Philippines: Beach paradise at Boracay and back to Manila

After taking off from Cebu island I landed in Kalibo an hour or so later and I was straight into a mini-van destined for the ferry terminal a further hour away; here I would catch a boat over to the beach island paradise of Boracay, which is probably the most famous tourist spot in the Philippines.

On the transfer from Kalibo to Boracay I befriended some Filipinos; and as they had been to university they spoke exceptional English (well, if you can call American English exceptional ;)) As I was all on my lonesome they gave me their contact details and told me to look them up in Boracay.

Pump boat ferrying people from the mainland to Boracay island:

I was fairly fortunate on arrival in Boracay as, like most places I went in the Philippines, I hadn’t booked accommodation opting to find cheaper alternatives on arrival that didn’t have the budget for online marketing. Anyway, this particular time a  woman at the ferry terminal said she had a room that fitted my budget of £10 but on arrival at the hotel it turned out there had been a miscommunication and they only had a £25 family room available; which they let me have instead for the discounted rate of £10. This meant I had a massive apartment all to myself. Tired from travelling I got a bite to eat and had an early night.

The next day I met up with the Filipinos and we spent the day on the beautiful white sandy beach. Boracay is a popular long-weekend getaway for Filipinos and these guys were doing exactly that as a warmer-up for summer which begins in April. As it was their big Saturday night they had a night of partying planned and I took it on myself to get things going by teaching them the drinking game ‘ring of fire’.  Later on we all headed to one of the many night spots for some dancing.

OK, so I didn’t take this but I didn’t take my camera out on a clear day so didn’t that any that gave the place justice:

The next day was spent on the beach enjoying the beautiful turquoise waters and beachside fruit smoothies for 75p. In the evening I checked out an amazing Filipino rock band who did some great covers of my favourite rock songs including Queen, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Guns N Roses etc… Musically they were exceptional and also really got the crowd going.
I really enjoyed my time in the Boracay. It’s the kind of place I could see myself living-in.

Sunset over White beach:

After transferring back to Kalibo I caught a flight back to Manila where I would be spending my last few days in the Philippines.

In Manila I took a couple of days to explore this huge city and soak up some more Filipino culture.  Manila is a fairly unimpressive city really.  It’s huge with about 12 million people living there but it is spread out into mini-cities so there isn’t really a distinct centre.  Part of the reason or this was because it was flattened by the Yanks in the second world war in an effort to drive out the occupying Japanese.  There is an walled-in old town which has some impressive colonial architecture but other than that the main draw is that it is full of the enchanting Filipinos.

The history of the Philippines is kind of strange with colonial rule from the Spanish and after the second world war, the American’s.  The Spanish culture appears to have mostly disappeared with the exception of the language (e.g. all the numbers are in Spanish) but the American culture is well and truly still alive, and the Filipinos seem to be in love with all things Yankee which extends to all things Western.  This tends to make visiting quite pleasant as everybody is so friendly.

Felipe II, King of Spain gave his name to the Philippines.

The plaque, in Spanish and Tagalog, no English:

Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mgá Anak ng Bayan AKA Katipunan AKA KKK (English: Highest and Most Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation). This organisation was established by anti-Spanish Filipinos in Manila in 1892 which led to the revolutionary war with the Spanish colonial rulers in 1896 and eventual independence in 1898.  Monument in central Manila to commemorate:

You can see over the last 200 years there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing:

Filipinos love their malls and karaoke so some genius combined the two.  The after-school activity for these kids is to hit the mall and sing songs to your mates (and anyone else within 100m):

Jeepney’s are souped up everywhere in the Philippines but no more so than in Manila:

After a few days in Manila I caught my late evening flight to Vietnam.  I’d loved the Philippines and would definitely recommend it to someone planning a trip to SE Asia.  Furthermore, I only really scratched the surface and there was loads more I wanted to do if I’d had more time.

The last night in Manila I stayed in a sweet hotel that had a rooftop pool overlooking the city.  Here, I’m going for a spot of night swimming/jumping-in:

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