I HEART PH: Philipp Dukatz, Germany

I Heart PH Last year I quit my job to fulfil my dream and travel all across South East Asia. It was the greatest adventure and I ended up traveling for a whole year, visiting every country of the region. Whereas every destination had its unique charm and character, I can say that I truly lost my heart in the Philippines. You wonder why? Because it was the country where I made new friends, the country of many adventures and the country with the friendliest people I have met. I liked it so much that I ended up staying for three whole months, the longest time I spent in any of the countries I visited.

I came to the Philippines with fairly high expectations as I had heard a lot of good things about the country, some of them even sounding even too good. I couldn’t get these stories of a mostly untouched, exotic island paradise out of my head and so I decided to go there and see for myself. High expectations however can be a tricky thing as the chances of being disappointed will be just as high. But in case of the Philippines, all of the expectations, all of the anticipation was more than justified.

Say Hello to Adventure

Cliff Diving in Siquijor
Cliff Diving in Siquijor

The Republic of The Philippines, as the country is officially known as, consists of 7,107 islands which are mostly covered by rainforest and volcanic in origin. This and its remarkably long coastline, considered to be the 5th longest in the world, make for an abundance of outdoor activities and adventures. No matter what you are after or what your idea of a perfect holiday is, The Philippines will probably have it. It features some of Asia’s best dive spots, you can climb a number of volcanoes and mountains, you can relax at the most pristine beaches and do nothing, you can surf some insane breaks or you can go exploring by motorbike. The opportunities are endless and the good thing is that it is still pretty affordable and not as touristy as for example Thailand.

 

Local Life and Filipino Hospitality

Newly made friends. The locals at Gubat, Sorsogon
Newly made friends. The locals at Gubat, Sorsogon

One of my main highlights was getting to know and ending up living with the friendly locals in Gubat,
a small town in the province of Sorsogon, Southern Luzon. For Easter and the Holy Week the local surfers had organized a beach camp with music, barbecues, surfing and many other activities. Since Holy Week is a really busy time in the Philippines, we decided that this would be the prefect getaway.
As we were the only foreigners, we received a very warm welcome and quickly got to know everyone the locals but also other Filipinos, mainly from Manila, who also attended the so called Hayahay.

Enjoying a cold San Mig at the beach in Siquijor
Enjoying a cold San Mig at the beach in Siquijor

We camped out by the beach for the whole week and had an amazing time. Having drinks together, sharing stories and laughter, being invited into people’s homes and offered food, and actually becoming friends with people. That was just extraordinary and to this extent never happened again during my travels. After two months of traveling across the country, I still didn’t have enough of the Philippines. I extended my visa and returned to Gubat which by that point had somewhat become my home away from home. I stayed at a friend’s cozy cottage and lived a pleasantly calm and laid-back life, going surfing when the swell was good, visiting friends in town, cooking food and doing a little side trip every now and then. Basically just a regular life but looking back at it now, those were precious moments I really felt content and at peace with everything. I can’t help it, but I will need to come back soon.

 

A word about safety and why Filipino people are awesome

Solo traveling. Nacpan Beach, El Nido.
Solo traveling. Nacpan Beach, El Nido.

People have kept asking me about safety issues as they had heard of the Philippines being a rather unsafe travel destination. After three months traveling all over the country, I can say that I never had a single problem and that I never felt unsafe. To the contrary, wherever we went, people were welcoming us, asking where we were from and genuinely interested. I can without a doubt recommend everyone to visit the Philippines; it is in my opinion safer than a lot of other countries in Southeast Asia these days.

Of course, as in every other country, you should act smart, not be too careless and a talent for haggling can’t hurt either. But then I am sure you will have a great time. And that is also because the Filipino people are just awesome. They are very friendly, open towards foreigners, helpful and very curious and their unique hospitality is unmatched. It’s doesn’t take long to strike up a conversation with a local, old or young. And the good thing about it is that almost everyone speaks good English. That gives you the opportunity to actually have a proper conversation and get to know people. People in other Asian countries are super friendly as well, no doubt, but it can often be difficult to get beyond that language barrier and beyond just scratching the surface. In the Philippines, I was able to make real friends and get a deeper understanding of the country, its culture and its people. It all made for a different and better travel experience, very rewarding, very inspiring and an unforgettable memory

Last thoughts

Paradise Sunset. Island of Siquijor
Paradise Sunset. Island of Siquijor

It’s been an amazing experience. I loved the Philippines because of its people, its abundance of adventure opportunities, the Filipino hospitality and because it was easy to venture off the beaten track. I remember crossing Samar and Leyte over to Cebu and we didn’t meet any other tourists for about two or three weeks. We had the most beautiful beaches all for ourselves and if there were tourists, it was mainly Filipinos who really travel a lot within their own country. And that is actually a great thing to see. Of course the country has its touristic hotspots like Boracay, Malapascua or even Palawan, but it is still easy enough to find those hidden gems and to go out exploring on your own. I have spent three months in the Philippines, I have seen a lot but there is still so much more to see, so much more to do and so much more to explore. I can say that it is one of the very few countries that I will definitely visit again. Pilipinas, Maraming salamat po!

Philipp Dukatz
Follow my travels:
Blog: Escapology
Facebook: /EscapologyBlog
Twitter: @escapologyblog


Reminders

Comments

  1. pelang says:

    vielen Dank! i hope you spread the news around. i noticed that many of your countrymen don’t know much about the philippines and when i tell them how about the beauty of our country, they wonder how come they don’t hear about the philippines as much as thailand. i would be embarassed by that and i would tell them, we want the beauty of our country for ourselves. LOL!

    • Philipp C. Dukatz says:

      True, it is not so well known here. People have learnt about Thailand for years now so they are kind of used to it. But soon more people will come.. I am sure …. First we need a direct flight to Manila though …

  2. elena says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful write up. I have shared it on my fb wall.

    Yes sometimes it hurts when our country is always compared to Thailand,

    And maybe for the Deutsh, Thailand is more known coz when I was there in Germany I have seen that there are more Thais than Pinoys.

    You are right with Filipino hospitality, giving our best to all guests.

    I wish your countrymen would start visiting and liking our country too like you did.

    And yeah, our transport system needs a lot of improvement to make travelling easier and convenient.

  3. ChaCha says:

    Hi Philipp, thank you so much for such wonderful article about the Philippines..I have felt your sincerity and and you really fell in love with its beauty. I hope you can also visit Taal Volcano in Tagaytay, you can go near volcanic crater, don’t worry..they won’t allow tourist to go near if there are some danger signs but most of the time it’s safe. You can also explore hundred Islands in Pangasinan north of Luzon, Batanes (north). I guarantee, you’ll love the food. Enjoy and have a safe trip always. 🙂

  4. Bebs says:

    Hallo Philipp! Thanks for writing this article about my Heimatland. I am now living in Germany and although it is equally beautiful I am still missing home and it felt really nicr reading your post. Keep it up!

  5. Philipp says:

    I’m so tired of hearing people think the Philippines is unsafe. In 2013, there were 15,000 murders in the USA. USA is the number 1 country for rape. USA has the most gun deaths. USA has school shootings every year. Let’s move on to “Safe” tourist destinations in Asia. India has the highest rate of traffic related deaths in the world because people drive on the wrong side of the road and they let cows wonder onto highways. India is number 4 on the rape list. A Japanese woman was taken and raped for 3 weeks in India. And don’t get me started on how much of a health hazard that country is with their disgusting Ganges river. Thailand has Martial Law on occasion. Indonesia? – Just watch “The Act of Killing.” The country is run by thugs and is filled with Child Smokers. That place is disgusting.

  6. John says:

    Every year a foreigner writes up their good experience in the Philippines which is great! Every year they also mention that it’s safe despite what everyone they know thinks. The Philippines is safe!!!! For anyone with any doubts, please stop thinking this country is unsafe, especially for tourists. Foreigners are borderline celebrities in this country. Especially if you’re young like me. I’ve literally signed autographs here for teenage girls like I was a rock star and I’m just your average dude. Believe me and just come already!

    • Ricardo Agila says:

      The white skin is looked upon as exotic by young ladies in the Philippines. They all want to touch, caress, kiss, love and hug the white skin. It’s a phenomena that no one can fully comprehend.

  7. GorgeousB says:

    Hi Philipp,
    Thanks for your nice and sincere blog about my beloved Philippines. My Dutch husband and I also visited Phils in 2013 and for him, it was the best ever that he had so far. We have been to Siquijor, Oslob in Cebu, Apo Island, Coron, Bohol, Dumaguete and we never had enough of it. We will come back in 2016, we both look forward to it as early as now 🙂

  8. Mr. Saga says:

    Try to Visit Panglao Bohol , OMG white sands and romantic place .. the rent of the hotel is not so expensive , variety of seafood live lobster , live sea bream , steam with peanut sauce .. yummy , Giant Crabs with sweet chilli sauce ..

  9. Markus Benjamin says:

    thanks for this awesome review of my country. I hope to see you the next time you visit here and will be more than willing to tour you on places you have not visited yet. God bless!!

  10. Georg says:

    Mabuhay Philipp,
    thank you for this nice words about the Philippines. I traveld a lot in the Phils the last 6 years and I can just 100% agree with you. Best people in Asia !!
    Ingat!

  11. Anonymous 14 says:

    Very nice article! You gave me an idea to resign and just travel for a year also. LOL!

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