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I remember back to years ago, before I first stepped foot in Southeast Asia. I knew that geographically there were different countries here but I couldn’t help but picture them as one homogenous lump of rice, temples, and elephants. Of course, it didn’t take me long after arrival to begin to appreciate the nuances and individualities of each country. I have grown to love the unique culture of Thailand, the resilient spirit of Cambodia, the diverse landscape of Vietnam. I’ve savored learning about the complexities of the regions’ land, people, religions, and more.

And yet, The Philippines still managed to surprise me. Widespread Christianity, a comfortable familiarity with English, Spanish-inspired food and an appreciation for soft mattresses and pillows (anyone who has traveled in mainland Southeast Asia will be familiar with the rock-bed phenomenon) were some of the first hints that this was going to be a serious departure from my typical Southeast Asia experience. And in my three week there, not a day went by that I didn’t find myself noting something that made the Philippines a totally unique destination for me.

Some days I laughed out loud, because I couldn’t even find words to appreciate how beautiful everything I was seeing was. Some days I marveled at the kindness and warmth of the people I met, who treated me like family within moments of meeting. Other days I cried in frustration or confusion, because I didn’t quite realize that I was indeed going off the beaten track here. Guidebooks were useless, the internet was a black hole of information, and there were scarce few other backpackers around to ask for word-of-mouth recommendations. I ended up extremely grateful that my friend Heather, who long-time readers might remember as my photography mentor in Grand Cayman, my fellow wedding guest in Philadelphia, and my travel buddy in Oahu and the Big Island, decided to join me for a large part of the trip. It was a wild three weeks, and I can’t wait to relive it with you all here! Here’s a little bit of what’s in store.

Please change video to HD quality by using the gear icon in the bottom right corner.

The song used in this teaser video is Breezeblocks, which played non-stop on my iPhone throughout this trip. There’s one line that always stands out to me and describes how I often feel in a new destination.

The fear has gripped me, but — here I go.

I’ve got so much to share with you guys, from hiking into isolated rice terrace villages reachable only by foot to diving remote reefs that made me feel like I was in the movie Avatar.

First up, the mega-city of Manilla. Stay tuned!

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69 Comments...
  • Micamyx|Senyorita
    April 28 2013

    Nice preview! Can’t wait to read the whole Philippine experience 🙂
    Micamyx|Senyorita recently posted..Pangasinan Food Trip: Must-Try Dishes in Dagupan City

    • Alex
      April 28 2013

      There’s so much more to come! Looking forward to reliving the trip with you guys 🙂

  • memographer
    April 28 2013

    Incredible video!! Underwater footage in HD looks REALLY good! Can’t wait for your updates, Alex.
    memographer recently posted..Rosalynn’s Flowers at Jimmy’s Center

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Thanks! Half of that footage is Heathers, and half is mine, but amazingly all the underwater footage is with a point and shoot camera!

  • Emma
    April 28 2013

    amazing! makes me want to jet off to Asia again!

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      I’m here already… but it makes me not want to leave 🙂

  • Spencer Montague
    April 28 2013

    Alex, I spent six weeks in 2011 traveling throughout the Philippines. It was my first introduction to Asia. Deteriorating infrastructure and poverty aside, it was an incredible trip.

    As I am sure you will explain to your readers, the true Filipono experience is not to be found in Manilla but in the small towns and villages scattered throughout this vast archipelago. This of course requires quite a bit of air travel.

    If I had to choose between visiting Thailand or Phils, I would have to pick Thailand. Both are unique in their own way but you just can’t beat the temples, the beaches and the food in Thailand.

    Can’t wait to return to my new home in Koh Samui, Thailand this coming August when officially become an expat. I do look forward however to visiting the Philippines someday soon again!

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      I have to agree with you there, but Thailand is like a second home to me now 🙂 Still, I loved the Philippines and I will ABSOLUTELY be back again in the future to experience more of the fantastic diving and trekking this country has to offer! My coverage will start in Manilla, as my trip did, but we’ll get to the islands and mountains soon enough…

  • Kristen Noelle
    April 28 2013

    Beautiful video! Can’t wait to see/read what’s in store.

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Thanks Kristen! Lots to come 🙂

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    April 29 2013

    Wow – love the underwater footage in HD! Not too sure how I feel about those sea snakes though….
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..A bunch of Brazilians and a headache.

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      I LOVE sea snakes! I did get a little fright from one swimming right towards me here in Gili the other day though, so I do know how you feel 🙂

  • Lena
    April 29 2013

    Can’t wait to hear about your experience there! Never been there but heard great things.

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Thanks Lena…. looking forward to starting to share!

  • Melanie Fontaine
    April 29 2013

    I can’t wait to hear more about the Philippines! 🙂 I’m thinking about heading there in conjunction with my trip to Thailand next year, but I really have no idea what to expect there. Definitely looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

    xx
    Melanie
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..Snapshots from Milan

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Thanks Melanie! I would definitely recommend the Philippines as a great contrast to Thailand! Hopefully I can convince you in the upcoming weeks 🙂

  • Megan
    April 29 2013

    What an awesome teaser video! I spent this past weekend researching the Philippines for a trip I want to take this fall, so I’m really looking forward to reading more about your travels there! 🙂
    Megan recently posted..Wintry Fairy Tale in Prague

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Thanks Megan! And what great timing… hope I can help with your trip planning!

  • Zoe
    April 29 2013

    How wonderful!!!!!!!

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      You’re wonderful! Miss you 🙂

  • AMAAAAAAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Philippines is HIGH on my dream destination list.
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Bermuda: Day 2

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Oh Andi, you’ve got to go! You’ll see… it’s amazing!

  • Lisa
    April 29 2013

    awesome video!!!! you’re actually luckier than most filipinos because you got to visit those places. now i wonder why i haven’t gone diving here yet. :p

    oh, and thanks for introducing me to Breezeblocks–that will be on my playlist now too!
    Lisa recently posted..calligraphy update: italic minuscules and flourished italics

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Always happy to share some of the music I have on my travel playlists! And yes it is a funny phenomenon that travelers often see more of a country than its own residents. Some of my British friends have seen more of the US than I have!

  • Andrea
    April 30 2013

    LOVE! I’m dying to go to the Philippines…
    Andrea recently posted..La Vie de Bordeaux

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Hope the upcoming posts give you a little more wanderlust 🙂

  • Skúli
    April 30 2013

    Great video!
    Looking forward to the posts from the Philippines as I’ll be going there for three weeks in June. So excited!
    Skúli recently posted..How to set fitness goals while traveling(and achieve them)

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Awesome! Hopefully some of your destinations overlap with mine and I can give you some tips 🙂

  • Jessica
    April 30 2013

    Cannot wait to read about your adventures in the Philippines! My husbands boss goes there almost every winter and he raves about it!
    Jessica recently posted..Z is for ZOO: The Most Unique in the World

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Jessica you need to get in on the next trip! What an amazing country!

  • Matthew Karsten
    May 1 2013

    Another country I really want to visit based on listening to stories from other travelers. Great video. 🙂

    • Alex
      May 1 2013

      Thanks Matthew! I was actually kind of lazy about taking footage on this trip so I was feeling pretty unmotivated to edit… glad you like it anyway 🙂

  • Molly - Yonderblog
    May 1 2013

    So excited to see the rest of your Philippines trip!
    Molly – Yonderblog recently posted..Sights & Scams in Bangkok

    • Alex
      May 3 2013

      Thanks Molly… super behind, but can’t wait to start posting!

  • Yay! So refreshing to see the Philippines in travel bloggers’ lists! it is often overlooked when people travel around southeast asia. i’m originally from the Philippines and am visiting in a couple of weeks to dive and just chillax in the islands. where did you go diving? 🙂

    • Alex
      May 3 2013

      I went diving in San Miguel off Donsol and in Malapascua. Both were amazing… I’d love to go back and see more!

  • Bobleliv
    May 2 2013

    Nice video, I loved the underwater pics 🙂
    Keep up the good work!
    Bobleliv recently posted..Morosamt!

    • Alex
      May 3 2013

      Thanks! Can’t wait to show the photos!

  • Erica
    May 4 2013

    Your videos always BLOW ME AWAY lady. I’m trying to get more diving in so I can practice camera stuff more. What do you use under water?
    Erica recently posted..20 Tips for Tackling New Zealand on a Tight Budget

    • Alex
      May 5 2013

      Thank you so much Erica! I can be SO stupidly lazy about taking footage but I’m so happy when I do. The underwater footage is all shot on my s100 with underwater Canon housing!

  • Emily in Chile
    May 4 2013

    I know very little about the Philippines beyond the Spanish connection and the fact that lumpia are delicious, so I’m looking forward to your posts!
    Emily in Chile recently posted..The Moscow Kremlin

    • Alex
      May 9 2013

      After three weeks I can definitely confirm that those two things are very evident… though I hope I will have a bit more insight to share as well 🙂 We’ll see!

  • Heather
    May 6 2013

    Awesome video, can’t wait to read about Malapascua and the threshers and the diving! We are heading to the Philippines this fall and I can’t wait! Also, Alt-J is awesome!

    • Alex
      May 9 2013

      Ah, the threshers were definitely out of this world! Amazing creatures, definitely worth the 4am wakeup time to see them!

  • TammyOnTheMove
    May 9 2013

    OMG, is that a shark coming right towards you at the beginning of the video? And how can you stay so calm when that watersnake is swimming right underneath you? 😉 Awesome video and a nice teaser of what’s to come.
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..“Appy ‘Oli”

    • Alex
      May 9 2013

      Actually, that very shy shark was swimming away! The threshers are notoriously meek little sharks 🙂 I loved them! This watersnake I was calm about but I did panic a bit when I saw a more aggressive one recently. Eeeek!

  • TicketForTwo
    May 17 2013

    LOVE THE UNDERWATER FOOTAGE! i’ve always wanted to dive with the thresher sharks. cant wait to see more travel videos=)
    TicketForTwo recently posted..Coron: Food Trip

    • Alex
      May 18 2013

      Thanks so much! The threshers were pretty damn amazing… would love to go back and see them some more, though the 4am wake up is a bit painful!

  • Bernard
    June 15 2013

    Wow wow wow….I just went through all your Philippine postings and you’ve inspired me to get off my butt, get my dive certificate, and get a housing for my camera. Why haven’t I done that yet?? Thanks Alex

    –Bernard – Currently in Cebu
    Bernard recently posted..Fish Out Of Water
    Camotes Islands, Philippines

    • Alex
      June 17 2013

      So glad to hear that! My underwater housing was one of my best purchases of all times! Good luck 🙂

  • Lily
    June 20 2013

    Wonderful video!!! 🙂
    Lily recently posted..Sweet as Strawberries

    • Alex
      June 21 2013

      Thank you Lily! It was good fun to put together!

  • killerfillers
    July 5 2013

    I’m glad that you enjoyed your stay here in the Philippines.:D Reading all your post about Philippines made me realize that I should really start planning my next getaway. Great video and song choice btw.:)
    killerfillers recently posted..Magaluf Holidays: What’s the Deal?

    • Alex
      July 7 2013

      Thank you! It was my soundtrack song to the Philippines 🙂

  • Carlotta
    February 28 2015

    I’m going there next week and I’m really excited. The video is awesome and I can’t wait to read your stories about Philippines.
    Carlotta recently posted..What is Trover And Why Is It A Great Travel App

  • Cassie Seen
    April 13 2015

    Nice preview! Can’t wait to read the whole Philippines experience 🙂

    • Alex
      April 13 2015

      Actually, Cassie, this post is a few years old now! You can find all my Philippines posts here. Enjoy!

  • Amazing preview! I’d be reading more of your articles about the Philippines! I really do think that the way Filipinos warmth lingers to every visitors. Hope you can visit us this year!
    Leo Avila | OverdrivingWithLeo recently posted..A place where Luxury meets Convenience: The District Boracay

    • Alex
      April 20 2015

      Hey Leo! This is actually an old post — you can read all my many posts about the Philippines here. I loved it!

  • Maien Redota
    July 27 2015

    Hi Alex! I’m actually a pure Filipina and I’m glad that you enjoyed it here in our country. I watched your video and I can see you went to Banawe and to Bohol. When you came back, I hope that you’ll go to other places here in the country where we have more beautiful natural resources. Thanks for sharing your experience here in the Philippines ! 🙂

    • Alex
      July 30 2015

      You’re so welcome Maien. I love the Philippines and will definitely be returning for more someday!

  • chris verhoeven
    January 11 2016

    hi Alex,

    i just came across this post and watched the video.
    I wish i could edit like that.

    Still have lots of videomaterial to go through, but practice will improve skills. So i just have to be patience.

    I love your blog and you inspire me to travel more.

    Personally i’m in love with thailand 🙂

    Yours chris
    chris verhoeven recently posted..5 best things to do in Krabi

    • Alex
      January 13 2016

      Me too, Chris — me too! Practice does make perfect when it comes to video editing. Have fun with it!

  • Carlo
    April 10 2016

    Hello Alex, thank you for sharing this article and I thank you for visiting Philippines. Your article says it all.. again thanks for sharing.
    Carlo recently posted..10 Things You Can Only Experience In Japan

    • Alex
      April 26 2016

      You’re so welcome Carlo! It’s a beautiful country.

  • Erwin
    April 8 2017

    I don’t see the video. 🙁

    • Alex
      April 9 2017

      Thanks for the heads up Erwin! Not sure why that stopped working but I’ve fixed it now 🙂

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