I Choose Philippines Because...

A distant view of the Cordillera aboard a morning CX flight from Hong Kong to Manila

There are at best 196 countries in the world. While a few may not be as welcoming to tourists, a lot of them do. The market is diverse, the competition strong. I could have easily gone elsewhere but decided to visit the Philippines again. But why? Whenever and wherever I travel I get asked where I'm from, I always say "I live in New York but originally from the Philippines". More often than not, the next question is always about the Philippines. Which is good.

It's not difficult singing paeans about a country where one is born. But when one's native land has been battered by negative media reports, it becomes a challenge to counter those in front of a prying set of foreign ears. They've heard so much from social media to TV reports that I have to peel the untruths for them and let them see the goodness lay hidden. Only those who have taken media reports with a grain of salt will appreciate the blessings of a pleasant surprise. The Philippines is after all, a gem of a destination.

With 7,107 islands to choose from, I certainly have more reasons to keep coming back.

A few days before flying here last week from New York, a resident doctor I work with got excited when I told her of my trip. It turns out she and her boyfriend had booked tickets on Emirates to fly them to the Philippines this May. They've traveled previously to Southeast Asia and this time they're solely spending their tourist dollar on a 2-week trip to the archipelago. I got excited myself for them as we discussed their DIY itinerary.

"Why the Philippines?", I asked her.

"Oh, my best friend who also travels a lot mentioned to me two of her favorites, New Zealand and the Philippines". She got curious about the latter, read about the country, convinced her boyfriend and luckily, they both found a good deal on airfare that suit their backpacker's budget (a resident doctor after all doesn't earn much yet). "I dive and snorkel. I read so much about Palawan and there's plenty to do there. I also want to swim with the whale sharks in Donsol." (she didn't even know about Oslob until I told her - they might just go there since they're going to Cebu/Bohol anyway).

"Did your friend have any bad experiences in the Philippines?", I queried further.

"No, not at all. She had a great time. It wasn't anything like what she had read in some websites and forums. Her experience there is what convinced me really. We hear more about Thailand & Vietnam where most of us go while the Philippines seem like off the grid".

During the boarding process in Hong Kong for my morning flight to Manila, I looked up from my seat to do a bit of "tourist spotting" among the usual group of OFWs and balikbayans. My eyes lit up. There's a good  number of blondes and redheads*, all of them in their twenties or thirties, carrying day packs. I began to imagine them heading off to one of the beaches. Or the mountains.  Great start there. I'm heading to both myself.


 *As per the Philippine Department of Tourism, total visitor arrivals in 2011 was 3.9 million


  1. with all the natural resources that the country has, it should be able to lure more than what's it's getting right now. plus, english is widely spoken there, which facilitates the tourism industry. and on top of that, we are naturally hospitable people.

  2. i always got delighted too whenever i meet westerners while i travel locally.. and yep, tell your friend, there's a bigger chance of seeing a whale shark in Cebu. effortless! haha

    see you soon!

  3. Haha, interesting observation you got here. I do the same, whenever I travel and board a plane heading back to Manila. Filipinos are a well-traveled people, but not for tourism mostly. Instead, you see overseas Filipino workers and balikbayans for the most part. And in between them, you see the random foreign tourist.

    2 years ago, I realized that I have been to so many places outside the Philippines, and yet I haven't even backpacked in my own country, it felt embarrassing. Thus, I decided to remedy that by taking backpacking trips in conjunction to visiting my folks in Manila. I quickly learned that the Philippines is an adventure destination: it might not have a well-maintained "old town", or lots of cultural sights worth listing in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but we have tons of beaches to swim in, mountains to climb, caves to explore, and other outdoor adventure stuff. It's an adrenaline junkies paradise!

  4. this post should make you an awardee of our country's department of tourism! :)
    seriously, i'm glad and proud to know that tourism is booming in our country. we all hope more foreigners would troop to our land rather than the usual BKK or here in Pen (daming puti dito araw-araw! sana maging ganito ang pinas--malapit na!)

    how's your break? having fun i'm sure!

  5. Aww. My eyes welled up after reading this particular post! :')

  6. Hi Nomadic! Sorry for the absence, but time has been at a premium here... ;)

    I'll get back to the Philippines one day...

    Blogtrotter Two has reached April 2011; no trips, and posting delay is shortening... ;). Enjoy and have a great weekend!!!

  7. I wish cruise ships consider Philippines as one of their ports of call. It would be a great boost to tourism.

  8. Photo Cache,
    see, we've got everything working in our favor!

    I'm currently in El Nido and plenty of foreigners I've spoken to who are visiting Cebu/Bohol haven't heard of Oslob yet - now they do and they'd like to go there!!!
    Yes, see you soon.

    Most of foreign visitors do have this perception that all they can do in the Philippines is go to the beach or do a bit of trekking in the Cordillera. We could do more than that. If only I have plenty of time, I honestly want to do just exactly what you've opined as there's a plethora of things to do and experience while here.

    Naks naman. My vacation is great - I'm in El Nido at this moment and enjoying the company of several visitors I met. It feels like backpacker haven with all this foreigners in their 20s or 30s!

    thanks for visiting!

    I sure hope you do come back. El Nido is waiting for you.

    A few cruise liners did in the past but not as regularly as say, Malaysia, Vietnam or Thailand. However, Manila's port should be improved the same way as the crappy NAIA.


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