In this section Know You World, bloggers from different parts of the world discuss the culture and uniqueness of their own countries.
This week I am featuring the beautiful and varied country of the Philippines. Grace from Pinay on the Move accepted to answer my questions. And you know what. She did a great job!!!!
Read ahead and learn new things about this awesome country.
1. From what part of the country are you? Describe briefly your hometown. Where are you currently living?
I am from the Metro Manila which is the capital of the Philippines. Yes, I grew up in the city but I was fortunate enough to spend my summers at my grandfather’s “calamansi” (it’s a type of local citrus) farm. It was in a small town 4 hours north of the city called Talavera. This is was the place where my mom grew up and close by is Cabanatuan City where my father was raised. I had a great time exploring that fruit farm when I was a kid. My favorite thing was to catch dragonflies around my grandmother’s garden. Looking back, I think this helps me to realize that there was much more out there than the cushy comforts of a city home. There was an adventure!
Right now, I am living and working in San Diego. I just moved here from LA where I was living for almost 4 years. Before that, I had a short stint in Michigan where I couldn’t stand the winter. A lot of people think I was born and raised in the US because I can speak good English. But really, I am as fresh off the boat as a Filipina in America can be.
2. Design a one-day itinerary for somebody visiting your hometown.
Wow, one-day is not enough mainly because of traffic. I hate to break this to you guys but it’s worse than LA. In any case, I would highly recommend doing a walking tour of “Old Manila” where you can see the most historic parts of the town. It’s an adventure full of culture. You will see churches, temples, wet markets, historic homes, traditional shops, city walls, alleys, esteros, and graveyards.
Carlos Celdran of Walk this Way is one of the more popular guides not just because he is entertaining but I hear he knows a lot about the history of the place.
Walking tours usually last half a day so after this. I suggest heading over to Ongpin our very own Chinatown for some good chow. Don’t ignore the various local street food along the way. They’re scrumptious.
3. What parts of the country have you visited?
The country is an archipelago composed of 7,100+ islands which makes it hard to go around. I’ve been to three of the major islands (Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao) but I still have a lot more to visit. Notable places that I have been to are Cebu, Palawan, Siargao, Benget/Mountain Province, Bohol, Bicol, and Ilocos.
4. Your country is known for _____.
Unfortunately, I mostly hear people associate the Philippines with people like Manny Pacquiao and the Marcos’ (especially Imelda and her shoe collection). However, the more experienced travelers know that the Philippines is home to pristine beaches, world-class diving sites, great food and the friendliest people on earth.
5. What type of food is typical to your country? Are any special dishes prepared for a specific season or festivity?
I think most of our cuisine is a mixture of Spanish and Chinese dishes that we have adapted to make it our own. The most famous one is the adobo. Which is basically made of pork or chicken in a yummy concoction of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and whole peppers. Another special type of food is the lechon or roast pork. This is served during festivals or special occasions like weddings or birthdays. It’s a little similar to what they have in Hawaii except that I think it’s a lot more succulent.
6. How would you describe the family ties in your country?
Family is number one aside from God. We would do anything for our family! You will find everyone still lives together in one home. I was actually living with my parents until I was 26 after which I left for what was supposed to be a 2-week vacation in the US and never went back. The only time children move out of the home is when they get married or for work. We also hold our elders in high regard and take care of our old -the concept of a nursing home is unknown to us.
7. What holidays are celebrated?
A LOT. Most are religious holidays and fiestas.
8. Any cultural practice/curiosity we should know about? We do not want to offend anybody if we visit.
Filipinos are religious (mostly Catholic) and for the most part still conservative. I suggest that you wear proper attire- nothing skimpy or too revealing. Also, stay away from any discussion on religion or take care not to say anything offensive about Christianity. Other than that we are very easy going, warm and hospitable bunch. Most will welcome you into their homes like family.
9. What off the beaten path place or activity can you recommend?
Island hopping! We have 7,100 plus remember which means there are a lot of secluded beaches to discover. Some don’t even have electricity or a proper resort so you can camp under the stars.
10. Leaving aside cultural activities and sightseeing, where we can go to have pure fun?
Filipinos know how to party! You will find bars and “beer gardens” anywhere. Makati is one spot in Metro Manila that has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment. Filipinos also love to sing and we have taken the art of karaoke to the next level. Visiting one is a must. I recommend Magnet on High Street at Bonifacio Global City if you want a live band as back up!
11. Cheapest way to have a good time or learn something?
As I write this, the exchange rate is 1 USD to 43 PHP (Philippine Peso). For $20, you and your friends can have a good time any time anywhere.
12. In your opinion, what is a good way to experience the true soul of the country (or have an authentic experience)?
The streets- you have to walk the streets to feel the soul of the country. You have to immerse yourself by doing what the locals do and engage with them. Approach things without judgment. Learn to savor and appreciate.
13. What makes your country and people unique?
We are unlike any Asian country because we are a melting pot of different cultures. I am tempted to write down an analogy but it wouldn’t be fair to compare our culture to any other. Admittedly, there is significant Spanish and Chinese influence but it is still uniquely Filipino. The best thing to do is to visit the Philippines and find out for your self =)
14. Anything else you want to add about your country?
I think that a lot of travelers skip the Philippines when they tour Southeast Asia. Big mistake. You are missing a lot when you do that. Also, please know that a lot of Filipinos know how to speak English. We were for a brief period colonized by North America which is why English is a predominant second language for most of us. I get annoyed when people ask me how I can speak good English. I think in this global society it is not uncommon for people to speak more than one language fluently.
15. How we can learn more about you and your country?
You can start learning more about the Philippine by watching this short video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FsBvXh3m2A
As for me? When I’m not blogging I work as a corporate recruiter for an e-commerce company in San Diego. I’m also a serial hobbyist- meaning I collect hobbies. I’d like to think of myself as a modern renaissance woman.
By the way, I’m just on my third month of blogging at Pinay on the move and I do plan to write more posts showcasing my culture. A more recent one is about Filipino names which you can read here. I’m also celebrating my sixth year here in the US so I launched a series of posts that would reveal a little more about me in May.
Thanks, Grace for sharing with us so much of your country. Personally, I learned a lot reading your interview. Hope other readers find it interesting and educative too.
You can share more about the Philippines in the comments section below.