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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.