Philippines.

Manila, Baguio, Segada, Cebu, Palawan

Jan.2016:

This trip was big for me, as it was the first time I would be “home”. I am 100% filipino and at age 24 I’d travel to the Philippines for the first time. It was everything you’d want in a trip. It was filled with family, friends, food, drinks, hiking, swimming, did I mention foooood?, cliff-diving, exploring, and animals.

Manila is a beautiful, vibrant city that kind of reminded me of NYC except it’s really hot (all year round) and the majority of people passing you are obviously of Filipino decent. There’s a ton of delicious food in Manila. Filipinos also love their malls (probably because there’s air conditioning there). They’re typically gigantic and can get anything you want there…anything!

Baguio is bit north of Manila and it’s where my mother grew up. I got to see a lot of my mother’s childhood there. Where she went to school, where she used to hangout and we visited a few of her aunts and uncles. There’s a night market in Baguio every single night and it’s filled with vendors selling food, shoes, clothing, accessories, electronics..everything. I had the best bowl of soup I’ve ever had in my life while I was there. The mornings are calm as the sun rises over the city. Roosters and livestock can be heard from a far and eventually you hear the hustle and bustle of the youth commuting to school. It’s beautiful in its own way.

Sagada is even more north located in the mountain provice. It has a ton of mountain top views with rice terraces along the way. Sagada is commonly known for its hanging coffins. In the old days, they used to hang the deceased up on the cliffs to be closer to the gods. There are lots of caves to explore, as well. Sagada is very scenic and highly recommended.

But, if you’re not into that scenic, mountain life then you should head over to Cebu. Known for it’s beautiful beaches, waterfalls, signature Lechon (🐷) and deep sea diving, you can’t go wrong with Cebu. The waters are bluer than blue. I went swimming with whale sharks and it was mind-blowing. There’s a market that has the best lechon you’ll ever have. The vendors hand out samples just so they can see your reaction. Everything about Cebu is great, but this one thing that stood out. There’s a weird divide between the rich and the poor. There’s not much of a middle ground. You’re either one or the other and you can vividly see it when you pass by a 5-star hotel. Right next door will be the slums. You’ll catch a tourist in white linens drinking pina-coladas and then to his left, right over the wall, you’ll see a fisherman washing his clothes in the ocean. That’s the fly in the ointment, but besides that Cebu is genuinely a magnificent island.

Palawan, another incredible island. Remember when I said Cebu’s water is bluer than blue. Well, Palawan is even bluer than that blue I mentioned before! The oceans are insane. The beaches have the finest sand and theres a snorkling spot where you can rent gear and feed bread to the fish. The fish come right up to you, it’s nuts. If you like seafood, the food in Palawan is so fresh and cooked to perfection. The fruit is sweet and always ripe. If you love water and the ocean, you’ll fall in love with Palawan.

I’ll admit, my rating is a bit biased, but I’d give my experience in the Philippines a 10 out of 10. I have nothing bad to say about the Philippines and it was everything I could have asked for in a trip.