A Chop Suey of Culture Waiting to be Discovered
Ask any random person about the Philippines, and you are likely to hear something like, “Isn’t that an island? I think my pants were made there.” Therein lies the allure of this tiny island nation: unlike neighboring countries such as the backpacking holy trinity of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, it is completely off the radar. With over 7,000 islands to explore, you can escape the hordes of tourists (and the locals who cater to them) and still have every kind of adventure imaginable. Few places on earth offer as much ecological diversity in such a small area. Do you want to stroll alongside towering rice terraces in Banaue? Or is a jaunt down the virgin beaches of El Nido more your style? Whether you want to hike up a volcano or dive among pristine coral reefs, the Philippines has all of this and more. The Philippines is also a culture on the crossroads. For centuries, its interactions with other cultures have reshaped and redefined the ineffable Filipino character. Every aspect of life has been touched, whether it is the Arabic words in the local vernacular, churches built in the Spanish tradition, or food requiring Chinese spices. While the rest of the world is struggling with globalization, the Philippines has already achieved an ideal balance of new and old, local and global. Add the famous Filipino hospitality and good nature, and you have a people unlike any other in the world. Do yourself a favor and discover Asia’s best-kept secret before everyone else does. Once you’re there snacking on bibingkas with smiling locals and napping on deserted beaches, you’ll wonder why you ever considered traveling anywhere else.