There’s a LOT of great things to love about the Philippines and for those of us who have ventured further than the capital of Manila, we have not only had our eyes opened to unparalleled beauty, but also memories that will never leave us.
Here are 10 things you really need to experience on your next visit to the Philippines.
10. Red Horse Beer – The legendary Red Horse packs quite the punch, and every Filipino has their own opinion of the alcohol content. How much alcohol is there in every bottle? Either way, it’s strong. It will put hair on your chest, sorry girls, and have you reaching for the headache pills once you snap out of your Red Horse coma the next day. Every Filipino has a story about their adventures on ‘the horse’. A must try for those who think they can handle their beer.
9. Balut – Let’s be honest for a minute. The Philippines does have some tasty treats such as , Caldereta, Sinigang and Lechon Kawali but they aren’t going to be wrestling the heavy weight countries for culinary honors anytime soon. Now I’ve travelled the world for most of my life and this ‘dish’ is without doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever mentally prepared myself to eat. Even if you washed it down with an icy cold Red Horse beer, it’s still just WRONG! Vegetarians, animal lovers and most sane people should skip to number 8 right about……. NOW.
Balut is a baby duck of varying age and crunchiness based on its age. It is more developed and harder to stomach the older it gets. Doesn’t stop the die hard enthusiasts from knocking back a few of these tasty treats at a time. Sold by men walking and cycling the streets, yelling “baaaaaaaloooooooooot” its a taste treat for die hard bizarre eats wannabe’s, old hats and young Filos who would never dare eat it but love to tell unsuspecting foreigners to give it a try. Not for the faint hearted.
8. The Jeepney – The Jeepney is a form of public transport that has to be seen to be believed. They were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II and have now become part of Philippine art and culture. Each Jeepney is generally privately owned by a family or individual and they can be as unique as the individuals who own them. They are often over crowded, loud and puffing dangerous amounts of smoke, but they are always a hell of a lot of fun. They are bright, artistic, weird and never cease to provide a great photo opportunity. Ride one to say you have.
7. Live music – The Filipinos are seriously talented musicians and everyone has their own theory as to why, but here’s mine. Growing up these kids didn’t all have the latest gaming devices, big screen TVs and all the things many children are accustomed to elsewhere, but what they did all have was a guitar, or a music player and someone in their family who could hold a tune. This country probably has hundreds of Partridge Families or Jackson 5’s that just never get discovered. Do your ears a favor and get along to one of the many hundreds of places that support local music in this great country.
6. New Years Eve in Manila – These guys LOVE fireworks. Every year you hear of hundreds of people who are injured or worse trying to be a part of this truly unimaginable event. For about 4 hours leading up to and beyond the midnight countdown, Manila goes nuts. Get some place high so you have a great vantage point. It’s almost deafening, as the city skyline is lit up with colour and the air filled with the scent of gunpowder… Truly a once in a lifetime experience.
5. The Malls – 3 of the worlds 10 largest malls reside in Manila. They are SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall and SM North Edsa. If you’re anything like me and have a screwy internal GPS and no sense of direction, prepare to get lost in one of these gigantic malls. Filipinos love shopping malls and they know how to put one together. So if you fancy world class shopping in a mall that will have your jaw dragging along the ground, head along to one of these babies.
4. Get lost in paradise – A seriously beautiful country that has this much to offer, deserves exploring. Most tourists go to the normal holiday places like Palawan and Boracay and for good reason. However trips to the lesser known, inner regions of Bohol, like Loboc river are equally as breathtaking and rewarding. So do yourself a favor and get lost in one of the many hundreds of quieter backroads to the main pathways.
3. Learn a few Tagalog words – A little goes a long way in the Philippines. Unlike many of its neighbours, the Philippines has an excellent standard of English but they still appreciate when you’ve made the effort to learn a few pleasantries. Stay away from the ‘bastos’ words and try and learn hello, goodbye, please and thank you. The Tagalog language consists of about 30% Spanish root words, however Taglish is very common these days, which combines Tagalog and English to form an entertaining sounding language.
2. Try Dampa – If the Filipinos love anything as much as Red Horse, malls, Balut, beaches and music, it’s seafood. They love it more. Get along to Dampa while you’re in Manila, it’s probably the coolest way to enjoy seafood imaginable. The theme is simple, it’s an outdoor seafood market surrounded by restaurants that you dine in. You start by choosing your seafood, buying it fresh and taking it to the restaurant to be prepared. You cant beat fresh! YUM
1.Get to know the locals – What can I say? The Filipinos are warm, hospitable, generous, accommodating and pretty much one of the friendliest collection of people on Earth. I can hardly say enough good things about the country, I could never say enough good things about its people.
If you’re sitting down and putting a bucket list together anytime soon, make sure you start that list with the Philippines!