Today in Fun and Trivia, I will talk about the lovely little land I came from, the Philippines. If you don’t know where that is, don’t fret because it’s normal and for sure you are not the only clueless one. Philippines is largely unknown. That is exactly the reason why I feel compelled to talk about it, perhaps aside from the fact that it’s the country I know most about given that I’m born and raised there.
Some think Philippines is a state in America, some think it’s some unpopular, forgotten and abandoned city in Europe (and I’m like OMG where did that thought come from? That is just depressing!). But when you look at the world map and zoom in on Asia, it’s actually that small dog like shaped group of 7500+ islands in the southeast surrounded with oceans. VERY FAR from the USA.
(Yes, that red thing over there that looks like a sitting dog)
It’s not a popular country like America, France, Japan or Thailand. In fact, not a lot of people are aware it exists like most Southeast Asian countries, which is such a shame because it is just so unbelievably beautiful. I guess that’s why the nickname “Pearl of the Orient” fits it very well. It’s like a precious gem tucked deep in the heart of the ocean, slowly formed through time – undisturbed, quiet – and to witness its rare beauty, one has to swim deep down in the ocean and search for it.
Most people know it because of its popular exports Manny Pacquiao, the world’s famous boxer, and Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015. You’ll see their picture down below. Are they familiar?
While I’m proud of these two people, I don’t think their worldwide exposure is enough to introduce and promote my country to the world (like most of my countrymen seem to think and they are quite happy with it) and so I’m going to butt in and try to take the stage away from them.
To me, the Philippines is not just a land of boxers and beauty queens. It is a land of song and colors, happiness and cheers, of proud and supportive people who cherish their talents, kababayan (countrymen), and family members. It is a close-knit society where everyone seem to see one another as relatives and where people share glories and pains. Reflecting on it I realize that is a very nice but rare quality that is lacking in the individualistic world we live in nowadays, but like everything else it can be one sharp double edged sword. When everything is going good and great with their fellowmen, Filipinos are so happy that they seem like they already reached heaven, but when everything goes tough and dark for others everyone get so depressed and emotional. It can get that deep into the level of intimacy.
If you come here you will notice that whenever there are Filipino contestants joining international contests, the world stops, the cars stay in their homes, the streets are empty one can literally sleep on them and not get run over, and everyone’s in front of their TVs screaming on top of their lungs for their “pambato” (team player) to win. Philippines then, to me, is a land of unwavering team spirit, support, and family cheers. Though this is also present in other countries, the extent and magnitude is something you will only see in the Philippines, and I can vouch for that! Below is a video from Youtube showing Manila whenever Pacquiao has a boxing fight. See how all the roads are empty.
If there is one thing I’m really proud of about the Philippines, it is the picture perfect heavenly sceneries. All traveler magazines and tourist sites agree that it is the country to go to for people looking for adventure and relaxation. Think Hawaii and Bali, but BIGGER. More islands, more mountains, more seas, lakes, falls, and rivers. More exciting stuff to discover. For this reason they made the Philippine tourism official tag line “IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES”, and I think that it is rightly so.
Philippines is very popular for its world-class white sand beaches and breathtaking sceneries. The beaches in Palawan are considered the best in the world by so many magazines, and some legit sites like Conde Nast Traveller even consider Palawan island itself to be the most beautiful island in the world as a result of reader voting poll. I especially love the fact that the country lies at the equator directly facing the sun, because the heat makes swimming and sunbathing on the white sand shores all the more enjoyable. Some will disagree with me in this and say that it sucks because its location makes it so hot and humid and oh so unappealing, but I beg to disagree. True, it’s so hot in here and it’s sunny all year round, but the heat is bearable compared to other countries, and it doesn’t suffer blizzards and all those winter stuff. White sand beaches and backpacking is great in sunny season compared to cold seasons too! Just look at the thousands of travelers and foreigners who frequent the country just to swim!
One note for you though. Even if as an archipelago the Philippines is most popular for its seashores, the islands are actually mountainous and covered with lush green tropical rainforests. When you go out of Manila (which is very metropolitan in nature), you’ll notice the big difference and find long mountain ranges from the horizon. Foreigners who like to do mountain hiking think of the Philippines as heaven on Earth for that reason.
There are hundreds of volcanoes in the country too which makes it even more interesting and mysterious. The Philippines belong to the Pacific Ring of Fire, meaning that it’s an area where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are frequent. But before you doubt and think that it’s dangerous here, let me tell you it’s not. I only ever experienced earthquake for like twice in my life and they’re both so light that it’s like a lullaby. xDD It’s kinda fun to watch smoke come out of volcanoes too.
Mt. Pinatubo Crater Lake
Mt. Mayon (The world’s perfect cone shaped volcano)
Because it is surrounded by different bodies of water and there is green everywhere, vegetation is very good here and it became a home for many animals, plants, and sea creatures, some can only be found here and no other place in the world. Three of my most favorite Philippine animals are the Philippine Eagle, Philippine Tarsier, and Philippine Carabao. They are so beautiful and cute and I just wanna have one each at home for a pet (but obviously I can’t!). My top 1 is the Philippine Eagle (the world’s largest), though sadly it is now critically endangered. There are only 300 of them left alive! And they can only be found in the Philippines too. Their condition is very sad that I wrote The Last Flight of the Philippine Eagle in order to reach out for help from people. Some 1 dollar donation here and there is really a big help for them. If I could only leave in the forest to protect these poor eagles I will, but for now what I can do is to rally for their preservation. If you want, you can check either the article I wrote or the Philippine Eagle Foundation official site.
Philippine Eagle (Beautiful! World’s largest eagle)
Philippine Tarsier (World’s tiniest primate)
Philippine Carabao (Symbol of hardwork for Filipinos)
Philippines is very popular for its food too! People here love to experiment on their food, and they all like eating them with bare hands. Of course not everyone does it but it’s very common. Just look at the many foods down below and pick your choice! We have kwek kwek, isaw, betamax, dugo, pugo, balot, bananacue, camotecue, manggang hilaw etc… I think foreigners would love to try them all, especially the real exotic yet tasty ones.
Watermelons, turnips, and unripe mangoes
dipped in Bagoong (fermented fish/shrimp sauce)
Squids, barbecue, hotdogs, shrimps,
pork and chicken intestines (yes they’re delicious!), etc.
Grilled corn, bananacue (banana coated with caramel),
and dried squids
Fish balls, lobster balls, squid balls and other balls
If you look at the foods above, you will notice that lots of them are on stick and some others are wrapped in plastic. These are what we call “turo turo” foods which literally translates to “point point” meaning you just have to point at what you like. In English, it simply means street foods, but in the Philippines it’s like a craze and everyone loves it next to home cooked meals. (Well, that’s my opinion, but I think there’s truth in that, so believe me anyways HAHA!).
There are still tons of other stuff to say about my country that I don’t think I can write them all in just one sitting. But needless to say, I think it deserves more attention than what it is getting now. While there are tons of other countries to visit (and there are more popular ones), I think the Philippines also has much to offer (if not more) and it definitely is worth all the praises I’m giving. Not being biased whatsoever, but those who’ve been here can pretty much say the same things I say. And so for all of you who haven’t been here yet, I suggest you drop by and check out all the things I talked about. I will definitely write more stuff about my country here, but for now, this is what I have for you. ❤