First off, I just want to give a big shout out to my great friend, Pamela Gurnamal, for allowing me to stay at her apartment. She showed me and told me about a majority of the experiences that will be featured in this post. So, salamat (thank you in Filipino), for the hospitality and great memories we created!
The Philippines. Wow. If you haven’t considered visiting this country or it’s not high on your list, I would highly reconsider that.
The Filipinos are extremely welcoming and they actually love tourists. It’s in their culture to greet newcomers with nothing but love and respect.
Pinoys want to show you their country without you having to worry about a thing.
I flew into Manila and stayed in a town called, Makati. Pamela stayed on Don Bosco Street and if you’re from Jersey, you know what’s good.
“DON BOSCO FO’ LIFE!”
That was the rallying cry for the entire 2 weeks in Makati.
Anyways, contrary to what people told me about Filipino food, I thought it was great. Everywhere. From the street food spring rolls that were 20 pesos (42 cents) to the tasty chicken from Malou’s Inasal.
Inasal is a type of food chain in Manila that serves Filipino barbecue.
There is only one Malou’s.
I’m not sure if Malou’s marinates their food differently or alters their ingredients but whatever it is. It’s amazing.
One aspect of the Filipino culture I noticed to be different from mine was that they use a fork and spoon when eating.
No knives. I mean, obviously, if you want a knife, you can have one. But hey, live a little and use a spoon.
There are a bunch of different types of beer you can drink but the big two ones are, San Miguel and Red Horse.
Personally, I’m a Red Horse kinda guy. It’s one of the best beers I’ve had. Its 7% alcohol content and truth be told, some restaurants don’t serve it.
Certain restaurants don’t serve it because you get intoxicated, quickly. The restaurants believe they are losing money because people are buying five Red Horse’s and not nine San Miguel’s.
Some of the places I went to for a drink with my friends were at Kite, Le Café Curieux, and The Bar @ 1951.
If you’re looking for the perfect pregame with your friends before you hit the dance floor, Kite is the spot.
It had a real Manhattan sort of feeling to it. Manhattan? Yes. Manhattan. Of course there is only one Manhattan but hear me out.
No tall skyscrapers or yellow taxi’s flying around.
But outside, the positioned tables were adjacent to tiny streets with uneven pavement and all other sorts of chaos going on around it.
The type of chaos that sets the perfect background noise and makes your conversations that much better. Just a tiny detail I noticed.
Prices aren’t expensive and it’s perfect for low budget travellers. Also, the food is great and the atmosphere is nothing but good vibes.
Not to mention, the owner, Kian Kazami, was one of the realest dudes I’ve had the honor of meeting. Shout out to, Kian, for the genuine hospitality.
The Bar @ 1951 was a more upscale joint with a sweet rooftop bar overlooking the street. Great view for people watching and to catch a sweet breeze, an item I definitely consider a luxury in Asia.
Drinks were pricey so if you have the budget or just want to pamper yourself one night, look no further.
There are over 7,000 islands in the Philippines and unfortunately I couldn’t hit all of them in 2 weeks. However, I did manage to get to an island called, Mindoro.
Pamela told me about a music festival that only happens once a year.
I’ve never heard of it before but all I heard from Pamela was, “once a year”.
Rule #37 of travelling. When there is a festival or a cultural event that only happens once a year and you happen to be there.
You do everything in your power to get there. #DontBeARookieTraveller
I had to take an Uber, bus, ferry and tricycle to get there.
Before all of that though, I went to my friend, Manuel’s apartment.
We took an Uber to the bus terminal. Then from the bus terminal, a nice 2-hour scenic ride to Batangas Pier, which cost 177 pesos ($3.80 USD).
From Batangas Pier to Puerto Galera was another 2 hours. On paper it costs 500 pesos ($10.75 USD) but you can barter the price down, we got it for 375 pesos ($8.00) round trip.
Once you step off the bus at Batangas. Be prepared for an onslaught of locals trying to get you to buy a ticket through their company. It was pretty wild.
At this point I still didn’t know where I was going to stay. But I had the whole night to figure it out.
I met these Dutch guys and they had no idea either. So, I split off with Manuel because he already had his accommodation figured out, so it just made sense.
After a scenic boat ride to Puerto Galera, we (3 Dutch dudes and I) took tricycles to Malasimbo, which cost us about 200 pesos ($4.31 USD).
So, for allllll of my transportation to get there, it only cost me, $15.00 USD. Not bad.
The second we got to Malasimbo, we saw an amazing post sunset. Like, when the sky turns pink and red after the sun dips below the horizon.
Malasimbo was a great experience. But to be honest, it was an okay festival.
Don’t get me wrong, of course I was happy to be there and be a part of it. But the logistics of it were not well thought out.
It took the crew, minimum forty-five minutes to set up in between each set. It was honestly exhausting just sitting and waiting, especially since the mosquitos were assaulting you.
After Malasimbo ended around 4 in the morning, we still didn’t know where we were staying. Honestly, I still wasn’t even worried about it.
I ended up talking to this girl about an after party at the beach and again, I split off from the Dutch guys.
I went to the beach with 5 people I had never met before and before the sun even rose, it felt like I knew them my whole life.
It was $60 for the day and to be honest I had no problem with that. For an event that only happens once a year, I was cool with it.
This isn’t everyone I met but all really good people. Shout out to Mel, Lexi, Tanya, Sophie and everyone else I made awesome memories with.
Oh! Real quick.
Check out my homegirls blog called, Tanya’s Taste. Learn how to cook some awesome dishes and tips to improve your every day life.
After Malasimbo, my next mini adventure was to Daranak Falls in Tanay. It was about 90 minutes away from Makati but with a little research and patience, it was easy to get to.
This trip required a jeepney, train and a tricycle. Really cheap, I’d say round trip everything cost $9.00 USD, if that.
That was my tricycle driver; he was soft spoken and appreciated life. Our conversations were short but meaningful.
Once I got to Daranak Falls it was 20 pesos (.43 cents USD) for the entry fee and it was amazing.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t jump from the top of the falls but the water temperature was insanely perfect. Everyone was so friendly too. Filipino or not. I guess waterfalls just bring the best out of people. How can they not?
I was eating grapes on the side of the water and saw this guy looking at me so I used international sign language to see if he wanted a grape.
Within five minutes, I was throwing grapes to everyone around the water. It was hilarious.
Later on in the day though, I was exploring and ran into the guy I threw grapes to.
He invited me to eat and drink with his family. It was an incredible experience. We were eating Filipino mangos, fish and drinking a popular Filipino beverage, Lambanog.
Just an overall, great experience.
Unfortunately, I didn’t budget my time wisely enough to get to the islands like Boracay, Palawan or Coron.
Don’t budget too much time in Manila, honestly, try to get out of the hustle and bustle of Manila as fast as you can. Get to the islands!
I never really do any research before I go places and in the Philippines, it definitely came back to bite me. But an amazing experience with new friends and memories were created.
Life is really just what you make of it.
However, next time I go back to the Philippines, which will definitely be sometime soon, I’m going straight to the islands.
Have more questions about the Philippines? Hit me up! BTDT2016@gmail.com
As always, thank you for taking your time and reading about my experiences.