Visit the Philippines 2015: Pearl of the Orient Seas

Paoay Church, Ilocos - A UNESCO World Heritage Site

I am a proud agent in the enterprise of Philippine tourism and heritage preservation. Although I facilitate my tours on freelance, by-request-only terms, I still actively promote our heritage, culture and history through my works as a writer.

But more than anything, the thing that any Filipino can do to truly promote our culture is by actually visiting the places that give us immense pride and deep joy in being Filipino. What do I mean? By actually visiting the Philippines’ towns, cities and regions can we truly be its foremost promoters. No amount of tourism campaign can ever succeed if the locals of a country are not engaged in the business of tourism.

Sunrise in Batangas

With the prevalence of cheap airfares and roll-on, roll-off ships, we should partake of the shared responsibility of visiting and talking about our country’s countless gems. We are the “Pearl of the Orient Seas” for many, many reasons!

Pako Salad. Pako is a common fern in the Luzon island and is a favorite salad. Its dressing is usually a light vinegrette.

Pako Salad. Pako is a common fern in the Luzon island and is a favorite salad. Its dressing is usually a light vinaigrette.

Our culture is an interesting mix of Malay-Chinese-Hispanic-American as well as organic movements; a truly Hispanic country in Southeast Asia with a robust Latino flair tempered by Oriental sensibilities and enhanced by a predilection for anything North American.

The nave of Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey Church or more commonly known as the San Beda Abbey was painted by two Spanish Benedictine monks, Salvador Alberich, OSB and Lesmes Lopez, OSB. The abbey church is daily open to visitors and is located along Mendiola Street, Manila.

The nave of Our Lady of Montserrat Abbey Church or more commonly known as the San Beda Abbey was painted by two Spanish Benedictine monks, Salvador Alberich, OSB and Lesmes Lopez, OSB. The abbey church is daily open to visitors and is located along Mendiola Street, Manila.

Indeed, our country is a place to behold, a nation of ironies but of undoubted natural charms and an archipelago dotted with man-made beauties.

Sinigang na Sugpo. Noted and venerable food writer Doreen Fernandez assertred that the Sinigang, a sour soup in the Philippines, is the country's national dish. It is a refreshing soup that usually contains seafood, pork or beef. It is paired with fish sauce with chilis and calamansi (local lime) as its dipping sauce. Other dishes that complement it are pancit guisado (stir-fried noodles) or deep-fried vegetable lumpia (spring rolls). Of course, Sinigang is best eaten with heaps of steaming rice!

Sinigang na Sugpo. Noted and venerable food writer Doreen Fernandez assertred that the Sinigang, a sour soup in the Philippines, is the country’s national dish. It is a refreshing soup that usually contains seafood, pork or beef. It is paired with fish sauce with chilis and calamansi (local lime) as its dipping sauce. Other dishes that complement it are pancit guisado (stir-fried noodles) or deep-fried vegetable lumpia (spring rolls). Of course, Sinigang is best eaten with heaps of steaming rice!

For those who intend to visit Manila and need help from a tour guide, yours truly can be at your disposal every weekend. You may simply send me a message and from there, we can plan something. My favorite itineraries are Intramuros and the San Miguel districts. I’ve toured several groups already in the said areas and I’d like to believe that all my participants in my tours learned a thing or two about the old capital of the Philippines.

A festival float from the MassKara Fiesta in Bacolod

A festival float from the MassKara Fiesta in Bacolod

For more information though on other Philippine destination, it is best to check out this website: http://itsmorefuninthephilippines.com

Just for inspiration’s sake, here are some of the most beautiful and breathtaking places I’ve seen in my beloved homeland. I truly hope you #visitthephilippines this 2015!

Mabuhay!

For nature lovers, we have adventure-filled mountain treks and fantastic bodies of water. Indulge in your love for nature and let our Philippine landscapes and vistas (well outside of Manila definitely) take your breath away.

Banol Beach, Coron, Palawan

Benguet Region in Northern Luzon is a haven for mountaineers and lovers of indigenous cultures

Benguet Region in Northern Luzon is a haven for mountaineers and lovers of indigenous cultures

Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur, Bicolandia

Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur, Bicolandia

Kayangan Lake, the cleanest fresh water lake in the Philippines, Coron, Palawan

Kayangan Lake, the cleanest fresh water lake in the Philippines, Coron, Palawan

Laiya, Batangas - just 3 hours away from Manila, the coast of San Juan, Batangas is dotted with numerous resorts

Laiya, Batangas – just 3 hours away from Manila, the coast of San Juan, Batangas is dotted with numerous resorts

Una vista de la Laguna de Bay

Malcapuya Island, Palawan

Mayon Volcano, the perfectly cone-shaped volcano in Albay, Legaspi

Mt. Pinatubo's crater lake

Mt. Pulag, the highest point in Luzon, the biggest island in the archipelago of the Philippines

Mt. Pulag, the highest point in Luzon, the biggest island in the archipelago of the Philippines

Tagaytay Lake which houses the smallest volcano in the world, Taal Volcano

The coast of Ternate, Cavite

For cultural-heritage lovers, the Philippines offers a unique experience in the Southeast Asian region as being the sole Hispanic and Catholic country in the area. From houses built in the arquitectura mestiza style, to Philippine Baroque churches, to our practices (i.e. fiestas, Christmas, Semana Santa (Holy Week), etc.) to our languages, the Philippine archipelago is home to rich history, art and cultural heritage. However, the experience of the Liberation of Manila (1945) left the country an irreparable “black hole” that can’t be ignored by Manila visitors because that chapter in our history robbed us of irreplaceable cultural heritage.

We are going through a lot of societal tumult because of “development”, and cultural heritage is quickly being threatened. It’s time to visit and support the Philippines’ heritage!

Balay Negrense - the Gaston House in Silay, Negros. This is open to the publc. For more:  http://www.balaynegrense.com/

Balay Negrense – the Gaston House in Silay, Negros. This is open to the publc. For more: http://www.balaynegrense.com/

Blackbird - the first airport in the Philippines was recently transformed into a posh restaurant that serves excellent Western, Asian and fusion dishes.  It is housed in the only art-deco building in the Makati Central Business District.For reservations, call (+632) 828 4888

Blackbird – the first airport in the Philippines was recently transformed into a posh restaurant that serves excellent Western, Asian and fusion dishes. It is housed in the only art-deco building in the Makati Central Business District.For reservations, call (+632) 828 4888

Calesa - the two-wheeler horse-drawn vehicle was the common mode of transport in the Philippines before. Currently, you can still find calesas in Intramuros and Ermita (Manila) and in Vigan.

Calesa – the two-wheeler horse-drawn vehicle was the common mode of transport in the Philippines before. Currently, you can still find calesas in Intramuros and Ermita (Manila) and in Vigan.

Calle Crisologo, Vigan is the most famous street in the Northern region because it is lined with turn-of-the-century houses that best connect us with our Hispanic colonial past

Calle Crisologo, Vigan is the most famous street in the Northern region because it is lined with turn-of-the-century houses that best connect us with our Hispanic colonial past

Cebu Cathedral, an example of Philippine Baroque architecture

Carcar Dispensary is the municipal museum of Carcar, Cebu, a heritage town south of Cebu's capital. It is dotted with several old houses.

The fiesta of Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de La Naval de Manila is a 9-day religious festivity that commemorates the miraculous victory of the poorly-armed Spanish galleons against the strong Dutch navy that threatened to invade the Philippines in the 1600s.

The fiesta of Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de La Naval de Manila is a 9-day religious festivity that commemorates the miraculous victory of the poorly-armed Spanish galleons against the strong Dutch navy that threatened to invade the Philippines in the 1600s.

The  Basílica Menor de San Sebastián is the only all-steel, prefabricated neo-gothic church in Asia. To support its conservation, pay the church a visit!

The Basílica Menor de San Sebastián is the only all-steel, prefabricated neo-gothic church in Asia. To support its conservation, pay the church a visit!

Manila Cathedral, the mother church of the Philippines from which all subsequent archdioceses and dioceses sprung forth

Manila Cathedral, the mother church of the Philippines from which all subsequent archdioceses and dioceses sprung forth

San Agustin Church, Intramuros is the only pre-war surviving structure. It is a direct link to the majesty of pre-war Manila.

San Agustin Church, Intramuros is the only pre-war surviving structure. It is a direct link to the majesty of pre-war Manila.

Hacienda culture is prevalent in the central provinces of Visayas especially in Negros and Iloilo. This is the Lopez Mansion in Jaro, Iloilo.

Hacienda culture is prevalent in the central provinces of Visayas especially in Negros and Iloilo. This is the Lopez Mansion in Jaro, Iloilo.

Manila Hotel, an American-era gem

Manila Hotel, an American-era gem

Betis' parish church is considered the "Sisten Chapel of the Philippines" because of the colorful paintings that adorn its walls and ceilings.

Betis’ parish church is considered the “Sisten Chapel of the Philippines” because of the colorful paintings that adorn its walls and ceilings.

Pakil Church, Laguna is one of several churches in the Laguna provice which boasts of exquisite church interiors. Pakil's church is home to Our Lady of Turumba which draws thousands of pilgrims every feast day.

Pakil Church, Laguna is one of several churches in the Laguna provice which boasts of exquisite church interiors. Pakil’s church is home to Our Lady of Turumba which draws thousands of pilgrims every feast day.

The Philippine Post Office is an imposing neo-classical edifice built during the American period.

The Philippine Post Office is an imposing neo-classical edifice built during the American period.

Plaza San Luis was constructed by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos to give Filipinos a tangible experience of how residences in pre-war Manila were like. It is located accross San Agustin Church and Convent.

For food lovers, Philippine cuisine is a a pretty symphony of Hispanic, American, Chinese and Malay-influenced dishes. Unlike other Southeast Asian cuisines, Filipino flavors are not as spicy nor strong. Philippine cuisine can be characterized as something that prefers balanced flavors. We may balance out strong flavors either by adding an ingredient in the dish or complementing it with an appropriate dipping sauce (i.e. soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, shrimp paste, etc.) or side dish (i.e. pickled papayas, pickled mangoes, salted eggs, etc.).

Today also, the Philippines’ metropolitan cities are witnessing a boom in Filipinos’ taste in various cuisines such as Japanese (specifically ramen), Korean or Middle Eastern.

Chinese cuisine has long occupied a place in Filipinos’ culinary preferences because even historical records would show that the Spanish colonizers loved to go to the Chinese ghetto (Parian) to have their meals. Indeed, Chinese cuisine in the Philippines is very savory because it also adopted Western and Latin ingredients brought over during the Galleon trade.

For Filipino cuisine to be best appreciated, though, people would still suggest that you find a Filipino family to host you for lunch or dinner. Sunday lunches in countless Filipino families are still important weekly gatherings that start at noon and extend until dinner time. Filipino hospitality and generosity are best seen and experienced on the family table which is often laden with dishes that speak of the country’s rich natural resources: fresh fruits, seafood, savory meat dishes and decadently sweet desserts all proclaim the archipelago’s bountiful lands and seas as well as its colorful heritage.

Native chicken cooked adobo style with gata (coconut cream). Adobo is the process of cooking with vinegar, garlic, pepper corns, bay leaf and sometimes, soy sauce.

Native chicken cooked adobo style with gata (coconut cream). Adobo is the process of cooking with vinegar, garlic, pepper corns, bay leaf and sometimes, soy sauce.

Bagnet is a common pork dish in the Ilocos region . It's pork belly deep-fried to crisp perfection. It is used too as toppings to other dishes most commonly with the Pakbet, a dish of vegetables stewed in shrimp paste.

Bagnet is a common pork dish in the Ilocos region . It’s pork belly deep-fried to crisp perfection. It is used too as toppings to other dishes most commonly with the Pakbet, a dish of vegetables stewed in shrimp paste.

The Philippines is haven for seafood lovers because of the availabilty of seafood.

The Philippines is haven for seafood lovers because of the availabilty of seafood.

A Sunday lunch of fresh vegetables, sinigang (our sour soup) na Lapu-Lapu, grilled pork belly (liempo) and grilled squid stuffed with tomatoes and onions.

A Sunday lunch of fresh vegetables, sinigang (our sour soup) na Lapu-Lapu, grilled pork belly (liempo) and grilled squid stuffed with tomatoes and onions.

The Spanish connection: fluffy ensaiamda with queso de bola from Mrs. Cunanan, jamon serrano and cheddar cheese. This is a common snack among more affluent Filipinos.

The Spanish connection: fluffy ensaiamda with queso de bola from Mrs. Cunanan, jamon serrano and cheddar cheese. This is a common snack among more affluent Filipinos.

Leche Flan

Laoag Longganisa - the longganisa is our local version of chorizos or sausages. These vary from the sweet to the garlicky, from the lean to the fatty.

Laoag Longganisa – the longganisa is our local version of chorizos or sausages. These vary from the sweet to the garlicky, from the lean to the fatty.

Aling Lucing's Sisig - the world famous sisig is a popular bar chow in the Philippines. It's basically a sizziling platter of grilled pork cheeks, liver and ears with lots of garlic, onions and chilis served with a local lime called calamansi.

Aling Lucing’s Sisig – the world famous sisig is a popular bar chow in the Philippines. It’s basically a sizziling platter of grilled pork cheeks, liver and ears with lots of garlic, onions and chilis served with a local lime called calamansi.

Batac Empanada - the Ilocanos' version of the empanada which is a common meat pastry in former Spanish dominions, is wrapped in paper wrapper and stuffed with sausages, egg, green papayas and other spices. It is dipped in a strong vinegar common in the Ilocos.

Batac Empanada – the Ilocanos’ version of the empanada which is a common meat pastry in former Spanish dominions, is wrapped in paper wrapper and stuffed with sausages, egg, green papayas and other spices. It is dipped in a strong vinegar common in the Ilocos.

#VisitPhilippines2015
#VisitPHL2015
#Itsmorefuninthephilippines

About hechoayer

Things made yesterday still influence us until today. Things made today will influence us tomorrow. Things of the essence such as faith, culture, food, music and values should never disappear nor eroded by the times. Instead, these must be recorded, lived and shared. Something made yesterday - hecho ayer - can be tomorrow's saving grace. Never ignore the past.
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