We had way too little time. I would take at least a month. The Philippines can be chaotic, messy, noisy and busy like big cities e.g Manila and Cebu, or sleepy and tranquil like so many small town by the sea.
We encountered a lot of absolutely gorgeous beaches with crystal clear water and palm trees. On the other hand, there is also a big ignorance on environmental issues. You see boats anchor on coral, people throw their rubbish everywhere (although we saw some efforts on recycling as well), people use shampoo and other chemicals to wash themselves and do laundry in the rivers, Manila and Cebu have a big pollution problem and they still practice dynamite fishing in some areas.
Despite most of the population being fairly poor, we found the people to be more friendly and honest than for example in Indonesia.
The food is almost always rice with something (that something is often pork) and a sugary drink. We found it a little bit challenging to eat healthy.
The population is mostly christian, so you don’t have to be afraid of offending someone with your clothing or behaviour, as the people are very relaxed about those things.
The Philippines has a fantastic environment and quite a lot of natural resources, but they are badly hit by the climate change, as the drought caused by El Nino is getting worse every year. While we were there, during those 3 weeks, very few places (mostly big cities) had enough water to be able to have a shower. The more rural places had no water at all, or depended on a common water well/pump somewhere in town.
There were also frequent power shortages, but that’s more of a political problem than anything else.
Our favourite places were:
- Palawan (especially Port Barton) for Edda, because of a lot of beautiful island and great snorkelling.
- Camotes Island, as it is not very touristy (yet). It’s mostly local weekend tourists. Also offers great snorkelling, nice beach and really nice caves to explore.
- Masbate was nice, also non touristy, but we were a bit short on time to form a proper opinion.
- El Nido. Too many tourists and everything revolves around tourism.
- Manila and Cebu. Horribly congested huge cities with a lot of pollution, inequality and inflated prices.