Rich cultural heritage and the beautiful nature
The fact that the Philippines has been one of the major tourist destinations in Southeast Asia has quite a bit of good reasons: the country is blessed with eternal summer and amazing beaches that all provide a wonderful opportunity for surfing, diving and just traversing the islands. And still it goes deeper than that: as you proceed to the inlands of the islands you will find the old Spanish architecture next to the enigmatic tribal villages, as well as some ancient rice fields and the mountain summits sticking out from the thick jungle.
The diversity of culture will have you mesmerized too: Spanish, American, Malay, Islam – all this whirling in a cocktail of colorful festivals, mouthwatering food and pretty colonial towns, all of which makes you think more of Latin America rather than actually Asia.
The Philippines are separated from the rest of Southeast Asia by the South China Sea and has been stereotyped by the general public of travelers as a producer of maids, brides and corrupt politicians (with the infamous instance of Imelda Marcos). Don't take that for the truth though: while corruption and poverty are some of the serious issues there, the Philippines is far too culturally sophisticated to be adequately described just by a couple of stereotyped rumors.
The Filipino people speak over 150 languages and dialects and have rich variety of ancestor cultures, among them you can find Spanish conquistadors, Muslim Sufis, the early Malay settlers and the later Chinese traders. One thing is definitely true about this people: they find a delight in making visitors feel at home. You will find that attitude even in a shack in a remote village. Obviously, entertaining is no less important: there are hundreds of festivals around the country, most of them are in correspondence to the Roman Catholic calendar. Next goes the food, which is of course inseparable from the concept of partying. Here you will find all sorts of fresh fish, pork and chicken roasts, and surprising to an Asian country – a vast number of desserts, mostly containing all the amazing tropical fruits.
Granted, the political scene in this country that has become the first democracy in Asia is known to be quite spectacular as well. Charismatic leaders go one after another, like Ferdinand Marcos followed by the “Housewife President” Cory Aquino and then Ninoy Aquino currently being in focus... Neither the media focus nor the substantial growth of economy in recent years has helped the government to pull the country out of its poverty which is more than visible all around the towns and villages. It is surprising however, how the Filipino people stay cheerful and optimistic in the face of all the undeniable problems. Well as it goes in the local saying “bahala na” – which means “what will be will be”. It seems like no problem can destroy this people's determination to live life happily and enjoy what good it has to offer – the quality largely characteristic of the nation.