10 Things I Miss About The Philippines

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Laoag Ilocos Norte Philippines

Every now and then, I’ll stare at a ceiling and think, “I miss the Philippines.” I’ve been saying that a lot more this time since coming back from our trip earlier this year. I miss the food delivery service, laundry drop-off and delivery, GrabTaxi, street food, bars and restaurants, street vendors, the sound of a busy city, and so on.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here are 10 things I miss and love about the Philippines.

1. Food Delivery

Jessica and I stayed at a studio apartment/condo in Quezon City. When we’re hungry late at night, I really don’t want to go out and get food. (We didn’t have a car) Many restaurants in the Philippines have late night or even 24/7 delivery service.

Boom! I go online for “Jollibee” or “Yellow Cab Pizza” and we’re good. If you know the numbers to some of the restaurants, you can find anything for dinner! There’s Mang Inasal, Andoks, McDonald’s (Chicken and Rice), and many more.

2. Laundry Drop-Off and Delivery

I wish we had this hear in the U.S. We were spoiled when it comes to laundry in Manila. We simply put everything that we wanted washed in the bag, drop it off at the Metropole Laundry in front of the c0ndo, they do an inventory of everything, and voila! 2 days later, it’s delivered back to our apartment, sorted, and folded.

Well I guess, the only reason I miss this is because we were spoiled.

3. GrabTaxi

I will suggest this one to absolutely everyone who visits Metro Manila. Please, download the GrabTaxi app on your phones. Instead of taking other forms of public transportations (the jeeps, busses, and light rail are packed), get your taxi cab via GrabTaxi.

GrabTaxi takes a record of the taxi driver’s plate number, license, address, and phone number for your safety! Drivers have to apply to be a GrabTaxi cab driver.

On the app, you can type in your destination and see how many drivers around you can pick you up and drop you off. If you’re still not getting a “bite” in this driver fishing, leave a tip on the app and I’m sure you’ll get more “bites.”

We accidentally paid a cab driver Php1000 instead of 100 Pesos but all we had to do was call that driver on his cellphone and he came back and gave us our Php1000. In return, I gave him a hundred pesos or so.

You can go anywhere by using GrabTaxi!

4. Filipino Street Food

Ilocos Empanada

The Famous Empanada Ilocano before they close it up and fry it.

They’re everywhere! I loved the variety of street BBQ skewers, isaw, beta max, sisig plates, kwek-kwek, kikiam, fish and squid balls, and more. Although, I suggest that you be careful and ask people around for the best ones and the clean ones. We don’t want you getting food poisoning!

5. Late night neighborhood restaurants

I miss these little hole-in-the-wall restaurants in small neighborhoods. These are independently owned businesses in the middle of villages/small districts (baranggay). My favorite places are the ones that serve Arroz Caldo (lugaw), fried tofu, deep fried hard boiled eggs, and pork and tofu (tokwa’t baboy).

My family and friends at a local "lugawan" in Valenzuela City.

My family and friends at a local “lugawan” in Valenzuela City, Philippines.

This place was open until 2am but there are instances when we were still awake past that. All we had to do was find another one a couple blocks down.

6. People are just so nice!

Everyone greets you accordingly and appropriately. Everyone says thank you (salamat). It’s your usual, “Hello sir, hello ma’am.” I still hear the Filipinos’ cheerful voices in my head.

Family and friends always invite you to eat, knowing that you’ve been eating endlessly for the past hour. I still remember the loud bark-like laughs that melts the heart. Everyone smiles at you and cracks jokes with you. Probably, this is what I miss most. Fortunately, Filipinos in the U.S. are like this too.

7. Filipinos Gather and Pause Time

Walking through the malls, plazas, streets, church courts, and all these public spaces, I noticed many clusters and groups of people just standing by holding food or drinks, or cigarettes. They’re laughing with each other. The girls sitting next to each other with their arms intertwined.

In the U.S., this is hardly seen. I guess I’ve seen it in New York but everyone is at top speed in New York. No one seems to know how to just “pause.” In the Philippines, it seems that they can simply push on a button to “pause” time.

8. Retail Price

Everything is affordable in the Philippines if you’re a tourist. Your $20 goes a long way. Food is cheap. I never had to worry about what I’m spending. I could eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner for under $5 if I’m creative.

However, I can only say that as a tourist. The Philippines is still impoverished. Many families still live under PHP150 (about $4.00) a day.

If you’re a tourist coming from western countries, The Philippines is a great place to spend your money. Not only would you be pumping money into the Filipino economy, you could also help people by donating to charities over there. A donation of $10 goes a long way.

9. They love drinking and talking!

A bottle of San Miguel Beer while waiting for guests to come.

A bottle of San Miguel Beer while waiting for guests to come.

Filipinos love drinking. They won’t really instigate a wholesome “get together.” They’ll say “inuman tayo!” Which means, “let’s drink!” When people say that, it simply means that there will be 5, 10, 20 people bringing some food and drinks, gathered around a table full of spilled Red Horse or San Miguel Beer. You’d find packs of cigarettes on the table, scattered playing cards, a plate of tuna, grilled pork skewers, isaw (pig or chicken intestines), chicharon (pork rinds), and so on.

If you’re ever invited to one of these things–go!

10. The Community Markets

I’ve always loved the “Palenke.” These are community wet markets, bustling with fish, meat, and produce vendors. You’d also find small eateries, selling amazing Filipino food. The smell could be a little bothersome to others but I just love that raw and natural scent of meat, fish, soy sauce, fish sauce, fruits, and vegetables. The ground may be littered with candy wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic bags, wet newspapers; but I don’t care!

I love the cheap things they sell there. This is also my favorite place to get Filipino pastries and sticky desserts!

Have you been to the Philippines lately? What do you miss the most?

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