And because travelling is more than just taking photos for your Facebook and Instagram account, here are 8 things you must do when exploring the rest of our country:
Be Anthony Bourdain-esque and try every food you could get your hands on. Eating at a fast food restaurant should be the last thing on your mind.
Prior to travelling, research on the must try delicacies of the place you’re visiting. Try the famous La Paz Batchoy and fresh oysters when in Iloilo. Order a seafood dish cooked in alavar sauce when in Zamboanga City. Feeling more adventurous? See if you can take the raw sea urchins offered by fisherfolks in Bohol’s Virgin Island!
Aside from food, Filipinos take great pride in their mother tongue. Make sure to learn even the basics of the regional language when travelling. Learning how to say ‘good morning’ in Cebuano or ‘thank you’ in Bikolano means a lot to locals. It shows your respect to their culture and your desire to be one of them. It also pays knowing a thing or two about the language, especially when bargaining since locals would treat you more of a brother than a tourist, and give you great deals!
Don’t be a stranger and learn the story of the place you’re visiting, right from the locals. Be observant and never limit your curiosity.
Try to find out how Guimaras’ world famous mango industry started or how Bohol’s Candijay Mangrove Forest was preserved. Once you’ve proved your good intentions, locals would just love to talk about their simple way of life in the province. All you need to do is listen and be an excellent recorder.
Visit the local market for an authentic travelling experience. It’s one of the best places to go to, if you want to take a good look at the locals’ way of life. Here, you’ll find goods—food or hand crafted products—which you may not find anywhere else in Manila, for a reasonably lower price. If you’re planning to do your own cooking, you could even ask anang how to prepare an authentic Ilocano pinakbet or pako salad.
Never hesitate to make friends—locals or fellow travellers—when in a faraway town. Travelling becomes even better when you get to share a part of yourself with the people you meet along the way. Nothing beats listening to their stories and sharing good laughs with them, over wonderful food and drinks!
Remember that you’re not just a tourist but a traveller—and a responsible traveller, for that matter. Though you’re only staying for a few days, do your share in keeping the place unspoiled by being conscientious of your actions.
You know the rules: dispose your trash properly; if by chance that you see any foreign matter lying on the beach or the mountain trail, take the initiative to dispose it; if you’re a smoker, make sure to light your stick only in places where you’re allowed to do so.
For known tourist destinations, most locals generate their income from tourists and travellers. Help make things easier for them by supporting their livelihood–buy their products and pay right for their services. Though not totally obliged, you’re also encouraged to donate even for a small amount, when visiting a particular place that’s for free.
No travel experience is perfect. But everything—taking in the good and the bad—is all part of the whole journey. As our brave answer to adventure’s call, travelling is a test of one’s character.
In the end, it gives us rich stories to tell about the places we’ve visited and always, with the certainty of doing it all over again for the love of our homeland.
Backpacking around the Philippines? Tell us more about your experience in the Comments Section.