First Impression of the Philippines

Our stay in the Philippines has just come to an end. Now it’s time to sum up our visit by saying what we liked and disliked about  the country that never sleeps and is surrounded by 7,107 incredible islands. I am going to be nothing but honest here and all our feelings are based on our personal experience.

A wooden house in the Philippines
Welcome to the Philippines

1. People.

Filipino lady
A lady we chatted with at one of local markets in Laoag

Paying for the photos

A big disappointment here. For some reasons, Filipinos (especially older people) got really angry when they saw us taking photos of them, the food in the street or even ourselves in front of their shops or houses. It’s totally understandable, but once we asked them for permission, they quoted the price of the photo or said “Any money is ok. It’s up to you.” This attitude shocked us on the first day, but it continued for the rest of our stay. We still can’t understand that. Is it because some Filipino are materialistic people or they are just poor people trying to earn some extra money? Don’t know the answer.

SONY DSC
A lovely Filipino women who hosted us in Banaue

“Taxi sir?” “Free massage maam?”

Culturally, Filipinos are respectful people. We have been to many countries, but there were no other nation in which we were called sir or maam as frequently as here. We felt  they were incredibly respectful to us, although we sometimes felt like they were kind and polite so they could sell their stuff to us.

The most frustrating people were taxi and tricycle drivers (similarly to other countries in Asia) who quoted the price (mostly PHP200, around $4.50)  without even knowing where we were going. They were shouting to us while blocking the entire pavement to stop us. Total mess and madness!

A Filipino woman in Banaue
A local woman in Banaue

Giving us wrong directions on purpose

It was very typical for locals to give us wrong directions when we refused to take a taxi. Sometimes we just wanted to walk to get to our final destination, but not with Filipinos. There was a rule there “Taxi or I’ll tell you the wrong way”. That was tiring and frustrating. Once we asked where the nearest  7 Eleven store was and we were told it was 5 km away. As it turned out it was 1 minute walk, hidden around a corner.

Filipino woman with two foreigners
A lovely woman who treated us with amazing street food

Local hospitality

We have also experienced some amazing hospitality in the Philippines. We met some incredibly friendly Filipino women in Banaue and Laoag who we had a nice chat with or a few locals in Banaue bar who we could not stop laughing with. There were locals who offered us some food or gave up a seat on a bus which was polite and so kind of them.

2. Landscape.

In terms of landscape, the Philippines blew us away. Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. Stunning beaches, amazing rice terraces, always crystal clear sky and a lot of palm trees. Most of the mountainous islands are covered in tropical forest and volcanic in origin.

Rice Terraces in Banaue
Rice Terraces in Banaue

One of our favourite places here was Alona beach where we could chill out and get some proper rest after hectic bus rides. We also enjoyed the breath-taking view of the Rice Terraces in Banaue which reminded us of Guilin scenery.

Rice Terraces in Banaue
Rice Terraces in Banaue
Alona beach in the morning
Alona beach in the morning
Alona beach in the morning
Alona beach in the morning
Alona beach in the morning
Alona beach in the morning

3. Food.

Forgive us, but we didn’t enjoy Filipino cuisine at all. There was nothing unique or surprising to us. A lot of rice and naan bread (typical for Indian cuisine and China), fish and grilled seafood ( nothing to compare to Thailand), outdated fruits (black bananas and sour mandarins like the ones in Sri Lanka) and expensive American products such as cheese, milk and cereal we can get anywhere in the world nowadays.

Naan bread with cucumber sauce
Naan bread
Breakfast in Laoag: fruits and strawberry cake with coffee and milk
Breakfast in Laoag: fruits and strawberry cake with coffee and milk

All food was deep fried and oily. In such hot weather conditions, most of fish and fat meat dishes looked disgusting and gross.  The street food (my usual go-to option in Asia) managed to tick the happy food box as I savoured barbecued everything from innards to unidentifiable pieces of meat, but a girl can’t live on BBQ alone.

Spicy fish
Spicy fish

Most dishes were very salty and contained a lot of sugar or chilli. We tried some noodles and dumplings hoping they would taste as good as the ones we had in China, but they were tasteless ( a big disappointment here).

Bihon dish
Bihon dish

Filipinos love to eat cakes and pastries. You can find plenty of bakeries around where donuts and white bread were served. They are cheap and sugary, good for a treat from time to time, but you can’t have them every day. By the way, we have noticed the majority of young girls and boys are overweight (in the north of the Philippines).

Local donuts
Local donuts
apple cake
Apple and raisin roll cakes

We managed to survive on greasy and fat Filipino food for the first 3 days. After that, feeling bloated and unsatisfied, we decided to do some shopping in local supermarkets and prepare our own meals.

Shopping in a supermarket in the Philippines
Doing some shopping in local supermarkets

We had plenty of veggies and fruits, some bread and roasted chicken for less than $2 a person. The portions were big, nutritious and delicious!

Lunch in Cebu
Our lunch in Cebu
Healthy lunch
Enjoying healthy food as always!

4. Transportation.

In the Philippines we traveled by 10 different local buses, we took 3 tricycles, 2 jeepneys,  1 taxi and 2 ferry rides. 

Tricycle ride in Banaue
Tricycle ride in Banaue
Cool jeepney in Banaue
Cool jeepney in Banaue

We must say that local transportation is very cheap (more price details in the coming blog posts). We never paid more than $1 per person a ride. Jeepneys were the cheapest, around PHP8 a ride ($0.18).

Busy roads in Banaue
Busy roads in Banaue

We enjoyed jeepney and bus rides the most as we had an opportunity to talk to some locals.  Most of local buses lacked of air conditioning, windows and the seats were broken. There were no seat belts either so the rides were not very safe.

Two foreigners in a local bus
Taking a local bus to Alona beach

When there were no more seats left, people were standing or sitting on the floor or on each other’s knees. We were squeezed like lemons, but we totally loved the experience!

Local bus to Banaue
Local bus to Alona Beach

To sum up, we both think the Philippines are a bit overrated when it comes to hospitality and local cuisine. Nevertheless, the landscape and rich flora and fauna make the country so worth visiting.

Have you been to the Philippines? If so, what was your first impression?

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267 Comments

  • I really enjoyed reading this personal and honest opinion. Definitely not what I expected but refreshing to hear the truth.

    The poverty status is depressing specially cause I fear it takes away from the countries hospitality when they even charge for a photo.

    I certainly imagined that the food would of been great – im a big fan of Asian food, but in saying that I have never traveled to Asia.

    Great read!

      • A photo for a fee? May I know where in particular?

        Filipinos love to post for photos and love to see foreigners taking photos of them – for FREE. Some even request you to take photos of them especially children. The story is quite absurd.

        The only place I know where photos ain’t free are from Cordillera region where you find the tribal folks. Taking photos for a fee is a norm there. I guess you are talking of Banaue or Baguio. You really need a tour guide.

      • I’m a Filipino and i must admit, street foods in the Philippines aren’t really great. Thanks for being honest. But it is a shame you never got to experience the real taste of Filipino cuisine. Sadly, you cannot find them most of the time in the street. The street foods here are very cheap so people can afford them, and because of that, the quality of the food isn’t really great. Btw, typical Filipino breakfast IS NOT consists of fruits bread with jam and coffee. Typical Filipino breakfast is called TAPSILOG or Tapa Sinangag Itlog (Cured beef, Fried rice, and Egg), and/or LONGSILOG (Longganisa (sausage), Fried Rice, Egg, and/or the very common Rice, Egg, Daing (dried fish), and Coffee. Believe me, i have never had a breakfast consists of fruits bread with jam and coffee in my 25 years living here in The Philippines. Im sad you didnt have the chance to taste the famous “SILOG” breakfast. I think you also missed the very famous Halo-Halo (featured in CNN, serve in a NewYork resto, and an all time Filipino fave dessert. And also the famous Adobo, you can not find the best Adobo in the streets, you can find them in the kitchen of a Filipino home. If you really want to experience the best Filipino foods, you find them in a Filipino kitchen, but not in the street, that is a sad truth. I always love Filipino cuisine, but not street foods. But there are some Filipino street foods that i can be very proud of, very cheap and can beat Thai street foods, i know where they are, and I hope when you visit the Philippines again, you will find them. I hope one day you decide again to go here, and please find me tru email, I will be more than willing to tell you where you can find the best Filipino foods in a cheap price (but not as cheap as there in the streets). Or you can come to our place, and il ask my grandmother to cook for you Authentic Filipino foods :) Lechon (grilled pork), Adobo, Halo-halo, Pakbet, Kare-Kare, Pancit, Lumpia, Sinigang, Sisig, are among the most delicious Filipino foods, HOMECOOKED or resto quality, not the ones in the streets because they are low quality, to be cheap so people can afford them. And also, i noticed, you didnt go to the most famous places in the Philippines, like Palawan, Boracay and Batanes, the big 3! Also, Filipinos being respectful and polite are not because they just want to sell you something, i am very certain its not only reserve for tourists. And about the “taxi or ill tell you the wrong direction” thats is so NOT TRUE, it could be that the people you asked dont speak english very well or are just very shy and was shocked a foreigner ask them directions and panicked and give the wrong directions, or could be that they dont really know the direction and give directions to look like they are helping (which is not okay). My country lack a lot of things that first world countries have (ugly truth), but if you really explore this country, you will see a lot of beautiful things that first world country dont have. I really hope one day you will come back :) Thanks for visiting our country! God Bless you both! (PS, sorry for my lack of English skill, im not very fluent)

      • Hi Agness and Cez!

        We Filipinos would really love for you to come back again and experience the rest of the Philippines. Please visit Iloilo City next time and collaborate with other local food bloggers. Here’s a link of a food blog mostly about Ilonggo cuisine. http://flavoursofiloilo.blogspot.com/

      • I agree with Ryan. It’s the tribes people who would usually charge for a photo with them. Filipinos love taking photos. In Manila and neighboring cities, people are so used to having foreigners around. We do not really care at all. It is also really difficult to find a Filipino of no mixed ethnicity except at the really provincial parts. I visited Baguio when I was in high school, I wanted my photo taken and suddenly some tribes people posed with me. I was glad until they asked me to pay them PHP500.

        Anyway, I guess is some parts of non-western countries, it is quite inevitable to find some locals who will feel really curious and sometimes even starstruck with caucasians. Here in Indonesia, a lot of locals would always ask for a picture with a “bule” (referring to white people; literally means albino). Many of my caucasian friends here hate that term, they find it offensive especially of they’re just walking or shopping then someone would call out “Hey, bule!”. Many of them got so used to it too and don’t mind at all. If you ask a local, “bule” is a non-offensive word for them. It’s all about understanding and adjusting to the culture. :)

        ~ A Filipina from Semarang, Indonesia

      • I think you are more than poorer hunnie..If you want to have a very good and enjoyable time here in our place and not only here, even in other countries then learn to spend more ok :)And how come you say that tourist is the only source of income in other places here huh? Tourist came here not everyday and foreigner like you wont bother them because all of like you white people are not a good payor and spending only low amount thats why you are just like a trash time waster to them..sorry but this is the truth hunnie ;)You are much poorer than those people

      • I think you are more than poorer hunnie..If you want to have a very good and enjoyable time here in our place and not only here, even in other countries then learn to spend more ok :)And how come you say that tourist is the only source of income in other places here huh? Tourist came here not everyday and foreigner like you wont bother them because all of like you white people are not a good payor and spending only low amount thats why you are just like a trash time waster to them..sorry but this is the truth hunnie ;)You are much poorer than those people!Please dont ever come back here..People here dont need you Agnes! A white girl talking a lot, searching for a nice place and nice food but cant spend that much to buy in a real complete resto cuisine and cant afford to pay for a much better place to stay in tsk tsk..

      • Hello Agness,

        I’m glad that you enjoyed your journey in some parts of my country. But I felt bad that you did not appreciate our local cuisine. I hope when you come back, you get to try a proper meal. I saw some comments here (or in another post) that they even invited you to their home. :)

        Also, please do a proper research so you know where to get a longanisa. Obviously, you can’t buy it from a convenience store. Hahaha. They usually serve it for breakfast. If you are staying in a hostel and if it’s on their menu, ask for it. If you love fish, try the bangus with fried rice.

        Some foreigners like/appreciate Filipino dish, some does not. I get that. What I don’t get is the title you used in your other post. Somehow, it’s like you are fishing for negative reactions to get more attention. Maybe not. Oh well, who am I to judge you? I’m just one of your readers whose ego got offended because it’s my country you are talking about. But it’s cool now. Ego is okay.

        “Tourists are the only source of income for some locals” NO. It’s not. We have other sources of income. Again, do a proper research. You have to understand that there is a peak/off peak period for tourism in every part of the Philippines. And you also have to think of what you write in your blog because you have readers all over the world that some of them (including me) might take it as a fact.

        That person asking for money in exchange of a photo? Nah. Like what Ryan said, only for the tribal folks. But for the rest of your stay…meaning in other provinces you visited, I don’t think so.

        Cheers,
        Jamie

        P.S. I might’ve missed it but I’m not sure if you tried our mangoes. If not, don’t tell me you can’t find it. Cos, that would be impossible. You can buy mangoes from any local market. Ciao!

  • I’ve spent a lot of time in the Philippines over the past few years – and yes . . . the food is not something you come back for! The countryside (beaches, mountains etc ) can be amazing but you have to research quite carefully i think to make sure you are able to get to the right place – the wrong place / beach can be really dissapointing. The whole sir / maam thing is just part of everyday life and certainly not reserved for tourists as they will address each other as that at times as well – directions . . . often a case of say something rather than admit not knowing in an attempt to be helpful I think? But overall it looks like you saw some lovely places and I think your impressions are pretty accurate – where to next?

  • Thanks for sharing this very interesting and honest post with us. I actually do not know anything about the Philippines except that there are good diving spots. The landscape looks like it’s worth to visit the country even though the food is not the best, especially the rice terraces. But I also find it a bit weird that the people claim money for taking a photo.

    • Hi. If you want to experience a good diving spot here in the Philippines go to Sorsogon Bicol located at the southernmost tip of Luzon. You can experience a one of a kind adventure by swimming with the whale sharks, interacting with the Butanding, also known as the gentle giant, its an exhilarating adventure that you can only experience in few places in globe.

      You can find some useful website in the internet what else are the things you can do in Sorsogon :)

  • This was a great read, Agness! I too liked your candor and honesty to your experience. I’m sure sorry for the negative aspects of the trip there. But, as always, you and Cez did and always do put a positive spin on all of your travels! One of my best buddies is from the Philippines and I’m going to have him read this. I’m so curious to hear his input then I hope to get back to you on that! Great to hear from you always, our friend. You’ve been missed by me and Phoenix :)

    • Hi Mike. Oh Gosh, I miss you and Phoenix a lot. The last few days were so intense, but I’m back now! I hope you can visit your friend from the Philippines soon and you will enjoy the country more than we did :)!

  • I really like the picture of a local woman in Banaue! I suppose she’s one of the nice ones, not asking you guys to pay for a picture? :-)
    I’m quite surprised you could eat so much with less than $2! Looks great!

      • Yes they are the one who will ask you to pay after taking pictures of them, even local tourist they will ask some money. It’s only in Banaue or Baguio, Philippines.

  • People and food are always a highlight of my travels so I don’t think Philippines and I would be good friends. However the landscape looks amazing! I’ve always read only good things about this country so it’s good to finally see a honest opinion about it…

    • With your prejudice and judgmental view against Filipino people and food without even trying to get some experiences first, I can imagine how negative experiences you’ll get if you will try to visit there. So yeah, just don’t bother. You won’t get friends and find good food from that country!

      • Where is Alona beach located?
        The best place to stay in Pagudpod is at Casa Consuelo.Trust me, you won’t regret.

    • Hello. If you’re planning to visit Philippines and find some beautiful beaches, go to EL NIDO, CORON, HONDA BAY in Palawan Province, BORACAY in Aklan province, CARAMOAN and CALAGUAS island in bicol region, PANGLAO beach in Bohol, ISLAS DE GIGANTES in Iloilo province, CAMIGUIN ISLAND in Cagayan De Oro city, MACTAN ISLAND in Cebu city, SIARGAO (Surfer’s dream) in Siargao province and many more stunning beaches in the Philippines. But these are the famous beaches. I hope someday you will visit one of those beaches :)

  • Hi,

    I couldn’t agree more with your observation but I just think that you weren’t able to dig in to some authentic Filipio cuisine coz all you had were either street food or fast food. You missed the ripe and green mangoes and a few other Filipino signature dishe, and maybe you can go to the more famous tourist destinations in our country. Nevertheless, great post and I’m an avid reader from the Philippines. ^__^

    • We visited a few local restaurants and that was what we were offered to eat. Maybe when we come back to the Philippines in the future and find someone who can introduce us to the real Filipino cuisine, we will enjoy the food. For now, we didn’t like what we ate at all.

      • if ever you plan to visit the Philippines, you can try Albay Province where the Majestic Mayon Volcano lies :-) I do hope your next visit will leave a good impression. Thank you for a very honest review! :-)

        Thanks for visiting our country..

      • there’s really no extraordinarily good food in the Philippines. hahaha… hope you get to visit Palawan when you return. would be willing to share more info in moving around. free of charge. hahaha… thanks for visiting the Philippines. your experience is valid but too bad on the idea of people giving wrong directions. good that i have not experienced that yet.

      • Hello!

        I am amused by your opinion about the Philippines. I am a traveler too (from Australia) and I really liked the landscapes and beaches in that country.

        However, I am saddened by your experience regarding the “locals” and the food…in the time I spent there – which was about one and a half week – I never experienced those. Maybe you interpreted the poor people as the locals? There are many poor people but the workers and students in their capital are also locals.

        Before I went to the Philippines I researched and then deduced that it is a country which has a high crime rate which was maybe caused by poor people who wanted to steal from those who have money. That is why I avoided the places where poor people stay. I stayed in Quezon City with a Filipino friend and she told me a lot about the right places to go.

        My friend made me try several restaurants and I was never disappointed. Ninangs’, Country Style Pancit Malabon, and Buddy’s Pancit Lucban were a few of what I tried. The food there are authentic Filipino cuisine and not that expensive – we spent much less than $25 dollars. My friend told me to avoid food stalls which did not have license or safety permits because she said that I am sure to get stomach illnesses (unlike the locals who were already accustomed to the “dirty” food). The small restaurants that you also said might be their so-called “carenderia” and those caters people who can’t even afford $25 to live a day.

        Since you stayed at a lower class dominated area and experienced the “locals” taking advantage of you, I sympathize with you because when I traveled by jeepney and passed several “squatters’ area”(as they call the place of informal settlers), I always see people who fight each other. This confirmed my hypothesis that most poor people in Philippines are violent people or people with bad intentions.

        I think that if you want to really experience the regular Filipino life, and not a poor Filipino’s life, you should have a contact friend or you should live with a family. I hope your experience won’t be repeated again! :)

  • It is my humble opinion that you learn more from a place by honest scrutiny than dishonest praise. Thanks for this.
    With that said, I am surprised about the money asking for pictures. That would definitely turn me off.
    As far as the food goes, I’ve never been to the Philippines, but had many Filipino friends in college and must say that I am a big fan. I understand that it is not the healthiest, but to me, that is like avoiding the pastries in France. Maybe with a little time, some healthy options could be found?
    I am a sucker for salty food, so “pancit” if my favorite.

    • It did turn us off. We were like “Are you serious?” We paid some people once or twice, but afterwards we stopped bothering!

      • Hi Agnes,

        Thanks for your honest blogs about my country. That’s good thing than writing flattery descriptions just to impress Filipino readers. It’s sad to know that you encountered bad experiences especially on finding authentic Filipino food.

        I understand your disappointment especially that you travelled first to china, thailand and vietnam before going to the philippines. Thailand is my favorite place when it comes to finding authentic local food. Laos and cambodia are not too bad for me. But yeah, street food back home is not impressive like in other SEA countries.

        I agree with your evaluation. I hope you’ll get nice experiences if ever you plan to go back to my country again. I hope you’ll get filipino friend who can invite you to their home and experience our cuisine cooked with love and care, and not for commercial purpose. It’s a filipio honor to receive foreign visitors at his home. So give it a try in the future. Cheers

  • I have never been to the Philippines and can’t say I’ve really had any real desire to either. Thanks for this informative post. The lack of good local cuisine is a bit of a shame..

    • Oh, yeah. Definitely, I’m a native Filipino and even they trick us! Usually during summer when resorts and pool areas are booming, some locals of the area try to lure us to THEIR resort instead of the one that we asked directions for. That was really disappointing, even as a native.

    • Yes, this is true. Even I myself a Filipina girl, lost in the streets of Sto.Rosario here in Cebu was given the wrong direction. TT_TT I don’t know if that was on purpose or not.

  • It’s always good to read about honest first impressions. Perhaps you were spoiled by the food in Thailand and China, or perhaps in the Philippines it’s harder to find good local food, as it is for example in Venice. I have heard about people giving wrong directions, in Vietnam for example. It’s probably just a matter of telling you something rather than nothing. Why would they do it otherwise?

  • Once again, an incredibly useful and insightful post from you guys. Thank you for the honesty. As a fellow traveler, sincere opinions and experiences are very important for me. I feel more aware on the wonderful things and the annoyances regarding the Philippines, so once I travel around there, I will feel more prepared.

    I wish someone would had warned me about India, people sometimes tend to sugar coat everything and the reality turns into an absolute shock.

    A big hug from Zurich!

  • Wow, I was really shocked to read this because when Tony & I visited the Philippines, one of our favorite things about the country was the people we met! We had never experienced such kindness, and we were pretty much never bothered by touts, nor did we ever have people give us the wrong directions. In fact, we would joke about the fact that the taxi and tuk tuk drivers had no problem telling us how to get where we wanted even if we didn’t want to use their service—they were always really upfront about how much it would cost to take the public bus vs them, and we had locals go out of their ways to make sure we made it to our destinations safely and for a fair price. The only thing I would say was consistent with our experience was that no matter where we wanted to go, we were always told it was too far to walk. We always thought this was because most Filipinos were too lazy to walk, not because they wanted to rip us off. I can’t figure out why you had such a different experience to us!

    I will agree with you about the food, though. We caught some flack on our blog when I said I didn’t really like the food in the Philippines, but I stand by that. It was all so sweet and unhealthy—it all seemed like junk food. I would happily go back to the Philippines in a heartbeat, but not for the food!

    • Hi Steph. I’m glad to hear you experienced such amazing hospitality in the Philippines. We didn’t feel that at all, but maybe next time. As for the food, no comments here. I would rather go hungry than eating fatty food from the street for a price of Western buffet.

      • Hey Agness, you should not be like that. I’d tried Filipino cuisines that are worthy to eat. Next time you visit the country, try visiting Two Seasons at Coron, Palawan. It is an island resort, stunning view and also they serve good food, maybe you should try some. It was sometimes televised on a talk show, the host was traveling and she commented nicely according to whta she experienced. I hope you’ll change your statement when you experienced some attractions in other parts of the country.

  • Nice post, especially the honest assessment.

    Ok, paying for the photos,this the thing, as a person from a so called ‘developing country’, the perception(mostly wrong) is that tourists take photos of people, sell them and make lots of money, so they probably want a small ‘cut’. The other perception is that tourists (esp foreigners) have loads of money and would not mind parting with just ‘a little’.

    Every place has it’s good and bad and thankfully you also found many positives in the country.

    • We didn’t mind to leave some money to locals, but when they say to you “pay me or get lost” with such angry faces, it’s just too much to handle!

      • Sorry about that dear. They’re igorots native filipinos, even local tourist they’re asking to pay them. It’s more nice if you have a friend here to guide you in all you travels and introduce real filipino cuisine. I bet, you will never regret it :) Have a safe trip to all your journeys :)

  • very interesting impressions. ive never been there or had much desire to visit, so its interesting to see someone elses opinion of the place. sucks the food was bad… food is usual the redeeming factor in many places <3

  • Although I only visisted Palawan in the Philippines, I definitely agree with everything you said! The whole place was incredible because of the scenery, landscapes and ocean, but was definitely let down by so so food and uncomfortable transporation (there’s a 7 hour bus journey to El Nido once you arrive in Palawan). I must say though, they had excellent fruit shakes where I was! :)

  • I am a bit surprised to hear about the hospitality of the Philippines people. I met several people till now and they were very impressed by the hospitality showed by the locals.
    Well, if they like cookies that means its the place for me!

  • Thank you for visiting our country. I must say most of the street food are really fattening and yes, the Philippines is quite a fan of Western junk food. :( I hope someday you get to taste real good Filipino cuisine from a local host. Sorry about those people asking for money when you take photos of them. *shakes head* Sigh.

    • No wonder why the majority of young boys and girls are so overweight, it’s insane!! The older people are, the more obese they are in the Philippines. There are fast food restaurants around, but you can’t get fresh bananas anywhere!!

      • I presume you didn’t venture to the South Luzon? Most fresh fruits are found there; pineapples, bananas, watermelon, cantaloupes and more.

  • Really interesting post, I’ve been wondering about the Philippines for a while now so it’s great to read a very honest review. I think for me the scenery would make up for all the not so good bits! :-)

  • Great candid observations and congratulations for getting out still sane :D (oh, congratulate us too, the Filipino travelers who bear with all of your observations – everyday) hahaha!

    You even missed many more perplexing finds – so you better come back for more! Like, there are different entrance rates for foreigners, filipino tourists or locals, as if your foot is heavier/dirtier/wider than mine or theirs!

    I agree down to your last sentence… “the landscape and rich flora and fauna make the country so worth visiting”.

    It would have been an honor to meet up while you were around… but there’s always a next time ;)

    And brace for more… Indonesia is an even bigger archipelago! We have 7,101 islands, they have something like 17,500++

    Enjoy your roams!

    • I know! It was insane. We had to pay taxes when getting a ferry or leaving the airport, we were extra charged for using sockets and wi-fi, the prices were much higher for us and nobody wanted to haggle. What shocked us the most was Cebu where old Americans were dating young Filipino girls!!!! :-O

  • On behalf of the rude Filipinos you’ve met, I apologize for their actions. Most of the people here aren’t like that to be honest. Maybe you were just at wrong place and at the wrong time. I hope that when you come back, you will somehow change your perspective on the the people and the country itself. Next time, try visiting Bacolod or Cebu. I’m pretty sure that you’ll love everything there.

    Thanks for a really honest post! We appreciate it. :)

    • Hi Ian. Maybe it’s true. We also met few amazing locals who were willing to talk to us without trying to rip us off, but not many Filipinos wanted to interact with us on buses or even in the street. It was such a shame as we were more than happy to talk to them!

      • May be they were too shy to speak with you as not all locals are capable of expressing themselves in english specially those on the rural areas far up north and far down south.

  • I’m spending a month in the Philippines in April so will be good to compare notes afterwards. Interestingly it’s not one of the poorest countries in the region by some distance – within ASEAN Filipinos are one of the few skilled migrant workers and have a higher standard of living than most of the other countries, was watching a documentary on it a couple of weeks back when we were in Thailand.

    In terms of the photos – I’ve often thought there would be plenty of angry Londoners if I started taking random photos of people’s faces without their permission back home, but as westerners a lot of us seem to think it’s acceptable here in the Far East! (I’d get a lot more than a telling off!!)

    Also in parts of the States there’s a whole pushback now about taking photos of people as well as food.
    Anyway am looking forward to seeing how our experiences compare

  • Regarding paying for the photos, I think that when more tourists come more locals know how to get money from them. If a place is commercial, well known or has a big attraction, people tend to learn faster how to bargain, ask for money etc…Unfortunately…Just look at Thailand and the most popular places there versus Vietnam where people are sometimes surprised when they get a tip.

  • Shame on you all, Filipinos. You mulct money from visitors. For whom are you gonna give the money? To your pimps? You’re nothing but a land of hookers and cheaters! Screw you all.

  • Hey Agness,

    We were in the “vicinity” recently and can relate to some of your experiences – especially about the “Taxi” and “Massage”. Even in Cambodia and Vietnam, some people did get offended when we tried to take pictures of their food stalls etc. A small conversation and smiles later they were fine, but I don’t blame some people asking for money. A lot of travellers make money out of portraits that they click of people, so why shouldn’t the subject get some money? :) That said, no one in Cambodia/Vietnam asked for money when taking pictures.

    We will try and visit Philippines in the next year for we have heard so much about the natural beauty and the beaches there :)

    Glad you have written a very honest post – nice one !

    Cheers

    • Hi Savi! I recommend you visit Palawan, Boracay, or Batanes when you come to the Philippines. I dont recommend street foods though, but a little extra dollar wont hurt to taste the best Filipino foods here, and dont be afraid to ask someone to come to their home and try authentic home-cooked Filipino foods, Filipinos are often very hospitable. But as for like every country, there are bad people, i hope you wont have to deal with them when you come visit the Philippines. Good luck!

  • I still have to visit that part of the world, but I’ve heard a lot about how beautiful the Philippines are and also heard how the food isn’t that amazing as you said. Oh well, I guess it’s not always possible to have everything ;)

    • For you guys, vegan, it might be a challenge to survive on fruits and veggies here. They are not that cheap+ never fresh :(.

      • Sorry, but it’s possible that you didn’t get to visit the local market that’s why you think fruit and vegetables are expensive. I think your unpleasant experience stems from a lack of research about the country. And possibly just low on luck. We have people peddling fruits on the street. Fruits and vegetables here are only expensive in supermarkets and groceries. And nobody raves about Pagudpud anymore. There are a lot of better beaches. Sorry you didn’t have a better experience here.

  • I too am also surprised by your experience with the locals and the food. I thought the people were super friendly and no one ever asked us for money for taking photos. I also loved the adobo, their national dish. Did you try it? And , although its not traditional Filipino cuisine, the suckling pig we had in Cebu was amazing! I think it’s a shame you didn’t especially enjoy your stay there because we did and we can’t wait to go back. We would even like to help with the typhoon clean up.

    Thank you, though, for posting your honest opinion! I’m interested to hear your opinion on Indonesia!

  • Wow! My experience was almost completely opposite of yours. The Filipino cuisine definitely can’t compare with other SE Asian countries, but I didn’t have a lot of greasy stuff. Never had anyone ask me for money for photos. In fact many people would stop me, insist I take their photo, and cheerfully go on their merry way once I did. Also was never purposely given wrong directions, but I never ask taxis or tricycle taxi drivers because they obviously have a conflict of interest. And I’ve rarely ridden any bus in the world that had seat belts. LOL

    Bummed your experience was like this because I adore the Philippines and its people. The food not so much.

  • Wow! im in the philippines one month now and i honestly love them so much that i decided to extend my visa for 2 more months! i had such a different experience with people….i loved them immediately and i took tons of pictures with the local and they never asked for anything…

    What a shame….not sure why we have had such different experiences. Can it be because you went to the north? not sure how to explain it otherwise :)

    I even “cheated” on Thailand, my second home in Asia…and now Philippines are definitely at n. 1, followed by Indonesia and Thailand :)

    • I know sweetie :(, but for us the Philippines didn’t turn out to be a paradise, but we are in love with Indonesia!!!!

  • Hi! To be honest. I started reading as you were talking about my second ‘home’ but as I read on I was quite shocked. No wrong there to share your personal opinion. It juz seems so different compared to when I visited the Philippines over the past few years but I’ve never been up north.

    I’ve met many Filipnos there and the hospitality was really so much better than those that I met in China. Sadly. In China was when I had to pay to take a picture with the scenery (which in fact should not cost a thing) but never encountered that in Philippines. And wrong directions? Never! I rode a bike on my own once in Siquijor and was looking for a dairy place and the locals could direct me perfectly and when I fell off my bike a few times that day. Many came over and helped me along. =)

    Food wise no doubt it wasn’t too fanciful. But I liked it so much better than those I had in China as well (and I am a Chinese =)). From lechon kawali to pancit canton to turons and what nots. I love them all.

    And I love their public transport. It’s like going back to the 70’s of Singapore and I love how vendors come aboard and sell items! Jeepney and buses and bancas rides. You name it I adore them. <3

    Scenery's the reason why I go back again and again (to different places though) and it juz takes my breath away every single time.

    If you do go back. I do hope it would be a much pleasant experience! =)

    • Hi Yix.
      Sorry for that, but this is how we experienced the Philippines. We want to give it another chance in the future though!

      • What a weird version of PH. Naan bread isn’t even a staple food there, what the hell.. sorry I am kinda doubting this.

      • Hi Agnes, go to Palawan, Aklan, Bicol, Batanes, Davao if you’re planning to go back in the Philippines. Do a research first about those places so that you havea guideline :)

  • Haha! It was refreshing to read such review about PH. I will have to agree with you on some points, but on the others… I guess you were just in the wrong place, wrong time. Any, you can’t be pleased with everything and we have different perceptions.

    Re the taxi drivers telling you the wrong direction, as a general rule of thumb (for me), I’d always try not to ask drivers, because I kinda have this feeling that they’d dupe you especially when they’re insisting a ride. What’s worse is, when I ride public vehicles and ask if they’d pass certain places, they’d say yes and drop me in the middle of nowhere. Freaking sucks.

    Stay as awesome!

    • Yes, we agree with being in the wrong place and wrong time. We wasted a lot of time to get from Manila to Pagudpud which was a big disappointment when we got there (dirty beach, it was raining, cold weather, all shops closed, no people around) and from that moment everything went wrong until we got to Alona.

      • Pagudpud beach is a nice place, only you went there because it’s raining the whole time you visited the place. The disadvantage of the place is that its too far from civilization so that’s why all shops are closed early and no people around. But when we went there i love the scenery very relaxing and peaceful :)

  • I enjoyed reading this. It is always interesting to read how other travelers feel about certain places. I haven’t been to the Philippines but can relate to your experience of dealing with high and lows. I am glad you encountered great landscapes. I have been to places where the landscape is meh, the food bland and the locals rude. I have been to other places where the landscape or sights are ok but the people is awesome (or where the people and food are awesome). So, it is up to the traveler to decide what part of the trip captivated his/her heart (even though sometimes nothing seems good, thankfully I haven’t been there often).

    • Hi Ruth. We were expecting something different and we feel disappointed with the Philippines, but we hope you can make it there soon so you can share your thoughts and feelings with us!

  • I enjoyed reading this post! Most of the foreigners I meet (I am a Filipino by the way), have the same thing to say when it comes to our cuisine. An Irish friend of mine even told me rhetorically, “and you wonder why the Filipino cuisine is not popular around the world – unlike Chinese food, Japanese food, Indian food, etc.” HAHAHAHA

    As for the taxi drivers, yep that is mostly true. I get targeted (but not victimized) from time to time as well especially when I am well dressed. I guess you guys were more victimized by that modus because of your color – not being a racist here but majority of the Filipinos think that Caucasians are filthy rich, and so asking a premium from them is justified. Usually, you can avoid this by asking the other locals (those who will not benefit from you, like security guards or passersby)

    By the way, some cultural trivia, most Filipino food are spicy or salty, because it is believed in the early days that certain aroma or spices (salt in particular) can drive evil elements (such as aswang or the local version of vampire) away. It just stayed that way through the years, and I guess Filipinos never unlearned the habit even if they have already unlearned its origins.

    Let me know if you’ll be dropping by the Philippines again, I’d love to show you around if I’m free(in exchange for stories of your travels, I love stories, especially from people who see the world! HAHAHA)

    • Hi Arlet,

      Thank for stopping by and sharing your experience. I mean, we did enjoy your country, but we also felt disappointed with locals and the food. We have heard some many great stories about the Philippines from fellow travel bloggers and we thought we would experience the same, but we didn’t.

      We hope to come back there for the second time and see how the country has changed.

      Greetings from Indonesia!

  • I loved our visit to the Philippines. I took plenty of photos, but not a whole lot of people shots. I’m not sure why. We were never asked to pay, and we were in the north as well. I haven’t seen enough of the country and can’t wait to go back! Great post!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed your stay in the Philippines. Actually, I have taken more than 3.000 photos in total!!!! :D

  • It’s so refreshing to read honest opinions about a place. Not every traveler loves every country they visit, and that’s totally okay! Lackluster food and pushy locals always makes me feel a bit differently about a place. It sure does look like a beautiful country, though!

  • We will never give you wrong directions. Some of us are just to proud and embarrassed not to give an answer to your questions. So when you get a wrong answers just remember it is not out of spite because you didn’t get their service, it’s because they don’t know what to tell you but to ashamed to say so. I know it doesn’t make it any better, bit that’s how it is.

    I know you are just being honest, but try to avoid generalizing. You don’t what to be called the ugly white tourist do you?

    Also we travel to gain perspective, and to lose some of our whining, first world problems. Such whiners.

    • Hi David,

      Unfortunately I can’t agree with you. You can easily tell (by face impression) if someone is giving you wrong direction on purpose or just feel embarrassed and try to point you somewhere. Unfortunately, most of people who we asked for way, smiled ironically and then send us somewhere where we got lost.

      • Sorry but I cant help to laugh at this. Your reply to David was funny. Coz You said you can easily tell if someone is giving you wrong directions just by their facial expressions, right? Then why did you follow or believe on them? If you can tell they’re lying or you’re unsure to what the person is telling you then you should have just go and find another person to ask for directions.

      • Ar first, we we were like “Ok, maybe it’s a wrong impression. Let’s give them another go”, but then we stopped listening to people. Sometimes you have this feeling someone is lying to you, but you still give him/her another chance.

      • can’t help but to comment about this. I think this can happen anywhere else especially in poor 3rd world countries. Even locals traveling to a different province can be taken for a ride if they ask directions.

        maybe next time make it a point to ask policemen or elderly ladies if you can find them. they’re usually honest and kind to local or foreign tourists.

      • Your have travel many countries you must carry your GPS. Many GPS application can installed in android device

  • I’m sorry the Philippines wasn’t everything you hoped it would be! Everyone’s experience can vary for so many reasons, and we can’t all like every place we visit. Thanks for the honest review!

    • I agree, everyone’s experience can vary for some many reasons. This time we were unlucky, but we hope to get back there in the future!!

  • I respect your honesty and I’m sure wasn’t very easy to write this, Agness. Sorry to say that the Philippines somewhat disappointed you. I can totally understand about the cuisine. You know I’m Filipina and Filipino food is at the bottom of the Asian food rank for me. I was just forced to eat it growing up :) Our pastries are awesome though. I think some of them asking for money is just doing it to earn some money. I’m actually surprised at the treatment you got. But,then again it’s been awhile since I’ve been back. I’ve never gone to the northern part since we’re from the south so I hope you get the chance to visit the other islands next time and have a better experience with the locals.

    • Hi Mary,

      You’re right. It was not easy to write it. It’s never easy to me to write critically about the places I travel to, but I wanted to be honest as always and say how we really felt in the Philippines.

  • I respect your honesty and I’m sure wasn’t very easy to write this, Agness. Sorry to say that the Philippines somewhat disappointed you. I can totally understand about the cuisine. You know I’m Filipina and Filipino food is at the bottom of the Asian food rank for me. I was just forced to eat it growing up :) Our pastries are awesome though. I think some of them asking for money is just doing it to earn some money. I’m actually surprised at the treatment you got. But,then again it’s been awhile since I’ve been back. I’ve never gone to the northern part since we’re from the south so I hope you get the chance to visit the other islands next time and have a better experience with the locals. Beautiful photos!

  • Such an experience. There are always good and bad ones when we travel and I love your honesty. I have noticed the same thing travelling in my own country (as a local) where I wonder whether people are really kind or just wanting to get my money. I once met an old woman in Bali doing work at her rice paddies and I was taking picture of her and she came up to me and asked for money – I was shocked and horrified! So I guess I understand your feeling too!

  • Really interesting to hear your reflections! We’ve been to the Philippines three times, though not for long amounts of time, and honestly more for the nature and scuba diving than the cuisine or even interaction with locals (unfortunately). I can definitely see where you are coming from on the points you listed. Manila was quite a bit of culture shock for us the first time we visited. The Philippines definitely has a lot to offer though- we would like to go back and explore more one day! On a side note, we have had people ask us for money for taking pictures around the world, especially in Asia. I don’t know what the north is like or how touristy it is, but I think sometimes people equate having their picture taken to being a ‘tourist attraction’ that they can charge a fee for. Probably a combination of misunderstanding and irresponsible tourists not taking pictures with respect? I’m sure that you guys were very respectful and kind to them, but maybe other people’s actions are what contributed to the locals now asking for a fee.

  • That’s too bad you had this experience! My mother-in-law is Filipino and basically a big part of my new family is from there. Also we have a huge Filipino community here in Toronto and for the most part they are the nicest people I know. So I’m actually looking forward to traveling there one day… But charging for pictures??? That would piss me off too! From what I’ve seen on this blog, you guys aren’t whiners and keep really positive about many places. So the Philippines must have been really tough on you. Oh well, one country less to come back to :)

    • Wow, that’s great. I bet Filipinos are extremely nice. Perhaps, we came across some greedy and mean people! Yes, the Philippines were really tough on us, but we hope to come back there soon so we might change our minds!! :)

  • It’s always interesting to see what other people think of different countries. We loved the philippines so much we are returning in April. Our favourite place was Sagada. I agree that the food was far from memorable but in Sagada we ate so well at the Yoghurt House and on Bohol at the Buzz Cafe – the key was that it wasn’t Filipino food. As to the dishonesty of people when it comes to directions, we see that all the time in many places, while trying to get to Kanchanaburi the other day from Bangkok one local guy said you can’t go from the bus station just to try and get us to take an extra ride from his mate. We mostly found the Filipinos to be really friendly and accommodating. Little things like the taxi driver in Manila popping into the shop to ask for directions with the meter still running annoyed us a bit though. As for the transport travelling on the over crowded (schoolchildren climbing on the roof) jeepneys was certainly an experience. I guess at the end of the day you will not like everything a country has to offer and each country has a long list of things it could improve on. I like your honesty though, we were really unimpressed by Indonesia when we visited.

    • Hi Andrew. So glad you had a great time in the Philippines. Thanks for sharing. Maybe next time we will enjoy it as much as you guys did!

  • I think you were just in the wrong place I guess.. I agree though that some taxi drivers take advantage, not only to tourists but to some locals as well. It’s so unfortunate. If you do go back though try the Visayan area or Palawan or Davao.

  • Hi Agnes,

    Looks good. I hope you can visit the middle & southern part of the Philippines. Your points are partly true and not. I am a Filipino living in Mega Manila.

  • Thanks for the refreshing honesty. People who travel the Phillipines a lot think it’s wonderful and I agree, the photos are often gorgeous. But as a solo traveler, I am a little concerned for some other stories I hear. The one about locals directing you the wrong way is not usually how it all works when one travels. I’m disappointed to hear that because I rely on the kindness of strangers a lot. I’m glad you & Cez were still able to enjoy yourselves!

    P.S.Thanks for sharing your food shopping experience. I do that often when I travel and foods just seem too oily or meaty. Ithink Filipino food is a special taste; not a big fan of it yet in Hawaii but will certainly see what I can eat when I’m there.

  • Hello guys. Thanks for visiting our country.

    I feel sorry that had some not-so-good encounters with the Filipinos, the typical tourist traps. But come on, just anywhere else in the world, there are and WILL BE tourist traps if you go to the wrong places. You should know that. Perhaps next time you can research further as better places are actually off the radar sans the $1/shot.

    The taxi drivers giving wrong directions cracks me up. LOL. There’s two possibilities here: first, you misunderstood the directions or the person misunderstood your question (to be fair) or second, the douche really gave you the wrong information, people, regardless of what nationality, can sometime play A-holes to people they don’t like. The best way to be liked in the Philippines (or anywhere else) is to give a genuine smile and don’t act like a bitch, I mean, I am not judging you but I am certain that you just got unlucky, not all Filipinos will do that to you so I hope don’t generalize.

    For your food experience, Naan? Seriously? I guess, again you went to the wrong places. When you go back to the Philippines and you really want to experience the country’s fine cuisine let me know and I am willing to fly from Singapore to show you the right spots to go (not those typical oily pork dishes which by the way we all love and I was hurt when you call it disgusting and gross, haha. But I agree that it’s an acquired taste). That is if you will still go back after what happened :-)

    Sorry for sounding defensive, we are one proud nation and it will hit us in the heart if we hear things like this. But thank you both for the honest opinions. You’re always welcome in the Philippines.

    • Hi! There is no need to apologize, seriously. It would be extremely boring to enjoy every single country and have only great memories and experience! We hope to get back here soon for more adventures! We both think 2 weeks were not enough to fully experience Filipino cuisine, landscape and hospitality.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  • …hi Agness Agnes is a female given name, which derives from the Greek name Ἁγνὴ hagnē, meaning “pure” or “holy”. The name passed to Italian as Agnese, to Portuguese … or if i may say so “AGNES OF GOD”…beautiful wonderful name you have…well, yours is but an honest expression of what you had experienced in our beloved country Philippines…as the saying goes “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, thus, your experience and the experiences of others vary from experience to experience to expressions and impressions…but in fairness you have laid the negatives and the less positives and hopefully it will be our basis for a sort of “constructive criticism” to contemplate with and enlighten our locals and the local government particularly the places you mentioned to somehow “correct” the negative factors in their areas in so far as “tourism” is concerned…we WELCOME the WORLD to our country, our BELOVED PHILIPPINES and whatever impressions you leave or bring home with your heart will engrave our being Filipinos and no such place is “perfectly paradise”…but nevertheless WE THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS for passing by…if i may say so my dear Agness please check COME VISIT MY PHILIPPINES and hoping you will still love it here one more time! I hug you dear young pretty girl…you are indeed one lucky child you had the means to travel this far and explore the world… <3 God bless you!!!

    • Hi Lenla,

      Wow, I’m so impressed with everything you wrote here. Many thanks! I never analysed the origin of my name so it was great to read it!! :). As for our stay in the Philippines, I’m sorry to disappointing you, but we didn’t enjoy it as much as we thought we would, but we will be back soon!!!!!

      Love,

      Agness

  • Salute!

    The facts are:
    1. Living $25/day is a luxury to many Filipnos. Most people here live with less than $2/day that’s why everybody is trying earn a living in every way they can. Locals also know that begging for a few dollars is not going to hurt you at all.
    2. Transportation here is really bad. Thanks to our government officials who maybe among the most corrupt in the world. So you don’t just hail a cab here, you should trust your instinct and pick the good ones. Locals do this too. Taking the trains here is like going through an obstacle course, which locals experience the same.
    3. Giving wrong direction – I’d bet it’s a misunderstanding. It maybe due to language barrier or there 1 or 2 good reasons why you were told to go the other way.
    4. Local cuisine – well, we don’t count calories. We eat anything that taste good to us. That’s it. :-)
    5. Overweight people – the same, we don’t measure that here. Unless you get obesse and we have to be worried about your health.

    So thanks for visiting the Philippines. Thanks for putting food on the table of more than 1 family

  • Salute! .

    The facts are:
    1. Living $25/day is a luxury to many Filipnos. Most people here live with less than $2/day that’s why everybody is trying earn a living in every way they can. Locals also know that begging for a few dollars is not going to hurt you at all.
    2. Transportation here is really bad. Thanks to our government officials who maybe among the most corrupt in the world. So you don’t just hail a cab here, you should trust your instinct and pick the good ones. Locals do this too. Taking the trains here is like going through an obstacle course, which locals experience the same.
    3. Giving wrong direction – I’d bet it’s a misunderstanding. It maybe due to language barrier or there 1 or 2 good reasons why you were told to go the other way.
    4. Local cuisine – well, we don’t count calories. We eat anything that taste good to us. That’s it. :-)
    5. Overweight people – the same, we don’t measure that here. Unless you get obesse and we have to be worried about your health.

    So thanks for visiting the Philippines. Thanks for putting food on the table of more than 1 family

  • Guys,

    My wife is Filipino and I have been there many times. I am sorry your experience wasn’t as good as you hoped. Sometimes foreigners are taken advantage of. But I have seen this in other countries as well. We are from the Bicol region in southern Luzon. The people and the scenery are just beautiful there. Next time visit Mayon volcano and the beaches in Albay. I hope your next experience makes up for your first impression. If you find yourself in Albay, give a courtesy call to the governor’s office. He will be a huge help in making your visit memorable for the right reasons. Good luck.

    Craig and Luna

  • Thanks for the visit to my homeland. I may agree with you on some of the points on your blog (and response to the other comments), esp on the part when people would try to stop you to sell their wares or services, but i think you need to understand the reason behind some of your not so good experiences. First, the “paying for photos”. In some parts of Banaue, the locals (mostly, older people) wear their native attire for photo ops with the tourists, that is how they earn their living. Maybe you have taken a photo of one of these locals, that is why they are expecting payment from you. Otherwise, local people are generally shy they’d only smile at you when they become aware that you are taking their pictures.

    As for the taxis, I couldn’t agree with you more. Some drivers tend to overcharge, that’s why most locals would rather take the bus or jeepneys. However, there are still honest and courteous drivers around, especially in Davao and Cebu.

    “Giving wrong directions on purpose”, generally Filipinos do not intentionally do that. If you may have been given the wrong direction, maybe there was a misunderstanding. Ordinary folks are not fluent with the English language. They may have understand you, but it’s really hard for them to articulate, I, myself find it difficult to express my thoughts in your language. It is also inherent to Filipinos to laugh at our mistakes, (to cover the embarassment) so if people may have been laughing when you were asking for directions, it could be that they were teasing themselves because they tried to talk in your language. They were doing “carabao english”, i.e. broken english with no grammar, and they are aware of their mistake, hence they may have “smiled ironically”, as you put it, but they mean no disrespect. Don’t feel snubbed when people wouldn’t speak with you (esp in public places), they may just be too shy to admit that they couldn’t understand you or they’re just too afraid that they couldn’t speak in English.

    As for the food, I’m sorry you were not impressed by the dishes you’ve tried so far. Admittedly, I have not tasted the “naan bread” you posted. I wasn’t even aware we have something like that in the local cuisine. The Philippines, being an archipelago, is generally composed of different regional ethnics. Each ethnicity, usually have their own dialect, culture and cuisine. Let’s take for example the adobo, it is touted as a national dish, but each region has its own version of this dish. Same with sinigang, paksiw, pansit, and even barbecue for that matter, and other dishes. What I mean to say is that, the dish you have tried in one area would taste different from the next, so it is difficult to generalize about it.

    If ever you go back to the Philippines, please visit the Bicol region where you can see the Mayon Volcano (the world’s perfect cone), and drop by the Albay tourism office. They can give you pointers on the sights and how to get around the area.

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you for sharing! I’ve read it all! :) I will certainly visit the Bicol region next time. I want to see the Mayon Volcano, that’s for sure!

  • Hi there, i saw your blog on FB and read through up to all the cooments, so I thought ill give my own opinion and some facts. i am from the Philippines now residing in Australia.
    First i thank you for the honesty in your blog, second I thank the positive comments from the different people and third i thank you all for appreciating the natural beauty of our landscapes.

    With regards to paying for photos – in Baguio City of North of Luzon there is really a place there where the native ifugao’s asked for money if you want them in their photos, it is kind of a way of living for them as they stay there dressed in native costumes and they asked 10 pesos that was long time ago when i went there and paid the amount as I really wanted to have a photo together with the natives. Maybe it is more now, also if youwanted to have photo taken of your own wearing native outfit you also have to pay… Which for me is ok, however there are also some people there that positions themselves in the right place and when you take photo of them they will get angry and of course when you approach them they will settle for a fee.. That is a disgusting way of earning money, and it is not authorised by the government… However these people know that because there are tourists all the time they have earned money that way. So dont take photos of someone or somene’s stall or whatever without asking their permission yet.
    As to Filipino foods, for me they are the best, maybe because I grew up their and i am used to them, you see it is an acquired taste, however because most of your travel was to the north of Luzon you were not able to taste most of the best dishes we have, next time try to come to the South of Luzon, visit our magnificent Mt. mayon in Albay and much more…go to Boracay, to Palawan, Puerto Princesa and puerto galera… You will not complain about the foods in these places.

    Also when it come to attitutde and hospitality, we are the most hospitable people in the world, but again on the streets like some other countries there are always people that have no manners and will not care…so next time always check google maps instead of relying on people.

    On the final note, i will endeavor to write to the government of Bagiuo City and sind this link so they can monitor activities like you complained about, they are not helping the tourism boo. In the country and it is about time that locals get some education in supporting tourism in the country.

    Lastly i encourage you to visit my place next time, the booming Albay of the south of Luzon, our governor Joey Salceda always enjoys a courtesy call for all tourists that come our place, and we make sure your stay is as pleasant as you wanted it to be…

    Cheers
    Haziel

  • Thank you for visiting the Philippines.

    Just want to comment about your post, Philippines generally is a good country for tourist but there are things that you should be aware of.

    1. This country is not for cheap travelers, you cannot find good food here below $2 (You will just gonna end up eating the food of the masses which are meant to be that way, not good and they are meant for those small percentage of Filipinos who cannot afford good food.)

    2. The pay per photo, general rule for travelers, do not just take pictures of people, ask permission but there are people who really do that, this is a country where politics and showbiz collides so expect that people from this country has a mentality that when people took their picture they are like those movie stars that are paid for to have their photos in the billboard. (Again they are just the unprivileged who lacks understanding)

    3. The problem with tricycle is not just for foreigner but even a problem of local tourist which is not addressed by the Government and it really sucks :(

    4. The comment about young female with Old foreign partner does not only happen in the Philippines but in other countries as well. Bottom-line it boils down to individual choices rather than culture/race.

    5. “Sir/Maam” it is just a way of life, don’t over analyse :)

    Philippines is one of the most beautiful country but travelling this entire country does not only need money but also a deeper understanding of the culture and its people just like any other countries.

    Mind you, first impression don’t last, everybody deserve a second chance :)

  • This is a very ignorant post. How would you feel if some tourist started taking your photo and gawking at you while you’re on a street or eating a meal?

    • Hi traveler. I respect your opinion. When taking photos, I try to be as discreet as possible. It’s a part of my travels to capture moments when on the road. In fact, that happens to me every single day in China. People approach me when I’m eating, doing shopping or even jogging and ask for photos. It might be tiring I must admit, but I always smile and have a little chat with them. That is how I was raised.

  • Hi Agness Walewinder, Thanks for your this new & amazing post. Agness I must say I really love photography which you have clicked. I really love that, Superb !

  • Hi Agnes,

    We really appreciate your honest blog, and i do agree with Ron we hurt when we read such a disappointing reviews from a fellow countrymen.

    We maybe not rich interms of money, but we value more the great persons we met than to ask money from them (it is our pleasure talked by a foreign one, just to be true).

    We also have unique foods, we also have here high end places (Balesin & Amanpulo)that offers chartered flights to get there… or you can DIY tours, try to look for blogs of Coron, Malcapuya, Elnido in Palawan, Caramoan, Britania Group of Islands, Palaui Island,Donsol, Enchanted River in Surigao , Batanes and many more ask me where else.

    We hope you can visit Philippines again, let us know, i can give tips & other info’s so you will not be disappointed again.

    Thanks and enjoy exploring,

    Mina

    • Hi Mina,

      Thank you ever so much for such a lovely comment. I know your country has a lot of things to offer and I am felling so sad I have not experienced it. Believe me or not, but my heart is bleeding when I read all of these wonderful comments from Filipinos about how much guilty you feel for me not having a good experience in your country. I will certainly give the Philippines another go, I promise!

  • I appreciate your honest opinion. I have no excuse for the way my fellow Filipino treat tourist. We locals sometimes get tricked with unscrupulous characters who is out to juice a few pesos. But that applies in any part of the world.
    Judging from the photo posted, you are ordering your food in the street where they cater to blue collared workers. IMHO, most of their clientele earn less than $3.00 a day and have to feed 6 or more in the family. I would understand why they are salty, greasy… they exaggerated the spice because they have to eat more rice to fill the stomach of 6 or 8. That 25.00 Pesos ( $0.50) Bihon is obviously shared to the rest to the family and eaten with a plateful of rice. Many cannot afford that cheap “Bihon” which for many household serve for special occasion already like birthday or Christmas dinner.
    Philippines had excellent cuisine from all over the globe Vietnamese, Japanese, Greek, Mediterranean almost you name we got it. As a Filipino-Chinese who have been in China’s best canton restaurants. Nothing beat Chinese restaurants we have around…unfortunately you went to the wrong place to look for authentic food. As the saying goes, you get what you paid for.
    Lastly, you are travelling in a poor country, so do not impost or expect your country’s high living standard in places like Philippines.

  • It would be helpful to do some research before going to an unfamiliar place. The noodles you ate were Chinese and Naan bread i think its Persian its not Filipino… If you want to taste real Filipino food.. go to a Filipino Restaurant and you cant expect street food to be that good. If you want to try fresh vegetables or fruits you might want to try the local wet market.

    And its very rude take picture of people that you would later put your negative comments with.

    I know your blog is honest but I find it a bit obnoxious and disrespectful.

  • Thanks for the ‘honest’ review about my country. My country is composed of more than 7 thousand islands so you can expect varied cultures (including cuisines, places, norms, attitudes, scams etc.) just like in other countries. Not all foods in the Philippines are oily. If you want spicy foods, go to Bicol. If you want sea foods then visit the Visayas region. You just need to research more about the places. With regard to the attitude of the drivers, I agree with you. There are some scammers, but not all. In general, Filipinos are very much hospitable. That is one of the traits that most foreigners love about us. And you just witnessed our resiliency when we were strucked by typhoon Yolanda. I hope you’ll find time to visit again our country and try to explore other places. Thank you for your short vacation. God bless…

    • Thank you for sharing. Of course we have not seen neither experienced much in the Philippines. This was our first impression combined with what we normally experience in China. We hope to get back there soon!

  • If you really want to have a good food then you should stop being stingy and actually go to a restaurant that serve good food. Do you really think $2 or up to $5 is enough to buy a healthy ready to eat food? Do you really expect street food will serve you a good meal? To generalize the people in the Philippines and brand us all in the same bad color is just not right. Your blog disgust me!

    • Hi,

      We still prefer local places. There are authentic and affordable for us. Sorry, but we are not millionaires to dine out in restaurants every single day. We also believe the street food is authentic and expresses the local cuisine.

      Sorry to hear that you don’t like our blog.

      With love,

      Agness

  • Thank you very much for visiting our country, The Philippines. More thanks to your honest reviews that for sure, we can learn a lot from. I hope that on your next visit here, you would not just enjoy the sceneries but also the hospitality and friendliness of the Filipinos. I would recommend that you visit as well my place – Naga City and Legazpi City, Bicol. I would be glad to tour you guys for free and would make you try bicolano dishes, see the perfect cone of mayon volcano, shower with the falls of isarog, swim with whale sharks and lots more:)

    Have a great day and enjoy travelling the world!

  • This, I guess, is an honest assessment but it seems like you didn’t actually eat much of actual Filipino food (Adobo, Sinigang, Tinola? What the hell is Naan Bread? Never heard of that and I live here!), nor did you make any effort to make real connections with the locals. For the latter, it seems like your observation of Filipino hospitality is based on the few instances where you asked for a picture and was charged for it. Somehow, this overshadowed all the nice people that you met. I find that a little prissy, since we’re all being honest here.

  • Naan bread is not a Filipino food.
    Find it weird when you said food is salty and chilli, then it’s tasteless.
    ?
    In such hot countries like Philippines, people need to cook food that way or else it’s going to get spoiled easily :)

    • For us, it was way too salty and way too chilly and trust us, we have eaten a lot of different food in Asia. This time, we didn’t enjoy it.

  • Where do you find naan in the Philippines? I tried walking 5km around my town today and there were no Naans anywhere.. Try to be a smarter tourist next time.. I can tell you’re well traveled but based on your blog, it doesn’t seem like you’ve learned a lot from your travels..

    Charging you for photos, I can imagine this was done in Banaue, but outside that, come on… Filipinos love cameras, didn’t you notice the kids going to you smiling and posing? They literally shove and push each other so their photo can be taken.. In your blog it seemed like everyone is like the ones in Banaue, pls try to not generalize.

    • Hi Kimmy! You can get naan bread in Manila, a few steps from the central bus station, behind 7 Eleven store.

  • Sorry you didn’t enjoy Philippines. Aside from wrong timing, I guess you didn’t research enough. Fruits are fresh if you go to the market. And FYI naan is not our staple food here.

  • Mabuhay sa Philippines :)

    Although I would caution you against sweeping statements like “ALL Filipinos like / are / eat…” after such a short trip (or even a long one), I pretty much agree with most of what you have written here.

    Food? Yeah, mostly awful, as is confirmed by pretty much any writer who was not born and raised in the Phils. I love the BBQ meats and lechon when I’m drinking, but I do start to Jones for veggies after a few days.

    As for asking for money for pics, I’ve never been asked that. But given that it is a DESPERATELY POOR part of the world, you can’t really blame them for trying it on. Regarding the wrong directions if you don’t use their taxi, yeah, that’s just plain wrong. Pinoys will ALWAYS give you directions, even when they have zero concrete idea of the destination. In fact, I can’t ever recall being told by a local, “I don’t know where that is.” In a way, I find this more endearing than, say, Thailand (where I am now), where the default answer is “Mai ruu,” mostly because they can’t be assed to help. Looking at the Phils through my rose-colored filter, I would say they just try their best with what they know. Even if it’s not accurate. I like that. :)

    Having said that, yes, taxi and truck drivers are mostly dicks, and some of them are a bit on the dangerous side to boot. I have taken hundreds of taxi and trike rides around the Phils and every time I know I have to negotiate, lock the doors, make sure the meter is on, be conscious if they are taking me off the beaten path, ignore them trying to get me to their friend’s bar to meet girls (etc etc). It’s exhausting.

    But that natural beauty. DAYAM! It’s off the chart gorgeous. How cool is Alona Beach when the sun sets, right? I tell my Pinoy friends often that if their business owners and government could just get their tourism shit together, they could make the Phils a number one tourism destination. But most people there, particularly the rich(!), are there for the quick buck. They don’t think long term. Which is why cheap accommodation in the Phils is abysmal compared to Thailand. It’s all about giving the least you can, and charging the most. And the infrastructure is…oh, right, there IS no infrastructure really any more in the Phils. You get my point. You kind of have to ignore a lot of the shit to get to the jewels. And I think they’re worth it. And the upside of this rather rough edge is that it’s still relatively unexplored, which is a plus.

    And having said all that, I still LOVE the Phils. That’s why I spend a month or two a year there. For all the negatives, there are so many more positives. English is, of course, one of them. You can connect with people much more readily that in other SE Asian countries (and not just the tourism-oriented types, but just your regular Joe on the street). The natural beauty. The fact that everybody in the country seems born with perfect pitch and the performance gene. The innocent charm of so many of the people. The beaches. It’s unlike any country I’ve yet to visit. Pinoy ako! Pinoy tayo! :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeCNkLZVRsk

    LOVED this post and very happy that you made it to Panglao Island, which I truly love :) Happy travels, you guys!

  • I have never been to the Philippines yet but would love to go one day.
    Thanks for your review, most important part for me is the beauty of a country and it looks like that’s definitely a go for the Philippines. Love the pictures

  • some social trivia, most Philippine meals are delicious or high sodium, because it is considered in the beginning that certain fragrance or spices or herbs (salt in particular) can generate wicked components (such as aswang or the regional edition of vampire) away. It just remained that way through the decades, and I think People from the philippines never unlearned the addiction even if they have already unlearned its roots.

  • I love your honesty in this post! Everyone has different experiences in the Philippines, but you summed up some of my woes about the place to. The food was okay-ish. I was lucky to have friends to show me the best eats around town. I was never given any wrong directions or stop me in the street for taxis though (but maybe that’s because they think I’m a local). I’m glad you look away some positives, because the Philippines has some really amazing and unique landscapes.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it more than we did. Wow, you were lucky to have friends to show you the best eats around town!!

    • All we do here is sharing our OWN feelings and experience. This is how we experienced the Philippines. This is what we felt when visiting the country. I am not going to lie to my readers, friends and family about how much we loved it, because we didn’t. It’s a personal blog known for our honesty. If someone does not like it, I’m sorry to hear that but there is nothing I can do about it. Hating someone for expressing their opinions we are all entitled to is unfair.

  • I feel sad that you guys was unfortunate with the choice of food you made when you were here. Filipino cuisine is as good as the sceneries you marveled at. Based on your itinerary, you took the ” ill be dead tired before i get to the resort route”. I recommend you go back and check out other places and attractions. Try to research on what to eat and dont just eat any food within reach

  • Thanks a lot for your honesty, Guys! But that’s just one slice of your life experience here in our country. You cannot, in one passing, understand the culture of a certain place. We have so many different dialects from different regions. And most probably you took the most common traveled route. Which is the urban streets with full of hustlers, and some. Those people are trying to survive. Try living here for let’s say a year or two. Choose one area, say the Bicol Region. Learn their culture. I think that would be enough for you to say with conviction what filipinos are. You will find that filipinos doesn’t need a “shrink” much like you, Americans. You know why? We have families. That core of filipino culture you haven’t discover. So please, do your homework. Do not come here to “travel”! Come here and live with us. You are most welcome!

  • “All food was deep fried and oily. In such hot weather conditions, most of fish and fat meat dishes looked disgusting and gross.” — now I know the reason why I have these flabs. Haha. Refreshing read, nothing but the truth.

  • Hi,

    Sorry to hear about your negative experience. I’ve been to the Philippines a couple of times, and each time I come back I love it and the people more and more. They are probably the most accommodating and warmest people in Southeast Asia! They will offer you their bedroom and sleep in the living room, if you need a place to stay. They are very helpful and will go out of their way to make you, the visitor, comfortable.

    I have to agree with the food though. Nothing to write about. Nothing to rant about either.

    But the people, they are the best!

  • If you want to get good food, be ready to pay what good food is worth. 25 pesos? Cmon. I know youre trying to be honest with your observations but dont generalize a country with 7107 islands and millions of people.

  • Hi,

    I am from the Philippines and I appreciate your honest opinion and observations about my country. I would agree to some of the points raised by I definitely disagree with the majority. I am sorry if some of your experiences were unpleasant. Let me know if you plan to go back and I would love to bring you around and prove to you otherwise :) All the best on your travels!

  • Hi, I’m a Filipino and I do understand your experiences. Each part of the country has a different culture and language. As someone from the southern part of the Philippines we too experience getting ripped off and given wrong directions by locals when travelling to other cities, especially the ones in the Capitol region.

    I even threatened to sue a taxi driver who attempted to rip me and my friends off. He gave in, he got so scared because I started reciting the law and stuff. When travelling to the capitol, I never ask locals for directions, I always take time to check Google maps for directions or ask the information desk on the hostel/hotel, and write it all down.

    If you visit the country again please do avoid the chaos in Manila, there’s always Palawan, Bohol, Surigao, Davao..etc.

  • After reading this article and comments on your blog, I can only be sure of one thing: your experiences in the Philippines will always differ from other travelers. Many people find the country to have the most hospitable people, but per your experience, it wasn’t. Same thing for me–I thought Thailand has wonderful hospitable people but per my experience, they’re not. But I wouldn’t generalize them though.

  • Probably the most western-biased traveler I’ve ever seen. C’mon. If you can’t take a (third world) country with a grain of salt, then you shouldn’t be doing this (at least in developing countries). You obviously play the dumb tourist card, you should expect to be treated like a tourist. To poor people, you’re a walking bag of money, and a female one as well. A little tolerance and pluralism goes a long way. Reality isn’t always as good as brochures say. And judging a whole nation based on a single trip is idiotic. Try asking the expats living here, and you’ll be surprised. Yes you have valid points, and I won’t contest them. Maybe you should plan your trips better if you’re going to places like the Philippines. Your perspective is a little bit skewed too. Maybe loose the naivety.

  • I really like your honesty, you can’t have it all, there are bad experience and good experiences wherever you go. Our country is kept deliberately poor by corrupt politicians and oligarchs who go on trips to Europe and so-called Holy Land trips. They have pretty good reasons to NOT pave roads, create roads, or set up any sort of infrastructure, it’s so much easier to subjugate people without committing genocide by simply keeping them poor and separate from each other. Go visit other places in our country, I won’t promise a better experience but maybe a little more enlightenment ;)

  • Hello Agness,
    Sadly, a lot of what you said is true. Thank you for your honest opinion and hopefully, Filipinos who read this will take it not as an insult but an encouragement to do better. Honestly, I was a little bit hurt with the things that you said, especially in saying that you would rather go hungry than eat our food. I lived most of my life in the Philippines and of course I would feel hurt if someone who stayed for two weeks there would say something negative. But you are entitled to your own opinion. I empathize with your uncomfortable stay in my country. I wish you had actual Filipino friends who took you places there. But you restrict your travels to your own standards and I won’t judge you for that. Best of luck to your future travels.

  • Hi there,

    What a great and honest article. It’s quite sad knowing that there are people asking for money when you took pictures with them. I didn’t know that thing is really happening and it’s a big turn off, really!

    Well, truth hurts but some Filipinos are getting really abusive especially to foreigners and tourist cause they know you guys have figures. Sometimes they will charge you more than what they charge to locals because they know you can afford it and wouldn’t bother that much. This kind of mentality makes me really sad and mad.

    I am a Filipino and all I could say is our country is rich in natural and tourist places but couldn’t rate my country as “safe”. You just shouldn’t trust people easily :)

    And hey! Filipino street foods lack quality; that is a truth. You should try some of our foods on authentic local restaurants. This might costs more but it is far from what it is tasted on streets ;)

  • Try Makati/Manila next time! Try Metro Manila. Next time you guys visit the Philippines, contact me. I’ll be more than glad to treat you guys to dinner and tour you around the city with Mabuhay Guides as our tour guide. :)

    You deserve to see the other part of our country. :)

    VinVin
    http://vinvinjacla.com

  • 7 eleven is not a good landmark honey. especially in manila, there are lots 7 eleven in the city. what Philippines boast on food are seafood. if you go to some islands, the seafood are so cheap and so fresh you don’t even need to do do much but grill it. i don’t understand how come you can’t find fresh fruits, we have so much variety on it. a

    and yes, taxis are horrible but everyone is treated the same way. not just foreigners but also locals. but still cheaper than other places like chile or kenya.

    the buses are not that bad, i have been to sri lanka and the local bus was so packed i was an inch away from the drivers seat.

  • Awww I’m sorry Agness it wasn’t such a great experience for you here. It’s like watching that movie called ‘A series of unfortunate events’ haha. But seriously local/people interaction is a big deal in traveling so I feel your disappointment. After my trip to Burma I really considered going back just for Mandalay because of the unbelievable hospitality I had in a certain hostel haha so people factor is huge for me. Next time though I hope you get to cross paths with the good ones they usually are in the untouristy places.

    For the food, yeah they say it’s an acquired taste so I guess you don’t have it yet. Your food selection though is kinda untypical. But I’m surprised you tried those sticked innards, such a brave girl cause I don’t even eat those it’s not healthy haha. Tip for next time: Pancit Malabon, Kaldereta, Mangoes, Taho.

    Oh that’s it enjoy Indonesia! Enjoy traveling! :D

  • We’re sorry for your cab experience, when they see foreigners, I know many of them will over charge…

    The taking of photos in front of some establishments for a fee is something new! Those people should not be tolerated and should even be reported in our Tourism Department

    As for your food experience… I also read the other blog about it… I have to say you got it all wrong and you went to all the wrong places! I wouldn’t even eat where you ate! Have a local guide you where to eat, or research about it first… Trying out food stalls (carinderia) is never a good idea, only a few (really really few) carinderia can offer really good food… Visit again and try food from better places and you might have a good review about our food next time! :)

  • Thank you for your very honest impression but i guess your impressions is so misguided and embarrassing to us Filipino people. I come to believe also that your writing is a mess written in an emotional outrage to make a revenge. I hope i’m wrong! Let take some points, “pay for photos”, i guess your referring to the “indigenous people of Ifugao Tribe” in Banaue that really ask for pay for a pose or a setting with a horse with a backdrop of the tourist spots. I don’t think that is unique in the Philippines only. When there are special set-up prepared to take a photo, of course there is a pay for that. But to pay to take a picture for the usual stalls and peoples, i don’t think that’s true.

    Another thing, shouting and rudeness in the airport is a criminal offense in our country, i wonder how a taxi driver would block a foreigner like you in the airport pavement where airport police are present anywhere. I don’t find also airport near a 7 eleven store in our country. Specially in Manila & Cebu where airport are located quite far from city mainstream. You really have to walk a few kl or ride a few minutes for taxi to get to the nearest store (not just the 7 eleven) outside the airport. Also i would like to informed you that 7 eleven is quite very new in Cebu so it could be that taxi driver are still not much aware where the nearest or could have told you a store which is actually still far across a long bridge going to the big city.

    Finally, as some already mention, you are too unlucky to miss our real Filipino/native cuisine. The food you eat are actually those are food offered in the wet market. You don’t even see them in a well displayed carenderia or common restaurant where food is as as cheap as it but much much better.

    By the way, i also checked your costing and i can say that there is much more space to minimize the cost. Like the cost of fruits in common fruit stall is 3X cheaper than the cost of those fruits in the supermarket. The fare going to Bohol then back to Cebu can be cheaper by 50% when it is booked & paid 3 days ahead. The reason why booking in hotel in person here is expensive because there are lots of tourist around and we are short of rooms so that when you don’t book ahead, you get the much higher priced room. I don’t believe there are different prices for locals and foreigners. And since you mention Cebu & Bohol, you should know that this City are one of the most traveled in the country by tourist.

    One lastly, thank you for the very nice impression on our tourist spot. ALona Beach is just one of the best in Philippines but actually there are equally or even better beaches or tourist spot across the 7,101 island in the country. And i can guarantee you that you can travel them without much sacrifice on your money and experience with just the 25$ per day. In fact, your 25$ is already a big amount budget for us local traveler. Anyway, our country is not just beaches & landscape, you’ve actually just seen the tips of an iceberg.

  • there are some places you missed during your stay here in the philippines like the hanging coffins of sagada and the kabayan mummies in benguet. hope you could come and see them on your next visit. ^__^

  • Thank you for pointing these out! I am Filipino myself, born and raised in the province (a bit of context here) and I would say that I agree with most of the things you say. Even with the “telling the wrong directions” thing I find that this usually happens when we ask jeepney or tricycle drivers. Most of the people here have the impression that travelers are all tourists who want to be pampered and are willing to shell out some money just because. Hence the taxi shouting thing. You’re just an opportunity they can’t miss. I say sorry in behalf of my people.

    We are also by nature non-confrontational (Asian thing?) so some brutal honesty is something that shock us a bit. We are also sensitive people (we take everythinggggggg personally) hence the defensive reaction/s here and there (if any).

    If it’s any consolation I also dislike what you dislike about the Philippines especially the greasy food and the “Ma’am Sir” thing. Too much!

  • Wow, I am an expat living in the Philippines and i cant disagree more with the article. I have enjoyed Filipino hospitality, genuine one, everywhere I went, and yeah people there is very poor and may, politely ask for some tip or in the case of the trycicle riders a”tourist rate”. Just think that some of them actually live on the trycicle.

    But in any case what i find disturbing about the article is the mention of Filipino food. As the article on filipino food said, you really havent tried real filipino food. From the dishes you never tried like adobo, paella, and so on , which are quite common, to the surprising pint that there is only outdated fruits.. in a country that has some of the best Mangoes in the world and many tropical fruits, and evend quite decent strawberries in the north…

    How can you judge a food that you admityou havent tried?

  • Hi, first off I admire the honesty and I apologize for the negatives you experienced in the Philippines but still glad that there were also good ones.

    Being a local for decades I’ll try to address the points you made(mainly the negatives) from my own perspective and hopefully shine some light on the “why’s”.

    Anyway, well, I do agree that the locals are too hospitable and polite for their own good and yes, you are correct that they tend to be that way so they could sell you their merchandise/services. Its mainly because poverty is too rampant here that a supposedly polite Filipino would use their hospitable trait to gain a bit of income, from charging you for their photos to pinning religious buttons on you which might seem like a gift but then charge you afterwards. I’m not saying all of them are that way, since there’s a good number of people who are genuinely hospitable folks but there will always be the ones who mean “business”. The thing about this that I’m truly ashamed of is the fact that some would see travelers or foreigners such as yourselves as money bags.

    As for the cuisine and I have read your other blog about it, yes, the standards were disappointing but if you must know, Filipino cuisine isn’t all about looking for a place to eat, having presentable meals or whether you can only spend less than 25$ or more, actually Filipinos LOVE (with capital letters) their fiestas(feasts)or any other grand occasion, and that’s where you’ll really experience Filipino cuisine and not just that but also true hospitality that when the host spots a passerby that seems interested in the event, they’ll, without a doubt invite you over for a meal even for free if they don’t know you. Food in fiestas are usually freshly butchered and prepared on the actually day of the event or at least the day before. Unfortunately enough, the food you encountered were just the “eat so you won’t get hungry” variety in karinderias. So the best way to experience Filipino food is to simply set aside your 25$ per person and meet an actual hospitable host and they’ll do the rest, basically noe spending a single dime! Though, I will admit that most food here are really prepared with too much of something be it grease or salt or whatever it is, that’s just how they are usually prepared.

    As for unsafe transportation that are clearly lacking equipment and being extremely packed with commuters, I’d put the blame on poverty once again as well as over population. You see, plenty of jeepney and tricycle owners/drivers barely have the capital to buy themselves their own vehicles so they have to loan and use a portion of their profits to pay repay the money so they tend to maximized the number of passengers to maximize their profits in one trip. And if you’re wondering why people sit on eachother’s laps(this is true for the children) this is so they won’t have to pay for the kid. Try to see it as a mom with her kid on her lap will be counted as only one passenger.

    Anyway, that’s all I’m gonna say here. Ended up typing more that I should but I had fun, nonetheless.

    I’m looking forward to your future posts, as I’m planning to travel soon and your blogs have been, so far, a great help to me in deciding where to go. :)

  • next time plan your travel , get in touch with travel agencies that will organize you visit.Obviously you haven’t seen the best yet of the Philippines. That’s the risk of just backpacking. You spent hundred of dollars for the the ticket why not invest on professional Travel Agencies specializing in Philippines Travel Destinations.Of course it would come with the price but the experience is worth it.

    • I don’t agree. I am a semi-backpacker myself and a traveller and I have never contacted a travel agency. Agnes and her partner’s mission is to travel without resorting to being tourist-y. That’s why even if she wrote some negative things about our country, I can’t blame her, it’s just a case of lack of research and wrong choices. Hopefully next time they’ll have a better experience.

  • Yes, the country is so poor so I guess tourists are the only one source of income for some locals.— wow your words, so depressing. i guess, we really are so poor. sorry for your bad experience.

  • Aloha! Hi, I’m from the Philippines. Thank you for your honest opinion about my country. Don’t worry I’m not gonna be a sourgrape about it. Just to let you know why things like that happened to you(and I’m sorry about it) is because it’s purely cultural. Yes, even the food. As you already know, the Philippine Archipelago is made up of 7,000 islands with about 170 languages which means, the Philippines itself, is a multicultural nation. I am from Angeles, Pampanga, which was known as the Philippine Culinary Heart of the Philippines, and so I know which Filipino food is actually good. To be honest, Filipino cuisine isn’t at all gourmet. We can try to make it that way, but it will lose its authenticity. But are palates are used to it and that’s why we say it’s the best. Now, just because you didn’t like does not mean it’s not. Probably from a tourists point of view, but then everything is entirely subjective. So it may be true to us, or to a few tourists, but may be not for you. Well, you are entitled to your opinion :) As a multicultural nation, our food differ in every region. To be honest, you did go to places where the landscape is breathtaking and the food is just a turnoff. Those places are never known for their food. I studied in Baguio(Also a part of CARegion just like Banaue) for college and our boarding house provides the food and yet I HATED THE FOOD! So I have a few tips for you if ever you find yourself in the Philippines again
    1. DON’T EAT IN CARINDERIAS(small “restaurants”)-you basically only ate in those kinds of places, yes they’re cheap, but that’s it, food is also cheap, diarrhea inducing and even gross. There are places that may be not as cheap but really good. Try Max’s, Mang Inasal,Chicboy. In my place for only $2.5, you can go to a full buffet restaurant. A good one!
    2. NATURE DOESN’T EQUATE TO FOOD- this is not always true. In the Philippines, the farther you go from the city, the further you go into bad food experience. Unless you find an expensive hotel. I live in a city surrounded by a desert and rice fields with basically no pretty sceneries, but we have really good food. So the lack of one is a plus for the other. Food and Scenery don’t ALWAYS go together.
    3. FILIPINOS ARE BUSINESS MINDED- yeah, that’s why asking to take a photo would cost you money. The same with food. Their main purpose is not to serve good food, it’s to gain profit out of people who can’t find another place to eat.
    So I hope you get to visit the Philippines again, but try to go to southern islands, like Cebu, Bohol or even Boracay and Palawan. Those are the real tourist spots where you might find good view and good food as well. Mahalo! :)

  • Hello! :)

    Your experience here was quite disappointing and saddening to hear :( I love the pictures though! I’m glad at least you appreciated some of the natural sceneries here in the Philippines.

    I would hope the next time you visit the Philippines, you get your money’s worth :)
    And I mean this: I’d be happy to show you around next time.

    Cheers!

  • We always have delicious food on the table. Various dishes are cooked differently depending to the location in the Philippines. Because of histroy, Pilipino learned different cuisine… if it happened that you tasted the awful food… I am absolutely sure that you bought a very cheap food… what would you expect for paying teh cheapest food in the area? LOL….

  • Filipinos are not the type who’ll give you wrong direction on purpose. They just can’t tell you exactly how far or near the place, because they don’t walk a lot. Also, they don’t know exactly how to express it in English. If they don’t know the place, they will tell you or maybe they don’t even know the direction, but they tried to help you anyway. If that’s how bad you judge people, it’s your personality anyway. If you can’t be friends with them, it is your choice then. About people asking for photos, I traveled around the country and meet foreigners along the way, but they never asked for money for taking a picture of them. They’re happy to pose or smile on your camera and will not ask anything in return. But in Banaue, yes, the Igorots will ask for money for taking a photo of them (most of them stationed at Banaue’s viewing deck). Also, in Banaue all hotels will charge you for wi-fi and charging of your gadgets, which I don’t like also (this is only in Banaue). With regards to Northern kids being obese, well I don’t agree with that. I grew up in the north but majority of us are not obese. In a class of 50 people, only 2-3 students are obese. And we are not vegetarian, you’ll be disappointed for sure if you’re a vegetarian.

  • Thank you for the honest review. Only a few people are actually asking for money in any way they can… It’s a practice in the provinces that are tourist destinations where a majority of the natives are poor. The food isn’t great in those said provinces either.

  • and btw, don’t eat in the small restaurants ( carenderias )… The food is cheap and not really good.. And honestly, I’m not sure if most of them are sanitary..@_@

  • Hi Agnes,

    It’s a shame that your first experience here in the Philippines wasn’t that good. But as i have read your blog about our country, there’s one thing that’s clear — you haven’t dug deep in your research. Why? You mentioned that you got your info from CNN’s list, that’s not even 100% accurate if you got it from someone not from our country. Second, you mentioned that your idea of the most popular dishes are the lechon, adobo, torta, balut, and longganisa. And I must be honest with you, aside from the adobo and balut, your idea is way off. It’s nowhere near the most famous foods we have. You didn’t even mention Sinigang

  • I’m no fan of Filipino food either, but I disagree with you on the hospitality part. I have rarely been given the cold shoulder or received arrogant service during my two visits to Philippines. Philippines isn’t over-rated. It’s still has the best best beaches in SE Asia compared to the over-commercialized spots in Thailand. Philippines is cheaper, and more over, I love the Filipino people. They are some of the friendliest people I have ever met!

    And I’m not sugar-coating Philippines in every possible way. I critiqued the things I did’t like here: http://mithunonthe.net/2011/12/04/philippines-2011-palawan-to-manila-greenhills-malate-makati-city-quezon-indian-opinion-about-philippines/ Still, the things I don’t like about Philippines won’t stop me from going back a third time!

  • Hi Agness! Well, you must have been receiving so much comments now, especially on the Id Rather Go Hungry post. You are a certified nomad and you know too well that its not the way to go to post sweeping, general statements. You should know by now that a very thick culture and nationalism blanket connects everyone Filipino. Hope you will take the time to learn or even just understand the country’s situation. That’s when you’ll fully understand how this country and its people and its food were built. I just hope your travel in the Philippines wasn’t as that traumatic as it seemed in posts.

    Hope you dont mind but the title of your post Id Rather Go Hungry was really bit inconsiderate once youd factor in the country’s poverty situation. Just imagine saying that to the Haiyan typhoon victims. They will swear to hate you for life. Haha. You can say what you say but people would appreciate a bit of sensitivity and respect, not just for the Philippines but as well as to the other countries. You are a traveller, the best group of people who have seen and known the world in a better light.

    Anyway, cheers to you and Cez’s adventures! Wish you all the best.

  • Are you sure that you ate Naan bread in the Philippines? Probably, it looks like Naan bread for you or that photo just got mixed up in here?

    I think, you’re pretty accurate with the other stuff posted here except for #3 Food. Obviously, you were unlucky in the places you’ve visited for food.

  • One more thing, Thank you for visiting our country and for planning to go back next time.

    Don’t hesitate to contact, we are still generally hospitable. Haha!

  • Hi there! I’ve read the post and I thank you for the honesty. It actually disturbed me since I’m a Filipino. about the payment for photos, that’s really disturbing since local tourist do not experience that. and for the hospitality, maybe you went to talk to the wrong people perhaps? Because in my experience traveling my own country, everyone seems to be nice to tourists, most especially the westerners. but I cannot say in general since it’s not a Philippine thing, it’s human nature. Survival of the fittest had been the rule for the locals, especially for the poor. as for the food, I do not think you did try our “local” cuisine. you should go for food like sinigang or kare-kare or sisig. Philippines has more to offer when it comes to food. you just might want to look at the right places though. youmentioned it in the first part of your blog entry, 7107 islands,and each of them has their own way of cooking things, especially fish and seafood.
    but over all I thank you for being honest without condescending. it’s a refreshing perspective on how we filipinos really treat foreign visitors. best regards! next time you visit here,try to visit pampanga, it’s our food capital :)

  • Since i can’t comment on your post on the street food side, i jsut wantto clear up a few things like, the longganiza you said, always remember “7-Eleven” does not sell longganiza’s since 7/11 is an american store. the phot you shared was misleading… infact as a filipino by myself most food up in the north aren’t fresh (but not all) especially when staying in manila, if you want fresh seafoods and fruits try visiing Iloilo with great fresh fruits and seafoods also with great beaches in Iloilo, most places in the visayas region are more likely to serve fresh foods. and also in mindanao… I live in Iloilo.. hit me up next time you come back here, imma tour you in Iloilo. oh and also, referring to the other post, u can’t get balot inside any restaurants… =)

  • Since i can’t comment on your post on the street food side, i just want to clear up a few things like, the longganiza you said, always remember “7-Eleven” does not sell longganiza’s since 7/11 is an american store. the phot you shared was misleading… infact as a filipino by myself most food up in the north aren’t fresh (but not all) especially when staying in manila, if you want fresh seafoods and fruits try visiing Iloilo with great fresh fruits and seafoods also with great beaches in Iloilo, most places in the visayas region are more likely to serve fresh foods. and also in mindanao… I live in Iloilo.. hit me up next time you come back here, imma tour you in Iloilo. oh and also, referring to the other post, u can’t get balot inside any restaurants… =)

  • It is common sense that when one travel CHEAP, and all they eat are “street foods” then you do not really think the experience will be wonderful, right?! Next trip to Philippines, try NOT to be CHEAP, so you can enjoy the many, tasty diversed Filipino cuisine! (and mind you, these kind of food are NOT street foods!) peace!

  • Before judging the whole Filipino community or Philippines, Have you been to those 7,107 islands you mentioned?! You’d rather die hungry than eat Filipino food?! Well, of course what do you expect for someone who earns only $25 a day, RIGHT?! For that budget, you will only visit places that’s within your budget so what do you expect from $25 a day?! a buffet of caviar?! If you are really a traveller then why don’t you research well before visiting a certain place or country so that you’ll not be disappointed and judge the entire country poorly. It’s not the filipinos fault that you didn’t do your research before traveling because if you did, you’d be amazed how great filipino cuisine is. Don’t expect people to believe all your stories. Seriously?!?! Will you all people believe these guys?! Will you all people believe someone who earns $25 a day for a living?! And claim themselves to be a great traveller?! I don’t think so. A great traveller is someone who explores the greatness of each culture and country and not the other way around. So here’s a piece of advice, why don’t both of you just settle in and go back to school, study and finish a degree or something so that later on you can understand and appreciate and most importantly, respect every culture. Stop using the popularity of filipinos online just to gain traffic on your blog site and earn money because somehow, you’re nothing different with those people who asked money just to take pictures. You also are darn materialistic!

    • Dear Noel,

      $25 budget seems to be insufficient, but based on our experience from different Asian countries, it’s all doable. We really enjoyed Thai, Khmer or Sri Lankan cuisine on the budget eating street food and dining out in local restaurants. We were expecting to experience the same in the Philippines.

    • Wow, these Filipinos and their comments, especially on the food. Next time, they should google ‘Filipino food sucks’ and they would find that actually a lot of foreigners don’t like their food (and I’m not talking about street food, but the famous ones in respected local restaurants). And they are wondering why Filipino restaurants are hard to find, even in countries with large Filipino communities ?

      How dare they blame your US$ 25 rule when you apply it even in more expensive countries ?

      Anyway, just to share my experience. I have been living in the Philippine for more than a year. The people are mostly friendly and nice. You’re just unlucky that you met some tricky people. They have some beautiful sceneries and touristic spots, but some are overrated ( I have been disappointed several times when I see the touristic destination, they were just ok or even ‘meh’, not as good as what the brochures say).
      As for the food, that is not the reason why foreigners return to this country.

  • Since you’re being honest and all, why don’t you tell all these people reading your blog what article from this blog site gained a lot of traffic?! Isn’t it this blog? This blog about the Philippines, right?! you kids also using the popularity and sensitivity of the filipinos online so that your blog site will be famous. For what?! to earn ads, to earn some darn money! So you see, you’re nothing different with how you described filipinos.

    • Dear Noel,

      We’re not seeking attention here. It’s all about sharing the good as well as the bad travel experience with our readers, friends and family. It has nothing to do with traffic. We value honesty.

  • Hi Agnes, I am a Filipino and I live in central Philippines… For us filipino Northern Philippines is the country’s Capital, the largest city and is a great place for business or job seeker, it is the most populated area in the Philippines so you cant expect for the best experience.. I may say if you are a traveler you must know which place is to visit in a certain country.. Most of the tourist destinations in the Philippines is in Central and Southern Philippines such as Boracay Island, Danjugan Island, Guimaras Island, Palawan Islands, Bohol, Davao, Cebu, Camiguin, Basilan and more beautiful places to visit that you will never regret. For sure you will enjoy the province life, Fresh air, captivating white beaches, stunning waterfalls, cheap but fresh and healthy foods from the farm as most of our livelihood is farming and fishing, good and friendly people who will never intend to give to wrong direction. I stayed in Northern Philippines for more than 3 years and I was also disappoint and shock.. But still Please dont generalize, maybe you just visited the wrong place. Hope you’ll comeback in philippines and visit central and southern part of our country, not all places in philippines are poor. In our place we maybe just a fisherman and a farmer but we never eat cheap and unhealthy, we eat fresh and healthy…. the food that you discuss was unfortunately being sold for those very poor people who cant afford to have good meal in a day, the children in northern philippines are overweight and I agree with that as most of the children are addicted with online games and without enough place to play and run with :p but still it depends on parenting, the children in the province are quite different anyway as they have different routine than the children in the city hahhaha..Please comeback and I hope by that day you’ll find the perfect place for your perfect vacation… :)

  • That lovely Filipina woman who hosted you in Banaue and that lovely woman who treated you with amazing street food, did they ask you money to pose for a picture with you?

  • #1 . STREET FOOD ISN’T AUTHENTIC CUISINE
    it is just some crap food fried with lots of oil
    if you want authentic filipino cooked food, spend more THAN YOUR $25 BUDGET by going to a restaurant or visit a filipino family who could make some for you

    #2 . YOU NEED TO HAVE A GUIDE
    a filipino friend can assist you by helping you go around especially with common sense and knowledge about the place and the language. plus, you could ask them to take pictures of you. however, you can’t expect that the guide will spend for himself. thats your job since you are taking his time.

    #3 . GETTING CONFUSED ABOUT DIRECTIONS? DOUBTING LOCALS?
    to prevent this and being duped by dodgy locals, bring a filipino friend around.

    #4 . YEAH LOCAL TRANSPORTATION SUCKS
    i know you complain about how hot and cramped it is. seriously, you should have done your research. airconditioned buses are available in most cities but not in Bohol because its a small island. the best way to go around in bohol would be to hire a van.

    #5 . NEXT TIME, HAVE A FRIEND SHOW YOU AROUND AND DON’T DIVE HEAD ON
    when you travel, you need to be prepared. do research about the culture, locals, food, hot spots, etc.

    #6 . IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A GREAT TIME, DON’T PENNY PINCH

    #7 . IF YOU WANT FRESH FRUITS, VISIT THE LOCAL MARKET

    #8 . I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THE NORTH AS A TOURIST DESTINATION. NEXT TIME, VISIT THE FAMOUS ONES AND STAY IN A RESOT OR HOTAL. I KNOW IT WOULD COST MORE, BUT YOU ARE GENERALLY PAYING FOR THE GOOD AND COMFY EXPERIENCE.

  • Hi Agnes. I am a Filipino. I heard your blog over a news report on tv this morning. At first, I was a bit disappointed and angry about the news and that prompted me to find your blog to get the real story.

    Honestly, after reading what you wrote, I realized that you were just narrating what you experienced and I fully agree on your assessments.

    Even me, I experienced some sort of what you experienced in my own country like asking directions, taking public utility vehicles among others. Its disgusting at times but it boils down to poverty and discipline to some of my Filipino brothers and sisters.

    So I dont understand why some Filipinos were bashing you. This is the truth.

    Salamat (Thank you)

  • Awww, I hope this experience hasn’t put you guys off from visiting the Philippines again. If you guys ever consider going back, it might be worthwhile having a Filipino friend who knows the country REALLY well so they can take you to the nicer places with nicer food. Also having a Filipino travel companion (preferably one who speaks the language) can kinda act as your security blanket hahaha. Sad reality is sometimes there are some locals who do want to rip off tourists so having a Filipino with you could help with that! I never travel to the Philippines without a relative who knows the country pretty well and I know if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have the best experience.

    Btw I’m Filipino as well and honestly, I’m not a huge fan of Filipino food. I probably only like it because my mum’s a good cook hahaha! Probably unlike many Asian countries, Filipino food shines the most from home cooking, not street food. Please visit again as you guys need to redeem your last trip to the country :P

  • Hi Agness & Cess,

    I enjoyed reading your blog entry about the Philippines. I am a Filipino and most of the things you mentioned are unfortunately true. However, I was just disappointed to hear that you did not enjoy our dishes.

    Filipino food are very tasty. Especially those cooked at home, probably you just tried the ones sold at “carinderias”. Because they like to earn more, they try to cut off on ingredients.

    How I wish you had a friend who could let you taste the TRUE FILIPINO DISHES. You should try Kare-Kare, Beef Caldereta & Sinigang. I hope you could give our food another chance :)

    Best Regards

  • I’ve heard that Filipino food is not the greatest… I’ve never really eaten a legit Filipino meal except for a couple of meals at my ex boyfriend’s who is Filipino. They also like to put a lot of salt! Glad to read a very honest and refreshing review, I’d go just for the beautiful landscapes and beaches.

  • Very honest and interesting post. I am American and have lived here for more than 5 years. Filipino food is terrible! There is a reason that you see Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, and other restaurants in the USA – because they taste good. Filipino food – almost all of which is consumed by the general population in the Philippines is awful! The only place you find Filipino restaurants in the USA is where there is a large population of Filipinos.

    Sugar & oil are the two main ingredients here (as I said – I live in the Philippines.) True statistics are unreliable in a poor country like this – but I would imagine that the diabetes rate is higher in the Philippine than it is in the USA.

    Keep writing honest posts!

  • Hello Agness!

    I agree with the part where there were many western food chains in manila. but based on what I learned in the Philippine history, because they were conquered for 333 years and colonized by the americans.(I study about the history of the country before I travel (: ) But when we were in the Philippines, we actually enjoyed the food with great quality and affordable price! Maybe you guys should roam around more to find the best food. You should visit their different provinces if you are looking for authentic Filipino food. usually in manila, authentic Filipino food is more expensive because of the ingredients ( i tried to cook them but I failed because it was really hard tho) You should visit the macapagal where they offer fresh sea foods! Thank you for being honest!! P.s Batanes was the best place !!

  • Hi Agness!

    I hope that you would visit our country again despite of what happened to you :( I was raised in the other country and at first, I was also disappointed with their food because all I see was jollibee haha but they have the best chicken and burger :-) But all I can say is, I swear we have the best food! Oh, and balot (sold by vendors) and other filipino foods are usually sold at night :) P.S actually there are more skinny people here in the Philippines than overweight ones.

  • Hello there, first of all I feel sorry for your bad experiences in the Philippines, and I can’t help myself from smiling while reading your blog because I’m really confused where’d you get all that kind of dishes (except for the street foods, I know they look unpleasant that I myself can’t dare to eat one of them). When we talk about filipino dishes of course Adobo is the famous one, haven’t you heard BULALO of Tagatay City where you can find the taal lake?, the LA PAZ BATCHOY of Iloilo City(famous for Dinagyang Festival) near the Boracay Beach?, CHICKEN INASAL, NAPOLEONES(dessert) of Bacolod City “the city smiles” famous for their MASSKARA FESTIVAL (which I recommend you to attend and it’s celebrated during the month of October)?, and a lot more.

    If ever you’ll get to visit back Philippines in the future, I hope you’ll have the real fun experiences, and it seems like you love foods please try those dishes I mentioned above. Also, you can beep me for a free tour/guide, I’d love to do that for you guys coz I myself is a traveller also :)

    Hope these will help too.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7A37oT-flg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ADNgEHFDYzo

  • Thanks for the warnings and especially to Calvin for the tips. No where is perfect. The locals anywhere never like to be reminded that there countrymen and women aren’t perfect either, even in the first world. Everywhere its not just people but corporations / companies etc who are on the take, so to speak. I know when you on a limited budget its difficult not to eke out your cash but you do have to keep good grace and count your blessings that your just passing through and share the love:) As we are about to go to the Philippines for a couple of weeks we will let you know if we do find good food, friendly people etc.

  • People – I took photos of the people and children, but none of them get angry. Filipinos really like to pose for camera for FREE, especially the young ones. They don’t do this for business, except for Igorots in Banaue in native costume who pose for camera with payment.

    For Taxi – If the taxi driver is giving you a fixed price, you have a choice to refuse a ride. There’s so many taxi around who will let you use the meter. So choose a taxi who will agree to use the meter. I gave them a tip after for their honesty.

    Giving Wrong Direction on Purpose – That is untrue. That’s not how they think. If the direction they gave you is incorrect, they did not do it on purpose just for you to take a taxi. They don’t give a damn if you will take a taxi or not. It’s just that they don’t know the place you’re asking and they just guess that it is located to somewhere they know (the direction they gave you).

    For the food – yes, we have our own liking to food. Some like it salty and fatty, while some preferred the uncooked veggies and fruits. It’s rare to find delicious meal for a cheap price. You can find a good meal at home cooked meal (depends if he/she is a good cook) or at a restaurant. When I travel, I spend somehow for food, to taste a good one.

  • Hello Agnes and…(scrolling up) Cez!!!

    Yeah, I think Philippines is a bit overrated when it comes to hospitality, but that’s just a part of the .02% people you have met. I am a Filipino and I find your blog very useful for travelers. But I am really sad that you were very unlucky to have these experience.

    Thanks!

  • definitely the experience in Philippines is accurate, but is even more inexpensive in mindanao island. in Philippines people think that white people are wealthy and try to overprice in almost everything. when I traveling to Philippines I try to stay away from white people (I’m brown) because everywhere they are the price is high in hotels, restaurants, entertainments etc.
    in manila, most tourist go to makati and the hotel minimum cost 40 dollars. I go to caloocan and I pay 3,500 pesos for a week, it’s like 10.50 dollars a day. the hotel have aircon, WIFI internet,cable TV, hot and could water, change the linen everyday and I can bring a guess with NO extra charge.

  • You guys were in the wrong place. If they asked for payment you should have refuse it. At some rural areas maybe they asked for money maybe they need money but Filipinos never care about taking photos, the truth we love ‘selfie’ and groupie. Food? Nobody introduce to you the Filipino culture then… Better try couchsurfing next time so you’ll know. Probably get some Ilocano, Bicolano or whatever tribe.

  • I can’t believe the locals asked you for money for taking pictures! Must be because you’re a foreigner, because this won’t really happen to local tourists. It’s not a common practice.

  • I admired your honesty on this blog but to dig it more further, most of here shows negatives which is inappropriate for the rest of the archipelago. You’ve never been down the country to summed up what the Philippines is. Focusing on one matter without comparison to the others which is more better is a thumbs down. Sorry!

    Your disappointment on local cuisines? You’ve never tried the rest of it. There’s so much to explore guys.

    Money in exchange of a photo and elders got angry? It happens in uncivilized places in the provinces but don’t taki it seriously coz 90% of it was a joke.

    Pointing you in a wrong direction? Approach politely like down to earth and explain you don’t have money to take the taxi so you won’t be lost. Don’t forget to say “please”. As Filipinos are respectful.

  • I am Polish just like you and travel to Philippines 3-4 times a year – I am shocked what you wrote and I could not agree with most of the statements. Authentic Filipino cuisine is not what you ate, and tourists are not the only income of this beautiful country. Filipino economy is booming: service, real estate and entertainment become fast growing sectors now. I assist foreigners and Chinese to invest in Philippines and with every visit I am amazed by the potential of this country. I like your blog yet I feel you did not grasp the real Philippines. Maybe consider another trip or trying home made Filipino food.

  • Hey Agnes, thanks for your information & I feel sorry for your bad experiences in the Philippines, i hope this will be a great experience for me, as i am planning to go Philippines in December. i read lots about it.

  • Excellent blog post! Yes, I couldn’t agree more and this is so very true! This is one reason why I am NOT proud being a Pinoy! I had a lot of bad experiences from the tricycle drivers as well, and some of them can be rude as well even if I have the money to pay them. And wow! I was shocked that some of the elder Pinoys that you have met before on your trip here doesn’t want to take photos with you or just them. I wish they should just refuse in a nice way if they don’t want to take a photo… Some Filipinos can be rude, especially those annoying celebrities as well, yeah. Most of the carenderia food is not good, and the only good thing about it is that it’s cheap, so it’s good to eat there if you want to save money. But the food from other countries are better and more healthier. The only thing I like in this country is the beautiful landscapes like Chocolate Hills and in Palawan or Baguio. It’s nice to see you sum of everything in your trip here since I like traveling too! I wish I could leave this country someday and travel the world as well on my own… :|

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