The Philippines is a land apart from mainland Southeast Asia – not only geographically, but also spiritually and culturally. The country’s overwhelming Catholicism, the result of 350 years of Spanish rule, is its most obvious enigma. Vestiges of the Spanish era include exuberant town fiestas (festivals) and centuries-old stone churches. Malls, fast-food chains and widespread spoken English betray the influence of Spain’s colonial successor, the Americans. Yet, despite these outside influences, the country remains its own unique entity. The people are, simply, Filipinos – and proud of it. Work in the Philippines and you will meet the most welcoming, warm and relentlessly upbeat people, it is them who captivate and ultimately ensnare visitors.
With more than 7000 tropical islands to choose from, the Philippines is a beach bum’s delight. There’s an island to suit every taste, from marooned slicks of sand in the middle of the ocean, to volcanic fantasy-scapes concealing hidden lagoons, to sprawling mega-islands such as Luzon and Mindanao. Sun worshippers and divers should head straight to the Visayas, where island-hopping opportunities abound and the perfect beach takes many forms. More adventurous travellers can pitch a tent on a deserted stretch of coastline in Palawan and play solo Survivor for a few days.
Filipinos LOVE their shopping malls! In fact, they serve as community hubs since they’re clean, safe, and, most importantly, air-conditioned. Aside from the usual stores they also have countless food venues, gyms, grocery stores, banks, health clinics, nightclubs, parks, concert amphitheaters, and even churches inside their malls. In fact, the Philippines is home to three of the ten largest shopping malls in the world.