5 Things I like about the Philippines

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ September 16th, 2010. Updated on September 22nd, 2014. Published in: Travel blog » How to live overseas » Philippines.

Things I like about The Philippines

 As a follow up to my previous article about 5 things not to like about the Philippines, this one is written with a lot less annoyance. It’s easier to write about things you don’t like than the things you do, at least in detail, for me.

What’s more, most of my journals have regarded the Philippines in a very positive light, hence I feel like I am repeating myself a little bit here. But, for those just coming on board my journey, here are a few things I like about the Philippines. From a non-touristy perspective.

Lumpiang Chinese spring rolls from the Philippines

Lumpiang chicken rolls with calamansi

5. Things I like about the Philippines – The Food:

Have a look at my Food from The Philippines series as an example!

From reading my food from the Philippines posts you should get the idea I like the food here. And, I do. Yes, there’s an over reliance on rice, but that’s the culture.

Yes, many people outside of the Philippines do not like it. It’s not fancy food, and the variety is quite limited for the average tourist. But all you have to do is dig a little deeper …

What I enjoy most are those great barbeques, roasting manok, fresh squid, and heaps of Adobo. It’s just plain tasty food. Nothing to make world headlines over, but then again, that’s a good thing.

Like meat, go to the Philippines

4. Things I like about the Philippines – It’s off the beaten path:

Yes, there are no massive tour groups to be found here! No waiting in lines to see temples, and very few people are tired of seeing you either. It’s in South East Asia, but it takes a flight or a precarious ferry from Borneo to get here. Then, once you do, there’s another flight/ferry or 3, just to get around. It’s not the easiest, so it’s not the 1st choice for the mass of SEA travellers to come and visit.

Empty beach in The Philippines

Looking for an island holiday – Go to the Philippines

And that, alone, makes it an absolute must to visit! Untapped bliss.

Like to get away from grand central tourism, go to The Philippines

3. Things I like about the Philippines – It’s got a touch of the west:

This might be controversial. But for me, on my search, The Philippines has offered something unique that few other places have. The vast majority of the population speak English, so it’s easy to converse and get around.

A lot of the towns / shops / recreation is set up with a U.S.A. style touch. While most people try to escape this, in my travels here it’s made things a little easier. Everything is still very Filipino, but get around with with relative ease and little confusion, linguistically at least.

I hope it goes no further than it is at the moment though.

If you speak English, traveling to the Philippines opens up a realm of independent discovery

2. Things I like about the Philippines – Diversity of the Environment

Tarsier in a ray of light

The endangered Tarsier

From breathtaking views high atop Banaue’s rice terraces to going deep into the earth in Sagada’s mesmerizing caves or hanging coffins. Swim with Whale Sharks, visit the mermaid like Dugongs, watch dolphin’s jump, marvel at the rare endangered tarsier and try to find the worlds largest flower the rafflesia. Coral reefs and surf few people can find elsewhere. Swamps, rainforests, and marsh lands galore.

A lot of these areas are under threat. But, they are still there. Hopefully, someone will see the value in eco-tourism here, and do something about this the right way; and not just for personal profit.

There are very, very, few places on the planet that have this much to offer. What’s more, it’s all relatively untouched by giant tour operators and such places are bereft of giant groups of tourists.

“If you want to see nature like they show on the Discovery channel, go to the Philippines.”

1.Things I like about the Philippines –The People, the financially poor people, the way of life, it’s not developed nor undeveloped.

Yes, this was a hard one to nail down for me. It is also, perhaps, not what I was expecting here. At first the clichéd saying of the people made first place place … nearly.

The Pinoy

The Philippine people (Pinoy) are some of the friendliest you will find. Even in Manila!Shysmiles will greet you everywhere. There’s nothing loud (singing not included), crass or brash about the people here. People will help you if you are lost, tell you an honest price, and welcome you in with open arms. But, there is a divide.

Photograph of Miss Camiguin Island

The cliche of the people make the difference is true … but will it last?

Those that spoil The Philippines are the rich

Rich, arrogant, obnoxious, fat, are all words that come to mind when I think of financially rich, wealthy Filipinos. I don’t actually think I’ve met one I liked.

When money comes to the Pinoy it goes to the head, ego, and enlarges the stomach to pregnancy sized proportions. The children then morph into rotund rude little marshmallow people.

The best people in the Philippines are the poor people

Humble, polite, honest and genuine. These are the people you will meet if you ever come off the tourist trail here. These are the people you will meet high up tending to crumbling rice terraces in the north. These are the people you will meet fishing out from a row of stilt houses in the south.

These are the nicest most friendly people I have met in The Philippines. These are the people that equally look upon what is happening to their country; and look away in tearful, near shameful despair.

And, so, sadly, I strike both sets of people off my list of the best things to like about the Philippines.


The rich often class themselves as “poor” here, and I don’t want them to think for a moment they are not to blame. Because they are.

A way of life

So the best thing I like about the Philippines comes down to diversity in the way of life here. You can live here in a big city and eat imported cheese, or you can go to the mountains and live on plain rice.

Where and what you do is up to you. But the point is the Philippines is that rarity of places whereby you can do just those things without anyone caring very much about it. Nor, interfering with your life.

In this day and age, this is a hard thing to find.

A mini list of things to like in The Philippines:

  • Honesty – I’ve rarely been cheated here in day to day life – buy a house and that’s another story (no I haven’t)
  • Yes sir, no sir – Here, sir, miss, or madam is used everyday. Malls, and jollibee aside, it’s one of the few countries that uses the term in everyday life, frequently and with a touch of respect
  • Laundry – your clothes come back smelling very sweet in this country
  • Every now and then, someone will jump up to help you, for no other reason, than it’s a nice thing to do
  • Cleanliness – Filipinos are very, clean people when it comes to personal hygiene and clothes.  The streets are also surprisingly clean (telephone & electricity wires not included)
  • Hard working people – Never mind the man sleeping on his bicycle. He’s probably been working all night on one plate of rice. Generally speaking, Filipino’s are very hard working. Just look at all the Overseas Worker’s as an example. In my travels I’ve not come across too many people that can work as hard as a Pinoy

No more lists

So there, my list of the things I like best about the Philippines. It’s not a tourist list of high spots or places to go.

It’s just like anyone who’s been to a place they really like and stays a while. You soon lose interest in old tales of this highlight, this place, that place, or that great dive spot. Instead you start to think of the place from your own perspective on life.

It can happen anywhere

My perspective on travel through this journey is a little different to most. Hence, this is an alternative list of things to like about the Philippines for sure.

But, I am also sure there are people out there who will pick up a few things from this list they can relate to about their own favourite place in the world?

Hotel search at the Longest Way Home

Planning on booking a hotel room in The Philippines?

Here are the best online rates guaranteed!

I recommend you try my own hotel search for The Philippines.


Coming Soon:

Feature article …


The Philippines vs East Asia … where did it go so wrong

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26 Great responses to 5 Things I like about the Philippines

  1. Rose says:

    I have been waiting for this all week! And, you nearly had me fall of my chair laughing about marshmallow kids.
    A very true and honest list. It sticks in my memory

  2. Renny says:

    A good list for people wanting to move to the Philippines and know what it’s really like.

  3. lyn says:

    what–jeepneys didnt make the cut?! ;)

    excellent write up! i enjoyed this thoroughly and appreciate how you thoughtfully brought up your atypical high(and low)lights of the country with a traveler-turned-local’s perspective! you write w/ sincere fondness but also w/ a warning. it’s very nice to read a non-filipino’s honest/unfiltered opinions about a country so beautifully complex yet regretably still largely ignored! thanks!

  4. ciki says:

    ah! great post dave.. i see you balanced the bad with the good. err, “Rich, arrogant, obnoxious, fat, are all words that come to mind when I think of financially rich, wealthy Filipinos..” why fat? LOL, aren’t there rich nasty skinny people.. guffawwww! u r funny:P

    Anyway, I love gr8 food and I love under-developed countries too.. life is simpler, and wants and dislikes more straight forward. people worry about what they will have to eat each day rather than which highway they are gonna build to scam people into paying more taxes!
    Love this post ! clap clap, bow bow.. ;)

    • Thank’s ciki! At least I achieved some balance here. Problems start when it’s all one sided.

      Rich nasty skinny people? Actually I have a hard time of thinking of any here?! Some of the rich kid college types that have had their education overseas and come back may just fall into that category. Give them time though, they will expand their waistlines.

      Thanks for the nice comment!

  5. Michael says:

    I lived in the Philippines (Manila/Makati) for more than 2 years (1981-83) and been married to a Filipina (best thing I did by the way) for the last 27 years. Totally agree about their cleanliness and that people are really nice. One thing I really liked was I was the tallest man around and constantly asked if I was a basketball player. Never happens to me in Germany ;-) What I didn’t like (at that time anyway) was Manila/Makati looked like a rundown American town, Detroit in the oven. I haven’t been back for a long time and heard there are bigger and newer malls now.

    • Ha ha, yes being tall here is not too hard!

      Sadly Manila has not changed too much. Yes, there are new malls. Giant cities onto themselves, laws included. Not really my type of place. Manila’s new airport or is that 3, doesn’t help either. It’s still a concrete rundown jungle with nothing much to do for a tourist used to SEA.

      That said, I actually like Manila for it’s dirt, crowds, and general underbelly feeling. But, that’s just me :) Wouldn’t want to live there on a limited income though!

  6. Milt says:

    Wow, I totally relate to alot of this. I’ve only been here a couple of days and I have especially noticed the pregnent style porkers. How do they bloat out like that on a rice diet ?
    And the english speaking I’m not sure about, yes of course communication is easy and it makes getting around easy BUT I would also argue at the same time that because so many confidently speak english it means anyone can be a torist tout. I was overwhelmed by the guys wanting to “help” at the ferry piers, and bus stations. I have already adopted a very short tolerance for the tricycle guys. Sketcky Wi-fi connections is the cherry on the cake for me. But I will find the good, just seem to be noticing all the bad at the moment.

    • Some good points there. WIFI in the Philippines (hotels) has collapsed in the last year. I don’t know why. I do now that the internet providers have started to lease out their broadband, and so the service has suffered. In The Philippines, there may be a router(wifi signal), but no one’s home (connection).

      Valid point about the touts. That said, I think you get them in many other countries too. There’s still a misconception over here that every foreigner is VERY rich, and doesn’t mind paying anything for anything. Doesn’t help that this is also the mentality of many rich Filipinos too!

      Yep, pregnant looking people with huge bellies really does exist over here. I often wonder what’s inside? Gas, fat, enlarged intestine? I have been cheeky enough to ask. The results were not good :)

      Hope you find the good spots in The Philippines. Best advice I can give is, don’t expect it to be like the rest of SEA!

  7. darius says:

    its good to hear a balanced opinion. i agree. the bad side always gets to be on the limelight. and the good side …well gets to be sidelined

  8. Earl says:

    Good to see all of these positives and hopefully the frustration from the negatives didn’t linger too long. I’ve yet to make it out there but those are all solid reasons for me to go…

    And it’s interesting to compare the stigma associated with poorer people in somewhat developing countries with the reality. Time and time again they prove to be the best ambassadors of their countries, offering a friendliness and hospitality that is hard to find among the wealthier classes.

  9. Chichi says:

    What an honest, unbiased post. You’ve managed to show what the Philippines is like…good and bad. Yes, there’s more to the Philippines than “Rich, arrogant, obnoxious, fat, are all words that come to mind when I think of financially rich, wealthy Filipinos..” and corrupt government officials… but we still have our work cut out for us.
    Thanks Dave.

    • Thanks for the comment. Yes, there’s a lot of work to be done. But, hopefully at some stage people will see where the problems really are, and address them correctly! So, yes. A lot of work!

  10. Marco says:

    im glad u liked the PHILIPPINES!

  11. iya says:

    ive only started reading your blog. man, do i envy you. im a tourism major here in manila, so to speak, traveling is life for me but i haven’t got the chance and much money to go on traveling to far off places. i like your blog anyway.:)) though i wonder, how can you sustain your travels? i mean, you’ve got to be so rich!

    • Hello and welcome. No I am not rich! I think at the moment the average 200 peso a day salary person in the Philippines earns more me. But, I understand your point. Please read my about page for more info, and believe me when I say I worked and sacrificed to get where I am.

      About the Longest Way Home

      Meanwhile good luck with your tourism career in The Philippines, the country certainly needs fresh minds with old school values in this sector.

  12. Kendo says:

    1. The freedom. Officialdom is more distant here. I don’t feel apart from the mega surveillance system now operated by TPTB in all western countries. This alone is good enough reason to escape here.
    2. English language is widely spoken.
    3. Low local wage costs mean that it is possible to make a fresh start here without being rich.
    4. The honesty, warmth and smiles I get everday from strangers and familiar locals alike. (inlcuding the saucy one’s from the masses of schoolgirls – oh the shame).
    5. The geogrphics and climate of the country itself.


  13. Den says:

    Good job ,very balance, I like your what I ve read and hopefully some pinoys will open their eyes for a change

  14. jill says:

    i just read your list of things you don’t like about the philippines. i’m glad there are still a few things you like about my home country! :)

  15. Vicky says:

    Interesting to read this after reading your list of things you don’t like about the Philippines. During my 2 year backpacking trip I am definitely planning on spending 3 weeks in the Philippines (I know, not enough time to really see anything) and am looking forward to the lack of mass tourists/backpackers.

  16. Vassilis says:

    I don’t like at all the “3. It’s got a touch of the west”! This is not what I wanted to see when I was there, and this is not something that filipinos should be proud of. In fact, they should be ashamed. Every nation should cherish their culture, their tradition, their language, this is what makes people from one region of the world different from other people elsewhere, and this is so wonderful on this planet. Every local culture goes back hundreds or thousands of years ago, but filipinos prefered to forget it and copy the way of life of USA. And it’s a bad copy, IMO, it’s mostly based on western Consumerism (malls, fast food, cars, TVs, etc) than -for example- organizing and planning the State, etc.