay is no longer the Boracay I first come to love more than 10 years ago. Good thing, choices do abound! And Coron and Caramoan and El Nido are at the top of my alternatives.

    Again, thank you so much for such a wonderful write-up! Mabuhay ka, Sir Bren!

    1. I do worry about what Boracay will become in 5 or 10 years. Hopefully the local government will know to exercise some sort of control. Even places like El Nido are slowly becoming more commercial. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment 🙂

  72. Hi Bren, this is all so true. I missed home and became emotional while reading your article. Thank you for sharing all but the best of the Philippines. God bless you.

      1. Hi Bren when u thought u have been scammed once u weren’t if u get the taxi from the airport they have a flat rate of 500 pesos within a certain mile for some reaso this taxi operators manipulates the fare 🙂 next time u better off getting one outside the airport… Thanks for sharing ur experience with us…I haven’t been home for 2 years now as I had a baby but defo miss Philippines especially when it’s winter here in England lol

        1. I didn’t take an airport taxi, I walked further down and took the metered ones. I’ve taken the taxi from Manila airport to Makati around 4 times, each time it was only 170-180, just this time he did some weird thing with his meter after we finally stopped and it said 500. After 18 hours of flying, I was too tired to argue with him. But, forgiven and forgotten! I can only imagine how much you miss the Filipino sun up there in England, hope you get to return home soon 🙂

  73. i have to admit…got teary eyed with your article..I too love my homeland. thanks for loving my country. …really appreciate your replies on every comment.

  74. Wow! What an inspiring blog you have here. We thank you for this. I myself wants to visit our beloved country and haven’t done so. Hopefully soon.. Anyway, have you ever been to the South of Manila in Batangas? You can try our Kapeng Barako(local coffee) and special Lomi. We have also plenty of beaches here. You can also buy Balisong(knife) specially in Taal where it is locally made. You can also explore Taal Volcano..

  75. Thanks for sharing your experience in our country! There are so much to explore that’s why it’s more fun in the Philippines!

  76. You must really be an extraordinary person with extraordinary skills. How can you possibly respond to each and every person who commented here? Thanks, Bren, for me, you are heaven-sent for us Filipinos. I wish you more success in everything that you do. I hope you never tire of writing about my country and its people!

  77. Bren, I just posted your article in my Facebook wall. I hope you wouldn’t mind. It’s really encouraging. In spite of the many challenges our country face (such as corruption, illegal drugs, bureaucracy, Manila traffic, pollution, etc.) and the bad publicity it sometimes get from other countries, your article is quite refreshing. I live in Davao City where people, beaches and mountains are also awesome. I hope you’ll have the chance to come down here and visit us.

  78. Super Agree! The Philippines is truly best with many things, what u wrote is true!,, im a Filipino and i travelled to Asian countries yet i still find my country the best in many things,,thus i slowly plan my trips all over the Philippines … Ive been to Easternmost, Southernmost, Westernmost part of this nation.. Try to go Mindanao in Tawi-Tawi region of islands bordering Sabah, Malaysia..the place is untouched amazing plus unique culture blend of Pilipinos and Malaysians; also Saranggani, Davao City, Gensan City, North&South Cotabato.. the best too!

  79. I lived in the Philippines for ten months last year and I loved it! However, I didn’t find many of the things that you posted to be true. In Boracay the vendors will literally follow you trying to buy a pair of fake Ray Bans. Yes, the Filipino food is different, but there is very little variety. Maybe this next one is because I’m a white young female, but almost half of the time when I rode the taxi to my house, the driver would take me the long way and in the jeepney I often didn’t receive my change. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the Philippines and would do anything to go back right now, but it is a different experience for everyone, and if you are white and can be obviously noted as a foreigner, you will be treated much differently.

    1. Yes, I understand you completely. I lived on Boracay for a month, during high season, and funnily enough I did not get harassed AT ALL. Of course, my Chinese face had a lot to do with it, and also strong “don’t mess with me” body language goes a long way as well. I’m going to have to completely disagree with you on the food, I thought there was amazing variety, so much so that I couldn’t even try everything I wanted to during my 6 month stay. However, I’m glad you had a great time there, it really is the hidden gem of South East Asia.

  80. Hi Bren! glad you enjoyed your 6 months stay in PH, Thank you for this article, Please find time to visit Masbate Province when you return, We have the Rodeo Festival to be held in April, Enjoy the Crystal clear and white sand beaches of Balangingi Island in Pio V. Corpus, Haleya Beach in Monreal, Palani Beach in Balud, etc…hope you get to return soon…

  81. Thank you for an awesome article sir Bren 🙂 Made me appreciate our country even more. 😉 when you get back here.. try camping in Anawangin, Zambales or try to visit Ilocos to see the heritage houses we have 🙂

  82. Hi Bren.Thank you for appreciating our country.Must see Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City every 3rd week of January, the rich culture, heritage sites and old churches within the city.Splended spots in Iloilo Province.Also, try to visit Guimaras Island 15 mins away from the city where they have the sweetest mango in the whole world and beautiful white beaches.

  83. Thank you for recommending the Philippines. Its’ great to hear comments like this from our guests. Yes, we love the Philippine Islands.

    Thank you!

  84. Hi Bren. Thanks for this nice article. Thank you also for sharing your great experience to the world. I hesitated about commenting as there are so many comments from locals like me here. But I want to express my hearty thanks to you on behalf of our fellows here. Mabuhay ka!

  85. You stayed here for six months and didn’t even give me a call? !

    Hahaha. .. kidding. We don’t know each other. At least not yet.

    I’m amazed at the volume of reaction you received for your blog. I haven’t read them all but I’m quite sure that you will receive an offer from someone to host you when you come back, if you haven’t already.

    Great blog. Thank you for your kind words for the Philippines.

  86. Dear Bren,

    I bet if every Filipino reads your article, not only will they be humbled and thankful but they will also create long lasting friendships with you which you can count on anywhere you go here! Im working as a Human Resources practitioner in Singapore, had to leave my country for the same classic reason…earn a better living. But i know i will be back to the Philippines in a few years and like you, my family and I will continue to discover our beautiful country!

    Other than the mountains, also visit some old cities with lots of cultural heritage to see. And yes, try videoke and eat-all-you-can restaurants,too!

    Thanks Bren! You are such a generous soul to write so many beautiful things about the Philippines! May God bless you with more so you will have more than enough to visit beautiful places in the world!

    Elma Pangilinan

    1. Hi Elma, yes I notice many Filipinos leave in search of a better living, but you’re all still united by your culture, its very admirable. Best of luck to you in 2014.

  87. You should experience Masskara festival in Bacolod (usually mid-October) and Ati-atihan in Kalibo (usually early January and my favorite). It’s like Pinoy mardi gras. The beautiful costumes, the street parades, the generally happy and friendly atmosphere, the parties – it’s absolutely uniquely Filipino! Tip: January is festival season in the Visayas region with Ati-atihan (Kalibo), Sinulog (Cebu) and Dinagyang (Iloilo) and all these places have spectacular beaches nearby 🙂

  88. So love your article! but you did not mention Baguio City, have you been there? I don’t know if it’s mentioned already in the comments, but it’s a nice place to visit as well. It’s just sad to say that the government is not really promoting the country. I am half filipino, and have been to the country 4X already. I just hope that this blog of yours would somehow help in promoting the country and get its fair share of visitors.

    1. Have not been to Baguio! Heard a lot about it though. I’m noticing more promotion is happening new, some of the latest campaigns are actually very good.

  89. Thank you for appreciating our beloved country…it’s very heartwarming specially coming from a well travelled person like you…who also comes from a very beautiful country…just to share, New Zealand is by far my most fave country from all the countries I’ve visited..and really hoping to get back and cover more places there someday…

    I am also very blessed to be given a chance to explore and enjoy a lot of the beautiful places in my own homeland before embarking on the world outside…but with your blog…it seems a lot more will be added to my bucket list…

    Hope you’ll enjoy much more in your next visits…try to explore our very interesting, colorful and fun festivals…most of them have religious origin…some are cultural..and some is just to celebrate anything like food…almost every month, two or more provinces are celebrating one…Sinulog of Cebu, Ati-atihan of Aklan, Pahiyas of Lucban, Moriones festival, Masskara of Bacolod, Panagbenga of Baguio City just to name a few…

    Happy travelling! Cheers 🙂

  90. The Philippines is indeed a great country and the Filipinos are a great people. I also think that you are a great man with a great heart that’s why there is such an overwhelming feeling of greatness in your post, in your readers’ comments and your responses.

    You appreciate the Philippines and we Filipinos appreciate you Bren!

  91. Hi Bren! I envy you. I have 1 year more here in Europe and i really miss HOME. Phuket & Bali are in my bucket list but now after reading your blog..erase..erase..erase.

    Try to visit DONSOL, Sorsogon for Whale Shark Viewing.

    When i got home i will surely visit the unheard beaches uve been visited. Im a traveler & addicted to it. Thank you very much for appreciating the BEAUTY of our country. xxx

    1. I’m glad you’ve been bitten by the travel bug. It will change you for the better. I’d suggest visiting Phuket and Bali anyway, both of them are unique in their own way, just not good for relaxing but it’s an experience to see it for yourself. But I’d suggest just spending one or two nights, haha! I visited Bali when I was much younger, and already it was quite commercial with a fair share of hustlers, so I can only imagine how much worse it is today.

  92. The least i could do your article is spread it around! I hope you do not mind me, i am posting your article on my social media acct! Thank you very much Bren for this wonderful write up. May you be blessed with more travels around the globe and esp here in our country.

  93. Thanks for this article! I’m a Filipino of Chinese descent and I do experience some people selling things higher than normal price because I don’t look Filipino but overall, Filipinos are really great people! 🙂 I did notice you mentioning about the danger and yes, I think, just like in every country, there is a level of danger which is why we all have to be careful; Generally, if it were that dangerous, you wouldn’t find as many people doing business here but here we are. I think caution is still something we should all have but it doesn’t mean everyone is bad. I’ve had my fair share of getting lost and all those times, no one has led me astray. I’ve gone with complete strangers who brought me right to the place I was looking for. Too trusting from my end but so far, I haven’t been wrong to do so. So just as you should exercise caution, do keep your positive outlook on the people of this country because they are really nice if you get the chance to know them – and you’d find that we all love to party and meet new people so you’ll definitely have new friends.

    Again, thank you – for saying such nice things about the people and my country. I hope you get the chance to visit and see more. I’m from Cebu (born and grew up here) and the beaches are great but I think you should also try hiking and going up the mountains to see the falls, the “forests” and as mentioned by some people earlier – the view from the top of the mountain. I currently work in Manila and Mt. Pulag, Mt. Mayon, and Mt. Pinatubo are some of the places I have yet to go to. Batanes is also wonderful and you can also try going to Sagada. 😀

    1. I agree, there is always danger, even the safest country in the world has criminals, but my experience was always positive. Even walking around after midnight, I had no issues at all. On the contrary, walking home at night in Bangkok is a nightmare! Well maybe not a nightmare, but definitely not ‘peaceful’. Anyway, thanks for sharing 🙂

  94. Thanks for this very simple and very true write-up of the Philipines, Bren. Although I have to say, on the scamming part – it may be because you don’t look “foreign” enough hah! It does happen, maybe just not as much as in other places.

    It’s both exciting and bit scary to see more recognition on The Philippines being the next Asian destination.

    We love the place and we are darn proud of it. But just as anything that gets famous, things become more commercialised and lose their charm. I hope we don’t !

    1. It’s true, your neighbouring countries have suffered greatly from over exposure, and the scamming is one big spin off from that. Even if scamming does happen in the Philippines, it is not even close to what happens in China, Thailand or Bali. Perhaps your tourism department knows exactly what they’re doing, not over promoting and keeping things a little under the radar. Who knows. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  95. Hi Bren, thank you for this article. I had just attended a holiday destination show in London yesterday and in a way felt sad that the Philippines is almost always not on the countries listed in southeast asia for travel groups. The Philippines is a beautiful country and although i have travelled much of Europe i will always come home where the fun is. Next time you’re in Pnas do come and visit my place in Davao City and Mati City. Places like Samal Island i Davao and Waniban Beach, Oak Island, and Dahican Beach in Mati.

  96. Thanks Bren for this wonderful article. In a couple of weeks I will be there to spend time with family and friends. Can’t wait to enjoy the Filipino food. By the way, you might be interested in exploring

    the Northern part of the Philippines, Ilocos Region, Banaue Rice Terraces, Callao caves among others next time you visit.

  97. thank you bren for writing a beautiful & truthful remarks about our country.
    i hope other tourist will see & experience the good things you’ve experienced in our country..

  98. Next time when you go visit Coron Palawan, try to visit underground river also if you have time but I think you to make a reservation.

  99. Hi, Bren…this article is superb and I am proud to share on my Facebook page. I have a lot of foreign friends and for sure the article will amaze them. I am also impress that you can still manage to reply to all the messages in here. I am an accountant by profession just like you are and I love to travel as well…but time and budget don’t approve at this point. I surely do missed the Philippines coz I am working in another country though i find time to do a home leave twice or thrice a year…I look forward on doing the same travel mania that you are enjoying….have fun on your next destination…God bless!

    1. I actually fell asleep last night replying to comments..haha. I write this blog to inspire people to travel more and see their world, so I hope you do get on the road more! Thanks for reading 🙂

  100. Thank you very much for writing such an inspiring blog about your experience during your visit and stay for 6 months in our country! You’ve been to much more places than me! Having migrated and worked in the US for 32 years, I’ve been going home every year for the last 12 years .I want to see and experience the other pristine beaches and other world class resorts and natural cove, caves, waterfalls and scenic views!
    On your next visit please take a 45 min. flight from Manila to Bicol region, especially Legaspi City! The Majestic Mayon Volcano will take your breath away!You can mountainclimb, zipline, ride ATV and more.There’s Misibis Bay Resort a 30 min. boat ride from Legaspi City to the Cagraray Island. Albay has more waterfalls, caves, hotsprings to offer. Nearby Sorsogon has whalewatching, more beaches, Caramoan CamSur is few hours away. Catanduanes has more beaches not yet touched by commercialism.
    Pilinut candies are gifts most foreigners love. Pili tree grows only in Bicol region! Pinagnat is a specialty of Albay esp. Camalig town. It is made from Taro leaves cooked with either shrimp,fish, meat or tilmok inside, cooked in coconut milk!
    you can easily reach Legaspi City- {the southern most tip of Luzon] by commercial bus [a 10 hour ride] or 7-8 private car but you’ll avoid airplane delays, cancellations.
    May I share your blog to my FB friends. thanks so much!!

  101. Thanks for the kind words Bren, try Oslob, in Cebu or Donsol, sorsogon for some whale watching. You have to visit the majestic Mayon volcano. Malapascua is a remote island in Cebu famous for thresher sharks. If you are tired of the beaches try our diving sites too. Bacolod has colorful festivals. Guimaras has the sweetest mangoes and fish sanctuaries. Batanes is a sight to behold. Bohol though damaged by the recent earthquake boasts of wonderful white beaches. You should be named tourism ambassador. Thanks for promoting our 7100 islands.

  102. Hi Bren,
    I am a Ships Captain and (my late Father before me) on ocean going ships. I have been around the world more than 2x and just like you have been Blessed to see beautiful places and mingle with the locals . But what I have to say is this what makes the Philippines special and different is it’s like a total package everything is there. I have lived here in the US since 1988 but I always take every opportunity to go back when I get the chance and money. Honestly it is on the top of my “Bucket List” God willing to retire in the Philippines when the time comes.

    1. Out of all the countries I’ve been to, I think I too would retire in the Philippines or my hometown NZ. Perhaps next time someone in the mall offers me a condo I should buy one.. haha

  103. thanks for that great article about my country!
    I think you have visited so many places than I do! I’ve never been to Batanes or Mt. Pulag but I heard good views about these places and maybe include them in your next visit.

  104. thanks for writing about the Philippines. honestly, i haven’t visited many parts of our country. due to its archipelagic structure, it’s a challenge to go to different places. but yes, i agree there are many wonderful places to go to in my country.

    you should also try trekking the mountains. aside from the beautiful and exotic beaches, we have lots of mountains. for an urban place in the mountains,you can go to baguio city. for nature tripping, you can go to mount pulag, mount apo (highest peak in the country), taal volcano (one of the smallest in the world), mount mayon (with almost perfect-cone peak), and more.

    you can go try spelunking as we have so many caves. you can also do water rafting in cagayan de oro city, davao, and cagayan province.

    see you again in the Philippines.

  105. Great article! I used to read blogs but never really post comments. BUT you moved me. Make me MORE PROUD of my country. You just proved that I made the right decision to explore first what my country offers before visiting others. Been travelling for quite sometime now and been to different provinces. And, yes each has own uniqueness and beauty. Try Batanes – the northernmost of the Philippines. It’s one great stop – compilation of seas, cliffs, mountain. Hope to bump you on the road one day 😉 Enjoy and have fun on your journey. Muli, maraming salamat! (again, thank you very much)

    1. You’re very lucky in The Philippines, could travel to a different beach every month and never run out of places to see! I hope you continue to explore your country and never stop travelling. Thanks for reading 🙂

  106. talking about beaches and islands,, i hope you could visit palaui island since you mentioned anguib beach. palaui is dubbed as one of the best beaches in the world. and go to batanes. 🙂

  107. Aside from Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City, there’s upcoming Paraw Regatta http://iloiloparawregatta.com/ celebration. Then you can visit Guimaras Island or you can drive in northern Iloilo and visit Gigantes Island in Carles..it’s pure paradise. You can do island hopping (7 of them) in one day.

  108. Thanks Bren for appreciating my beautiful country. Another good place and hospitable place is Daet, Camarines Nort (east coast of Luzon) . We have nice virgin island white sand beaches like Calaguas Island, water falls and great foods. When you are in daet, please come to our place KFisher Seafood and Japanese Restaurant. We’ll be honoured to serve you seafoods straight from our fishing boats. Please email me if you are in the area, rscujr@yahoo.com. Thanks again.

  109. thank you for this! it is truly inspiring and made me super proud of you for loving my country! <3… yes, philippines is soo beautiful, undeniably!

  110. I feel guilty of sort of neglecting my country of origin…I have lived here just for 27 years in probably more than 20 places mainly in Mindanao and Manila before I went to work abroad for 6 years in Saudi Arabia and moved to live in London since 1997. I had visited last the Philippines in 1995 and never been back since. I’m pretty sure things have moved on. I have never been to the best beaches in the Philippines except Boracay and few others not so popular beaches. I don’t really mind because I have lived in some of the untapped, virgin and beautiful beaches in Mindanao as a child.

    Reading your review made me feel proud as most of the Brits would prefer Thailand and Bali and other neighbouring Asian countries than the Philippines. Yes, you hit the G-spot of describing the Philippines comparing to the neighbouring Asian countries which are so popular among the westerners for destination. No wonder a friend of mine a British guy who loves Thailand very much and used to be in Thailand at least twice a year. He had tasted the Philippines and it’s his favourite destination nowadays that made me jealous as he had been more than six times in 2 years exploring the beautiful beaches. In fact he is still there…

    I hope one day I will be able to come back and visit the Philippines despite my dislike of flying….there is still a place in my heart of my former country although my home is London. Thanks for the best review/article about the Philippines…….

    1. I am also guilty of not fully appreciating my own country. It always takes someone else to remind us that there is beauty to be shared and travelled at home. Best wishes for 2014, hope you return to your homeland soon 🙂

  111. Love this article..and I definitely most agree with the No.5. Everyone speaks English!..I am a filipina. I work in China and in Dubai..one of my close chinese friend bring along with me in my hometown. and he was so amaze everyone can speak english.

  112. It’s good that you enjoyed your travel here in the Philippines..try to check also Nagsasa cove, Potipot island,Magalawa Island all in zambales area just 3-4 hrs from Manila..

  113. Hi Sir Bren, thanks for appreciating the simple things (food, people, beaches and the culture itself) the Philippines has to offer. Thank you 🙂

  114. Hi I think I know you. You were introduced to us once by my friend Ody. Anyway, just wanna say thank you for writing this great and overwhelming article. Glad to know you enjoyed your stay here. You’re always welcome to come back

      1. I don’t think you can remember me because we just met once. And that was in Boracay March of 2013. I was with Ody, Jem and Fran. I bet you still know those names

  115. Hi Bren,

    Thanks for the very nice compliement for my country, now i learned a lot from you about unheard tourist spot.hope to visit some of them.
    btw i’m wondering from what country are you from ? and at what age you started to backpack ? Good luck til your visit to the phil!

  116. Wow. Thank you for writing this article Bren. Glad you enjoyed your visit here. Philippines is one of the best countries really. You are most welcome to come back anytime and bring some friends.

  117. Hello there young man! I cant explain how proud I am to be a Filipino. thank you for sharing these to the world.. I began my island hopping with my family last year… And we are doing it again next year! Thank you!

  118. Hi Bren, thank you very much! I guess every comment says it all–the Philippines is a humble paradise. Im just ashamed that you’ve been to more places in my country but I’ll certainly catch-up 🙂 this is somewhat a wakeup call for us Filipinos to be more open minded and grateful of the natural resources that we have for often times they are taken for granted. There are more beaches in the south but terrorism makes it impossible even for us locals to explore. Been to Cebu this week and it was awesome! Have you tried swimming with the whale sharks at Oslob? Its the best experience for me so far. Hope to catch you on your next visit, ill be more than proud to have a souvenir picture with you and share our stories as well. Again, thank you very much, you rock! 🙂

    1. No have not swum with the whale sharks..sounds awesome though. For a beach lover like myself, Philippines is perfect. There is no other country with so many islands, right in the middle of the tropics. You guys are so lucky!

  119. Hi bren, I’m Jerome, thank you for visiting my country and sharing some thoughts, try to visit Romblon island you will see a virgin places and 1960’s boracay version.. that place is so amazing! Jessica Sanchez choose to stay in Carabao island, Romblon than to a crowded place of boracay.. thanks a lot and have a good day!

  120. What a nice read to start my Sunday! I was smiling all throught reading your post and all the comments here and fell so blessed to have this beautiful country. You’ll never run out of things to do, places to visit, food to try here in the Philippines. The possibilities are endless. I myself have been going around the country and its like falling in love over and over again. Definitely beaches are among the best here and I love beach camping. You should try mountain hiking too! Thanks for visiting The Philippines and inspiring others to be more proud of this wonderful country.

  121. I do think that the positive description you wrote about the Philippines and the Filipinos is in fact a reflection of the kind of person you are. Yes, Filipinos are amiable to those who show interest in their country….and probably you are the kind who endeavors to engage them and really shows appreciation about the little things in life. Filipinos can easily “mirror” your aura or the kind of energy you project to them. If you are a negative person, it’s probable you will never appreciate the country the way you admire it in your blog. Philippines is like Marijuana. If you are imbued with a positive outlook and good attitude, the country and the Filipinos can reinforce such disposition. However, if you are negative, the kind who complains and frets a lot, then perhaps, the negativity in you will cloud your judgement and your disposition even more.

    As Filipino, of course, I appreciate your blog a great deal. It made me think of my experience interacting with non-Filipinos here. The word “hospitable” the way a Westerner understands it, is probably an understatement to describe Filipinos in general. As a matter of fact, some foreigners get paranoid when they notice the seeming over-friendliness of Filipinos. They are quick to suspect that those friendly Filipinos will rob them. It’s a sad state of mankind (greed, consumerism, etc.), I would say, when it’s deemed “abnormal” when people show goodness or kindness to strangers.

    All the best to you!

    1. Great insight, every where I travel, it’s always my main goal to connect with the people and really try to understand their culture and why they are the way that they are. It’s why I rarely take tours. And of course, negativity will always attract negative experiences, no matter where you go. As a traveller, it’s always good to be skeptical of friendliness, because the simple fact is that there are many unsavoury people out there, some of whom actually make a living preying on tourists. But as I said in my post, many Filipinos are just polite to be polite, and that is rare these days. Little things like this really stand out, to me anyway. Thanks for your great comment!

  122. im very happy and somewhat surprised that you mentioned subic beach, which for me (yes i’m being completely partial as I am from Bicol) is the best beach ever! it is a place where you will find 9 out of 10 of your reasons. its raw beauty remains but the claws of development are slowly creeping in. i am all for development but i just hope that #10 will not be the reason why we lose # 1 – 9. so, thank you for writing this article. articles like these ensure that reasons 1-9 will remain. 😀

    1. Have not been to Subic beach but it was one of the places on my shortlist, me sitting at my computer wondering “OMG which one should I go to!” Your country is unique in that there are just so much natural beauty, it will be a long, long time before they can develop it all. For now, Manila is growing fast, and that is fine – all you need is a couple short bus rides and you can escape to the beach from there. I also don’t think #1-#9 will change anytime soon:) Thanks for reading!

  123. Hey there Bren, thank you very much! I’m guilty like the rest: you’ve been to more places than me–a local But that will change definitely 🙂 There are more places to explore down south, but people are afraid to go due to a number of reasons but all in all, you are right, a lifetime is not enough to explore each of the 7,100 islands of the Philippines 🙂 Have you been to Cebu? We’re there this week and it was awesome! We went swimming with the whale sharks at Oslob–if you haven’t tried this yet, please consider it in your list, it’s the best experience I’ve had so far. We plan on going back there and explore Sumilon Islands and the rest of the beaches at Southern Cebu. Lastly, please consider another follower in me, I envy your travel adventures and I do hope I can do that too, though I need to work first on having those buckets of money lol 🙂 Anyway, again, thank you very much, it’s always delightful to see a perspective from someone like yourself, do keep us posted if you’ll be around in the near future, hopefully we can get to meet you and have the usual “souvenir picture” and share stories as well. Mabuhay ka and see you soonish! 🙂

    1. Hi Eloiskie, have not been to Cebu, but the lechon there is calling my name! If I cannot return this year, I definitely will in 2015. How can I not! Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

  124. We have 7,107 island in the Philippines that you can choose from. You better plan your bucket list well :-). Thank you again, I’ve commented before but I can’t seem to stop talking about your blog. I’ve not been to other countries, so I can’t really compare much, except these 3 neighboring countries as Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. It was good thing I saw these countries, I can fairly say mine is better in terms of the places and people’s traits.

    If you’ve heard of the Bangsamoro Agreement between our government and Eastern part of Mindanao Island (border between Philippines and East of Malaysia), when you plan to go and backpack there, please make sure you understand the place well. As you can see, there are still a lot of unrest in those areas, you need to have extra precaution.

    Meanwhile, just enjoy your trip all over Luzon and the rest of Visayas. Have a great trip!

  125. wow ! must be the top blog swamped by so many comments ! A friend of mine at facebook shared it. Your travels in the Philippines is pretty awesome ! from the bottom of my by heart thanks a lot for making an efforts blogging about the Philippines Im been out for 24 years and i consider now cambodia is my second home but of course my country is still the Philippines. Another traveler blogger like yourself have once blog about his travels in south east asia and his trips in the Philippines he described as nearly hell! But I think he is “non: experience traveler . I also read about your blog about elance .
    My hunch is your only not only smart and talented your a fighter!I adore your perseverance.
    Since you stay too much in the road and doing all free lance work. You should try other paying blogs comp. I can e-mail you in private more details. kunderas71@yahoo.com … safe travels . Kundera

    1. Hi Kundera,

      Thanks so much for commenting and for your kind words. Yes, the tourist infrastructure in The Philippines is a little lacking, so for those who don’t travel a lot it can be a little difficult to navigate and could lead to a forgettable experience. Feel free to email me through the Contact page on my blog 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  126. You made me love my country more. People here dream of leaving the islands to live elsewhere. I, too, planned to exist anywhere, just “not here”. Perhaps because of our political upheavals that cause all sorts of order problems. But graver things happen anywhere. So I prefer to just park myself in our sunblest islands.

    1. We all suffer from this ‘grass is greener’ complex. It’s normal. Even New Zealand is a great country which I am continuously trying to escape for some reason 🙂

  127. Great article! I got to spend 3 months in the “nanayland”, last year, both to visit family and play tourist. And I arrived at the same conclusion. PI is beautiful, warm and filled with treasures, offers fantastic returns on the tourism dollar, yet it stills seem largely overlooked and undervalued as a tourist destination. Seems to be changing slowly though.

  128. Hi Bren
    You must have been equally nice. Nice begets nice. Thank you, am not sure but who knows..I hope to catch you the next time you come for some beer over “sisig” as my gesture of thanks!

  129. Thanks Bren. You’ve done a great service to my country. I am from the north – Ilocos Norte. I hope you can visit the place too. Google Laoag or Ilocos Norte. I am based in QC. Let me know next time you are in town. I should like to talk to you about the place over a brew or two.

  130. Next time you visit the Philippines, go to the Corregidor Island! Now, that place should stay hidden IN Asia’s secret and not be commercialized. Ever. It doesn’t take more than two hours to get there from Manila Bay by boat. The island just envelopes you with the serenity and solitude that seems to have stuck there post-World War II. It’s a very beautiful place and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. In fact, I often think of coming back there.

  131. Hello there Bren, you’re one of the very few foreigners who has given high commendation to my country. Thank you! Come back and visit more often!

  132. It’s so nice to hear someone speak so positively about the Philippines! I moved here to teach about 6 months ago and LOVE it – especially the people, hiking, and beaches. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. I think the first 2 days can be uninspiring, but once you see beneath the surface it’s such an incredible community. After 6 months, you’ll undoubtedly be in love with the country, as you and I have discovered 🙂

  133. Visit BATANES!!!! It is the northernmost province of the Philippines and is also the smallest province, both in terms of population and land area. The place is super awesome … the mountain, beach, hills, old churches, stoned houses … so great! >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batanes

    Next to visit… Bantayan Island in Cebu. It is situated to the west of the northern end of Cebu Island, across the Tañon Strait. Small island, white beach, old churches, old houses, friendly folks.
    >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bantayan_island

  134. Thank you so much for appreciating the beauty of our country and also our people. Try batanes ,caramoan or pagudpud on your next visit, im sure you’ll love it. Also try climbing up the mountains, you might actually enjoy it too. Safe travels my friend. Godbless. 🙂

  135. Thank you Bren. Visit davao city and climb mt.apo, phil’s highest mountain, eat kinilaw, do water rafting, shipwreck diving and enjoy the sand of pearl farm.

  136. You might be getting tired of saying ‘thank you’ for reading your article but if i may just add to the outpouring appreciation you’ve received. You’re article is really a breath of fresh air to us. I happen to have Siargao (Surfing Capital of the Philippines) to be my hometown although i work in Manila. If Philippines is the friendliest country, i believe Siargao is the friendliest town for foreigners as many of them have already made their residence there. I wish i could leave work and just see the world just like you. Anyways, a big BIG THANK YOUUU!!! again for what you wrote about our country. God bless you whereever your feet will take you. ^_^

    1. Hi Norve, I can never say thank you enough times for everyone here who has spread my writing around the world 🙂 It’s flattering to say the least. I actually booked an accommodation in Siargao, then had to cancel, I’d love to learn to surf there 🙂 Next time next time…

      1. Hi Brent,
        I stayed in Surigao for 4 yrs and was able to visit Siargao island way back in 1999. Its an island facing the pacific ocean and i took the local boat (aka pumpboat) from the mainland. It took us 4 hrs to reach General Luna. That is the town where the boats coming from the mainland dock. We went to place called Cloud 9, a local resort which happened to be owned by (surprise!) an australian married to a local. Most of the customers were another (surprise) were australian beach buffs lugging their surfboards around the beach. Overnight stay in a two-man room was $1 complete with the a bed, mosquito net. There was a mini restaurant bar where you order a meal and drinks. The surf was great and you could rent equipment for water sports. You should try it sometime. Btw, we took the fastcraft back to Surigao City. 1 & 1/2 hour trip…..cheers

        1. 1999! I can’t even imagine how different things would’ve been back then, truly truly undiscovered. You’re lucky you got to see it back in those days!

  137. A friend from fb shared this blog and I was so curious on the content. I thought I would be just bored reading it like other blogs but I’m wrong. I read every single word from this blog, even comments! I’m amazed and felt proud while reading this. This blog is very heart warming, MARAMING SALAMAT for sharing your great experience here in the PH! I know 2 foreigners, from Pennsylvania and Belgium, who also had trips here in PH and have same thoughts like you do. I’m glad that you guys are loving our country. I’m a local here but haven’t seen those treasures that you guys already saw but I’ll definitely visit those beaches one at a time! May God bless you and keep you safe in your trips, Bren. 🙂

    1. Hi, thanks so much, there’s no better feeling for a blogger than when someone reads his work and feels the urge to comment and share their thoughts as well. It makes us sing and dance and go crazy in front of our computer! I’m not surprised your friends had an amazing experience too, exploring the unexplored is usually a very pleasant surprise. Thanks for reading!

      1. Wow! that was a quick reply! hmm is that an auto reply? haha just kidding. Really, I wonder what song and dance you did when you read my comment.. :))

        1. I’m actually sitting here writing a post, and I’ve got writers block, so when a comment comes through it’s a good distraction. Haha. I’m listening to Cruise by Nelly/Florida Georgia Line right now, so I bopped to that.

          1. oh i’m sorry for the great distraction, master.*one more distraction from this comment* haha i’m looking forward to your new posts.

          2. No need to apologise, it’s a welcome distraction! Yes I realise that now people are actually reading my posts, so I have to think hard about what to write. Pressure….

  138. After reading the flood of comments, it only shows that we really appreciate the great things you said about our country. Great article up there, man! I couldn’t agree more when you said you won’t be able to see all of the beaches in a year coz we really have a lot. I’m happy that I prefer to visit the off beaten track and enjoy the serenity of the beach coz it’s not so crowded. We have one travel blogger, Journeying James, who travelled 100 days from North to South of the Philippines at the most affordable way possible. You might wanna check that out.

  139. You have just won the hearts of every Filipinos with this lovely article. And most foreigners who come and visit really do fall in love with our country they just don’t have the platform like you do to share their experience… And yes sometimes people overlook the great side once a small negative spot surfaced… Thank you again… Good bless you richly and abundantly….

    1. Hi Vanessa, yes, almost every country that I’ve been to something negative has happened, but that’s just life 🙂 What’s important is that the good outweighs the bad, which is does almost every time. Thanks for reading 🙂

  140. Did we mention that we have festivals all year round and world class diving spots? try that next time Bren! 🙂 Thanks again on your beautiful review!

    1. Haha, it really is more fun in the Philippines. I could easily write a “10 more reasons why…” but I think we’ll let people discover them for themselves.

  141. Hi Bren. It’s nice to hear about your positive experiences in our wonderful country. Too bad you only visited places in the capital and south of it because the north has a lot to offer too. I’m from Baguio and I’ve seen some comments recommending you visit here but all I can say is that you avoid during the Panagbenga (Flower Festival) and during Holy Week. The problem with visiting Baguio during those times is that there are just too many tourists and the traffic is terrible. I would also not recommend visiting here during the rainy season (around June to September) as the weather here is hit or miss. Sunny days are nice and cool but rainy days are just dreary and typhoons will keep you cooped up in your hotel. The Christmas holidays are getting pretty crowded too but still tolerable. But the rest of the year is great, especially for long time visitors like yourself who want to take a break from the heat of the lowlands and spend some time in the cool air of the mountains for a change.

  142. Thank you, Bren, for your really uplifting article about my home country. One really awesome place to add to your list (if you don’t mind 🙂 ) is my dad’s home province, Bohol. You’re gonna love it there, too.
    On the other hand, I noticed that you have not talked about the heavy traffic in the metro area. When I am in the Philippines, I live in the place where I grew up – Malate, Manila. Traffic is bad, but like you, it doesn’t bother me a lot. I still love it despite some of the its imperfections.
    Thumbs up to you, and more power!

    1. I think it’ll be hard for you to find any capital in Asia (or even the world) where traffic is not a problem. It’s not unique to Manila. Traffic is just as bad here in New Zealand! Have heard of Bohol, many times, would love to visit 🙂

  143. Hi Bren! Wow I appreciate alot about the good things you said about our country and I’m impressed to see how you’ve responded to each and every comment on your blog.. Thank you for everything that you said.. and we’re more than glad to know that you enjoyed your stay here.. Hope you come back soon! 🙂

    And please know, that New Zealand is one of the top 5 countries on my list that I’d like to visit someday! 🙂

  144. oops, sorry that was me on the last comment.. It was so unintentional to be anonymous.. 😛 When I get the chance to visit NZ someday, I’ll try to look for you on here and tell you about my experience.. 🙂

  145. Hey Bren! Thanks much for this amazing, amazing article and the appreciation for my homeland. I’m now based in the Western part but Manila will always be soooo different and special. Every time I go for holiday, I always head to Bantayan Island, an island located at the northern point of Cebu! I must say it’s my favorite place among all the places I’ve visited already. With its amazing shoreline, sleepy and laid back vibe, amazing people, fresh sea produce, I mean, it’s one badass experience to live there. On your next visit, you must check it out.
    And hey, keep traveling but be safe always!

    1. Hi, I’d love to visit Bantayan, when I finally go to Cebu to feast on all the lechon I’ll be sure to stop there 🙂 Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  146. Your 10 reasons captured the true description of our Philippines and generated cheers aplenty. So here’s another one – thank you so much Bren!

  147. Thank you Bren. If you were in the Philippines for 6 months only, i would say that you’ve missed your best Christmas and New Year’s Eve ever! Don’t think twice to visit Phils. On those holidays – it is the best part of the year after summer. Oh, i can’t wait to go home and hit the beach. I miss Philippines.:)

  148. What a great article!! We have done a tiny bit of Asia (Thailand, Bali) and have booked a trip to Borneo this year. The Phillipines have always been on our list and I’m now excited about booking next years holiday already 🙂

  149. Thank you for writing this Bren. I’m glad you bring with you positive impressions of our country. It’s not perfect; nothing is anyway… but it is home. I still have many places to see myself and I am living in it. Happy travels!

  150. Magandang tanghali Bren! (Good afternoon)
    Thanks for this wonderful blog and it’s very delighting to know that you consider our country the perfect first stop in Asia. I feel ashamed because here I am, along with other Filipinos out there, wanting to get out of this country if ever I have a chance for what I think is a “better” place to stay in. (Yes, I hate myself right now). Anyway, have you been to Baguio yet? Pretty cool place–literally. And if you have time, research about the festivals in the different places in the Philippines and do try to celebrate with one, I’m sure you’d love it. You can check this link: http://houseofjcjee.hubpages.com/hub/10-Fascinating-Philippine-Festivals HAPPY TRIP! See you around, Foreignoy. (100% Foreign but Filipino at heart) 🙂

    1. Haha! I’m most definitely a Foreignoy. Have not been to Baguio, haven’t been anywhere up North yet! Of course, I’ll get there someday. Thanks for reading.

  151. Wow! Thanks for the kinds words. I am Filipina married to a Brazilian. My husband is black and he and his family also loved it there!! I think that in general, Filipinos are not prejudiced. The hospitality is extended to all, regardless of skin color! 🙂 Did you also notice how we Pinoys absolutely love to smile and laugh? Anyway, if you ever come to Brazil…we have a Filipino community here in Brasilia you can meet. We’ll cook you sinigang or adobo or lumpia. Take your pick! BTW ur blog was introduced to me by a Pinay living in France! You are popular!!!

    1. I agree, most people I know have had great experiences no matter what their race. Although those not from an Asian background do draw more attention. Brasilia! I’m planning to move to Brazil to learn Portugese, probably next year, so I’d love to drop by 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  152. the filipinos dont really care what you said except for #8. Tell them the opposite and you will be kicked out in less than hour 🙂

  153. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article. I haven’t traveled abroad because there are still to many places I have not visited here. I’m gonna share this article to my friends, just to encourage them to visit us here in the Philippines, and for us locals to try to learn more about our country before jumping on a plane to check out other countries to visit.

  154. Wow! You are so diligent in responding to the comments 🙂 I’ve been to several countries too, and I noticed that Filipinos use “Sir / Ma’am” a lot as if you are a “very important person”. In other countries, when I dine in a restaurant, the Waiters/Waitresses just get your order and serve your food, and they rarely smile. It’s as if you would feel scared to ask for something. They’re too “mechanical”. So, in a foreign city (KL, HK, Sg, etc.), I would instantly know if the waiter/waitress is a Filipino because of his/her genuine smile and readiness to serve. And most of the time, my guess is always correct.

    By the way, when in Cebu, try to visit MALAPASCUA Island. It’s a small island up north and very popular among divers (Europeans and Aussies). It’s the only area in the world where you can see Thresher Sharks, aside from Palau. I’m not a diver but I love the vibe in that small island… sort of like a smaller and quieter version of Boracay. It’s my “secret” getaway every year. I wrote about it in my blog http://www.roamingpinoy.blogspot.com

    You might also want to try the TAO EXPEDITIONS from Coron to El Nido (Palawan) or vice-versa. Just google it and read the reviews on TripAdvisor or other sites… and it will make you book your next trip to PH instantly 🙂

    1. Yes have heard about both those places! I think one of the Tao expedition staff actually commented on here somewhere. Also agree with you completely on the service thing – totally different class! Most places I’ve been to you only get the “Sir” treatment at a 5 star restaurant, if that. Nice blog, I see you’ve been to Cagbalete too, isn’t it amazing…

  155. Wow. Salamat for your kind words about this place I call home. Met a lot travelers backpacking across Asia who skipped across PH for various reasons. Thank you Bren for taking time to write on your positive experience. Everytime I see the volume of tourists in neighboring countries, I want to say to each of them “Hey my country is definitely worth your time, you should give it a chance.”

    1. I know, right? I was also guilty of heading straight to Thailand as soon as I visited South East Asia. Not sure why it is, just media hype I guess. But, sometimes it’s a good thing that the Philippines is left a little untouched for the one’s who do venture there to enjoy 🙂

  156. Cant agree more..

    Re #4, sometimes im too sorry for the economy, but at some point I prefer having the Philippines all by myself. Too bad of me, there is this place in my province that is paradise for me and i dont want to share it with anyone. 😀

  157. As someone who just *had* to rave about the Philippines the first time I visited the country in 2011 (http://mithunonthe.net/2011/12/04/philippines-2011-palawan-to-manila-greenhills-malate-makati-city-quezon-indian-opinion-about-philippines/), I agree with everything… except the food :-/ Sorry, despite two visits to the country, I still haven’t liked Filipino cuisine.

    As for why tourism numbers are still low:
    1) It’ll grow once people get tired of Thailand. Most backpackers are unaware of the fact Philippines offers so much beauty, but we bloggers along with some good campaigning by the Dept. of Tourism should change that.

    2) But I still think Philippines is hard destination to market. The biggest hurdle is its geography. As an archipelago of over 7000 islands, getting around is a hurdle. In destinations like Thailand and Malaysia, many touristy places can be accessed by land. That is not the case in Philippines. Manila has little to offer (and I disagree, Manila isn’t as good a shopping destination as Bangkok) and if you need to see the beautiful beaches, many of them are a flight away. You just can’t do a 5 day-4 night tour of Philippines like you can in Singapore and Malaysia.

    1. That is true, getting around can be difficult, but to me that is half the beauty of the place. You can’t just jump on a bus and be somewhere in half an hour. There always a journey involved, usually a long one, it just makes the destination that much more rewarding.

      I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on the food and the shopping. Bangkok is great too, but Manila wins by just an inch 🙂

      Thanks for your comments!

  158. Tagaytay is one of the favorite destinations. Many foreigners settles after visiting as it is one of the best retirement villages… cheap to retire, cool climate, view to Taal lake (one of top ten lakes in the world), cheap cost of living, cheap hospitals and utilities, 0% crime rate, no traffic and accessible to airports and sea ports, there are Swiss, Mediterranean and Asian theme villages or condominium, cheap hospital, abundant on fruits/seafods/meat and vegetables.

      1. We are developing a recreation area somewhere in Tagaytay with future zoo, botanical garden, treehouses, wedding place, picturesque view, ice ski, horse back and a lot more! Once established i can bring u there and gave a commune with nature in the cold garden. =>

  159. Very well said Brendan Lee! You made us inspired to be the best in Asia 🙂 Thanks for expressing your good thoughts and experiences about Filipinos and my country. There’s still more to explore as we got 7,100 plus islands here :)))) All the best. God bless you!

  160. Hello sir Bren, try Leyte also. you can do island hopping (cuatro islas, canigao), you can go mountain climbing also through Mt. Pangasugan, try visiting the Visayas State University (a paradise university in the Visayas), the food is great and cheap as well, and more things are to be discovered. 😀

  161. Hi Bren! Thanks for the wonderful compliments for my beloved country. I had goosebumps and was teary eyed while reading this your blog.
    Come visit Linapacan Island, Palawan next time you’re in the Philippines. Untouched natural beauty near to Coron and El Nido.

    Linapacan Island, Palawan has the #1 world’s clearest water

    1. Hi Irvin, spelunking isn’t something I’ve done much of, I’ve done it a couple of times in NZ though and it was a lot of fun. Of course, it’ll be more fun in the Philippines! 😉

  162. No offense meant but where on Earth have you been not hearing about the Philippines? Hehe…I have worked with a couple of Kiwis like you and they are one of the nicest foreign nationality I have worked work with…

  163. I bet most Filipinos will agree with me on this one: we love taking out tourists and first timers in our country and won’t stop until we’re sure they had a good time.

    1. 100% agree. Even in New Zealand, I’ve been invited to a couple of Filipino events now and they break their back trying to make sure I’m having fun. It’s amazing!

    1. Yes, I’ve heard this too, maybe I was just lucky?! Most times in the taxi though I’ll try and have confident body language and talk a lot to the driver, be very friendly, ask about his kids and wife, and also tell him I’ve been living in Manila a long time. Maybe that softens them up a little bit..haha

  164. Wow! Thanks for the wonderful article about the Pearl of the East! I have traveled more than 50% of the country’s provinces from up north in Palaui Island Cagayan Valley down south to Samal Island Davao. I can help you look for some more tourist spots like the “Niagara fall” of the Philippines and Jurassic park-like scenery or go spelunking to check a chapel inside! http://Www.facebook.com/MyAbenturePhilippines will give you sample photos in the albums as inspiration. Have a great adventure called life!

    1. Hi Aben, checked out your page, it seems you’ve done a fair amount of exploring! Your country is beautiful indeed, thanks for sharing the magic.

  165. dude, this article/blog is one of the best description why people should visit the Philippines. Good job! Also, can’t believe how long is the trend of the comments..lovely indeed.

  166. Thank you bren.. I’m so happy and proud to be Filipino after reading your article.. YOU ARE AWESOME!.. Since this season is summer , I’m inviting you to visit here at our Island Province, GUIMARAS ISLAND, home of the World’s Sweetest Mango, The Island that Fits Your Taste, “Known as Little Boracay, .. and we celebrate Pagtaltal sa Guimaras during Holy Week . .. and MANGGAHAN FESTIVAL is on April-May this year … Come, Experience Guimaras 🙂

  167. Guimaras Mango can probably be included among your reasons to visit the Philippines… 🙂 , try it for once though.. ^_^ ‘

  168. Im from Labo Camarines Norte and Calaguas is in the nearby town.. if you want some info regarding Calaguas feel free to ask.. I started visiting Calaguas 20 years ago and until now its still the best beach spot for me… if you want a mountain thing..Visit Labo…modesty aside its a place of one friendliest people on the archepelago 🙂 Labo spolied with the beautiful panoramic view of Labo river and the view of 3 Mountains.. there is also a hidden place called Malapat.. Super beautiful and very rich in biodiversity….

  169. I love my country more as I am reading your article. Thank you so much for your appreciation. Have you been to Apo Island in Negros Oriental? What about the Forest Camp in Valencia, Negros Oriental. We have also the Twin Lake in San Jose, Negros Oriental. There are so many tourists spots here in our province that for your sure you will enjoy staying with.

  170. Hi Bren: Wow! what a nice compliment. I am very happy you enjoyed your visit to the Philippines, yes, in every country has its own pride of beauty. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Pinas. Maganda talaga. Yes, hope you go to the North part that is where I came from.

  171. you may visit again our beloved Philippines on the opening of the WORLD’s LARGEST INDOOR ARENA in Bocaue, Bulacan this July 2014

  172. Hi Bren! Thankyou for promoting Philippines. Yes, it’s true. Philippines is beautiful. Some people didn’t notice the greatness of the Philippines. By the way, I would like to suggest to try to visit or search Batangas City. Beaches and resorts are great there. It’s a place where you can really enjoy your vacation. Artists or even travelers really want to go to this place because of the uniqueness of this place. Thankyou again. ^^

  173. I’ve just been to davao last January to climb the country’s highest mountain. After the 3 day hike, you may go to many wonderful places in mindanao, just like hinatuan enchanted river, samal island beaches, etc..!

  174. thank you so much for sharing your beautiful experiences in the Phils.Im a Filipina living in denmark and I’ve been so manny places also in the Philippines. I will say thers alot more places that you will gonna like it. like siargao in surigao its so beautiful, Samal island in davao, bohol, cebu, Zambales in Luzon, and many more places in luzon that is really beautiful…hope you enjoyed your travel time… take care and goodluck for your next adventure!!!

    1. Hi Myrna, thanks so much, I’m sure I’m going to need at least 6 months to a year for my next visit. Just too much to see and do…

  175. Hi bren, asking permission to share this blog on my fb page. Thanks for the very nice compliment of my beloved Philippines.

  176. Hi Bren, next time your heading to Manila consider my province Baler Aurora. It’s a 5-6 hours trip. If you want see a secluded water falls, we have El Pimentel, Digisit Falls & Mother Falls, that’s only to mention a few. If you love to surf this is another surfing haven. Just try to visit our place & i bet you will love this one too!

    Thank you for liking our beautiful country.


  177. Your blog is very nice. try to spend more time in the Philippines and you will discover the hidden places that we can offer to all the tourist visiting our country. Maybe try Sagada (their famous cave) or Camiguin (Famous white Island), Ilocos (their famous beaches and historical churches and places)

    You are so awesome. Thank you for writing blog in our country. more power to you!

    1. Hi Cyril, thanks a lot. I’m sure my next trip to the Phils will need to be so long, because there’s just so much more to see. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  178. Hey~ I came across your blog from a shared link of a friend from facebook. Although a part of me thinks you got real lucky, a bigger part of me also thinks this is what life is like in the Philippines when people really take the time to enjoy it 😀

    There are a LOT more places to go to. My friends and I made it a point to take (at the very least) a vacation once a year in some random place in the country that isn’t too hyped. Hidden treasure hunt and the like.

    You mentioned Fort Bonifacio, which made me remember that I recently found out that there’s a long tunnel running underneath it that was used in world war 2 and the 5 known entrances are all buried spread across the other villages/houses and one is right next to the highway lol

    Also, in your next visit, try to drop by Camiguin! Water so clear you can see 20+ feet deep from the surface, and still spot the rocks and corals and fish from the boat. And a white sandbar that disappears by 5-6pm.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/120338136@N06/13143986244/ <– and then there's this beach. When we went there, we literally had the entire island to ourselves and the family that runs the single (!) store on the island. It was our cheapest lunch break ($10 and less) with the best smoked fish that was just caught an hour before we got there.

    Ok sorry for rambling, but I really did love Camiguin. You should go there~ 😀

      1. 4 entrances had been surrounded by either a house or erosion or trash, so the safest entry point is actually the one next to the highway. They say the known tunnel is about 2km+ long, but a lot of it is unexplored and too dark. I think my government’s going to try and apply for heritage status on that tunnel and plan to open it to the public. Won’t be next year, that’s for sure. But if you ask the locals around, they can probably take you to the entrance 😀

        My stop this year is at Bataan. There’s a heritage resort there where they moved as many of the old historical (dilapidated) houses in the country to save it.

          1. I think Mich is referring to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, located in Bataan. The owner’s hobby is collecting old/vintage houses. I love that place, been there 3x already!

  179. Hello Bren,so great to read ur blog,so jealous on the way u described my beautiful native land,nxt time I’m back,will definitely follow ur great suggestions,going to those virgin places will be in my bucket lists too,lots of pride ….. btw,my place is by Tagaytay…hope u can be there n see the smallest volcano w/in a lake in the worl 🙂

  180. Hey Bren! It’s always heartwarming to hear traveller’s positive experiences and glad you’re one of them. It’s just funny how a lot of travellers just take a gamble on the Philippines then somehow end up falling for the country. Just look at these other blogs with strikingly similar experiences as yours:
    Thank you for sharing your experience and for putting a good word out for the Philippines. Safe travels!

  181. Love your blog on our country! 🙂 Can’t even begin to think on what place you should visit next if you come back like Bohol, Baguio, Cebu and the Mindanao area, their culture is very different from Luzon and Visayas. And the food! There are lots you need to try aside from the ones you’ve listed. Since you love pork, you should try sisig!

  182. BREEEEEN! I have read a lot of kind reviews about my country but none is as kind as yours. You have made my heart very very happy. Please visit my home province Catanduanes. Laid back but beautiful too. Are you also Asian?

  183. Nice blog! Thanks for sharing! I’m proud to be a filipino 🙂
    Traveling is indeed a privileged to see the hidden beauty- be it natures, cultures or people..

  184. Hello Bren, I love what you’ve written! Thanks for your blog. I just want to say that it can be true that there are some places that can be dangerous even for locals like me when it comes to places that are famous to have some terrorist groups inhabiting those places. But there are many safe places for tourists where both local and foreign tourists can travel safely. Most locals though are aware of places that can be of danger (mostly in the mindanao area) which you can just ask around but these places are few and it’s sad that for those few places had given a bad name to the rest of the country. And regarding your great experience in the city area, I believe that it is because you are a kind-hearted person. Others may have bad experiences unlike yours as a tourists and I think it can be due to them not being kind enough, I mean Filipinos are kind in general and hospitable, but also demand the same respect. Bad mannered and unkind behavior of other tourists I believe is the main reason they attract lots of scams and unfavorable experiences. Just a piece of my thoughts 🙂

    1. Yes my point about scamming has been the most challenged on this list – I’m not quite sure why. Maybe my Asian face had something to do with it too 🙂

  185. in response to no. 4…. I still struggle to understand how so many attractions in the Philippines continue to fly under the radar. How is it that Bali gets 3 million visitors a year and Boracay barely manages to get a million? How is it that I literally had the entire resort on Cagbalete Island to myself? The Philippines only had 4 million tourists in 2012, compared to 20+ million in Thailand. Anyway, whatever the reason is let’s just hope it stays that way. Part of the magic in exploring the spotless white sand beaches of the Philippines is that you quite often have them all to yourself.

    I happened to meet the Indian ambassador of commerce in my recent vacation in Manila, he said the same thing in your no. 4. I keep thinking about it. I guess part of the blame is media… too much negative news makes tourist think Philippines is not a safe place to visit. It’s good that people like you tell the world your first hand experience what charisma and allure our country has.

    Maybe there should be a shoutout on negative publicities. Instead focus more on what will be beneficial to the tourism business.

  186. Hi bren hoping you can visit again in my home country philippines,try also to explore on visayas region particulary in notherthern samar,we have also nices white beaches,very nice foods and rock formation located at berri island fabulous rock formation,and also nices falls and you can also experience at my place fresh air and water,…i really apreciate what you shared to us what have philippines a great tourist spot on your list and realky happy for that..thank you and regards…

  187. Hi Bren! Thank you so much for loving our country. It really sounds so much better if the appreciation comes from a foreigner. I love my country so much that I can’t imagine myself living in another one. Your blog made me realize that again. You May have probably just visited a small portion of what our country can offer. The island of Cebu and Mindanao are other places that you can explore next time. So proud to note also that you likes our Malls – Greenbelt and Nomination Global City. I work in the company that developed and manages these two properties.

    1. Just a slight correction, the word Nomination should actually be Bonifacio making it Bonifacio Global City of Fort Bonifacio.

  188. Thank you very much for the appreciation.Yeah, try visting Batanes..I heard it is wonderful.Again, thank you so much.

  189. Hy Bren

    I’m Franky from the USA, married to a Filipina and living for almost 7 years at the Philippines. I agree with your experiance. When I travelled to Boracay (and some other places at the Phils) 8 years ago, I was stunned about everything you describe and fall in love with that country! Back at Manila I met a beautiful Pinay and fall in love a second time! 🙂
    One year later I moved to the Phils and married her. I love my wife, the people, the food, the beaches, the country! It’s an amazing place and I’ve never looked back! Just Boracay changed a littlebit. 🙁
    It’s very crowded at the season (mostly Koreans) and at the rainy period (when it’s not crowded there) you can see an other face of Boracay. I wont blame the people there, because it’s a hard life without income at this period, but every 200 meter you can hear “Parasailing, Island hopping, Massage” or selling images of the saints and so on. 🙁
    And in the evening the poor people let theyr children beg for money at the beach. It’s very hard to say no thanks, or don’t give some coins to the children, but if you don’t do that, they will never stop. After this experiance I really feel sad. 🙁
    Hopefully in the future Boracay will be that beautiful and amazing place as we known it before! We saw alot of beaches at the Phils, but when somebody is talking about the paradise, it seems he is talking about Boracay!!!


    1. Yes Boracay is definitely changing, but the laid back culture is still there if your search for it, definitely more so than some of the other tourist spots in SE Asia. Let’s just hope it stays beautiful.

  190. I think you will definitely go back for THE ENCHANTE RIVER in Surigao Del Sur . try to search it. This is a must see. [link removed]

  191. Hows Cagbalete Island? Haha Its good to hear those words bro. Especially the POLITE one, dont worry we will always be haha!

  192. Hi bren, thank you for liking our Country you made us prouder as a Filipino, try to come to Visayas by road from Manila you will be thrilled by different spots & food along the way … my best regards!

  193. WOW! You have been to some places in the Philippines, that I, a Filipino have never even heard of. Because of your post, I promise to go to at least ten places that I have not been in the Philippines before going on another tour abroad. Thank you for your appreciation of our food, people, and country. Maybe it is because we live here that we take it for granted, and I even think that some people can be rude, if you can believe that. But having gone to other countries, I always miss Filipino food, and the friendly attitude of my people. You may not believe it, but Filipinos take their character of friendliness wherever in the world they are. When you go to another country, I will bet that the friendliest sales clerk, or nurse, or helper, or person that you will meet is a Filipino. I hope you can come back. Maybe you can visit Siargao where the surfing is great. Or even Kalanggaman beach in Palompon, Leyte. Again, thank you.

      1. Ooh yeah, friendly?
        Clever? Both are not on th Filipinos.
        Both are Thais and Thailand.
        I love Thailand than the Philippines.
        I will be in Thailand every 2 years once.

        Thailand is the second chosen for my Annual Leaves Holiday

  194. I have traveled a lot, and I share your sentiments. Its nice to hear the beauty of the Phillipines from an outsider. Makes you proud. Thanks Bren.