One month in the Philippines...advice?

This January, I will be taking a break from the winter doom and gloom to spend a month in the sunny Philippines (I feel so jet-set these days!) I will be flying in and out of Manila and will be there for exactly a month. Part of it will be spent relaxing with good friends. It’s been a tough semester and I’m really looking to some down time in the sunshine. But I’m sure at some point I’ll get restless and want to go out exploring. Obviously I’m going to stay away from any sketchy areas.

Any advice? Places I just have to go? Food that I just have to eat? I’m not afraid of doing some hard travel. I grew up around a lot of Filipinos, but other than that I’m not really too familiar with the Philippines. Any good books or websites that I should read to get more out of this adventure?

Try not to spend too much time in Manila, and when you are in Manila pick a hotel that is near what you want to do and see. Traffic is horrendous in Manila and you can easily spend half your day in a car if you have to get across town. When I worked there, one out of office meeting a day was about all you could expect to get done. The country-side is lovely.

Don’t marry anybody. ~10% of the GNP is money sent from family members overseas. They joke about their #1 export being Filipino brides.

One of the most disgusting foods in the world (as measured by being tops on various lists) is the Filipino delicacy “balut.” You can find pics online, but essentially it’s a hard boiled egg with a chicken embryo in it. Other typical Filipino foods that would be unusual for Westerners would be pig blood (sorry, I don’t know the name) and dog.

I work in Daly City, CA. Just south of San Francisco. Officially, it’s 35% Philippino, but I bet it’s closer to 60%.

All of my coworkers are Philippino. I have been told by more that one that Balut will make you (if you’re male) some kind of monster in the sack. The quote from my friend Erwin was something like, “Eat four balut, you will come 1000 times!”

Make of that what you will. He promised to bring me some, but I had to be honest, and tell him that I thought it was the worst-sounding food I could imagine.


It’s quite yummy actually, but westerners freak out whenever something cute is on their plate.

Damn! That was part of my plan. I’ve seen some H-O-T Filipino guys.

I get my share of pig’s blood and dog here in China, but I’ll have to check out balut. I wonder if it has that effect on women- hopefully I’ll have found my hot Filipino finance by then!

Wow, we have very different ideas of cute.

One month gives you lots of options to do and see lots of things!

Will you be staying in a hotel or holiday type let condo (which can work out better value and lets you do your own thing)? I am not one for long term holiday stays. ( In fact I think I have one of my own condos available in January !!)

Makati is a good bet to stay as its the central business section and close to excellent malls and the beautiful Greenbelt area with all its quality eateries.

You will want to get out of town sometime and there are world class beaches on Boracay Island which is less than 35 mins from Manila by small jet for about 100 - 150 USD return. (possibly a lot lot cheaper if you can book early ! I managed a return flight for $10 in summer! Once there its like holidaying on the Discovery Channel!

If Manila gets too busy for you and you want aquick escape you can drive an hour out of town south to Tagaytay, an extinct volcano with lake. Its high up and always 10 degrees cooler than Manila.

Manila is one place for where you don’t need to pack much at all to travel. Its always warm/hot and its best to buy clothes here they are so cheap. So save on humping bags around airports.

Donàt worry too much about “sketchy areas” you can find some gems in also in places like Malate such as “The Hobbit House” excellent cheap bar food and all the best acoustic musicians in the country will turn up there. I believe its part owned by Freddie Aguilera the top Pinoy folk singer. The name of the establishment may give a hint about the staff.

Anyway if you want to PM me I will give you any details or information I am able.

I am going back to Manila next week on rotation for three weeks returning here to Italia Jan 7th.

Could maybe meet up for a San Mig! Oh by the way the Balut is actually fertised duck embryo not chicken. You can buy them at 7 days old 12 days old or 21 days old ( at which stage they are practically kicking their way out of the shell!

Good advice, thanks!

In Manila, I’ll be staying at a friend’s house- A Filipino-American friend who I work with here in China. I’m not sure where it is, but it should be pretty nice. We’ll have a big group of people and it’s just going to be a big tropical house party for a week or two. Once I’m out of Manila, I’ll probably be looking at youth hostels and cheap transport. I’m still a Peace Corps Volunteer, so I have to stick to a budget. Beaches sound nice! I can’t wait!

Well am sure you will be well looked after and have a brilliant time!

Hope you enjoy it! And do try to get to Boracay!

Balut isn’t that bad, it tastes like hardboiled egg and duck - cause thats what it is, its just packaged a little differently. I would not go out of my way to eat it, it is rather bland. When I was there I ate it partly because the other Canadians I was with were making such a big deal out of it. People are such squeamish sissies when it comes to food.

Kinilaw on the other hand is delicious. Basically it is seafood marinated in vinegar and citrus (Calimansi) juice, along with ginger, onion and other garnishes. It varies a lot with location and season and certain areas are known for their special version. I pretty much had it as an appetizer with most meals, and the Phillipinos I met took it as part of any good meal.

There seemed to be a lot of tasty barbecued meat on a stick type food available in bars / restaurants and street venders. The Phillipinos I was with didnt seem to think street venders were always a wise choice.

Calimansi juice is a nice refreshing drink on a hot day.